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SF couple hosting John Kasich, Ben Carson

A San Francisco couple’s home seems to be becoming a key stop on the Republican presidential primary campaign trail.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich was at the Nob Hill home of Christine Hughes and Abe Ostrovsky on Thursday for a reception with a few dozen members of the Lincoln Club of Northern California.

Hughes is the club’s vice chairwoman as well as chairwoman of the San Francisco Republican Party, president of the CalWatchdog Foundation, and a former vice president and board member of the conservative Pacific Research Institute. Ostrovsky is chief operating officer at Artkick. The Kasich event was free to club members and their guests.

Hughes and Ostrovsky also are scheduled to host Dr. Ben Carson for a cocktail reception at their home on the evening Tuesday, Sept. 8; tickets cost $250 per head, or $500 for those who want to attend a VIP photo opportunity first.

UPDATE @ 10:45 A.M. FRIDAY: I now hear that Kasich had a fundraiser yesterday morning at the Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park, with about 100 people in attendance and venture capitalists Ted Schlein and Floyd Kvamme offering remarks. Kasich reportedly spoke about his successes in Congress and as Ohio’s governor – the latter including a Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act – and said Donald Trump helped all GOP candidates by drawing 24 million viewers to the first debate early this month.

Posted on Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Republican Party | 10 Comments »

Donald Trump wins a South Bay GOP straw poll

Billionaire businessman and reality television star Donald Trump topped the presidential straw poll at the South Peninsula Area Republican Coalition picnic Sunday at the Morgan Estate in Los Altos Hills.

Out of 144 votes cast, Trump got 39 votes, or 27 percent. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush came in second with 27 votes (18 percent), followed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (20 votes, 13 percent); U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (16 votes, 11 percent); and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (13 votes, 9 percent). Notably absent from among the poll’s top finishers: former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who used to live less than two and a half miles from the site of Sunday’s picnic.

Poll participants were given the opportunity to mark a second choice as well. Of those whose first choices didn’t finish in the top five, five picked Rubio as their second choice, four picked Bush, four picked Trump, three picked Walker and two picked Kasich.

“The field is still pretty wide open, but there seems a trend in favor of more conservative candidates,” SPARC president John McDonnell said. “The results belie the conventional wisdom that Trump’s appeal will fade among party regulars, but the results also suggest strong support for Jeb Bush, the ‘establishment’ candidate. We can expect some considerable ebb and flow between now and the hard results in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.”

SPARC is affiliated with the California Congress of Republicans, a mainstream conservative grassroots group that’s chartered as part of the state GOP. The keynote speaker at Sunday’s picnic was Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, the Bay Area’s only Republican voice in Sacramento.

Trump holds an 11-point lead over Bush in the latest average of recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, followed by neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson; Walker; Rubio; U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; and Fiorina. In Iowa, Trump leads Bush by about 8 points; in New Hampshire, Trump leads Kasich by 14.

Posted on Monday, August 24th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Republican Party, Republican politics | 4 Comments »

Carly Fiorina embraces ‘happy hour debate’

Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina says she’s looking forward to taking part in Thursday’s “happy hour” debate between the low-polling contenders.

Fiorina, formerly of Los Altos Hills and now of Virginia, had issued a statement Tuesday soon after Fox News announced the main debate’s lineup saying she continues “to be encouraged by the support of conservative activists and grassroots Republicans across the country–even just today from the readers of PJMedia and Breitbart. They know we need someone from outside the political class if we want America back in the leadership business.”

She called into MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday morning to speak with host Joe Scarborough:

SCARBOROUGH: You ears were probably burning yesterday. We were all saying wonderful things about you around the set, how you have done a great job this year in everything you’ve done and yet, you’re not going to be on the main stage tomorrow. I know you’ve been getting positive reviews from a lot of people. What do you think about being kept off the main debate stage based on some polls, what, seven months out?

FIORINA: Well, first of all, these are national polls, as you know, Joe. National polls measure, among other things, name I.D. About 40 percent of Republicans have heard my name. In other words, a vast majority of Republican voters, never mind Americans, still don’t know who I am. So that’s not unexpected, considering I’m not a professional politician. Also, you know, in 2007 I think Rudy Giuliani was burning up the polls. As you point out, you have a long way to go here. It’s a long race. And I’ll look forward to the “happy hour” debate.

