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Canciamilla: Burton doesn’t speak for all Dems

Former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg, accompanied Republican incumbent Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado to his campaign stop this afternoon in Walnut Creek. Per my article, he explained that serving with Maldonado in the Assembly convinced him that Maldonado is truly interested in working across the political aisle, and is a straight shooter who means what he says.

Canciamilla and Maldonado 10-29-10 -- photo by Josh RichmanCanciamilla said that’s why other moderate Democratic former lawmakers like John Dutra of Fremont and Joe Nation of San Rafael are on Maldonado’s side, too.

That reminded me of what happened last week when Dutra, now an independent, was named the head of a Democratic and independent voter coalition supporting Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman: California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton unleashed his legendary ire.

“John (Dutra) is a nice guy, but if that’s the best she can do, her campaign is in more trouble than I think it is,” Burton had said at the time, noting Dutra finished third in a three-way Democratic primary for state Senate and since had abandoned the party.

So I asked Canciamilla if he was prepared to brave Burton’s raging rhetoric himself, and he replied with some of his own.

“I respect John but I think the years of drugs and alcohol have taken their toll,” Canciamilla said. “He doesn’t speak for all Democrats, and the extremes are entitled to their opinion but they shouldn’t be allowed to be the dominant voices in the debate.”

UPDATE @ 4:15 P.M.: While we’re on the subject of cross-party endorsements, Democrat Gavin Newsom‘s campaign sent out an advisory a few minutes ago announcing his endorsement for lieutenant governor by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican. “Running a city requires creativity and a commitment to solutions that work, regardless of their ideological origins,” Bloomberg said in the news release. “Mayor Newsom has demonstrated a dedication to innovative policies that protect the environment, improve the city’s education system, and create jobs. Gavin Newsom will bring this commitment to making government work for its citizens to Sacramento.”

Posted on Friday, October 29th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, Assembly, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor | 6 Comments »

We knew the hair would come into it eventually.

I talked with Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado yesterday and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom today for a story we’ll publish next week about their contest for the lieutenant governor’s office. Here’s an amusing snippet:

Newsom blasts Maldonado for taking campaign money from oil and energy companies while opposing AB 32, California’s greenhouse gas emissions law, and other air and water protection efforts. Maldonado replied that he opposed AB 32 because the Legislature should enact regulations instead of leaving it to the California Air Resources Board, which doesn’t answer to voters; however, he opposes Proposition 23, the ballot measure to roll back AB 32, lest it discourage clean-energy sector investment. He added that he has always opposed off-shore oil drilling, and that Newsom is hypocritical given his personal ties to the Getty family of oil heirs and his own family’s investments in concerns such as Transocean, which operated the now-notorious BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig. “He’s oil soaked … His whole life is oil.”

“Maybe he’s referring to my hair,” Newsom quipped, adding the oil interests Maldonado cites were independent investments made on his wife’s behalf, having nothing to do with him.

Posted on Friday, October 15th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor | No Comments »

Maldonado takes conservative heat on Prop. 8

A conservative group is calling Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, the Republican nominee to keep the job come November, “incompetent and dangerous” given his refusal to mount a legal defense of Proposition 8’s same-sex marriage ban while the governor is gone.

The Capitol Resource Institute, a Sacramento-based conservative advocacy group, issued a news release last Friday saying conservative leaders led by former Republican attorney general candidate John Eastman had asked to meet with Maldonado to discuss the issue.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown have declined to defend the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the November 2008 measure that amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. A federal judge has deemed the measure unconstitutional, and arguments have ensued about whether Prop. 8’s proponents – who were allowed to intervene in the trial to defend the measure – now have standing to appeal the judge’s ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“But Abel Maldonado is a supporter of Proposition 8 and hopefully more willing to honor the obligations of his office than the current Attorney General has been” Eastman said in Friday’s release. “Importantly, while the Governor is traveling outside of the State, all of the rights and responsibilities of the office of Governor rest with Mr. Maldonado.”

The CRI posted Maldonado’s office and campaign numbers on its website so supporters could call and urge him to file an appeal defending Prop. 8. Monday was the deadline for doing so, and the deadline came and went without any state action.

