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CAGOP14: Pete Sessions on building party unity

California conservatives need to put aside their differences and remember who the real threat is, House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions told reporters Saturday at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame.

Sessions, R-Texas, said whether they identify as Tea Partiers, nonpartisans, Republicans or what have you, they must understand that “to win, and to have people in place to fight democrats and liberals, is what this is about.”

The alternative is “big government, expensive government, and we will fail to answer the bill for having our infrastructure, our military, our livelihood to build a better future,” he said. That should motivate “fear of where we are headed and why it’s got to be stopped.”

Regarding Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s continuing efforts to lure California businesses away to Texas, Sessions replied that some companies “chose to move because they had a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to run their businesses efficiently,” and that’s easier under the looser regulations and lower taxes that Texas’ conservative government offers.

But Sessions – who’ll address the convention’s banquet Saturday night – said “the Republican Party in California has a man in Jim Brulte who has a desire to win conservative Republican races” with an approach that’s less about ideological purity and more about running a pro-business, limited-government party.

Asked about Brulte’s strategy of focusing this year upon key congressional, legislative and local races rather than tough-if-not-unwinnable statewide contests, Sessions replied that “putting a person in every single race is not an effective way for you to use your money or resources.”

But rising food and gas prices, President Obama’s refusal to pursue “common sense” job and energy ideas like the Keystone XL pipeline, “the miserable failure of their healthcare” bill and Democrats’ “shrill liberalism and dogma” should give Republicans a strong message around which to unite in 2014, Sessions said.

Obamacare is the prime example, he said, with even some Democrats voting for bills to roll back certain sections of the Affordable Care Act after “they recognized they’re in trouble at home and they need to vote for repeal.” Meanwhile, other Democrats continue to stick to this “bad deal.”

That’s the trouble with liberal Democrats, Sessions said: “They want to tell you what you have to do. If it was so great, it should’ve been an option.”

Posted on Saturday, March 15th, 2014
Under: Republican Party, Republican politics | 2 Comments »

CAGOP14: Sessions touts CA17′s Vanila Singh

Dr. Vanila Singh, a Republican challenger to Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District, had a big booster at this weekend’s California Republican Convention this weekend: House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions.

Pete SessionsSessions, R-Texas, helped host a small meet-and-greet between Singh and a group of Republican physicians, and then spoke highly of her after his news conference.

“She is a very interesting person who is deeply committed to helping families and communities to overcome the ravages of big government and high taxation,” said Sessions, who as former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee is no stranger to recruiting and shepherding new GOP candidates to seek House seats.

Singh’s parents came from India to America on Ronald Reagan’s promise of economic opportunity, Sessions said, and she has become not only a physician serving the community but also “a well-educated, thoughtful mom and wife who sees first-hand that big government is taking too many thing away.”

Singh said Sessions has been “unbelievable,” an invaluable mentor and adviser. “It gives me hope to know our leaders care about the folks around them and are willing to encourage and give their time.”

Honda, D-San Jose, is seeking an eighth term, and a challenge brought by fellow Democrat Ro Khanna – a former Obama administration official from Fremont – has been making national headlines for almost a year. Singh entered the race at the start of this year, and two more Republicans jumped in just before the March 7 filing deadline: Joel Vanlandingham and Vinesh Singh Rathore, both of San Jose.

Vanila SinghAsked about those last-minute entries, who threaten to dilute the district’s already small GOP electorate, Singh replied, “I’m running my horserace.” She said she “most likely” will attend a League of Women Voters candidates’ forum on Saturday, May 3; Honda and Khanna already have committed to attend.

California GOP Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon of San Francisco said having three Indo-Americans in this race – Khanna, Singh and Rathore – is “a sign that the Indian American community has reached political maturity.”

But Dhillon said Rathore’s candidacy is “fishy” – someone formerly registered as a nonpartisan with a similar name (V. Singh Rathore and V. Singh) entering the race at the 11th hour. Though party bylaws prevent Dhillon from endorsing anyone when multiple Republicans are in the race, Singh is “a refreshing voice in our party … who shares the same concerns as the people in her community, and she has a lot to say.”

