Campaign update: Gov, AG, Senate and more

Rolling into this weekend’s California Republican Party convention, it seemed this was a much better week for Steve Poizner than for Meg Whitman in the Republican gubernatorial primary. He got endorsements from the California Republican Assembly and conservative mainstay Congressmen Tom McClintock and Dana Rohrabacher; she got bogged down in bad press over refusing to talk to reporters and then turning a town-hall meeting into a carefully scripted infomercial. On the other hand, a Research 2000 poll conducted Monday through Wednesday on behalf of Daily Kos showed Whitman supported by 52 percent of likely voters in the GOP primary compared to Poizner’s 19 percent. So for whom was it truly a good week?

Steve CooleyThe run-up to the convention saw a flurry of endorsement roll-outs, but perhaps nobody has had ‘em so hot and heavy as Attorney General candidate and Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley. This week he announced the endorsements of the California Police Chiefs Association (in the GOP primary – the CPCA picked Alberto Torrico in the Democratic primary); former governors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian; and former state GOP chairmen Mike Antonovich, Dr. Tirso del Junco, Mike Montgomery and Frank Visco.

(UPDATE @ 12:19 P.M.: I’m now told that, in yet another case of multiple endorsement, the CPCA has endorsed Ted Lieu in the Democratic AG primary, too.)

Carly FiorinaRepublican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina announced her campaign’s regional grassroots co-chairs. In the Bay Area, one is Laurel Pathman of San Jose, who seems to be senior manager of commercial and government contracts at Sunnyvale-based Cepheid, which deals in genetic testing technology; I can’t find much else about Pathman online besides her signature (#86) on a 2008 petition supporting controversial evangelical pastor John Hagee. The other is Shahin Shabahang of Los Altos, an attorney at San Jose-based Pedersen, Eichenbaum, Lauderdale & Siehl, which is the in-house staff counsel of the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies.

Janice HahnEven as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom formally announces his bid for lieutenant governor (note the updated Web site!), the candidate who has been leading that Democratic primary so far, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, is campaigning practically in his backyard. She’s keynoting the monthly luncheon of the National Women’s Political Caucus’ Marin Chapter at noon today in San Rafael. Hahn picked up the endorsement of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday, but I’m sure Newsom’s entry into the race – in which Hahn had been seeming to trounce state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter – made this week pretty grim at Hahn HQ.

Nadia LockyerOn the local front, Alameda County Family Justice Center Executive Director Nadia Lockyer this week scored the endorsement of the Alameda Labor Council AFL-CIO in her bid for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors District 2 seat. But not every union member in the county will be behind her: One of her rivals, Hayward City Councilman Kevin Dowling, announced his endorsement by Hayward Firefighters Local 1909.


Newsom’s former advisor smacks him down

It seems like only a short while ago that I sat down for a cup of coffee with veteran Democratic campaign strategist Garry South so he could tell me how San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was going to clean state Attorney General Jerry Brown’s clock in the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Of course, no. But now South works for Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn’s campaign for lieutenant governor, and now that Newsom is threatening to jump into that race and rain on Hahn’s parade, suddenly he doesn’t think Gavin’s all that anymore:

“I am surprised and perplexed that my friend and former client Mayor Gavin Newsom apparently has decided to jump into the lieutenant governor’s race at the last minute – especially against an already-announced candidate who would be the first woman lieutenant governor in California history.

“In every one of several conversations we had about the job while he was running for governor, the Mayor expressed nothing but disinterest in and disdain for the office of lieutenant governor. In fact, he was derisively dismissive of Gray Davis’s decision to run for and serve as lieutenant governor prior to running for governor (‘I’m not a Gray Davis,’ he said). On a couple of occasions, he directed me to repudiate publicly in the strongest terms that he had any interest in ever running for lieutenant governor.

“The Mayor himself told the Chronicle in October that rumors he may run for lieutenant governor were ‘absurd’ and ‘a complete lie,’ and angrily accused Jerry Brown of personally spreading false information to that effect. As recently as December, he himself said flatly ‘no’ when asked directly on a San Francisco radio show whether he intended to run for lieutenant governor.

“In addition, when he precipitously pulled out of the governor’s race in late October – against my advice – he said he couldn’t continue as a statewide candidate because he was a husband, a new father and the mayor of San Francisco. So far as I know, he’s still a husband, a new father and the mayor of San Francisco. So it’s pretty hard to see what’s changed over the last four months that would now allow him to run for another statewide office.

“If the Mayor does run, it is his responsibility to explain why he now claims to want an elected office he summarily dismissed publicly numerous times over the last several months, and which just earlier this year he called ‘a largely ceremonial post’ … ‘with no real authority and no real portfolio.'”

Maybe that first paragraph should’ve read “former friend.”


Maldo’s Lt. Gov. campaign has little in the bank

State Sen. Abel Maldonado’s drive toward confirmation, which got hung up by Assembly Democrats on Thursday and reset for another 90 days by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday, hasn’t helped him land a lot of contributions to his campaign for that office.

After Schwarzenegger nominated him in late November to fill the rest of former Lt. Gov. John Garamendi’s term, Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, announced his intent to seek election to a full term of his own in June’s GOP primary and November’s general election. Of course, now that the governor has withdrawn and re-submitted his nomination, it seems he’ll have to simultaneously convince the Assembly to support him and convince the public to vote for him in the primary.

“Abel Maldonado for Lt. Governor 2010” qualified as a committee Jan. 19, according to records filed with the Secretary of State’s office, even as Maldonado and Schwarzenegger were starting to ramp up public awareness and pressure on the Legislature in advance of this week’s votes. Yet the committee has received only three major contributions totaling $23,400 so far: $6,500 from Michael Fox of M.E. Fox & Co. Inc. in San Jose on Jan. 19; $11,900 from the California Professional Firefighters PAC on Feb. 1; and $5,000 from former Assemblyman and former Santa Barbara County Supervisor Brooks Firestone of Solvang on Feb. 1.