Today, the CRI issued a release saying Maldonado was challenged today on Eric Hogue’s KTKZ radio show as to his refusal to act on Proposition 8; Maldonado apparently said he’d been unable to deal with the appeal issue due to being consumed with the San Bruno disaster. Later in the interview, he indicated his inaction may have been more intentional, explaining he has a partnership with the Governor.

“We certainly appreciate the attention that Mr. Maldonado paid to San Bruno, but we will not allow him to exploit that disaster as an excuse for ignoring the necessary filing of this appeal,” CRI executive director Karen England said in the release. “The requests for the Lieutenant Governor to sign this appeal began prior to the San Bruno incident and were repeated with intensity for several days after the explosion.”

Eastman had prepared the necessary paperwork for Maldonado to file the appeal; all Maldonado had to do was pull the trigger, the release said. Said England:

Karen England“Let me be candid. Maldonado is incompetent and disingenuous if he says he could not find a few minutes to approve this filing in his first five days as acting governor. For several days his staff indicated they would call back with an answer and the Lieutenant Governor complained that the pressure from the public was so intense on Monday that they could not use their phone system. He could have freed those phones up immediately by giving the go ahead.”

“The Lieutenant governor position is the warm-up position for our next governor. Four or eight years from now conservatives will be looking for a candidate for governor. I know we do not want Maldonado on that list. For now, we believe that Maldonado should refrain from saying he is a supporter of Proposition 8. If he could not be bothered to assure that the initiative received a proper hearing in the courts, then he should not exploit the issue by claiming he backed the measure.”

Legally speaking, woe is the lieutenant governor who litigates on his own and then leaves the governor and attorney general to file follow-up paperwork. He’d be burning a lot of bridges, including the one that got him into office, for a ploy that wouldn’t gey far at all.

Politically speaking, it would’ve been electoral suicide for Maldonado to act on his own – or the CRI’s – initiative on Prop. 8 while Schwarzenegger was overseas. Maldonado is doing all he can right now to appear moderate in order to attract decline-to-state and crossover Democratic voters in his general-election showdown with Democratic nominee San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Appeasing the GOP’s most conservative edges won’t do him a lot of good come November. If Eastman’s ideology, including his same-sex marriage stance, was so popular with his own party, why’d he get creamed by Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley in the GOP primary for Attorney General?

Posted on Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, Lt. Governor, same-sex marriage | 2 Comments »

SF Dem group snubs Newsom for Lt. Gov.

The political action committee of San Francisco for Democracy – a grassroots progressive group “inspired by the leadership of Howard Dean” – released its slate of endorsements yesterday for November’s election. The group endorsed Democrats for every congressional, legislative and statewide office – with the exception of the lieutenant governor’s office, for which San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is the Democratic nominee.

The group’s website indicates the 60 percent threshold for endorsement wasn’t reached for that race during an Aug. 17 endorsement meeting. I couldn’t immediately reach the group’s president or communication director this afternoon, and my query to Newsom’s campaign wasn’t immediately returned. The campaign of Republican incumbent Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado chose not to comment.

Two polls last month – one commissioned by Maldonado’s campaign, the other independent – showed Newsom and Maldonado in a statistical dead heat.

UPDATE @ 12:47 P.M. FRIDAY: First, I was mistaken in calling San Francisco for Democracy an “SF Dem group” – it’s a nonpartisan progressive club, president Tim Durning said in a voicemail he left for me this morning. Durning went on to explain that Green candidate Jimi Castillo and Peace & Freedom candidate C.T. Weber got enough support from members of the club that Gavin Newsom didn’t have enough left to break the 60 percent threshold required for an endorsement; Republican Abel Maldonado was “a nonfactor in the race,” he said.

Posted on Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor, San Francisco politics | 6 Comments »

Newsom leads Maldo in fundraising for Lt.Gov.

Incumbent Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, the former state Senator from Santa Maria appointed and confirmed to the job earlier this year, today reported raising almost $127,000 and spending less than $12,000 from May 23 through June 30, leaving him with almost $90,600 cash on hand at mid-year.

That puts him well behind Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom, currently San Francisco’s mayor, who reported raising more than $345,600 and spending almost $452,800 from May 23 through June 30, leaving him with almost $495,000 cash on hand at mid-year.

