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Former GOP chair Ron Nehring to take on Newsom

Former California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring will seek to unseat Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in this year’s election.

Ron NehringNehring, 43, of El Cajon, issued a statement Tuesday noting California is world-renowned for its people’s innovation, creativity and hard work.

“But today we have a government that is failing in too many ways: sky-high unemployment, more poverty than any state in the nation, failing schools and a toxic environment for job creation. We can do better,” he said. “At a time of serious economic problems, California needs leaders who will be relentless in putting forward the bold reforms needed to make our state competitive again.”

“The policies of Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, and the Democrats in Sacramento have produced high taxes and high poverty together with shrinking economic opportunity and troubled schools,” he added. “There is a better way, and as a candidate for Lt. Governor I plan to offer a better vision and leadership.”

Nehring chaired the state GOP 2007 to 2011; earlier, he chaired the San Diego GOP for six years. He also worked for five years as national campaigns director of Americans for Tax Reform, the conservative anti-tax group founded by Grover Norquist. More recently, he has run his own political strategy and speaking firm.

Newsom, first elected in 2010, is seeking a second four-year term. His campaign had about $1.7 million in the bank with about $33,000 in outstanding debt as of the start of this year.

“It’s hard to imagine someone basing a campaign for statewide office on leading a major political party to near extinction,” Sean Clegg, Newsom’s campaign consultant, said Tuesday.

Former Rep. Ernie Konnyu, who last Wednesday announced he was no longer considering a run against Newsom, sent an email Sunday indicating a “major, trusted and successful Republican” was entering the race, and has his support and endorsement.

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Former Rep. Ernie Konnyu won’t take on Newsom

Republican former Rep. Ernie Konnyu has decided not to challenge Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for his seat this year – mainly because nobody in his party would bankroll him.

Konnyu, 76, of San Jose, had said last Friday he was considering such a run, but he sent an e-mail Wednesday saying he has decided against it.

Though he still believes Newsom to be vulnerable, “the only problem with my election formula was that I could not find a producer to finance this fun show,” Konnyu wrote Wednesday. “The Republican State Chairman, former Senator Jim Brulte, showed no interest in fielding anybody against Newsom. That was especially true with me since he disrespected me in 2004 and we haven’t talked since.”

Santa Clara County Republican Party Chairman Charles Munger Jr., who has bankrolled a few campaigns from his own pocket, didn’t want to meet with him about such a candidacy, Konnyu wrote: “Same with the state’s Lincoln Club leaders, a traditional source of Republican campaign dollars.”

And his wife wasn’t happy with the idea of him sinking their money into it either, he wrote. “Yep! She put her foot down even though I would not have put in an amount close to the minimum $1.7 million I needed.”

“So my friends, NO CAMPAIGN FOR ME,” he wrote.

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Former Rep. Ernie Konnyu might take on Newsom

Republican former South Bay Congressman Ernie Konnyu said Friday he’s considering a run against Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom because Newsom is “fundamentally untrustworthy.”

Newsom as San Francisco’s mayor violated state law by authorizing marriage licenses for same-sex couples in 2004, Konnyu said, and violated his own Catholic beliefs both by having an affair with his campaign manager’s wife in 2007 and by remarrying in 2008 without having his first marriage annulled.

Ernie Konnyu“The analysis I did – just Internet research – on the lieutenant governor found him, in my opinion, vulnerable despite the Democratic nature of California,” Konnyu, 76, of San Jose, said Friday afternoon. (He might want to step up that research a bit, given that he misspelled Newsom’s name – putting an “e” at the end – in emails he sent Wednesday and Friday.)

That analysis has led him to reconsider his earlier decision not to run. “I’ve been discussing this with some of my friends for several months but it never got past the discussion stage – I had actually said this was a crazy idea, and I had dropped it.”

With the candidacy filing deadline coming up March 7, “I have to make up my mind probably in a week, two weeks at the most.”

No well-known Republican challengers have materialized to take on Newsom as he seeks a second four-year term as lieutenant governor. Newsom raised about $511,000 in campaign contributions from July through December, finishing the year with about $1.7 million in ready cash, according to a campaign finance report filed last week.

Konnyu represented California’s 12th Congressional District from 1987 to 1989; he spent much of that term embroiled in controversy over accusations of sexual harassment, and was defeated in his bid for a second term by a more moderate Republican, Tom Campbell. Earlier, Konnyu represented western and southern Santa Clara County in the Assembly from 1980 to 1986.

Both in the Legislature and Congress, he worked well with Republicans and Democrats alike, he said Friday.

Asked whether he has the money and other support to mount a statewide campaign, he replied, “that’s the reason I didn’t say I’m running yet – that’s the big fly in the ointment.”

The state’s GOP leaders “don’t have the money to support this campaign. They’re targeting re-capturing more than a third of the Assembly and the state Senate … so most of the money they have is going to be spent there, and not on statewide offices.”