SCARBOROUGH: What’s the message you hope to get out in the “happy hour” debate?

FIORINA: You know, people are frustrated, disappointed, angry with the professional political class. Whatever your issue, your cause, the festering problem you hoped would be resolved by now, whether it’s border security or the veterans administrations or debts and deficits or a complicated tax code, the political class has let you down.

I don’t come from the political class. I think we need a president now who understands how the economy works, how the world works and who’s in it. Bureaucracies have to hold them accountable and cut them down to size. Technology. I think we need a leader in the White House who understands that their job now is to challenge the status quo of politics as usual.

Every problem we, as Republicans, talk about has been around for 25 or 30 years. It’s not that we don’t have good ideas. We have great ideas. It’s just that they never get implemented. So if we want to actually change it, we have to change the kind of leader we put in the White House.

Fiorina also said she would defund Planned Parenthood; oppose a gas-tax increase to fund the federal highway program; take the federal government to zero-based budgeting; and hold a summit meeting with America’s allies in the Middle East to determine how we can support them better.

Fiorina now ranks 14th among the Republican candidates, with 1 percent support, in an average of five recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. In Iowa, she places 11th with 2.5 percent support in an average of four recent polls; in New Hampshire, she’s in 11th place with 2 percent support in an average of three recent polls.

Posted on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Carly Fiorina, Republican Party, Republican politics | 8 Comments »

Mike Huckabee to speak at state GOP convention

Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will speak at a lunch banquet during the California Republican Party’s Fall Convention on Sept. 18 in Anaheim.

HuckabeeThe announcement comes one week after the state GOP said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also a presidential candidate, will headline the convention’s big Saturday-night dinner on Sept. 19.

“As governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee prompted much needed reform and set the bar high for his fellow governors,” state GOP chairman Jim Brulte said in a news release. “A proven leader, I’m very excited he could join us to kick off convention with the first banquet.”

California Republican Party Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon said Huckabee “has become a strong, but reasonable voice for conservatives across the nation through his time as governor and as a bestselling author and talk show host. With his years of experience, Huckabee is sure to have a great message to share with our fellow Republicans.”

Huckabee, in the same release said he’s “excited to be kicking off the California Republican Party convention and helping build excitement and enthusiasm for the great things California Republicans are going to help us accomplish in 2016.”

Mike Huckabee was the 44th governor of Arkansas, serving from 1996 to 2007. He won the 2008 Iowa caucus, but eventually finished third for the GOP nomination behind John McCain and Mitt Romney; since then, he has made a name as an author, radio commentator and host, and at the helm of his own Fox News Channel show.

Huckabee now polls fifth and Walker polls second for the Republican nomination, according to an average of recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics.

Posted on Friday, July 31st, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Republican Party, Republican politics | 7 Comments »

Will state GOP amend abortion, marriage stances?

Several California county GOP chairpeople are pushing to make sure the party doesn’t soften its stances against same-sex marriage, abortion rights, illegal immigration and gun control at its convention this September in Anaheim.

CA-GOP logoEight county chairs – including two from the Bay Area – wrote a memo to California Republican Party delegates last week urging support for the party’s current platform.

“We believe this is an excellent platform, reflective of our principles as a party,” the memo said. “It is one that Republicans have united around before and one that is consistent with Republican values nationwide. Tampering with the existing document at this juncture will divide the party and discourage the Republican voters.”

The chairs wrote that they expect the party’s drafting committee might amend four key planks at its meeting next Saturday, Aug. 1 in Los Angeles.

“There may be an effort to significantly change the language and message of three of these planks – Family/Marriage, The Right to Life, and Immigration. Also, we believe we may see an attempt to dilute a fourth plank – The Right to Bear Arms,” the memo said. “If this takes place, these four re-written and significantly weakened planks will be reflected in the Draft Platform. These changes would then make it to the Floor for a vote by all State Delegates at our Fall 2015 State Republican Convention.”

