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CA17: George Takei to raise money for Honda

Rep. Mike Honda is trying to take his campaign fundraising to warp speed with a reception next month featuring actor and internet sensation George Takei of “Star Trek” fame.

George TakeiThe March 20 reception in San Francisco – location known only to those who RSVP – seeks anywhere from $50 for basic entry to $1,000 for a host committee level or $2,600 for an “Oh Myyy! Giver,” a nod to Takei’s renowned catchphrase.

Honda, D-San Jose, could definitely use a boost – he was out-raised in every quarter of last year by his Democratic challenger, former Obama administration official Ro Khanna of Fremont. Dr. Vanila Singh, a Republican from Fremont, is also in the 17th Congressional District race.

The hosts include venture capitalist Andrew Rappaport and his wife, Deborah; Ted Fang, president and executive director of the AsianWeek Foundation and a former editor and publisher of the San Francisco Examiner and AsianWeek; Yahoo! employee and Democratic activist Regina Wallace-Jones; i-Human Patients CEO Norm Wu; Palo Alto City Councilman Marc Berman; personal injury attorney Dale Minami; business attorney Quyen Ta; Four Freedoms Fund senior program officer Henry Der; Realtor Pam Rodgers; and UC-Hastings law professor Carol Izumi.

Takei, 76, might be as famous now for his social media presence and activism as for his iconic role as Mr. Sulu in the original “Star Trek” television series and related movies.

Posted on Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

CA17: Khanna & Honda argue Honda’s record

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna’s campaign claims Rep. Mike Honda is inflating his record on jobs and education, while Honda claims Khanna doesn’t understand how Congress actually works.

My earlier post on Khanna’s jobs agenda drew a response from Honda’s campaign, which in turn led Khanna’s campaign to reiterate claims it first made Feb. 14 that Honda has accomplished little during his seven terms in the House.

“Congressman Mike Honda has authored only one bill in his entire Congressional tenure that became law: ‘to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1750 Lundy Avenue in San Jose, California,’” Khanna’s campaign said in an e-mail Tuesday afternoon. “Not a single bill that Congressman Honda has authored (other than the aforementioned post office naming) has been voted on in the House.”

Khanna’s belief that this means something underscores his lack of political experience, Honda’s campaign retorts.

“Because of how Congress works, with only a certain number of bills getting passed every year, legislators who want to get things done have to be savvy about how they go about it: there’s a big difference between just having your name on a bill and actually delivering results. And Mike Honda delivers results,” spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said.

So, let’s hash this out, one issue at a time, after the jump…
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Posted on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

CA17: Ro Khanna rolls out his jobs agenda

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna rolled out his jobs plan Monday, including teaching computer coding in public schools, boosting the number of women in tech careers, preparing more young workers for manufacturing jobs and boosting the minimum wage higher than even the president wants.

Khanna talks to Access Closure workers after his speech 2-24-14 (photo by Josh Richman)Khanna described the plan in a speech to about 100 employees at Access Closure, a Santa Clara medical-device manufacturer. The company employs about 345 workers nationwide including about 210 in the Bay Area; jobs on the manufacturing floor, which require only a high-school diploma or equivalent, start at about $40,000 per year.

“I can’t think of a better place to do this,” Khanna said, noting the company is a U.S.-based manufacturer that’s exporting some of its product and expanding while paying its workers a living wage.

But duplicating the success of a company like this requires leadership and action from Washington, said Khanna, a Democratic challenger to Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, in the 17th Congressional District.

Honda lacks a comprehensive jobs plan, Khanna charged. “There’s been an absence of leadership on his part … and beyond that an absence of willingness to have a conversation,” he said, noting Honda’s refusal thus far to promise a debate before the June primary.

Read about Khanna’s seven-point plan, after the jump:
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Lawmakers seek update on power station attack

Silicon Valley’s House members want an update on the Department of Homeland Security’s investigation of the sniper attack on PG&E’s Metcalf power substation last April.

