Calif. House members: ‘Stop fighting, start fixing’

Eight California lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were among more than 50 House members who gathered today in Washington, D.C., to urge congressional leaders and President Obama to “stop fighting and start fixing.”

Organized by the bipartisan group No Labels, the lawmakers who assembled in the Cannon House Office Building’s caucus room agreed leaders mustn’t let the nation default on its debt.

“The No Labels Problem Solvers and other members of Congress you see here today are ready to work together and support our respective leaderships in a bipartisan solution to the government shutdown and other crucial issues facing our country,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore. “Let’s show some courage and work together like the American people expect and deserve.”

Among those at the event were Reps. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova; Tony Cardenas, D-Arleta; Jim Costa, D-Fresno; Susan Davis, D-San Diego; Jeff Denham, R-Modesto; Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz; Scott Peters, D-San Diego; and David Valadao, R-Hanford.


“The costs of the government shutdown are growing every day, and experts from all sides agree that failing to pay America’s bills would be disastrous for our economy,” Bera said in a news release. “It’s past time for us to stop blaming one another, and start talking about how to move forward for the good of the country. This is not about Democrats or Republicans; it’s about putting the American people before politics. Many of us are ready to begin working and solving our nation’s problems, but we need leadership that lets us do that work.”


Liberal ad dings Jeff Denham for shutdown

A Northern California congressman is one of 10 House Republicans being hammered with a new TV ad over the federal government shutdown.

The liberal/labor-backed Americans United for Change told Politico it’s a six-figure ad buy for the 10 swing districts across the nation, but wouldn’t provide a breakdown showing how much of that is for the ad against Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto.

“Make no mistake: Congressman Denham and fellow Republicans’ refusal to support clean legislation to keep the government open at the 11th hour was the act of politicians that that welcomed a shutdown,” AUFC President Brad Woodhouse, who formerly was the Democratic National Committee’s communications director, said in a news release.

“Denham joined with the extortionist Tea Party crowd in Congress who demanded a ransom they knew they would never get: killing the Affordable Care Act,” Woodhouse said. “With local stories pouring in each day of the very real ways the Tea Party shutdown is hurting the middle class, it’s time Denham and fellow Republicans in Congress come to grips with reality that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, that it was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that it’s working.”

Denham’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Daniel Scarpinato insisted this shutdown is Democrats’ fault.

“Voters in these districts aren’t going to buy these laughable attacks from an extremist group,” he said via email. “Republicans have passed bipartisan resolutions to keep the government open, but President Obama and Harry Reid won’t compromise one inch. It’s time to end the political games and stop putting families, seniors and our economy at risk.”

The House Republicans’ continuing resolutions were predicated upon defunding or delaying the nation’s new health insurance law; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has refused to allow a vote on a “clean” continuing resolution, even though a bipartisan majority of the House now seems to support one.

UPDATE @ 1:37 P.M.: “We are not surprised that a liberal special interest group would decide to start negative campaigning so early and to exploit the situation in Washington. The ad is factually wrong,” said Dave Gilliard, Denham’s campaign consultant. “Rep. Denham did not vote to shut down the government. In fact, he voted numerous times to keep the government open; he requested his own pay be withheld during the shutdown; and he is working hard to find a compromise that will resolve the situation, protect taxpayers and get the government working again.”


Which House members are refusing their pay?

Some Californians are among a growing list of House members who say they won’t take their paychecks while the government shutdown remains in effect.

Eric SwalwellMembers of Congress will receive their monthly paychecks even during a shutdown such as this. But Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, announced Monday he had sent a letter to the House’s chief administrative officer requesting that he not be paid.

“I believe it is simply wrong and unfair for me to receive my salary while Americans working hard across the country as part of our federal workforce receive nothing until this appropriations crisis is resolved,” he wrote. “Therefore, I ask that until federal employees who must work during a federal government shutdown are paid, I not be given my paycheck.”

Ami_Bera_official_photoRep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, said Tuesday he’ll give up his federal pay for the duration of the shutdown, too.

“Congress should lead by example and put people before politics,” Bera said in a news release. “If Congress can’t do its job and put the American people first, then they certainly shouldn’t get paid during a crisis that they are causing. We must stop the finger pointing, start acting like adults, and make Washington work for the people again.”

In response to the budget sequestration cuts made earlier this year, Bera already has been donating 8.2 percent of his check each month to a local organization impacted by the cuts.

And John Myers, political editor at Sacramento’s KXTV News 10, tweeted today that Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, told him he’ll be forfeiting his paycheck during the shutdown as well. As of this hour, I don’t see that John’s interview with Denham has been posted online.

The Washington Post is keeping a national list.


Which House member has most campaign cash?

Which of Northern California’s House members has the most money in their campaign war chests? You might be surprised.