Maldonado had been peddling some good news for his campaign earlier today – a Hill Research Associates poll that showed him neck and neck with Newsom, despite Newsom’s superior name recognition. The poll of 602 likely voters who were interviewed July 10-12 put Maldonado at 42 percent and Newsom at 41 percent, with a four-percentage-point margin of error.

The campaign’s news release said this poll – which I couldn’t find on Maldonado’s website to check the phrasing and framing, so I’ll take with a grain of salt until someone sends me a copy as I’ve asked – found Maldonado has strong cross-over appeal, pulling 23 percent of likely Democratic voters and holding a 2.5-to-1 favorability ration among Democrats. Newsom, the release claimed, is less likely to pull Republican votes due to his polarizing stances on same-sex marriage and so on.

Posted on Monday, August 2nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, campaign finance, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor | 1 Comment »

A coup in one of California’s third parties?

OK, we’re gonna get pretty far down in the weeds on this one, but hey, we’re all political junkies, right?

Chelene Nighingale, 43, a conservative anti-illegal-immigration activist and former nonprofit executive and small business owner from Palmdale, was asked by national Constitution Party leaders to run in California as an American Independent Party candidate for governor. Also seeking that nomination was AIP Chairman Markham Robinson, 66, a financial-planning software company owner from Vacaville.

With many vote-by-mail ballots yet to be counted, results as of Wednesday afternoon show Nightingale beat Robinson, 58.2 percent to 41.8 percent.

This is interesting – I hope? – because of the schism that this party has seen in recent years. The split happened in 2008 as one faction recognized Jim King of Montebello as AIP chairman and the other recognized Ed Noonan of Yuba City; the factions disagreed on foreign-policy issues and on the influence of national Constitution Party founder Howard Phillips on the state party.

King’s faction chose to remain affilated with the Constitution Party, but the Secretary of State’s office didn’t recognize it and so its candidates didn’t appear on California’s ballots; Noonan’s faction pulled out of the Constitution Party and joined a new national party – America’s Independent Party – founded by perennial candidate Alan Keyes, who went on 2008’s ballot as the AIP’s presidential candidate. Robinson later succeeded Noonan as the state AIP chair.

So if a Constitution Party-backed candidate just beat the sitting AIP chairman for the AIP’s gubernatorial nomination, it seems fair to say the battle for this party’s soul continues. In fact, King won the AIP’s nomination for lieutenant governor unopposed.

However, Noonan – also the founder of the “California Mormon Battalion,” who posted an anti-major-party article Monday entitled “Are you the devil’s prostitute?” – did vanquish the Constitution Party-supported Don Grundmann – a San Leandro chiropractor and herbalist bent on eliminating the Federal Reserve, the IRS and gay rights – and Al Salehi of Beverly Hills this week for the AIP’s nomination for U.S. Senate: Noonan with 39.4 percent, Grundmann with 33.9 percent and Salehi with 26.7 percent.

Perhaps the fighting is so fierce because the stakes are so small – the AIP as of May 24 had 397,136 registered voters statewide, 2.34 percent of California’s registered electorate. That does make it the largest of the state’s “third parties,” well ahead of the Greens and Libertarians, though some believe the AIP’s ranks are perpetually inflated by voters who want to be “independent” and accidentally register under the American Independent Party rather than signing up for decline-to-state status.

At any rate, however, the AIP seems unlikely to win any state or federal races anytime soon. But it sure is interesting to watch…

Posted on Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Lt. Governor, U.S. Senate | 20 Comments »

A musical primary post-mortem

When I’m having a good day, or sometimes when I’m down, I sometimes give myself a gift on the limited budget available to me as a reporter: a 99-cent splurge on new iTunes song for my iPod. And so as the primary election winners strut and the losers lick their wounds, here are a few suggestions for songs they might want to add to their playlists:

Meg Whitman, the billionaire former eBay CEO who spent $71.1 million out of her own pocket to buy the Republican gubernatorial nomination: “Money” by Pink Floyd, or “Killer Queen” by Queen

Steve Poizner, buried under Whitman’s $71.1 million and a 37-percentage-point deficit in the election results: “Wipeout” by the Surfaris

Chris Kelly, who spent $12 million out of pocket to lose the Democratic primary for Attorney General to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris by 17 percentage points; PG&E President and CEO Peter Darbee, whose company spent $46.4 million on the unsuccessful Proposition 16; and Mercury Insurance Group President and CEO Gabriel Tirador, whose company spent $15.9 million on the unsuccessful Proposition 17: “Can’t Buy Me Love,” by the Beatles

Carly Fiorina, who as the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate has had the last laugh after people snickered at her “demon sheep” ad attacking rival Tom Campbell: “Sheep” by Pink Floyd

Abel Maldonado, the appointed incumbent who – despite winning the GOP’s nomination to try to keep the lieutenant governor’s office – knows his party wants him and needs him but there ain’t no way it’s ever gonna love him: “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” by Meat Loaf

Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco mayor who won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor but might have his own words from 2008 on same-sex marriage come back to haunt him in November’s general election: “Like It Or Not,” by Madonna

Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles District Attorney who broke from California tradition by being a moderate capable of winning a Republican primary: “Middle of the Road,” by the Pretenders

Tom Torlakson, the Antioch Assemblyman who placed second and so will go to a November runoff – at which time he’s likely to pick up a lot of the Democratic votes that went yesterday to third-place finisher Gloria Romero, along with stronger Democratic turnout overall – against former school district superintendent Larry Aceves for state Superintendent of Public Instruction: “Time Is On My Side,” by the Rolling Stones

Mike Villines, the Clovis Assemblyman and former Assembly Republican Leader widely berated within the GOP for OKing a budget deal with tax hikes last year, who now is eight-tenths of a percentage point – 11,204 votes – behind political unknown Brian FitzGerald, an Insurance Department attorney from Napa who raised no money, in the GOP primary for Insurance Commissioner: “Living on the Edge” by Aerosmith

Brian FitzGerald, who might want to ask himself, “Well, how did I get here?” : “Once in a Lifetime,” by the Talking Heads

Posted on Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Abel Maldonado, Attorney General, ballot measures, Carly Fiorina, Chris Kelly, Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor, Meg Whitman, Mike Villines, political humor, Propositions, Steve Poizner, Tom Torlakson, U.S. Senate | 7 Comments »

Hahn concedes Lt.Gov. race to Gavin Newsom

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, the scion of a political dynasty in her city, had seemed to have the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor wrapped up by early this year, standing well ahead of state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, in the polls. That is, until San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom jumped into the race, only months after having scoffed at the idea of doing so.

At this hour, with about a quarter of the state’s precincts having reported in, Newsom leads Hahn by almost 23 percentage points, and Hahn just issued this statement:

The last several months of campaigning for Lieutenant Governor have been an amazing experience. I have traveled up and down the state and met so many new people and heard so many great ideas. And I learned that all of us really want the same thing – a better California.

I was so humbled by all the support I received. And I really enjoyed using this experience to educate people about the role of the Lieutenant Governor in California. Together, we focused on how the Lieutenant Governor can really transform our state. We can make higher education affordable and accessible to every young person. We can continue to protect the environment, but also focus on creating new jobs and getting every Californian back to work.

At the end of this hard fought campaign, I think we have made a difference – thanks to you.

I want to congratulate Gavin Newsom on running a good, clean campaign. He has done some groundbreaking work as mayor of San Francisco and I know that he will bring that experience to Sacramento to shake things up. I will be supporting him in November, and I hope that you will join me.

November is pivotal for Democrats. We must work together to elect Barbara Boxer, Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom and the entire Democratic ticket. This is our year. Let’s make California great again.

Posted on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Gavin Newsom, Janice Hahn, Lt. Governor | 3 Comments »

Lt.Gov.: Newsom holds lead, Hahn goes on TV

With a week to go before the election, the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor has San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom asserting a lead and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn taking to the airwaves.

Newsom’s campaign issued a statement today saying its pollster, Tulchin Research, has found Newsom holds a 17-point lead over Hahn – 46 percent to 29 percent, with 21 percent still undecided. The phone survey of 600 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted May 20-24 and has a four-percentage-point margin of error.

