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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 | 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 »

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 »

    Senate 2016: A tale of three GOP chairmen

    Two former California Republican Party chairmen, both from the Bay Area, say they’re seriously considering running to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbrara Boxer in 2016 while a third ex-chairman won’t rule it out.

    But having been the state GOP’s chief executive might not be the best resume fodder for this or any statewide race.

    Tom Del BeccaroTom Del Beccaro, 53, of Lafayette, who chaired the party from 2011 to 2013, was first out of the gate – he had a publicist issue a news release last Thursday, within hours of Boxer’s announcement that she wouldn’t run.

    “My first love has been national politics and foreign affairs for decades,” he said during an interview Monday.

    “Seats like this don’t come open very often. I want to be part of the debate and I want to make sure our side has a positive image and positive things to say.”

    Duf SundheimGeorge “Duf” Sundheim, 62, of Los Altos Hills, who chaired the party from 2003 to 2007, also has floated a trial balloon.

    Sundheim said Monday he’s moved by the plight of students in failing schools, and of small businesses lacking access to capital. It’s not a matter of whether we should be in the political left lane or the right lane, he said: “We’re on the wrong road.”

    Framing a race like this as Republican versus Democrat or conservative versus liberal won’t work well for the Republican conservatives, he added, but voters would much rather hear about the future versus the status quo. If a candidate can do that, he said, “I think you have a real shot.”

    Ron NehringAnd Ron Nehring, 44, of El Cajon, who chaired the party from 2007 to 2011, said Monday he’s “very flattered that people have been talking about me as a potential candidate for the office. … Let’s just leave it at that.” Nehring is the only one of the three who has even sought elected office before: He ran for lieutenant governor last year, finishing 14 percentage points behind incumbent Democrat Gavin Newsom.

    Should they run, they could find that having chaired their state party is more liability than asset. Already each has critics within the party who are burning up various social media with reasons they shouldn’t run.

    “A necessary (but not sufficient) ingredient for a successful California senate run is the ability to raise tens of millions of dollars for your campaign, and another is significant name recognition,” one state GOP insider said Monday on condition of anonymity. “An ideal candidate would also have been elected to office before, preferable statewide or in a major city.”

    “Neither of these two candidates (Sundheim and Del Beccaro) has these necessary qualifications,” the party insider said.

    Lots more, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Monday, January 12th, 2015
    Under: Barbara Boxer, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. Senate | 6 Comments »

    Ron Nehring to address ALEC summit meeting

    Ron Nehring, the former California Republican Party Chairman and 2014 Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, will address the opening session of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) States and Nation Policy Summit on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

    Ron NehringALEC’s website says it “works to advance limited government, free markets and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.”

    It’s basically a forum through which conservative state lawmakers and the private sector collaborate on legislation that’s then pushed in multiple states, from business bills favoring lower taxes, privatization, and relaxed regulation to things such as stand-your-ground self-defense laws and voter ID requirements. Funded mostly by major corporations and conservative benefactors including the Koch brothers, it has become a target for liberal activists.

    The summit is the group’s annual, national post-election meeting focusing on the legislative agenda for 2015; ALEC’s next national meeting will take place in San Diego, California this summer.

    Nehring’s news release said his opening remarks Wednesday will review election results across the country, and recommendations for 2016 including “the critical importance of growing support for candidates supporting limited government and free markets in America’s immigrant, suburban and urban communities; building coalitions; and recognizing the role of candidates’ personal narratives in addition to their philosophy.”

    Nehring lost this year’s race to incumbent Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, 57.2 percent to 42.8 percent.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
    Under: Republican Party, Republican politics | 1 Comment »

    Musings on the state GOP, Congress, pot & Kansas

    A few observations on Tuesday’s elections, with a hat tip to my colleagues Paul Rogers and Ken McLaughlin for their thoughts:

    CALIFORNIA GOP: Tuesday’s results seem to be a vindication and victory for the “Brulte Doctrine,” spelled out by the state GOP chairman at his party’s convention in March: Don’t waste much effort trying to win unwinnable statewide races, but instead rebuild the party by “grinding it out on the ground” in local races – a strategy that will take several election cycles to bear larger fruit.

    Despite their buzz, Ashley Swearengin and Pete Peterson couldn’t make it happen statewide: as it stands now, it looks like a 5.6-point loss for Swearengin in the controller’s race and a 5-point loss for Peterson in the secretary of state’s race. Those are respectable losses but losses nonetheless, and I submit that the GOP putting more money and party resources behind them might actually have resulted in wider margins of loss – I think they did this well in part by distancing themselves from partisanship.

    Instead, Brulte’s GOP concentrated on denying Democrats their legislative supermajorities – and now it’s “mission accomplished” in the state Senate while the Assembly still hangs by a thread as vote-by-mail ballots are counted.

    In doing so, the GOP is hatching a new generation of up-and-comers. Exhibit A: Catharine Baker, who at this hour is up 3.8 points over Democrat Tim Sbranti in the East Bay’s 16th Assembly District race. Baker, an attorney hailed as a cream-of-the-crop “California Trailblazer” at her party’s convention in March, was far outspent by Sbranti, who already had some name recognition among the electorate as Dublin’s mayor. But GOP officials and activists came from around the state to pound the pavement for her, and it looks like it could pay off with the first Bay Area Republican sent to Sacramento since Guy Houston was term-limited out (in the same part of the East Bay) in 2008.

    CONGRESS: Anyone who’s surprised that Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate and gained seats in the House isn’t very well-versed in history. A two-term president’s party almost always loses ground in his sixth-year midterm.

    Sure, President Barack Obama’s job-approval rating stood at 42 percent (per Gallup) on Tuesday. And President George W. Bush’s job approval was at 38 percent in November 2006 as Democrats picked up five Senate seats and 31 House seats, making Harry Reid the new Senate Majority Leader and Nancy Pelosi the new House Speaker. And President Ronald Reagan was riding high with a 63 percent job-approval rating in November 1986 (although he was about to take a precipitous dive as details of the Iran-Contra scandal came to light) as Democrats picked up eight Senate seats, putting Robert Byrd in the driver’s seat, and five House seats to cement the majority they already had.

    The exception was President Bill Clinton, who saw his party pick up five House seats in 1998 – a stinging defeat that left Republicans in control but forced Newt Gingrich to resign as Speaker – while the Senate was a zero-sum game. Clinton, under fire for the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, still was at a 66 percent job-approval rating at the time.

    But Bubba always had a way of defying the odds.

    MARIJUANA: If Oregon and Alaska got enough younger voters out to the polls in this midterm election to approve marijuana legalization, just imagine what California can do in 2016’s presidential election with an initiative forged in the trial-and-error of four other states’ experiences.

    KANSAS: Kansas has had private-sector job growth that lags the rest of the country, and adopted tax cuts big enough to blow a still-widening hole in the state budget requiring school closings, teacher layoffs and increased class sizes – but doubled down with its Republican governor and Republican U.S. Senator. I guess you can lead a Jayhawk to water, but you can’t make it drink…

    Posted on Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
    Under: 2014 general, Assembly, California State Senate, marijuana, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 10 Comments »