While some incumbents are likely to face significant challenges from across the aisle (like Garamendi, Bera, McNerney and Denham) and others from within their own party (like Honda and maybe Swalwell), neither of the two House members with the most cash on hand as of June 30 are expected to have much to worry about next year.

Here’s the list, showing how much they raised in the second quarter (April 1 through June 30) and their cash on hand at mid-year:

    CA5 – Mike Thompson, D-Napa: $257,579.45 raised, $1,470,170.24 COH
    CA14 – Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough: $221,762 raised, $1,086,141.98 COH
    CA10 – Jeff Denham, R-Modesto: $506,491.26 raised, $834,836.30 COH
    CA19 – Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose: $149,546.50 raised, $658,386 COH
    CA7 – Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova: $264,318.49 raised, $505,044 COH
    CA12 – Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco: $315,769.05 raised, $422,059.25 COH
    CA15 – Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton: $237,314.38 raised, $405,182.23 COH
    CA4 – Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay: $132,668.99 raised, $384,717.76 COH
    CA17 – Mike Honda, D-San Jose: $344,894.86 raised, $374,646.94 COH
    CA6: Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento: $240,826.01 raised, $371,894.30 COH
    CA18 – Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: $193,225 raised, $363,855.25 COH
    CA11 – George Miller, D-Martinez: $233,328.87 raised, $354,655.16 COH
    CA2 – Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael: $141,648.93 raised, $266,847.38 COH
    CA16 – Jim Costa, D-Merced: $131,765 raised, $243,693.64 COH
    CA9 – Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton: $169,311.47 raised, $187,041.28 COH
    CA20 – Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz: $187,242.31 raised, $136,571.50 COH
    CA1 – Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville: $87,200 raised, $130,603.76 COH
    CA3 – John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove: $179,832.73 raised, $124,197.06 COH
    CA13 – Barbara Lee, D-Oakland: $178,425.82 raised, $97,975.47 COH

Updates on House races: CA9, CA10 & CA15

After a spate of news about some of Northern California’s most notable House races of 2014, I thought it was time to examine some others that are flying under the radar.

I’ve reported recently that 2012 Republican U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Emken is moving to Fair Oaks to challenge freshman Rep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, in the 7th Congressional District, and about the (lopsided) money race between Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, and Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in the 17th Congressional District.

Here’s a little more to chew on, based on who has filed papers with the Federal Election Commission and launched websites so far:

Steve Colangelo9th Congressional District: Now in his fourth term, incumbent Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, is perennially identified by the National Republican Congressional Committee as vulnerable, yet has stomped all comers; last year, he beat GOP challenger Ricky Gill by 12 percentage points in the newly drawn district. In 2014, he’ll face a challenge from Steve Anthony Colangelo, 53, of Stoctkon, a prominent member of the local business community who owns “the leading event supply company in the Central Valley for weddings, graduation parties and other important community and family events.” At least we know the campaign parties will be lavishly appointed.

Michael Eggman10th Congressional District: Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, won a second term last year by beating back a challenge from Democrat and former astronaut Jose Hernandez. Next year he’ll face a challenge by Michael Eggman, 48, of Kingsburg, an almond farmer and apiary operator who says he can identify with and act upon Central Valley farmers’ concerns. A key question will be whether he is also the walrus, goo goo g’joob. (Sorry, Mr. Eggman – I’m sure you get that a lot, but I couldn’t resist.)

Ellen Corbett15th Congressional District: Freshman Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, will face a challenge from state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro – note her relatively new campaign website, through which she’s seeking contributions via the progressive grassroots ActBlue organization. Corbett, you’ll recall, had hoped to succeed Rep. Pete Stark but chose not to run against him last year; Swalwell ran and won. Swalwell’s campaign tells me he raised about $233,000 in the second quarter, bringing his total receipts for the first half of this year to just shy of the half-million mark and leaving him with around $350,000 cash on hand as of June 30. I reached out to Corbett for a preview of her second-quarter numbers, but she didn’t respond.


Tough House hearing for high-speed rail project

It looks like supporters of the California High Speed Rail project took a verbal beating Tuesday as the U.S. House Transportation Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials held a field hearing in Madera.

“Since Prop 1A was approved by California voters in 2008, the project has more than doubled in cost, and, after more than $3 billion from the federal tax payer, not one shovel has hit the ground,” subcommittee chairman Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, said afterward. “Until I see a viable business plan for high speed rail in California that is fiscally sound and supported by private dollars, I will continue to hold the rail authority accountable to the voters and ensure their taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.”

Here’s some of the questioning:

The panel, also including Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, and Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, grilled witnesses including California High Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard; Preserve Our Heritage Chairman Kole Upton; Kings County Board of Supervisors Chairman Doug Verboon; Madera County Farm Bureau Executive Director Anja Raudabaugh; Lou Thompson, chairman of the Peer Review Group for the California High-Speed Rail Project; and Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Al Smith.

The witnesses’ prepared testimony, and Denham’s opening statement, are available on Denham’s website.