From the report prepared by pollsters Ben Tulchin and Julie Lein:

Since entering the race for Lieutenant Governor in March, Gavin Newsom has consistently led Janice Hahn by double-digits. With Election Day approaching, Hahn has been unable to close the gap with the Mayor. Even more encouraging for the San Francisco Mayor and troubling for his opponents is that Newsom leads by a wider margin among voters who have already cast their ballots as he garners a solid majority (53%) support compared to only 30% for Hahn.

Given Newsom’s consistently strong poll results among Democratic primary voters, his wide lead among voters who have already cast their ballots, superior name recognition and fundraising, the San Francisco Mayor is poised to win the party nomination for Lieutenant Governor.

Remember, that’s according to a pollster on the Newsom campaign’s payroll. However, the question asked apparently wasn’t leading or otherwise biased in Newsom’s favor: “In thinking about the Democratic Primary Election for Lieutenant Governor, if the election were held today and the candidates were San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn [the names’ order are randomly flipped], for whom would you vote?”

Meanwhile, Hahn announced today that she’s launching her first television ad:

Michael Trujillo, Hahn’s campaign manager, didn’t immediately return an e-mail and a voice-mail inquiring as to the ad buy’s dollar size and geographic scope.

UPDATE @ 3:56 P.M. TUESDAY: Newsom’s campaign just announced it’s going on the air, too:

No word yet on how much they’re spending on the ad buy, or where it’s airing.

Posted on Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Gavin Newsom, Janice Hahn, Lt. Governor | 1 Comment »

More campaign finance fun: Lt.Gov. and AG

In the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom far outpaced Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn in fundraising during this period from March 18 to May 22. Newsom raised $792,311 and spent $453,291, finishing the period with $770,776 cash on hand; Hahn raised $336,331 and spent $316,670, finishing the period with $315,430 cash on hand.

Mike Trujillo, Hahn’s campaign adviser, called me tonight to note that the two candidates are more evenly matched if you look at contributions since their campaigns began – it looks to me as if Newsom’s at about $1.06 million to Hahn’s $898,000, by that measure – and that about $200,000 of Newsom’s cash on hand is earmarked for November’s general election, while all but $9,000 of Hahn’s stash can be spent in the next 10 days.

In the GOP primary for Lieutenant Governor, appointed incumbent and former state Sen. Abel Maldonado smoked his more conservative rival, state Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley. Maldonado raised $318,898 during this period and spent $121,872, leaving him with $139,060 cash on hand; Aanestad raised $44,470 during this period and spent $44,441, leaving him with $43,297 cash on hand.

In the Republican primary for Attorney General, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley trumped the fundraising during this period, with $916,066 in contributions compared to $295,302 for former Chapman University Law School Dean John Eastman – including the $25,000 he loaned his own campaign – and $150,294 for state Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach. Cooley finished with the most cash on hand, too: $222,280 compared to Eastman’s $158,444 and Harman’s $112,644.

In the Democratic primary for Attorney General, former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly rules the campaign cash roost only because he put $5.6 million into his own campaign during this period (atop the $4 million he’d put in earlier). His new investment accounted for all but $79,679 of his contributions in this period and he spent $8,953,697, leaving him with cash on hand of $102,984.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris raised $810,884 during this period and spent $1,546,812, finishing with $636,471 cash on hand; former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo raised $268,995 and spent $1,251,446, finishing with $149,762 cash on hand; Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, raised $239,162 and spent $671,100, finishing with $577,002 cash on hand; and Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, raised $17,532 and spent $86,956, finishing with $24,534 cash on hand. Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, had $1,029,186 cash on hand as of March 17, the close of the last reporting period, but hasn’t yet filed this period’s report as of this time; Emeryville attorney Mike Schmier didn’t raise enough to require a report.

UPDATE @ 10:33 A.M. FRIDAY: Torrico raised $180,371.79 in this period, spent $676,560.78 and finished with $522,334.73 cash on hand.

UPDATE @ 9:30 A.M. TUESDAY 6/1: Sorry, my bad: Schmier says he has raised $12,450 to date and has $3,166.88 cash on hand remaining.

Posted on Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, Alberto Torrico, Attorney General, campaign finance, Chris Kelly, Gavin Newsom, Janice Hahn, Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor, Pedro Nava, Sam Aanestad, Ted Lieu | 1 Comment »