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CA15: Bussell’s lead over Corbett has been halved

Republican Hugh Bussell’s narrow lead over state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett in the 15th Congressional District was halved by an election-results update posted Wednesday afternoon by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

Bussell, of Livermore, and Corbett, D-San Leandro, are vying to finish second in the race; whoever prevails will face Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, in November’s general election. Swalwell finished first with 49.1 percent of the vote in last Tuesday’s primary.

Since the previous update on Saturday, Bussell had led Corbett by 721 votes, or about 1 percent of all votes cast. But after the update at 4 p.m. Wednesday, his lead is now 323 votes, or about four-tenths of a percent.

However, this might be as close as Corbett gets.

This now Alameda County’s “unofficial final” result, spokesman Guy Ashley said Wednesday afternoon – all ballots have now been scanned, and the county is now starting its one-percent manual tally to audit its results, as required by law.

The district also includes a slice of Contra Costa County, where registrar Joe Canciamilla won’t update his online results until Friday; as of Monday, his county had about 6,000 provisional ballots and about 4,000 exception ballots – damaged or otherwise questionable – left to count.

But Bussell has led Corbett in Contra Costa County all along, so it’s unlikely that further results there will help her.

Corbett could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

What Eric Cantor’s loss might mean to you

Rep. Eric Cantor, the Virginia Republican who was defeated in a primary election Tuesday by tea-party challenger Dave Brat, will step down as House Majority Leader.

Cantor’s upset defeat has repercussions far beyond Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, and even far beyond the Beltway. When the second-most-powerful Republican in Congress is taken down by a challenge from within his own party, the political and policy implications are sure to be significant. Here are a few:

1.) Immigration reform

Cantor’s loss probably means any shred of chance for comprehensive immigration reform in the foreseeable future is now gone.

One of Brat’s biggest criticisms of Cantor was that Cantor favored “amnesty” by supporting some sort of path to citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants. Actually, Politico is reporting that a poll found most of the voters in that district – including most Republicans – favor a plan that would include letting undocumented immigrants without criminal records gain legal status.

Nonetheless, I think the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza is right when he says Cantor’s defeat will make any House Republican who’d been considering supporting some similar reform think again.

Meanwhile, immigration reform activists say Cantor’s loss is the nail in the coffin, and so are urging President Obama to offer deportation relief and other forms of administrative relief immediately.

2.) California’s clout

Cantor was the GOP’s number two in the House; House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, is number three. But Cantor’s loss doesn’t necessarily mean McCarthy’s ascension – a bunch of House Republicans already are jockeying to snap up Cantor’s post.

As both a Californian and a national GOP leader, McCarthy has had to walk a knife-edge on immigration reform; he has called for legal status, though perhaps not citizenship, for undocumented immigrants without criminal records. If Cantor’s loss makes House Republicans gun-shy about speaking up on immigration reform, McCarthy – along with other California Republicans like Jeff Denham and David Valadao – may be in the majority’s minority, and that’s not a great place to be when you’re gunning for a higher party leadership post.

More, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Under: Immigration, Kevin McCarthy, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. House | 14 Comments »

House votes to cut off money for high-speed rail

Rep. Jeff Denham’s amendment to would cut off federal funding for California’s high-speed rail project was approved by the House on Tuesday.

Denham introduced H.R. 3893, the Responsible Rail and Deterring Deficiency Act, in January with support from all California House Republicans. The House passed it Tuesday as an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill, H.R. 4745.

“Without a viable funding plan like the one voters supported, California’s high speed rail project is going nowhere fast,” Denham, R-Modesto, said in a news release. “I’m pleased to have the support of so many of my House colleagues who recognize that we shouldn’t be spending any more taxpayer money on a project without a future.”

The roll call was 227-186. Among the six Democrats who voted for it were four Californians who face tough fights to keep their seats this November: Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova; Julia Brownley, D-Thousand Oaks; Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Springs; and Scott Peters, D-San Diego.

Here’s what Denham said about it on the floor:

But before you get too excited: This has happened before. Denham offered the same amendment to the same THUD (!) appropriations bill in June 2012, and that one passed on a 239-185 vote; all California Democrats (and all but four House Democrats) had voted against it.

Posted on Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
Under: Jeff Denham, Transportation, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Barbara Lee stands up for hair of women of color

Rep. Barbara Lee is proud to report the passage of her amendment to block funding for Army regulations which ban many natural hairstyles worn by women of color.

cornrowsUpdated guidelines released in March included twists, large cornrows and dreadlocks on its list of unauthorized hairstyles. Lee’s amendment, which prohibits any money being spent to implement these guidelines, was approved by the Appropriations Committee on a voice vote Tuesday and so will be included in the Fiscal Year 2015 Defense Appropriations Bill when it goes to the floor for a vote.