Dhillon also noted Singh placed ahead of Khanna in a recent poll commissioned by Honda’s liberal allied at Democracy for America, despite Khanna’s aggressive campaign over the past year. “He has certainly had his people reach out to Republican donors, Republican players.”

More from Singh, after the jump…
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Posted on Saturday, March 15th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

CAGOP14: Condoleezza Rice’s luncheon speech

It’s not just the California Republican Party that needs rebuilding – it’s America itself, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday at the state GOP convention in Burlingame.

Condoleezza-Rice-photo-by-Steve-Gladfelter-Stanford.jpgRice, now a Stanford professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow, said the American “pursuit of happiness” requires opportunity, community and responsibility to each other, as well as to people around the world who don’t yet have the liberties we enjoy.

That requires “proper balance between the rights and responsibilities of the individual, and the powers of government,” Rice said. “We don’t mean ‘no government’ – that’s not what our founders believe.”

Instead, she said, we need a government that imposes few regulations and low taxes upon the private sector “because it is the private sector that is creative, innovative and risk-taking” in creating jobs and opportunities for citizens.

“We must be committed to the belief that individuals have choices, and we will respect the choices of each other,” Rice said. “On one hand, we are the most individualistic people on the face of the earth … But we… are also the most philanthropic. This is a country where people give up their resources and their time to good causes.”

But public entitlements aren’t the answer, she said. Nor should Americans be jealous of each others’ success, she said; anyone can succeed with hard work and perseverance, so long as they’re given a good education.

She said she can’t understand how some people move to wealthy neighborhoods to get their children into good schools, or send their children to private schools, and then argue against school choice.

“The greatest civil rights issue of our time is a high-quality education for every child,” she said, calling for a school-voucher system.

More from Rice, after the jump…
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Posted on Saturday, March 15th, 2014
Under: Republican Party, Republican politics | 9 Comments »

CAGOP14: Nehring calls for Newsom to debate pot

Ron Nehring, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, said incumbent Democrat Gavin Newsom is dead wrong to be supporting marijuana legalization.

Ron Nehring“California has been a leader in fighting Big Tobacco… now we’re seeing the rise of Big Marijuana,” Nehring, a former state GOP chairman from El Cajon, said in a news conference Saturday morning at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame.

Newsom last October became chairman of a committee convened by the American Civil Liberties Union to explore legalization and taxation, as voters in Colorado and Washington already have voted to embrace. He also gave a speech supporting legalization at the California Democratic Party’s convention last week in Los Angeles.

But Nehring said Saturday that legalization would bring down marijuana’s price and lead to a dramatic expansion in use of a drug that affects reaction time, memory and other brain functions for weeks, and is particularly harmful to still-developing adolescent brains. The medical community opposes legalization, he said, while the public costs would far exceed the tax revenues and job creation.

And, Nehring noted, Latinos oppose legalization by about a two-to-one margin, so this is an issue on which the GOP can connect with those voters.

Nehring said he supports the mission of Project SAM, an anti-legalization group that favors changing laws to favor treatment over punishment for those who use marijuana.

Nehring stood next to a poster displaying a photo of Gov. Jerry Brown and his recent quote that, “All of a sudden, if there’s advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?”

“We should have a debate about this issue,” Nehring said. “If Gavin Newsom is not willing to debate me, perhaps he’d be willing to debate Gov. Brown, and they could also debate high-speed rail while they’re at it.”

Nehring acknowledged this will be a tough campaign.

“We completely understand that we are the underdog in this race,” Nehring said, given Democratic incumbents in all statewide offices, a big Democratic voter registration advantage, and robust Democratic fundraising. “Every financial report that comes out will show that Gavin Newsom has raised more money than Ron Nehring.”

As a down-ticket race, “this campaign needs to be about big ideas,” he said – a good prescription for all GOP candidates.

“Republicans need to be the party of bold reform” in order to inspire voters, Nehring said, not just “the party of tweaks and cuts.”

Meanwhile, he said, “Gavin Newsom is treating the office like a taxpayer funded gubernatorial exploratory committee for 2018.”