METCALF plant 020614Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and Mike Honda, D-San Jose; wrote a letter Thursday to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

“Although the damage from the Metcalf incident was largely contained, the potential for a catastrophic attack impacting both our electric grid and communications infrastructure is evident,” the lawmakers wrote. “As we understand it, rolling blackouts throughout our region were narrowly averted. The Metcalf attack, while sophisticated, was relatively small. A larger attack is not difficult to imagine and the effects could be crippling.”

Somebody fired rifle rounds last April to take out 17 transformers and 6 circuit breakers, causing $15.4 million in damage at the facility near Coyote Ranch Road in South San Jose. Nobody was hurt and nobody lost power, but circumstances suggest it was a planned attack.

Given the Bay Area’s high concentration of Fortune 500 companies, patent generation and economic productivity, a successful attack on the area’s power grid “would impact not only our region but our country as a whole,” they wrote.

The lawmakers asked Johnson to respond by March 14 with a summary of his department’s work on the incident, including the initial emergency response; work since the incident on improving protection of critical infrastructure, emergency mitigation and coordination with other agencies; recommendations for more improvements; and guidance on whether any congressional action is needed.

Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014
Under: Anna Eshoo, Homeland security, Mike Honda, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 1 Comment »

CA17: Don’t call Ro Khanna a millionaire

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna took umbrage at being called a millionaire by one of Rep. Mike Honda’s supporters and fellow House members.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, on Tuesday invited contributors to a March 17 fundraiser in Monterey Park on Honda’s behalf. The email didn’t specifically name Khanna, but it seems clear Chu wasn’t talking about Dr. Vanilla Singh, a Fremont Republican who entered the race last month, when writing that “Rep. Honda is facing a tough race against a well-funded millionaire.”

Well-funded, yes: Khanna, an attorney and former Obama administration official from Fremont, had about $1.97 million banked for his 17th Congressional District campaign as of the end of 2013, while the incumbent Honda, D-San Jose, had about $623,000.

But millionaire, no. Khanna’s campaign issued a “Truth Squad” communiqué Tuesday noting Khanna “is the son of immigrants, and the product of a middle-class upbringing. Today, Ro is still paying off his own student loans. Ro is not a millionaire.”

“This fundraising email from Congressman Honda’s supporter is just the latest example of a baseless attack waged against Ro,” Khanna’s campaign added. “Candidates and their allies should stick to the facts instead of engaging in ad hominem personal attacks. Congressman Honda should call on Congresswoman Chu to correct her misstatement and set the record straight.”

Chu’s response said nothing of Khanna’s own wealth.

“Ro Khanna’s campaign is well-funded and fueled by maxed-out contributions from far-right conservative millionaires like Peter Thiel and Marc Leder who are actively working against our efforts to move the country forward,” she said via e-mail Tuesday night. “Mike Honda has been a tireless champion for the Asian-American community and his district, as Khanna has said so himself. I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure Mike is re-elected.”

Chu succeeded Honda as chair of the Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus in 2011.

Posted on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

CA15: DeSaulnier doesn’t recall endorsing Corbett

Corbett-DeSaulnierState Sen. Ellen Corbett announced on her Facebook page Monday that State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier had endorsed her in her campaign to unseat Rep. Eric Swalwell – and this came as news to DeSaulnier.

“I was actually surprised to see it, but having said that, I just talked to her and she says I signed a card eight months ago,” DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said Tuesday. “I don’t remember that.”

“This is a tough situation because they’re both friends, and (former Rep.) Ellen Tauscher is a very, very good friend and she’s supportive of Eric,” DeSaulnier added. “I need to talk to Ellen (Corbett) and see that card. … I think right now there definitely was a miscommunication, and it may be my fault.”

I had called DeSaulnier because it seemed odd that he would take a side in the 15th Congressional District’s intra-party battle between Corbett, D-San Leandro, and Swalwell, D-Pleasanton. DeSaulnier is now running to succeed George Miller in the 11th Congressional District, but still has one more year ahead of him working alongside Corbett, the state Senate Majority Leader.

The crystal ball says: Dual endorsement to come.

UPDATE @ 5:42 P.M.: DeSaulnier just called back to say he spoke with Corbett today, and he indeed is making a dual endorsement of both her and Swalwell.

UPDATE @ 5:52 P.M.: Corbett was completely on the up-and-up here. Her campaign just tweeted out this photo of the endorsement card with DeSaulnier’s signature:
endorsement card

Posted on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 20 Comments »

CA17: Khanna taps diplomat to arrange debates

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna has named a former U.S. ambassador to Australia to lead “debate negotiations” for his campaign with that of Rep. Mike Honda.

But diplomacy takes at least two willing participants, and so far, Honda hasn’t signaled that he’s willing to debate his fellow Democrat before June’s primary election.

BleichKhanna, a former Obama administration official from Fremont, issued a release Monday noting media outlets including the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, NBC Bay Area, KPIX 5, The Huffington Post, and TechCrunch have expressed interest in hosting a 17th Congressional District debate. Jeffrey Bleich, the release said, “will be playing a key role in overseeing a fair and open debate process.”

“Debates are fundamental to the Democratic process,” Bleich said in the release. “We should all have a chance to hear the candidates share their visions for this important district, and voters expect that from their candidates. Ro has offered the kind of ideas that we need to grow Silicon Valley’s prosperity and prepare young J open dialogue between both candidates.”

Khanna said Bleich’s “leadership in the debate process will help ensure that voters benefit from an open and transparent conversation on the key issues facing hardworking families in the Bay Area. The people have grown tired of old-style politics and campaigns that consist of little more than sloganeering and demagoguery. With the unique challenges facing our community and our nation, the voters deserve better.”

Vivek Kembaiyan, spokesman for the Honda campaign, said Monday the incumbent remains in wait-and-see mode. “Given how early it is (the full field of candidates isn’t set yet), the campaign has not made any decisions yet regarding debates.”

Dr. Vanila Singh, a Republican from Fremont, also has announced she’s seeking the 17th Congressional District seat. A spokesman for her campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Bleich, of Piedmont, served as the U.S. ambassador to Australia from 2009 to 2013; earlier, he had served as special counsel to President Obama. After his diplomatic posting, he returned to his partnership in the San Francisco office of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP.

Posted on Monday, February 17th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

CA11: Alameda’s Tony Daysog is considering a run

Alameda Councilman Tony Daysog says he’s considering a run for the 11th Congressional District seat from which Rep. George Miller will retire at this year’s end.

And here I thought state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier – already endorsed by Miller and about a half-dozen other Democrats who might’ve sought the seat – was being over-cautious by rolling out another endorsement almost every day. (Well, maybe that’s still true.)

Tony DaysogDaysog, 48, of Alameda, said in an email Friday afternoon that he had just taken out papers to file for candidacy, and is exploring the possibility of a run.

“In the days leading up to the March 7th filing deadline, I will talk with Contra Costa County residents of the 11th Congressional [District] to gauge responses to an out-of-district person such as myself running for this important office,” he wrote.

Daysog, an urban planner, was an Alameda councilman from 1996 through 2006; placed last in a field of four in the June 2006 Democratic primary for what was then the 16th Assembly District seat; ran unsuccessfully for the Alameda mayor’s office in 2010; and was re-elected to the city council in 2012.

Daysog’s website says his priorities are securing individual freedoms by safeguarding individual rights from high-tech snooping; protecting small investors, including owners of 401(k) retirement accounts; protecting abortion choice; making college affordable without massive debt; and supporting small business owners to create jobs while supporting workers to pursue life-long learning.

Posted on Friday, February 14th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, George Miller, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Obama visit brings flood of drought commentary

With President Obama soon to arrive in California for drought-related visits to Firebaugh and Los Banos, lots of politicos and stakeholders are weighing in about the state’s crisis.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., issued a statement praising executive-order relief measures that the Obama administration announced today, including $100 million in livestock disaster aid for California ranchers, $60 million for California food banks to help families affected by the drought, and other measures to promote conservation and help rural communities suffering water shortages.

“I applaud the President for coming to California during this very difficult drought, and I thank him for moving so quickly to provide relief for our state,” Boxer said.

But, from House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield:

“As President Obama visits California this afternoon to introduce an initiative to spend millions of dollars as part of his solution to California’s drought that has been exacerbated by federal and state regulations, House Republicans are continuing to work to find a bipartisan, bicameral solution to ensure our communities are not crippled by future droughts. Last week, the House passed H.R. 3964, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act, by a bipartisan vote of 229-191. I urge Majority Leader Harry Reid to put this legislation on the Senate floor for a vote as soon as possible.

“Earlier this week, California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer introduced their own legislation on California water policy. After two House-passed bills and two Congresses, this development is welcomed, but long overdue.

“In the spirit of Californians working together to bring solutions to the President’s desk, I believe that there are components of the Senate bill that can be further discussed and explored. The federal government can do more to deliver water to our southern California communities by keeping the Delta Cross Channel Gates open, increasing pumping at Old and Middle Rivers, setting a 1-to-1 flow in the San Joaquin River for water transfers, and authorizing the drilling of wells in refuges.

“And most importantly, there is growing consensus that direction to federal and state agencies to maximize water supplies is the underlying issue that must be addressed. Unfortunately, without substantive changes to burdensome environmental regulations, the well-being of fish will continue to be placed ahead of the well-being of our central and southern California communities that rely on critical water supplies to survive. And as a result, our farmers will still be left paying for water allocations that they are not receiving.

“Our communities cannot afford rhetorical battles in this time of drought. Already, the actions taken by the House have resulted in the Senate putting forth their plan after years of inaction. When Majority Leader Reid decides to put California water legislation on the Senate floor for a vote and Senators Feinstein and Boxer work to ensure its passage, I look forward to coming together to find areas of common ground and commonsense to finally achieve a solution that our state is so desperately in need of. It remains to be seen if our Senate colleagues are willing to cross the aisle and acknowledge that a their-way-or-the-highway position is not feasible.”

More after the jump…
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Posted on Friday, February 14th, 2014
Under: Barbara Boxer, Jeff Denham, Kevin McCarthy, Neel Kashkari, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, water | 3 Comments »

CA15: Corbett accuses Swalwell of dishonesty

State Senator Ellen Corbett has accused Rep. Eric Swalwell, whom she’s challenging in this year’s election, of a “lack of integrity and honesty” over pay he accepted for the time in which the federal government was shut down last October.

Yet it seems Swalwell kept his word.

This dustup started when KTVU aired a report this week following up on whether Bay Area lawmakers had kept their word about rejecting or giving away their pay during the shutdown. The report said Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, “sent a letter to the House’s Chief Administrative Officer asking to have his pay withheld. But we found out he did get paid.”

Ellen CorbettCorbett, D-San Leandro, posted a statement on Facebook saying that’s a problem.

“This lack of integrity and honesty by Mr. Swalwell is very disappointing,” she wrote. “The public has a right to expect honesty from their elected officials. Thousands of unemployed Californians who are struggling to make ends meet after their benefits were terminated by Congress deserve better.”

However, in the Sept. 30 letter that KTVU cited, Swalwell had asked that “until federal employees who must work during a federal government shutdown are paid, I not be given my paycheck.” Swalwell announced this in a news release the same day: “I will refuse my paycheck until federal employees who must work during the shutdown are paid.”

And that seems to be what happened. Swalwell’s office noted Thursday that the House’s Chief Administrative Officer had notified Swalwell at the time that his salary would be placed in escrow for any pay periods that occurred while the government was shutdown. The government re-opened Oct. 16, Congress voted to give back pay to all federal workers, and the federal workers were paid that month; on Nov. 1, Swalwell was paid his monthly salary for work performed during October.

Posted on Friday, February 14th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 8 Comments »