“I am pleased that my amendment to stop the implementation of the Army’s new discriminatory regulations passed the appropriations committee,” Lee, D-Oakland, said in a news release. “The army’s use of words like ‘unkempt’ and ‘matted’ to describe the hairstyles of African American women are offensive stereotypes.”

Lee said that as the daughter of a veteran, she recognizes the need for uniformity in the military. “But targeting women of color with no consideration of the unique challenges they face in maintaining their natural hair is prejudiced and wrong.

“While I am pleased that the Department of Defense is reviewing the regulation, we must halt implementation until we have a more comprehensive understanding of the impact to service members of color,” she said. “With African Americans representing one-third of the women in the armed forces, the U.S. Army must ensure that any proposed guidelines and policies are fair, balanced and culturally appropriate.”

Posted on Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
Under: Barbara Lee, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Neel Kashkari praises teacher-tenure ruling

A Los Angeles judge’s ruling Tuesday that California’s teacher tenure, layoff and dismissal laws are unconstitutional is “an important first step in transforming our schools,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari said.

“I applaud today’s ruling by Judge Treu, which recognizes that every student in California has a Constitutional right to a quality education but that their rights are being violated by failing schools,” Kashkari said in a statement issued soon after the ruling.

“California ranks 46th in the nation in education, and it will take the joint efforts of parents, teachers and political leaders to make the bold changes our kids deserve,” he said. “Today’s ruling is an important first step in transforming our schools; if we are to close the achievement gap, reduce income inequality and rebuild the middle class, then we must continue to pursue bold education reform. I have made transforming our schools a centerpiece of my campaign for Governor and I am encouraged by today’s development.”

UPDATE @ 12:40 P.M.: Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s senior Democrat, also applauded the ruling:

“Judge Treu’s ruling affirms the simple and undeniable premise that every child, regardless of background or zip code, has the right to a high-quality education and an effective teacher. It is not only Californians who should celebrate today’s decision, but families in every state and school district across the country.

“For years, our nation’s courts have been the arbiter of equity in education. Like Brown v. Board, Serrano, Butt, and the many other landmark educational equality cases before it, Vergara will help refocus our education system on the needs of students.

“Unfortunately, school districts nationwide have policies in place that mirror those challenged in Vergara—policies that constrain the ability of schools to put the very best teachers in front the children that need them most. This is simply indefensible. Today’s ruling puts every school with similar policies on notice.

“I call upon all stakeholders in my home state—elected officials, community and school leaders, and teachers—to be bold and do what is right for kids. This is an historic opportunity and a defining moment for California, one that we must not squander. The Vergara decision underscores the state’s responsibility to protect the rights of children to constitutionally mandated equal educational opportunities. We owe it to the six million students in California’s public education system to be thoughtful and deliberate, and to put their needs first as we move forward.”

Posted on Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
Under: education, George Miller, Neel Kashkari, U.S. House | 21 Comments »

CA15: Corbett still lags as uncounted ballots wane

A Saturday update in Alameda County’s ballot tally didn’t help state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett gain any ground in her bid to finish second in the 15th Congressional District race.

Ellen CorbettAs of now, Corbett, D-Hayward, trails Republican Hugh Bussell by 721 votes, or about 1 percent of all votes cast in the race; before Saturday’s update, she’d been trailing by 713 votes. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, finished with a more-than-comfortable 49.3 percent of the vote to Bussell’s 25.9 percent and Corbett’s 24.9 percent.

Alameda County, which contains most of the district, still has about 4,500 ballots (1,000 vote-by-mail and about 3,500 provisional) to process county-wide; a spokesman said the registar will next update the results on his website Tuesday afternoon. Contra Costa County has about 10,000 (6,000 provisional and 4,000 exceptions – damaged or otherwise questionable vote-by-mail ballots); registrar Joe Canciamilla said he’ll next update the results on his website Friday before 5 p.m.

But Bussell has basically maintained the same lead as the number of ballots still outstanding has dwindled tremendously since last Wednesday, and so it’s growing ever more unlikely that the relative few ballots remaining will suddenly turn the tide.

Corbett couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 9 Comments »

CA15: Bussell now leads Corbett by 710 votes

The long, tough wait goes on in the 15th Congressional District, where Friday’s vote-tally updates still couldn’t provide a clear picture of who’ll finish second behind Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Alameda County’s update had narrowed Republican Hugh Bussell’s lead over state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, from 600 votes to 310, but then Contra Costa County’s update broke in Bussell’s favor so that he now leads Corbett by 713 votes – about 1.1 percent of all votes counted so far.