Posted on Saturday, March 15th, 2014
Under: Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor, marijuana, Republican Party, Republican politics | No Comments »

CAGOP14: One thing Kashkari & Brown agree on

Rancorous though this election is likely to grow, Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari and Gov. Jerry Brown agree on at least one thing: California shouldn’t legalize marijuana.

NEEL KASHKARITalking with reporters moments after rallying his college volunteer troops at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame, Kashkari scoffed at the idea that legalized marijuana can be a job-creator.

“We need jobs that are productivity-enhancing,” he said, adding that when Brown “said we don’t need a state full of pot-heads, he was right.”

But he also said today’s drug laws are disproportionately enforced, causing more harm to minority communities, and it makes no sense to react to marijuana by locking people up, ruining their lives and wasting billions of taxpayers’ dollars across the nation. “I think there are elements of decriminalization that are worth looking at.”

Sharing an elevator with reporters, Ron Nehring – the former state GOP chairman now running to unseat incumbent Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom – said he intends to discuss marijuana at a press conference Saturday morning at the convention.

Kashkari wouldn’t give reporters any details Friday of how he intends to create jobs, which along with improving education is his campaign’s backbone. “We’ll roll out our jobs plan very soon, we’re looking at various ways to lure factories back to California,” he said.

Minutes earlier, he had repeated to his volunteers his general mantra on jobs: “unleash the potential” of the state’s natural resources by opening oil and gas fields to more fracking; eliminating much of the state’s regulatory red tape; and “improve our overall economic competitiveness.”

State GOP Chairman Jim Brulte and Vice Chair Harmeet Dhillon earlier Friday made it clear that statewide races won’t be the state party’s focus this year; instead, they’ll look for House, legislative and local victories. Brulte said he believes only two or three statewide races are even competitive this year, though he wouldn’t say which ones.

Kashkari said he agrees “that the lower races are very important” and hopes the tide of his campaign will lift GOP boats further down the ticket. Winning his race this year will be “absolutely hard, but we have so many examples nationally of very strong incumbents losing.”

Brown’s “track record is the destruction of the middle class,” he repeated, also defending a recent statement that Brown was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

Reminded that Brown famously has lived more frugally than just about any governor in recent memory, Kashkari replied that it must be nice for Brown to have had a multi-million dollar trust fund that let him go visit in the mid-1980s with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India.

Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2014
Under: marijuana, Neel Kashkari, Republican Party, Republican politics | 2 Comments »

CAGOP14: Dublin’s Catharine Baker a ‘trailblazer’

An East Bay Assembly candidate was among those shown off as the cream of the “California Trailblazers” crop Friday at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame.

Modeled on the congressional “Young Guns” program cofounded by in the 2008 election cycle by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, California Trailblazers is a recruitment, training and advisory program for state legislative candidates. And gaining ground in the legislature is a key GOP goal this year, party chairman Jim Brulte and vice chair Harmeet Dhillon noted Friday.

Catharine Baker (photo by Karl Mondon)Catharine Baker, a Dublin attorney seeking the 16th Assembly District seat, said the trailblazers program has taught her how to “run a great ground game, and get our messaging out to the community in the most effective way.”

“It’s going well, really terrific,” she said of her campaign, adding she’s feeling energized by support from across the political spectrum despite the three Democrats also in the race. “I’m a sharp contrast from all three of them … and a Republican very different from what you see going to Sacramento.”

The Democrats in the race are Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich and Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer. Incumbent Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, is term-limited out. The district’s voter registration is 39.7 percent Democrat, 32.4 percent Republican and 21.5 percent nonpartisan.

Baker stood at a news conference with other California Trailblazers candidates from around California, as well as with Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway.

“Could we ask for a better candidate? I don’t think so,” Conway said of Baker after the news conference. “She has worked tirelessly and I’m so impressed with her.”

Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2014
Under: Assembly, Republican Party, Republican politics | 2 Comments »

CAGOP14: ‘A significant rebuilding operation’

California Republicans “have a significant rebuilding operation on our hands,” state GOP Chairman Jim Brulte told reporters at the party’s convention Friday.

BrulteBrulte said he has met with more than 200 Republican groups across the state since his election as chairman one year ago, and tells them all the same thing.

“We have frank talks. This is a party that, whether we like it or not, has been in decline for two decades in this state,” he said. “We have to get back to basics, we have to concentrate on the nuts and bolts of winning elections.”

So the state party has three goals this year: Help the national GOP maintain control of the House; eliminate the Democratic supermajorities in the state legislature; and helping with local elections where and how it can.

“A lot of people, like moths, like to go to the light, and the light is those big races” at the top of the ticket, Brulte said, but rebuilding the party means “grinding it out on the ground” in local races – a strategy that will take several election cycles to bear larger fruit.

Local races are won by candidates who look and sound most like – and most share the values and experiences of – the local voters, he said. And winning requires not only the right candidate, but also the right message, enough money, and a strong campaign field organization, he added.

That’s not to say every legislative and local Republican candidate will receive money or direct support from the state party, he said – with 100 legislative races and uncounted local contests, that’s impossible.

“We don’t bake cakes,” he said – but if the National Republican Congressional Committee, county GOP committees and candidates can do so, the state party might be able to add some icing to help put them over the top.

Read more from Brulte, after the jump…
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Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2014
Under: Republican Party, Republican politics | 2 Comments »

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.

Posted on Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
Under: Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor, Republican Party, Republican politics | 1 Comment »

GOP launches new tech innovation initiative

The Republican National Committee today announced the launch of a new initiative to recruit the kind of high-tech, hack-minded innovators who’ve revolutionized campaign methods more effectively for Democrats in recent years.

Para Bellum Labs “will help create a culture to allow the RNC to innovate faster and recruit more talented people who can build digital platforms to understand public opinion, engage voters and power elections,” according to the RNC’s news release, allowing the party “to continue building a new tech-centered mindset, while increasing visibility and credibility in the tech community to attract top talent who want to solve big tech problems.”

It’ll start with a tour of five top engineering schools and a political hackathon to be held sometime soon.

“The RNC has a role to lead on data and digital for the good of the party from the top of the ticket down,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in the news release. “Through Para Bellum Labs we will continue bringing in top talent to inspire innovative products to power campaigns and change the way we do business in the Republican Party.”

The GOP has been at a deficit for this kind of thing, as was clearly evidenced in 2012′s presidential election.

But the new initiative’s name already is taking some heat from some quarters. “Para bellum” is Latin for “prepare for war” (often used in the adage, “Si vis pacem, para bellum” or “If you want peace, prepare for war”), but that’s not the problem.

“Parabellum” was used by a German arms manufacturer as a name for its signature guns – first for the light machine gun used during World War I, and later, the Pistole Parabellum or Luger pistol known for its use by German troops in World Wars I and II.

So Gawker’s headline reads “The GOP Just Named its Hot New Innovation Lab After a Nazi Pistol.”

National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Rabbi Jack Moline issued a statement saying he’s “astounded and sorely disappointed that the Republican National Committee would put so little thought into the message of their new venture. Using the phrasing ‘para bellum’ not only exploits horrific symbolism, but also communicates a fatalist and violent message toward any who differ with you.

“The RNC should immediately repudiate the name of this venture, denounce the approach it suggests, and apologize to all the people this names offends – those of the Greatest Generation, those who have ever been victims of gun violence, and those in the Jewish community and beyond who were victims of the Nazi genocide,” Moline said.

Posted on Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
Under: Republican Party, Republican politics | 5 Comments »

RNC Chair Priebus to address CA GOP convention

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will speak at the state GOP’s spring convention.

Preibus will be the opening-night speaker at the confab, which runs March 14 through 16 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport in Burlingame. The party also announced Friday that House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, will speak at the Saturday-night banquet.

The party previously had announced that former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will speak as well.

“We’re thrilled to have such a distinguished lineup of speakers for this convention,” party chairman Jim Brulte said in a news release. “Both Chairman Priebus and Congressman Sessions have track records of success in reviving Republican organizations and will be extremely helpful in the ongoing efforts to rebuild our state party from the ground up.”

Posted on Friday, January 24th, 2014
Under: Republican Party, Republican politics | 21 Comments »