Maldonado’s state Senate campaign account showed $9,106 cash on hand at the end of 2009, and no major contributions since then.

Not that his GOP primary rival, state Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, has been making bank, either. Aanestad’s campaign committee reported $97,499 cash on hand as of the end of 2009, but he’d put in $50,000 from his own pocket in December and the only major contribution since then has been $5,000 from The Dentists Insurance Co. this Thursday.

The money is bigger on the other side of the aisle. Democratic primary candidate state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, reported $957,381 cash on hand at the end of 2009, while Democratic primary candidate Janice Hahn, a Los Angeles City Council member, reported $341,341 cash on hand; neither has raised many big contributions since.


One-stop shopping for Democratic candidates

The Coalition of Bay Area Young Democrats, conjunction with the San Francisco Young Democrats, will host a massive candidates’ forum at 1 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 6 at the SEIU Local 87 hall, 240 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco.

Free and open to the public, the forum aims to hear from, and give attendees a chance to ask questions of, candidates in some of 2010’s highest-profile races. Confirmed speakers include gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown; lieutenant governor candidate Janice Hahn; Attorney General candidates Kamala Harris, Chris Kelly, Pedro Nava and Alberto Torrico; incumbent state Treasurer Bill Lockyer; Insurance Commissioner candidates Hector De La Torre and Dave Jones; Superintendent of Public instruction candidates Larry Aceves and Tom Torlakson; and incumbent Board of Equalization member Betty Yee.


LtGov hopefuls Hahn, Maldonado hit Oakland

State Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s nominee to fill the vacant lieutenant governor’s office – attended the governor’s appearance this morning at the Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland, and spoke with a few reporters outside beforehand.

eoak1211arnold01.jpgAsked about ongoing student protests against ever-rising fees at the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges, Maldonado said they’re right to be angry.

“We’ve let partisanship get in the way of what’s good for the state of California,” he said, adding students should be sent a message that there’ll be cuts in top education executives’ pay if fees are to increase; he said he worked with the UC Regents as “a hawk on executive compensation three or four years ago.”

He and Schwarzenegger were in town to tour the food bank while touting a “Million Meals Initiative” in which surplus money from the California Governor & First Lady’s Conference on Women will be donated to provide more than a million meals to needy Golden State families, and to draw attention to their plight.

He said he knows “nothing helps the cuts that we’re making” in California’s social-services safety net as a result of the budget deficit, and that no officeholder relishes making such cuts.

Neither Democrats nor his fellow Republicans have been thrilled by Maldonado’s nomination. Democrats have questioned the cost of holding a special election to fill his state Senate seat, and less publicly, their ability to win that seat as well as the wisdom of giving a Republican lieutenant governor the incumbent’s advantage going into next year’s election. Republicans have blasted him for his votes in favor of Democrat-written budgets and a minimum wage hike. The Legislature has until Feb. 22 to confirm him, and Sacramento remains abuzz with rumors of what’ll happen.

“This is what people are upset at, the politics,” he said, inviting his fellow lawmakers to give him an up or down vote based on his qualifications, not on political machinations.

Janice HahnHolding fundraisers Thursday a few miles away in downtown Oakland, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn – a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor – was inclined to agree.

“I don’t know why the Legislature would necessarily want to pick a fight with the governor on this issue” (of Maldonado’s confirmation), she said during an interview immediately after a luncheon fundraiser at Levende East – even if confirmed, Maldonado will face the voters later next year anyway, she noted. “He’s handpicked by Schwarzenegger, and I think that says it all.”

The “to-confirm-or-not-to-confirm” flap isn’t putting her off her own campaign message, Hahn said, which is that she’s the only local official in this race; all the other candidates on either side of the aisle are state lawmakers, and “the last time I checked, they had a 13 percent approval rating.”

Hahn’s rival for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor is state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter. Besides Maldonado, the other Republicans seeking the job are state Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, and state Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced. (UPDATE @ 7:15 P.M.: D’oh! Denham’s out of the race. That’s potentially bad news for Maldonado; if confirmed, he’d have wanted Denham and Aanestad to split the conservative vote in the GOP primary, giving him room to squeak past both as the lone moderate.)

“I think I’m going to be an outsider, I think I’m going to be more of a reformer,” she said, noting that although she’s not nearly as well known outside Los Angeles she’s getting warm receptions all over the state because “I am sharing their pain on how they feel about Sacramento.”

“They’re very angry the guys in Sacramento came and took our local money, and I share this bond of anger,” Hahn said. “They want their cities to be able to provide the services that provide for a quality of life.”

She said she can accomplish that by making the California Commission on Economic Development – which the lieutenant governor shares – into a higher-visibility, more proactive agenda-setter for improving Californians’ lot, even while she stands against fee increases as a member of the UC Board of Regents and the CSU Board of Trustees.

Oakland City Attorney John Russo arranged Hahn’s fundraising sweep through the city. Sources say about 25 people attended Hahn’s $150-a-head breakfast Thursday morning, and I saw about 40 at the $300-a-head lunch, including Oakland Vice Mayor Ignacio De La Fuente; San Francisco attorney Melinda Haag, rumored to be announced soon as the Obama Administration’s pick as Northern California’s next U.S. Attorney; Oakland Police Officers’ Association President Dom Arotzarena; Clear Channel Outdoor Vice President Michael Colbruno, a Democratic activist; East Bay Young Democrats President Rebecca Saltzman; and Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin. I hear Russo is hosting a smaller, $1,000-a-head event for Hahn at his home tonight.