“It is crucial that these four planks be upheld rather than be incrementally chipped away,” the memo concluded. “This Platform will serve to motivate our numerous volunteers and voters who will be needed to Get Out the Vote and rally around our candidates in 2016.

The memo was signed by Alameda County GOP Chairwoman Lori Drake; Calaveras County GOP Chairwoman Vicky Reinke, Contra Costa County GOP Chairman Rohit Joy, Del Norte County GOP Chairwoman Karen Sanders, Fresno County GOP Chairman Fred Vanderhoof, Humboldt County GOP Chairwoman Annette De Modena, Mariposa County GOP Chairman Richard Westfall, and Siskiyou County GOP Chairman Richard Marshall.

The California Republican Party’s current platform says that because family is the foundation on which American society has grown and prospered, “we support the two parent family as the best environment for raising children, and therefore believe that it is important to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. We believe public policy and education should not be exploited to present or teach homosexuality as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle. We oppose same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption.”

On abortion rights, the current platform says the party supports “laws that protect unborn children from partial birth, sex selection, and tax-payer funded abortions, and abortions performed as a form of birth control or on minor girls without their parent’s notification and consent.”

“We believe that the question of abortion is a matter that should be left to the people through their elected representatives, not usurped by the United States Supreme Court, and believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be reversed,” the platform continues.

On immigration, the state GOP’s current platform says controlling the border and enforcing all current laws is the only way to be fair to those who’ve come to the country legally. English should be the government’s official language, it says, with all election ballots and other government documents in English only. It calls for a worker visa program with tamper-proof, biometric ID cards for participants and heavy fines for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. It calls for cross-deputization of state and county law enforcement personnel so immigrants who’ve come here illegally can be deported immediately upon completion of any criminal sentences. And it calls for “the termination of all federal and state benefits to illegal aliens other than emergency medical care.”

And on the right to bear arms, the state GOP’s current platform says “one of the first acts of a totalitarian society is to disarm its people. California’s gun control laws only serve to disarm law abiding citizens, not criminals. We oppose any further gun control legislation and support the right of all California citizens to own and bear guns and ammunition for any lawful purpose.”

The platform calls for statewide legislation setting reasonable criteria to let law-abiding citizens carry concealed weapons, and supports “allowing citizens to use deadly force to protect lives and property. We also support including all of these rights in the California constitution.”

“Finally, we call for the elimination of waiting periods to purchase firearms and instead support complete implementation of instant background checks,” the platform says.

See how these platform planks compare to polls of Californians’ public opinion, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 27th, 2015
Under: gun control, Immigration, Republican Party, Republican politics, same-sex marriage | 1 Comment »

SD7: The saga of the GOP elephant logo

There’s more cross-party sniping in the 7th State Senate District special election, as the California Republican Party has told a Contra Costa County prosecutor to cease and desist from telling Democrat Steve Glazer’s campaign to cease and desist using GOP logos.

Confused? That’s probably how some want it. But here’s the breakdown:

Back in December, the Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorneys’ Association endorsed Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla in this race. Association president Paul Graves said in a news release at the time that her “commitment to doing the right thing for crime victims has always impressed our membership, including her recent success in passing Assembly Bill 2501 which bans so-called ‘panic defenses’ in court.”

Graves, 46, has been a deputy district attorney for 20 years; voter registration records show he’s a Republican.

On April 9, Graves sent a personal letter to Glazer’s campaign demanding that it cease and desist using Republican logos and images in its campaign advertising. “For a liberal Democratic candidate like Mr. Glazer to deceive Republican voters by superimposing iconic Republican Party images … such as the GOP elephant on Mr. Glazer’s campaign material is a new low in dishonest political campaigning,” he wrote.

Glazer1 Mailer Rep Logo

Glazer2 mailer

Graves wrote that the California Republican Party has a long history of suing people and campaigns who deceptively use its images without permission. He demanded that Glazer’s campaign immediately stop distributing any such mailers, destroy any copies that haven’t been mailed out yet, and stop producing them; he also demanded a public apology from Glazer. And he demanded proof that the campaign had complied, noting he reserved the right to sue.

But the very next day, California GOP Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon – a San Francisco attorney – sent Graves a letter telling him to knock it off.

