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CA17: Honda won’t go to media-sponsored debate

Rep. Mike Honda will not take part in a televised debate with his 17th Congressional District rivals that would double as the San Francisco Chronicle’s pre-endorsement interview, a campaign spokesman said Monday.

honda.jpg“Congressman Mike Honda will be at the May 3 debate organized by the non-partisan, community-based League of Women Voters,” spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Monday. “This televised debate, which has been in the works for months, and which all of the CA-17 candidates have been invited to, is the only debate Congressman Honda will be participating in prior to the June 3 primary election.”

The three League of Women Voters chapters sponsoring the May 3 event in Fremont are calling it a forum, not a debate; candidates there will not have any opportunity to question or respond to each other directly.

That sits poorly with Honda’s Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna, who for months has been urging Honda to take part in debates.

Khanna said he has accepted an invitation to take part in a debate hosted by the San Francisco Chronicle, KPIX-TV and KCBS radio. Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said the debate will be conducted at KPIX’s studios in San Francisco either on April 16, April 17 or April 23; the format will include opening and closing statements from the candidates as well as questions from local media panelists, voters and the candidates themselves.

“Residents of the 17th District will benefit from an open debate, moderated by members of the local media, about who is the best candidate to address the unique challenges and opportunities facing our community,” Khanna said in a statement issued Monday. “Voters are tired of old-style politics and campaigns that consist of little more than sloganeering and demagoguery. With the challenges our nation faces today, the people deserve better.”

Republican candidate Dr. Vanila Singh of Fremont, who entered the race at the start of this year, still has not yet decided whether to take part in the May 3 League of Women Voters event or the Chronicle/KPIX/KCBS event, campaign manager Scott Luginbill said Monday.

Republican candidate Joel Vanlandingham of San Jose, who entered the race earlier this month, said he intends to take part in the League of Women Voters event but has not yet been invited to the Chronicle/KPIX/KCBS event.

And Republican candidate Vinesh Singh Rathore of San Jose, who also entered the race this month, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

UPDATE @ 2:23 P.M.: Kembaiyan notes Honda is scheduled to meet with the Bay Area News Group’s editorial board in April, and campaign manager Doug Greven is talking with the Chronicle about seeking its endorsement, too.

Posted on Monday, March 24th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 17 Comments »

CA17: Mike Honda’s political director resigns

The political director of Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign has quit, telling supporters the 17th Congressional District’s competitive nature “will require and deserve an increasingly greater commitment of time and energy.”

Lamar HeystekLamar Heystek wrote that he’s choosing instead “to begin devoting more time and energy to my wife, our son and the family we look forward to growing together,” as well as starting a new job as program development officer at ASIAN Inc., a San Francisco nonprofit working on behalf of Asian Americans and other minorities in areas such as business development, housing and financial education.

It sounds like there’s no bad blood between Heystek, 35, of San Francisco, and Honda, D-San Jose. “My faith and confidence in him and his campaign have been unshakable. He is an outstanding public servant and a great friend who will continue to receive my support and assistance.”

Campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show Honda’s campaign has been paying Heystek $6,000 per month.

Heystek, a former Davis councilman, departs as the 17th District race shifts into even higher gear for the sprint toward June 3’s top-two primary. Fellow Democrat Ro Khanna’s challenge has been making headlines for almost a year; Republican Vanila Singh got into the race at the start of 2014; and two other Republicans – Joel Vanlandingham and Vinesh Singh Rathore – entered the race just before this month’s candidacy filing deadline.

Honda campaign spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Wednesday that Heystek has been an important part of the campaign since joining it in 2011, helping to run its multi-lingual voter outreach and laying the groundwork for Honda’s overwhelming Democratic Party endorsement.

“Lamar’s departure from the campaign, so he can spend more time with his growing family, has been in the works for months and the transition has been smooth,” Kembaiyan said. “We miss seeing Lamar everyday, but thanks in part to his dedication and hard work, Congressman Honda’s campaign is in its strongest position ever and we are continuing full speed ahead into the primary.”

Read Heystek’s entire email, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

Immigration activists target Goodlatte fundraiser

Immigration reform activists plan to protest Wednesday evening outside a Silicon Valley fundraiser for House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, asking guests to pressure Goodlatte to address House GOP leaders’ reticence on the issue.

Bob GoodlatteThe 5:30 p.m. protest near the Los Altos Hills home of Oracle Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz is organized by Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN); SEIU United Service Workers West; United Farm Workers Foundation; Student Advocates for Higher Education; and Youth United for Community Action.

“Workers in Silicon Valley and throughout the Bay Area have been calling for reform – from the tech workers and entrepreneurs in the Peninsula to farmworkers in the fields, workers call for reform that provides a pathway to citizenship, families to be reunited, and strong worker protections,” said the news release announcing the protest. “Will Goodlatte listen?”

House Republican leaders in late January rolled out a statement of principles for pursuing immigration reform, but within days were saying it’s not likely to happen this year.

Goodlatte’s website says he has “strongly advocated for immigration reform that focuses on enforcement and upholding the rule of law, including elimination of enforcement waivers that have been abused by previous and current Administrations.

“To be clear, any immigration reform proposal must first guarantee that our immigration laws are enforced both at the border and within the United States,” Goodlatte wrote. “I remain opposed to amnesty, as I always have been. I do not support a special pathway to citizenship that rewards those who have broken our immigration laws.”

The fundraiser for Goodlatte, R-Va., is organized through TechNet, a tech industry lobbying group; tickets cost from $10,000 to $40,000. Goodlatte is being challenged in this June’s GOP primary by Paul Bevington, a libertarian-leaning high school teacher.

Posted on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Under: Immigration, U.S. House | 11 Comments »

Barbara Lee helps lead protest at McDonald’s

Rep. Barbara Lee led several dozen community members and activists Tuesday on a march through a McDonald’s in East Oakland to protest the company’s alleged wage theft.

Three class-action lawsuits filed last week accuse the Illinois-based fast-food giant and three of its California franchisees of stealing employees’ money by forcing them to work off the clock, shaving hours off their time cards and not paying them overtime, among other things. Similar cases have been filed in New York and Michigan.

Barbara Lee & Jennifer Lin 3-18-14 (photo by Josh Richman)“This illegal wage theft must stop … Enough is enough,” said Lee, D-Oakland, speaking into a megaphone inside the McDonald’s at East 12th Street and 25th Avenue.

She had just led a chanting, sign-carrying crowd down 25th Avenue and into the restaurant, where employees and puzzled patrons looked on as she praised the activists.

“It takes a lot of courage to do this… You inspire me,” she said. “You deserve to live the American dream. You deserve fair wages.”

As soon as Lee finished speaking, Oakland Police officers demanded that the protesters step outside; the rally continued in the parking lot. “Fill my wages, not my fries – make our wages super-size,” they chanted, along with the labor slogan, “Si se puede.” Several carried signs that said “I’m Hatin’ It,” a play on a famed McDonald’s catchphrase.

“We’re all fed up, we’re tired of this,” said Ilda Amador, 25, of Oakland, who said she has faced similar problems while working at Jack in the Box. Rhonesha Victor, 24, of Oakland, said the same of her job at KFC, noting fast-food workers make meager wages to start with and can’t afford to let their employers take advantage of them. “These companies, they have to pay.”

Matthew Murray, a San Francisco attorney representing workers in one of the California cases, called Lee’s participation “a reflection that these are important issues, that workers are stepping up to assert their rights is a big deal, and that multinational corporations like McDonald’s have to follow the law, too.”

Barbara Lee 3-18-14 (photo by Josh Richman)Murray said attorneys’ ongoing investigation “suggests that this is a long-standing problem and a widespread problem,” and the company “exerts extensive control over its franchises, including over its franchises’ labor practices.”

McDonalds employs about 1.8 million people in more than 34,000 restaurants worldwide, including more than 14,000 in the United States. More than 80 percent of McDonald’s restaurants are franchised.

“McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a concern and commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants,” spokeswoman Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem said in a statement issued in response to the lawsuits. “We are currently reviewing the allegations in the lawsuits. McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators are each committed to undertaking a comprehensive investigation of the allegations and will take any necessary actions as they apply to our respective organizations. McDonald’s restaurants remain open today—and every day—thanks to the teams of dedicated employees serving our customers.”

Posted on Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
Under: Barbara Lee, Oakland, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

CAGOP14: Sessions touts CA17′s Vanila Singh

Dr. Vanila Singh, a Republican challenger to Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District, had a big booster at this weekend’s California Republican Convention this weekend: House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions.

Pete SessionsSessions, R-Texas, helped host a small meet-and-greet between Singh and a group of Republican physicians, and then spoke highly of her after his news conference.

“She is a very interesting person who is deeply committed to helping families and communities to overcome the ravages of big government and high taxation,” said Sessions, who as former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee is no stranger to recruiting and shepherding new GOP candidates to seek House seats.

Singh’s parents came from India to America on Ronald Reagan’s promise of economic opportunity, Sessions said, and she has become not only a physician serving the community but also “a well-educated, thoughtful mom and wife who sees first-hand that big government is taking too many thing away.”

Singh said Sessions has been “unbelievable,” an invaluable mentor and adviser. “It gives me hope to know our leaders care about the folks around them and are willing to encourage and give their time.”

Honda, D-San Jose, is seeking an eighth term, and a challenge brought by fellow Democrat Ro Khanna – a former Obama administration official from Fremont – has been making national headlines for almost a year. Singh entered the race at the start of this year, and two more Republicans jumped in just before the March 7 filing deadline: Joel Vanlandingham and Vinesh Singh Rathore, both of San Jose.

Vanila SinghAsked about those last-minute entries, who threaten to dilute the district’s already small GOP electorate, Singh replied, “I’m running my horserace.” She said she “most likely” will attend a League of Women Voters candidates’ forum on Saturday, May 3; Honda and Khanna already have committed to attend.

California GOP Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon of San Francisco said having three Indo-Americans in this race – Khanna, Singh and Rathore – is “a sign that the Indian American community has reached political maturity.”

But Dhillon said Rathore’s candidacy is “fishy” – someone formerly registered as a nonpartisan with a similar name (V. Singh Rathore and V. Singh) entering the race at the 11th hour. Though party bylaws prevent Dhillon from endorsing anyone when multiple Republicans are in the race, Singh is “a refreshing voice in our party … who shares the same concerns as the people in her community, and she has a lot to say.”

Dhillon also noted Singh placed ahead of Khanna in a recent poll commissioned by Honda’s liberal allied at Democracy for America, despite Khanna’s aggressive campaign over the past year. “He has certainly had his people reach out to Republican donors, Republican players.”

More from Singh, after the jump…
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Posted on Saturday, March 15th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

CA11: DeSaulnier’s endorsement blitz continues

My inbox cries out for mercy.

There have been only three business days in the past four weeks on which Mark DeSaulnier has not announced another endorsement in his bid to succeed Rep. George Miller in the 11th Congressional District.

DeSaulnierBetter safe than sorry? Sure, the Democratic state Senator from Concord thought he had punched his ticket to Washington in 2009 when Rep. Ellen Tauscher resigned to take a State Department post; despite having Tauscher’s and Miller’s endorsements, he lost that special election to fellow Democrat John Garamendi.

So ever since announcing his candidacy for this seat even as Miller was announcing his retirement, DeSaulnier has sought to flood the field. And those first few days of endorsements were important, as they included support from several people who were thought to be possible rivals for the seat, and from Miller himself.

Since then, other candidates have emerged: retired immigration judge Tue Phan of Danville; disability rights and employment advocate Cheryl Sudduth of El Sobrante; oil refinery employee Jason Ramey of Concord; Alameda Councilman Tony Daysog; and attorney Ki Ingersol of Benicia. The first is a Republican and the latter four are Democrats; Daysog and Ingersol live outside the district, though that’s no barrier to candidacy.

So DeSaulnier has kept cranking out the endorsements – other Democrats, labor unions, and many other non-surprises. Today’s might take the head-scratching record: “Former Massachusetts Governor and Democratic Presidential Nominee Mike Dukakis Endorses Mark DeSaulnier for Congress.”

“George Miller has been an extraordinary public servant and a leader in Congress who has stood up time and time again for middle class America. Mark will provide us with that same kind of inspired leadership,” Dukakis, the 1988 nominee, said in DeSaulnier’s news release.

DeSaulnier replied that “it’s an enormous honor to receive this endorsement from such a renowned an celebrated member of the Democratic Party. Governor Dukakis’ support means a great deal to me personally. I greatly admire his intelligence and determination, and few leaders have accomplished more over their career. I’m grateful for his support.”

Sure, some people remember Dukakis’ name, short as the American political memory might be, but how many votes will this sway in the 11th District, or how many rivals will it intimidate?

Whatever. I’ll stand by for Walter Mondale to weigh in.

Posted on Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Under: George Miller, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 11 Comments »

CA17: Candidate forum scheduled for May 3

Rep. Mike Honda will face off against his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna, and perhaps three Republican candidates at a forum in early May.

Gloria Chun Hoo, president of the League of Women Voters of San Jose/Santa Clara, confirmed Tuesday night that the 17th Congressional District forum will be held from 7* to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 3 at Fremont City Hall. Chun’s league is partnering with two others – Fremont, Newark and Union City, and Cupertino-Sunnyvale – to sponsor the event.

Honda’s and Khanna’s campaign staff confirmed Tuesday night that those candidates will attend. Three Republicans in the race – Dr. Vanila Singh of Fremont, Vinesh Singh Rathore of San Jose and Joel Vanlandingham of San Jose – are invited as well, but could not immediately be reached Tuesday.

Sources said the event will follow a typical league format in which the candidates make brief opening and closing statements and take questions from the audience via a moderator, but do not directly address or attack each other.

Khanna, a former Obama administration official from Fremont, challenged Honda in early January to commit to a series of debates; Honda’s campaign responded it was too early to commit. All three Republicans have entered the race since then.