He said he’s hoping to “capture enough Lincoln Club types… and see if I can finance the race that way;” he said he also has talked with Santa Clara County Republican Party Chairman Charles Munger Jr.

Konnyu said as lieutenant governor he would push for California to emulate some of the tax breaks for businesses that have been proposed or enacted by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “If I bring that as lieutenant governor to the Legislature, we have something positive to talk about because it’s a Democratic law created in New York.”

Asked why he described Newsom as “fundamentally untrustworthy” in his email, Konnyu replied “this guy promised as mayor to uphold the laws of the state of California, and the U.S. Constitution and of course the California Constitution. Also, he’s a self-declared practicing Catholic, and he also promised to the church and to the Catholic community that he would abide by the laws of the Catholic church.”

“He doesn’t give a damn when he feels differently,” Konnyu said, citing both Newsom’s support of same-sex marriage rights in violation of what then was state law as well as his personal history.

Newsom probably isn’t too fearful of a potential Konnyu candidacy.

“Democracy is a wonderful thing, and as candidates from Gary Coleman to Arnold Schwarzenegger have shown, anyone can run for office in California,” Dan Newman, Newsom’s campaign consultant, said Friday.

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Pols react to America’s Cup win

Some California politicians are over the moon about Oracle Team USA’s come-from-behind win in the America’s Cup, and are expressing their joy via social media.

pelosi-cup

(Someone get the Minority Leader a chair, fer cryin’ out loud!)

Newsom-cup

Lofgren-cup

eshoo-cup

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Money matchups: Other statewide offices

My article in today’s editions discussed fundraising by 2014 candidates for governor, treasurer, controller and secretary of state, but here are a few other California-wide details for your wonky pleasure.

Attorney General Kamala Harris raised $1.76 million in the first half of 2013, and had $2.7 million cash on hand as of June 30 with about $14,000 in outstanding debts. Harris won a very close race in 2010 – eight-tenths of a point, with rival Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley not conceding until three weeks after Election Day. As of now, however, nobody has filed a statement of intention to run against her in 2014.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom raised $392,000 in the first half of this year and spent about $148,000, leaving him with $1.3 million cash on hand as of June 30; his campaign also had almost $34,000 in outstanding debts at that time. But Newsom, at least for now, faces little competition. Santa Monica businessman Howard Leonhardt, an independent, has a campaign website but I don’t see that he’s filed any papers with the Secretary of State; Republican Robert Bates hasn’t filed any fundraising reports. Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, has a committee open for the 2014 lieutenant governor race, but it has only $747; he’s amassing money for a 2016 state Senate bid. And Republican congressmen Jeff Denham and Kevin McCarthy still have 2014 lieutenant governor campaign committees open but aren’t expected to give up their House seats to run the race. Neither raised any money this year; Denham had $169,000 cash on hand and McCarthy had $72,000 as of June 30.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson raised $183,000 in the first half of this year and spent almost $99,000, leaving him with almost $133,000 cash on hand as of June 30; his campaign also had almost $11,000 in outstanding debts at that time. So far, nobody has filed a statement of intention to run against him in 2014.

Likewise, nobody has filed a statement of intention to challenge Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who raised about $490,000 in the first half of this year and spent about $137,170, leaving him with almost $920,000 cash on hand as of June 30; his campaign also had about $10,000 in outstanding debts at that time.

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Gavin Newsom endorses Ro Khanna for Congress

After months Rep. Mike Honda rolling out high-profile endorsements, the fellow Democrat who’s challenging him announced today he has one of California’s statewide electeds in his corner: Ro Khanna has Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s support.

“I’m proud to support Ro. I know he will govern from a place of courage and authenticity,” Newsom said in a statement issued by Khanna’s campaign. “He has many innovative ideas to grow California’s economy and to apply technology to make government better for all his constituents.”

Khanna, 36, of Fremont, said he’s grateful to be endorsed by Newsom, whom he called “a public servant who represents all the best qualities of the 17th District. He is truly a pioneer in finding ways to technologically transform government to achieve a more open and efficient democracy.”

Khanna also said Newsom’s “early leadership on same-sex marriage makes him a public figure to admire and emulate.”

Making politics more tech friendly and vice versa is a key theme in Khanna’s campaign, just as it is of “Citizenville,” Newsom’s recent book on how to modernize government and increase political participation among the nation’s increasingly diverse citizenry. And both Khanna – a former Obama administration Commerce Department official – and Newsom have tried to cast themselves as younger, more dynamic alternatives to an older political dynamic.

Khanna just formally announced his candidacy a few weeks ago, but rumors have been flying for many months. Honda, D-San Jose, used that time to roll out a series of endorsements from the likes of President Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, current and former chairs of the Democratic National Committee, and almost all of California’s House Democrats.