“As you well know, you are not an authorized representative of the CRP, nor do you own any license, title or interest in or to any CRP trademarks,” Dhillon wrote. “As such, you lack standing to speak on behalf of the CRP, file a lawsuit concerning Mr. Glazer’s alleged infringement of trademarks belonging to the CRP, seek injunctive relief or damages, or take any similar conduct on behalf of the CRP.”

“In fact, the CRP became aware of Mr. Glazer’s campaign activities weeks ago, and resolved the matter… to the CRP’s satisfaction,” Dhillon wrote. Dhillon said Monday that she can’t discuss that settlement’s terms, but Glazer no longer can use the logo.

In her April 10 letter to Graves, Dhillon wrote that his letter to Glazer violated state law and professional conduct rules. “Your conduct in using your status as an attorney, which includes the publicly known fact that you are a prosecutor with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office, to gain leverage in this matter by masquerading as a person with standing to make threats, is an abuse of those positions and of ethical standards.”

Dhillon demanded that Graves cease and desist from holding himself out as an attorney for or representative of the party. “Should we not receive some written confirmation, preferably by return email, of your agreement to never repeat this conduct, then we will be forced to escalate this matter to the next levels on several fronts.”

Graves withdrew his letter and agreed to take no further action, Dhillon said Monday, adding the party enforces its trademark powers against Democrats and Republicans alike.

“In fact, the majority of the cease and desist efforts the party has done is against Republicans who use it to falsely imply the endorsement of the California Republican Party,” she said. “We always attempt to reach an amicable resolution to these matters.”

Dhillon in early March filed a federal lawsuit against the Asian American Small Business PAC for using the elephant logo without permission. That political action committee – which previously had almost exclusively supported Asian-American Democrats – funneled union money into mailers supporting Michaela Hertle in this contest’s March 17 primary. Hertle, a Republican from Pleasanton, had dropped out of the race and endorsed Glazer; by supporting Hertle, the PAC clearly was trying to sap votes from Glazer.

The PAC has been granted several time extensions in which to file a response to the GOP’s lawsuit; its current deadline is May 4.

Posted on Monday, April 20th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Republican Party | No Comments »

Kashkari and Whitman sign same-sex marriage brief

Former California gubernatorial candidates Neel Kashkari and Meg Whitman are among more than 300 Republicans and conservatives who signed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Project Right Side and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman formally filed the amicus brief Thursday evening involving four cases to be heard on April 28 concerning government recognition of the freedom to marry.

The signers “want to convey to the court that they support traditional conservative values, including the belief in the importance of stable families, as well as the commitment to limited government and the protection of individual freedom,” a news release said. “Furthermore they believe that those conservative values are consistent with affording civil marriage rights to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held marriage to be a fundamental right.”

Mehlman said the brief “adds an important and different voice in the struggle for marriage equality both before the Court and also to millions of Americans at a ‘teaching moment.’ It is another reflection of the growing national support for freedom and liberty for gay and lesbian Americans – support that clearly crosses partisan and ideological lines.”

In 2013, Mehlman submitted a brief to the Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry – the case that resulted in California’s Proposition 8 ban on same sex marriage being overturned – with 131 Republican signers.

Other signers of this new brief include former California House members Mary Bono and Michael Huffington; the consultants who have run California’s past three Republican gubernatorial campaigns – Steve Schmidt, Mike Murphy, and Aaron McLear; Josh Ginsberg, former political director for Arnold Schwarzenegger; Tucker Bounds, former communications director for Whitman; and Andrea Saul, former communications director for 2010 U.S. Senate nominee Carly Fiorina.

Posted on Friday, March 6th, 2015
Under: Meg Whitman, Neel Kashkari, Republican Party, Republican politics, same-sex marriage | 3 Comments »

SD7: No, Alameda Co. GOP didn’t endorse Glazer

I just received a call from Alameda County Republican Party Chairwoman Lori Drake of Dublin and county GOP treasurer Jeff Wald of Fremont asking that I clarify that the county party has not endorsed centrist Democrat Steve Glazer in the 7th State Senate District special election.