Honda campaign manager Doug Greven said Tuesday that he and his staff had begun talks with Hoo and with the Mercury News as early as December, but felt it was premature to set a date and book a venue until the field of candidates was finalized at the close of the filing period on March 7.

UPDATE @ 9:18 P.M.: I just spoke with Marilyn Singer from the Fremont league, who said it’s possible the forum will start slightly earlier – perhaps 6:45 p.m. – depending on the number of candidates who commit to participate; they’ll firm that up as the date grows closer. Also, there will be no opening statements from the candidates – they’ll go right to the questions, and then have a chance to deliver brief closing statements.

Posted on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Rep. Barbara Lee speaks at U.N. panel on women

Rep. Barbara Lee, in her capacity as a U.S. representative to the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, attended meetings Monday at the U.N. headquarters in New York City for the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

President Obama named Lee, D-Oakland, to her U.N. service last September.

In addition to attending several events, Lee took part Monday in a panel sponsored by the Permanent missions of Latvia and Poland to discuss women, the economy, health, and political participation. Here’s an excerpt from her remarks:

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“Finally, as it relates to political participation, let me just say—it has been less than 100 years since the first woman was elected to the U.S. Congress.

“In fact, our last election, in 2013, was hailed as a ‘historic’ year, with more women elected to congressional seats than ever.

“Yet, women in our own country continue to struggle for representation and equality in politics. Shamefully, the US ranks 79th in the word in terms of women representation. Of 535 seats in the United States Congress, 101 are held by women. That is less than 20% even though women compose just over 50% of the U.S. population.

“We know that we’ve made real gains, but the truth is that we are not close to achieving the parity we need. Underrepresentation is even more pronounced for women of color, with them composing less than 6% of Congress.

Read more of Lee’s remarks, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, March 10th, 2014
Under: Barbara Lee, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Obama to add Stornetta Lands to monument

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will expand the California Coastal National Monument to include the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, a White House official said Saturday.

Stornetta mapCalifornia’s U.S. Senators and two congressmen have been pushing hard for this, and wrote to the president a year ago to urge his action. The White House said Obama will make the move as part of his State of the Union pledge to “use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.”

President Bill Clinton established the California Coastal National Monument in 2000 to protect the area’s scientifically valuable coastal resources, including geologic formations that offer unique habitats for breeding seabirds, marine mammals, and other native species.

Obama will be adding about 1,665 acres of federal lands located on California’s Mendocino County coast, just north of the Point Arena.

The area is an economic engine for the local community, driving tourism and offering outdoor recreation opportunities; a Bureau of Land Management report estimates that outdoor recreation on public lands in California contributed nearly $900 million to the economy in 2012. But it also will offer scientific opportunities for geologists, archeologists, historians, and biologists, as well as recreational opportunities.

U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein as well as Reps. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and Mike Thompson, D-Napa, have championed adding this land to the monument, and offered legislation that would’ve done so.

“I am so pleased that President Obama is taking action to permanently protect this majestic piece of California’s coast for future generations to enjoy,” Boxer said in a statement issued Saturday. “Expanding this monument will not only help preserve this sensitive coastal area and protect marine life along the coast, it will also boost the tourism economy in Mendocino County, which supports 5,000 jobs.”

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell held a public listening session in November in Point Arena to hear from the community about its vision for conserving the lands; Jewell will return to the area Wednesday to celebrate the president’s action.

Posted on Saturday, March 8th, 2014
Under: Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Environment, Jared Huffman, Mike Thompson, Obama presidency, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 9 Comments »

CA15: Swalwell feeling heat on women’s issues?

Perhaps Rep. Eric Swalwell is feeling some heat from his Democratic challenger after all.

State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, is both running on her state legislative record and trying to make a play more specifically for women’s votes this year. Among the three priorities on her campaign website:

TO SECURE AND BOLSTER WOMEN’S RIGHTS
I will push back against the seemingly endless efforts to roll back the progress that generations of women before us have made. During my time in the State Legislature I passed legislation expanding the rights of victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault as well as voted in favor of expanding access to maternity leave and services. In 2011 I was awarded the Women of Achievement Award by the National Women’s Political Caucus of California. This year, I secured continued funding from the Violence Against Women Act to ensure that California women can get no costs forensic exams.

So it’s probably not coincidence that Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, sent a mailer to his 15th Congressional District constituents in the past few days touting how he’s “standing strong for women” by fighting to raise wages for women and their families through the Paycheck Fairness Act; protecting the work-family balance by supporting the Healthy Families Act to ensure paid sick leave for workers; supporting an increase in the minimum wage, as two-thirds of minimum-wage workers are women; and supporting the Strong Start for America’s Children Act to increase access to affordable, quality child care.

Swalwell1

Swalwell2

Posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
Under: Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 17 Comments »