Both counties still have tens of thousands of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots to process, so the candidates must remain on pins and needles – except for Swalwell, of course, who’s sitting pretty no matter who’s in second place.

Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 31 Comments »

What the top two hath wrought upon California

My story today includes experts’ opinions on the effects that California’s top-two primary system had on Tuesday’s results; over at FlashReport.org, former state GOP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro makes an impassioned case against the system.

In furtherance of the debate, here’s a list of all House, state Senate and Assembly races I found in which candidates of the same party are advancing to November’s general election, leaving voters without an alternate party choice; I did not list races in which the incumbent stands unopposed.

SAME-PARTY HOUSE RACES: 5 Democratic*, 2 Republican

CA4 – Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, vs. Art Moore (R)
(A nonpartisan candidate was eliminated; there were no Democrats.)

CA17 – Rep. Mike. Honda, D-San Jose, vs. Ro Khanna (D)
(Two Republican candidates were eliminated.)

CA19 – Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, vs. Robert Murray (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates; Murray ran as a Republican in 2012.)

CA25 – Tony Strickland (R) vs. Steve Knight (R)
(Two Democrats, two Republicans, a Libertarian and a nonpartisan were eliminated.)

CA34 – Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, vs. Adrienne Edwards (D)
(A Peace & Freedom Party candidate was eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

CA35 – Norma Torres (D) vs. Christina Gagnier (D)
(Two other Democratic candidates were eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

CA40 – Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Commerce, vs. David Sanchez (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

* It’s still too close to call whether state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, or Alameda County GOP vice chairman Hugh Bussell of Livermore will advance to face Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, in the 15th District.

SAME-PARTY STATE SENATE RACES: 5 Democratic, 1 Republican

SD6 – Roger Dickinson (D) vs. Richard Pan (D)
(Two Republican candidates were eliminated.)

SD24 – State Sen. Kevin DeLeon, D-Los Angeles, vs. Peter Choi (D)
(One Republican candidate was eliminated.)

SD26 – Ben Allen (D) vs. Sandra Fluke (D)
(Five other Democrats and one nonpartisan were eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

SD28 – Jeff Stone (R) vs. ?????
(Too close to call, but those now in second and third place are both Republicans; another Republican and two Democrats were eliminated.)

SD30 – State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, vs. Isidro Armenta (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

SD40 – State Sen. Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista, vs. Rafael Estrada (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

SAME-PARTY ASSEMBLY RACES: 8 Democratic, 3 Republican

AD7 – Kevin McCarty (D) vs. Steve Cohn (D)
(One Democrat and two Republicans were eliminated.)

AD9 – Jim Cooper (D) vs. Darrell Fong (D)
(One Democrat and two Republicans were eliminated.)

AD15 – Elizabeth Echols (D) vs. Tony Thurmond (D)
(Three Democrats, one Republican, one Peace & Freedom and one nonpartisan were eliminated.)

AD17 – Chris Campos (D) vs. David Chiu (D)
(One Republican was eliminated.)

AD26 – Rudy Mendoza (R) vs. Devon Mathis (R)
(Three Democrats and two Republicans were eliminated.)

AD39 – Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Arleta, vs. Patty Lopez (D)
(One Democrat was eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

AD47 – Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, vs. Gil Navarro (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

AD53 – Miguel Santiago (D) vs. Sandra Mendoza (D)
(Two Democrats were eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

AD64 – Mike Gipson (D) vs. Prophet Walker (D)
(Two Democrats were eliminated, there were no Republicans.)

AD71 – Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, vs. Tony Teora (R)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

AD74 – Keith Curry (R) vs. Matthew Harper (R)
(Two Democrats and a Republican were eliminated.)

Posted on Thursday, June 5th, 2014
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Election reform, Elections, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

CA17: Honda and Khanna take their victory laps

Rep. Mike Honda’s 22-percentage-point lead over insurgent Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in Tuesday’s 17th Congressional District primary has both the party’s establishment and its liberal wing crowing with delight.

honda.jpgDemocratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel issued a statement praising Honda, D-San Jose, on his “decisive win” and calling him “the ideal leader for the Bay Area” with “an unparalleled record of delivering results in education, innovation and helping to rebuild the middle class.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the liberal grassroots group Democracy for America, used sharper terms, calling Honda “the true grassroots progressive in the race, over the billionaire-backed, Republican-lite Ro Khanna.”