They wanted to make sure nobody was left with the wrong impression from a story I wrote earlier this week about how Michaela Hertle – an alternate county GOP committeewoman from Pleasanton and the only Republican to file as a candidate in the SD7 race – had dropped out and endorsed Glazer.

In that story, I quoted Patrick McGarrity – spokesman for Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, who also is seeking the senate seat – as saying Bonilla is the Democratic Party’s choice while “Steve Glazer is the choice of delegates from the Alameda County Republican Party.”

I then tweeted out a link to the story Monday evening that said, “#SD7 As @MichaelaHertle drops out/endorses @Steve_Glazer, @ASMSusanBonilla’s camp says Glazer is @AlamedaGOP’s pick.”

So, consider this clarified: Steve Glazer is the pick of the only Republican who had been in the race, but not of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee.

Drake declined to comment just now when I asked her what she thought of Hertle’s leaving the race and endorsing Glazer.

Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Republican Party | 7 Comments »

Chris Christie to keynote California GOP convention

Potential 2016 presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will keynote the California Republican Party’s spring convention luncheon on Saturday, Feb. 28 in Sacramento.

“Governor Christie is working to move New Jersey forward with balanced budgets, sensible tax reform and a focus on improving K-12 education,” state GOP chairman Jim Brulte said in a news release. “We are thrilled he will be joining us at convention to share his story and wisdom.”

Party vice chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon called Christie “a great example of Republican leadership. He has helped New Jersey overcome some of its toughest challenges in decades, and has been a guiding voice across the nation as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.”

Christie said he’s “excited to be joining Republicans in California as we plan for the years ahead and look to build upon the successes of 2014.”

Christie, whose popularity rose has he handled the aftermath of 2012’s “Superstorm” Sandy, has had a rockier road since late 2013, when the “Bridgegate” scandal – in which some of his top aides ordered closure of lanes on the busy George Washington Bridge as payback to his political foes – came to light. A new Quinnipiac Poll trend line tells the tale:

Christie Quinnipiac poll

The poll shows more New Jerseyans support Christie than any of a dozen other potential GOP candidates, but Christie would lose the Garden State in a head-to-head with potential Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Nationally, an average of five polls conducted late last year shows Christie trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush among potential GOP candidates.

Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2015
Under: Republican Party, Republican politics | 4 Comments »

California to host GOP presidential primary debate

The Republican National Committee announced Friday that one of the nine GOP presidential primary debates it’s sanctioning will be held somewhere in California in September.

It remains to be seen whether the California debate will be held in a GOP-friendly area like San Diego or Orange County, or if it’ll be in the belly of the liberal beast – like the dreaded San Francisco Bay Area.

head to head“The 2016 cycle is underway, and I can tell you it will be a landmark election for Republicans,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus said in a news release, issued as the national GOP holds its Winter meeting in San Diego. “By constructing and instituting a sound debate process, it will allow candidates to bring their ideas and vision to Americans in a timely and efficient way. This schedule ensures we will have a robust discussion among our candidates while also allowing the candidates to focus their time engaging with Republican voters.”

The debates are scheduled for:

  • August 2015 in Ohio, hosted by Fox News
  • September 2015 in California, hosted by CNN
  • October 2015 in Colorado, hosted by CNBC
  • November 2015 in Wisconsin, hosted by Fox Business
  • December 2015 in Nevada, hosted by CNN
  • January 2016 in Iowa, hosted by Fox News
  • February 2016 in New Hampshire, hosted by ABC News
  • February 2016 in South Carolina, hosted by CBS News
  • February 2016 in Florida, hosted by NBC/Telemundo
  • California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte said the fact that the Golden State – which won’t hold its presidential primary until June 7 – will host a debate “is a testament to the role California will play in the upcoming 2016 election. We are excited to be part of the streamlined debate schedule and look forward to hosting a robust group of candidates that will share their vision and passion to help move America forward beyond the failed policies of President Obama.”

    The RNC said it and the broadcast partners soon will announce conservative media partners and panelists. Other possible debates still pending are a Fox News forum in March, a CNN forum in 2016 and a conservative media event at some point along the way.

    Posted on Friday, January 16th, 2015
    Under: Republican Party, Republican politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »