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California’s voting has begun

Well, I’m back after a week of vacation, and what did I miss? Oh, not much: The state Senate’s President Pro Tem got carjacked; a powerful Bay Area Congressman and committee chairman announced his illness and impending retirement; Obama won Iowa; etc. A slow week by all accounts.

OK, maybe the vacation was a bit ill-timed. But we’ll put that all behind us, as today marks the start of absentee voting in California!

The Golden State’s presidential frontrunners — Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani — are excited, perhaps particularly given their less-then-stellar performances in Iowa (Hillary in third place among Democrats, Giuliani a distant sixth among Republicans). After all, California absentee ballot voters comprise more than 40 percent of the overall primary vote, and the state has a tremendous percentage of the delegates needed to win the nominations.

Clinton supporters including Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (a national campaign co-chair), other state lawmakers and California campaign senior staffers will gather in Sacramento in about 15 minutes to discuss “a plan that will ensure a victory for Senator Clinton on February 5, 2008.” Over the weekend, they sent out a memo claiming “our ground game, grassroots organization, and volunteer network throughout the 58 counties are unmatched and will allow us to remain strong.”

Meanwhile, this from Bill Simon, Rudy Giuliani’s California Chairman:

For the first time in years, California Republicans will play a pivotal role in determining who the Presidential nominee will be for their party. The voters in California begin to be heard today, as absentee voting starts in the state. As Republicans cast their ballots, I urge voters to choose the only true fiscal conservative in the race and the man whose tested leadership brought the country together in a time of crisis — Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Remember, vote-by-mail ballots must be received by an elections official no later than the close of polls — that’s 8 p.m. on primary election day, Feb. 5. You can mail it in or return it in person to any polling place in your county or to the county elections office on Election Day; if illness or physical disability prevents you from returning the ballot yourself, you can designate a spouse, child, parent, grandparent, sibling, or a person residing in the same household to return the ballot to the elections official or the precinct board at any polling place within the jurisdiction.

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Upcoming Bay Area political events

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  • California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, has two Bay Area speaking engagements this Monday, Dec. 10. First, at 1 p.m., he’ll give a Harris Seminar Brown Bag Lunch Talk at Cal’s Institute of Governmental Studies, 119 Moses Hall, free and open to the public. Then, at 6 p.m., he’ll be part of the Commonwealth Club of California‘s panel discussion on immigrant health care; this’ll be in the club’s office on the second floor of 595 Market St. (at Second) in San Francisco, free for club members, $18 for nonmembers, $7 for students.
  • giuliani.jpgRepublican presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has a fundraising reception scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Woodside home of Woodside Hotels and Resorts CEO Katherine Alden — $1,500 per person, $2,300 per couple. Then, on Tuesday morning, he has a fundraising breakfast scheduled for 8 a.m. at the home of Behrman Capital managing partner Bill Matthes and his wife, Leigh, in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights; this one’s $2,300 a plate. RSVP for either to Jane Clark, 707-933-9000 or jlc@jlcsonoma.com.
  • senatorclinton.jpgBillionaire investor Warren Buffett hosts a fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the San Francisco Hilton; it’s $100 for a limited number of students or those under 30, $250 for a regular ticket, $1,000 for preferred seating, and $2,300 for a VIP Lunch with Buffett and Clinton. A similar event that the Berkshire Hathaway chairman hosted in June in New York City reportedly raised about $1 million for Clinton.
  • gravel.jpgThe Commonwealth Club will host Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Alaska, at noon Tuesday, Dec. 11, at Le Petit Trianon Theater, 72 N. Fifth St. in San Jose; $10 for members, $20 for nonmembers. Says the club’s Web site: “From his advocacy for a universal health-care system to the support of a guest worker program, learn more about how Gravel plans to be the ‘Man for America.'”
  • romney.jpgRepublican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has a fundraising double-header scheduled for Friday, Dec. 14.: first, a 12:30 p.m. luncheon at the Oakville home of vintner H. William Harlan and his wife, Deborah; then, a 5:30 p.m. reception at the San Francisco home of investment banker Michael Whitman and his wife, Sandra. Both events are $1,000 a head, $2,300 with a photo op; RSVP to Kristin Hueter at 510-420-1199.
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    VC partners endorse Giuliani, Clinton

    kvamme.jpgSilicon Valley mogul E. Floyd Kvamme told reporters on a conference call just now that Rudy Giuliani — who’ll be in the Bay Area early next week — would be the business-friendly president the valley desires.

    “The valley is a very globally thinking kind of economy,” he said. “The mayor talks a lot about that… competitiveness in improving our picture.”

    Kvamme — a partner emeritus at high-tech venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers — said Giuliani wants to roll back government regulation that forces business overseas, but also is “very committed to the whole issue of workforce generation and education… Most of us here in the valley believe that more choice in the (school) system would be good for the system.”

    On immigration, “the mayor is the one person who can sort out this issue, because its a big one and he lived in it for a number of years” but also because he understands total, comprehenisve reform may not be the appropriate, immediate goal if Silicon Valley wants to continue attracting the best and brightest from around the world. And on energy, Kvamme said, Giuliani “has recognized that on the electricity front, the cleanest electricity going is nuclear power” and opposes raising taxes on U.S. oil production.

    Giuliani is “taking California very seriously — he has been here a ton of times,” Kvamme said. “People are excited about his candidacy and I think he’s going to do extremely well in California.”

    doerr.jpgIncidentally, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner John Doerr and his wife, environmental advocate Ann Doerr, today announced their support of Hillary Clinton, citing her “forward-looking agenda in energy, innovation, healthcare and the economy” and her “experience, judgment and leadership to strengthen America’s standing in the world.”

    Just as Kvamme is a longtime GOP figure — high-tech advisory positions in the administrations of President George W. Bush and former Gov. Pete Wilson; a stint as chairman of a Bill Bennett-founded conservative think tank; giving, with his wife, at least $122,000 to Republican causes in the 2004 cycle, $252,000 in 2000 — the Doerrs were big-time Al Gore supporters in ’00 and gave $428,000 to Democratic causes in ’04. John Doerr had endorsed Joe Lieberman in 2003 but quickly fell in line behind John Kerry post-nomination in 2004.

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    Clinton punches Giuliani in the face!

    No, not really. But wouldn’t it be something?

    That’s what the folks at Cellufun must’ve thought as they rolled out “The Mobile Ring,” a downloadable cell-phone game in which you can choose a candidate to face off against another candidate in the boxing ring, and slug it out for the title.

    From their site:

    hillary-vs-rudy.gifYou can choose to play as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, or a slew of other contenders. Aside from being an exercise in catharsis, there is a populist strain in the Mobile Ring game. You can help your favorite long shot candidates by uploading your high scores to us, and we’ll adjust those candidates’ performances in the game.

    The initial release of the Mobile Ring game will give each candidate a rating based on their current real-life poll position. Our frequently released updates will take into account not only the real-life poll numbers, but actual in-game performance by YOU, our players, and which candidates got more wins/losses in the field.

    Also, don’t forget to cast your vote now! In the poll to the right, you can vote on other characters for us to include in future releases; either dark-horse candidates, cable television pundits or perhaps currently elected white house officials (ahem).

    The Mobile Ring release marks not only the first political boxing game available for free on your mobile phone, but the first mobile action game whose character’s strength changes based upon real world events. So get playing!

    I predict this game will be overrun by Ron Paul fans within a few weeks…

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    Stay away from my kid, all of you.

    A recent telephone poll conducted by Parents magazine asked, among other things, which presidential candidates people would most likely trust and not trust to baby-sit their kids. And in yet another example of Hillary Clinton‘s ability to polarize the electorate, she topped both lists.

    “Which one of the 2008 presidential candidates would you trust most to babysit your children?”
    • Hillary Rodham Clinton: 26%
    • None: 19%
    Barack Obama: 13%
    • Don’t know: 12%
    Rudy Giuliani: 9%
    Fred Thompson: 6%
    John Edwards: 5%
    Mitt Romney: 5%
    John McCain: 4%
    • Refused: 2%

    “Which one of the 2008 presidential candidates would you trust least to babysit your children?”
    • Hillary Rodham Clinton: 25%
    • Don’t know: 19%
    • None: 13%
    • Rudy Giuliani: 13%
    • John McCain: 7%
    • Barack Obama: 6%
    • Fred Thompson: 6%
    • John Edwards: 5%
    • Mitt Romney: 4%
    • Refused: 2%

    What, no Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel or Ron Paul? C’mon, they’re not THAT scary. (Tom Tancredo, however: too scary.)

    The poll also found that more than 75% of parents say that the government is not doing enough to address the key problems that modern families face. This telephone survey was of about 1,000 parents of children under 12 found that “What Keeps Parents Up at Night” is a variety of issues, including affordable health care, lack of positive role models in the government and the media’s influence on children.