“With the registered Republicans now out of the race, Democracy for America members look forward to continuing to make clear that Mike Honda is the only progressive Democrat in this race — a job we expect to be made considerably easier as Republican-lite Ro Khanna inevitably begins making the same right-wing pitch to voters that he used to ‘win’ the support of fringe-right millionaires and billionaires,” Chamberlain said.

And the Progressive Change Campaign Committee counts Honda among victories in what it “is calling ‘Progressive Super Tuesday’ because ‘Elizabeth Warren wing’ Democrats across the country won their races against Corporate Democrats.”

As I wrote Tuesday night, Honda’s victory margin gives him some room to breathe as he heads for his November showdown with Khanna. They’re about equally matched in money, and Honda – who already has the name recognition that comes with being a seven-term incumbent – has not yet even started advertising on television.

But Khanna – who came out swinging Tuesday night by challenging Honda to swear off negative campaigning, shun independent expenditures and meet for five debates – says he has five months to play catch-up. His campaign issued a lengthy memo Wednesday from consultant Jeremy Bird – who was national field director of President Obama’s re-election camoaign – explaining why Khanna is “in a strong position” looking ahead to November.

Ro KhannaThe memo notes that Khanna has moved from 5 percent in the polls to his 27 percent showing on Tuesday, even with three other candidates in the field, while Honda dropped from 57 percent in his own poll to 49 percent Tuesday. “And any time an incumbent falls below 50% – especially one who started with as strong name ID as Honda – that suggests a highly vulnerable candidate,” Bird wrote.

November will offer a larger, more moderate electorate, the memo says.

“Honda’s best performing group (strong partisan Democrats) is already accounted for in the primary vote,” Bird wrote. “There is no more natural constituency for Rep. Honda to reach out to. Rep. Honda’s worst performing groups, independent Democrats, DTS and Republican voters, make up the vast majority of the up-for-grabs vote pool. He has to win votes from groups outside his core appeal. This will be a formidable challenge because his vote share over the primary shrunk, especially with these groups, while Ro Khanna’s grew.”

Posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

CA15: Swalwell sits pretty as rivals fight for 2nd

As of now, Rep. Eric Swalwell has taken 49.2 percent of the 15th Congressional District’s vote with Republican Hugh Bussell 25.9 percent and state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett at 24.9 percent.

And that looks a recipe for Swalwell’s second term.

Bussell, the Alameda County GOP vice chairman from Livermore, leads Corbett, D-Hayward, by only about 600 votes, too small a margin to call which one of them will make it into the top two. In Alameda County, which includes the lion’s share of the district, the registrar still must review and/or count about 64,000 vote-by-mail ballots plus about 8,000 provisional ballots countywide. Likewise, Contra Costa County has as many as 50,000 more ballots to count.

The district’s voters are 48 percent Democrats, 22 percent Republicans and 21 percent nonpartisans. Swalwell, D-Dublin, built a Democrat-nonpartisan bloc – with a few Republicans too, probably – to dominate the middle of the field and crowd Corbett to one side; by drawing almost half the vote, he left her no room to maneuver beyond her liberal, labor-backed, Democratic base.

Bussell seemed happy Wednesday, and rightly so – his share of the vote slightly exceeded his party’s registration. But he’s probably too smart and well-versed to believe in his heart that if he gets to November, he can win.

Few who voted for Corbett will vote for him; they’ll vote either for Swalwell or not at all. And Bussell can expect no monetary aid from the state GOP, the National Republican Congressional Committee or other party entities, who’ll be focused on winnable races; he had about $3,200 cash on hand to Swalwell’s $697,000 as of mid-May.

“It’s a very steep hill to climb,” he acknowledged Wednesday. “On the other hand, as people take notice that there’s a Republican in the race, they may take a closer look at what I stand for … and Eric might find some of his support falling away as well.”

If Corbett edges out Bussell, it’s hard to imagine Bussell voters pivoting to support her instead of Swalwell – she argues Swalwell isn’t liberal enough for the district. And if her support from labor unions only just barely gets her into the top two this week, it’s hard to see how they can suddenly push her to victory in the larger-turnout, less ideological electorate we’ll see in November.

Corbett was enduring the primary cliffhanger stoically Wednesday.

“I called Mr. Swalwell this morning and wished him well and congratulated him in coming in first,” she said. “But we’re just going to have to wait for the votes to be counted … We’ll see how that goes.”

Bussell agreed. “I’m guardedly optimistic. At some level, it’s just fantastic we’re even at this point.”

Posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 11 Comments »