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Campbell, Fiorina weigh in on deficit panel

Republican U.S. Senate candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said this morning she opposes the creation of an 18-member “deficit commission” to study ways to both raise revenue and cut spending to get control of the nation’s rapidly expanding deficit – a proposal on which the Senate is expected to vote today.

“We don’t need a commission to study the federal deficit – what we need is a commitment to cut federal spending. We know why we have a deficit: Congress spends too much money, and for the last 26 years, Barbara Boxer has been complicit in perpetuating that system. It’s Congress’ job to address the deficit, and if they can’t – or won’t – then the people need to replace them with leaders who can fix it.”

“Raising revenue is politician’s code for raising taxes. Giving the government more money is in no way a solution to the deficit; in fact, it will only make the deficit worse. What we need is to cut spending and aggressively go after the waste and abuse in the federal budget, and we need leaders who are not afraid to take the steps to do it, rather than create a commission to avoid it.”

Republican U.S. Senate candidate and former Congressman, state finance director and Cal business school dean Tom Campbell said yesterday he favors creating the commission, so long as it doesn’t raise taxes.

“America’s economy will continue hurting and Americans will continue losing jobs until real action is taken to cut federal spending and dramatically reduce our nation’s $12 trillion federal deficit. Unless this happens, we will have sold our economic soul to other nations and mortgaged future generations of Americans, jeopardizing our national security and our leadership in the world.

“The proper approach is to get agreement on where to cut federal spending, much the way we approached the closure of military bases.

“I was a Member of Congress when the Base Closure and Realignment Commission was constituted and met. Indeed, I was one of the very few Congressmen to testify in favor of the base closures list, even though it included a base in my district — Moffett Naval Air Station. As difficult as this was, I supported it because I knew our nation’s good compelled that we embrace savings.

“The same approach should be taken to achieve savings more generally, throughout the entire federal budget. The idea of a commission is good. The idea of having it report for an up or down vote to the House and Senate is good. But its focus should be on identifying areas to cut spending. As presently proposed, the Commission goes beyond that, and even points to tax increases as part of the solution. I think that’s entirely wrong-headed.

“The solution to the budget deficit at the federal level is to constrain spending, not increase taxes. We should also re-establish the Gramm Rudman Hollings law that automatically cut federal spending across-the-board if Congress did not meet specific deficit-reduction targets.”

I’ve not heard anything on this from U.S. Senate candidate Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, who I see will be in Oakland for a fundraiser tomorrow night; perhaps he’ll be watching President Obama’s State of the Union address there?

UPDATE @ 12:44 P.M.: The Senate rejected the idea.

Posted on Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
Under: Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, Chuck DeVore, Tom Campbell, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Campbell crows, Fiorina spins over poll

Now Republicans are even starting to use the “Remember Massachusetts!” meme on each other.

As I’d hinted at the end of my story in today’s editions, the Field Poll this morning released a survey showing former Congressman, former state finance director and former Cal business school dean Tom Campbell – who just last week jumped from the Republican gubernatorial primary to the Republican U.S. Senate primary – now leads his GOP rivals, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine.

Specifically, among GOP primary likely voters, it’s 30 percent for Campbell, 25 percent for Fiorina and 6 percent for DeVore with 39 percent still undecided. In general-election match-ups with incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer, Boxer leads Campbell 48 percent to 38 percent; Boxer leads Fiorina 50 percent to 35 percent; and Boxer leads DeVore 51 percent to 34 percent.

Field did this survey Jan. 5-17 among a total of 958 likely voters in November’s general election – with a 3.3-percentage-point margin of error – and 202 likely voters in June’s GOP primary, with a 7.1-percentage point margin of error.

Fiorina’s campaign, until now in the primary lead, says the numbers are… encouraging!

“We continue to be encouraged by the polling in this race, which shows that Carly is a strong candidate both in the primary and in the general election and that voters are highly dissatisfied with Barbara Boxer’s continued support for bigger government and higher taxes,” Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund said. “Tom Campbell is a career politician who has now run for statewide office three times, so one would have expected that his high name identification would come through more strongly in this poll. But once voters learn that Tom has spent the last five years supporting increased government spending and higher taxes and now refuses to commit to voting against more tax increases in the Senate, we expect his numbers to fall fast – just like Martha Coakley’s did in Massachusetts.”

“Just like Martha Coakley?” Jeez, way to call Campbell a Marxist.

But Campbell’s camp is over the moon as it drills down into the poll’s numbers – he does equally well with strongly conservative voters (29 percent) as he does with moderates (30 percent), which seems to belie Fiorina’s spin. They also note he’s more popular among female GOP likely voters (28 percent to Fiorina’s 19 percent and DeVore’s 6 percent), negating any gender advantage Fiorina might claim in taking on the female incumbent.

And, they note, Campbell’s favorability rating among November’s likely voters is at 22 percent to Fiorina’s 16 percent, with 64 percent having no opinion of Campbell and 66 percent having no opinion of Fiorina – which makes it seem about the same ratio of voters already know both, to Campbell’s advantage.

Posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Carly Fiorina, Chuck DeVore, Republican politics, Tom Campbell, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

Boxer touts fundraising, but polls look shaky

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s re-election campaign this morning said the fact that it raised more than $1.8 million in 2009’s last quarter – its best quarter so far in the 2010 cycle – denotes “growing momentum.”

“We’ve been preparing for a tough race and our supporters really came through for us,” said Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski. “With this broad base of support, I’m confident we will have the resources we need to win in November.”

The campaign said more than 14,000 of the 23,000 fourth-quarter donors were new supporters, and 90 percent of the total contributed $100 or less. The campaign’s 2009 totals are $5.9 million from 43,000 donors, of which more than $1.1 million was raised online. And the campaign said it will report more than $7.2 million cash on hand as of Dec. 31; at this point in her 2004 campaign, she had only $5 million banked.

She might need every penny: A Rasmussen Reports poll of 500 likely voters conducted last Thursday shows Boxer in tight races with some of her Republican challengers. The poll showed Boxer led former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina by three percentage points, 46 percent to 43 percent; she led former Congressman, state finance director and Cal business-school dean Tom Campbell by four points, 46 percent to 42 percent; and she led Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, by six points, 46 percent to 40 percent.

Other polls (done before Campbell jumped from the gubernatorial race to this one) didn’t show Fiorina or DeVore, but it’s unclear whether Rasmussen’s numbers are outliers or if the momentum actually lies with the GOP.

On the other hand, the GOP primary is shaping up to be a real bruiser, especially now that Campbell is in; whether the winner emerges stronger for having built consensus in the battle, or weaker for having depleted his/her money and goodwill, remains to be seen. As does Boxer’s reputation as she tries to shepherd a controversial cap-and-trade climate change bill through her Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this spring.

All of which is to say: It’s still sooooo early in this fight.

Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, campaign finance, Chuck DeVore, Meg Whitman, Tom Campbell, U.S. Senate, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Prop. 8, Campbell and dam removal on ‘TWINC’

Last night’s “This Week in Northern California” on KQED Channel 9 included a reporters’ roundtable in which Scott Shafer, host of KQED Public Radio’s “California Report” spoke about the Prop. 8 trial; I spoke about Tom Campbell’s switch from the GOP gubernatorial primary to the GOP U.S. Senate primary; and San Jose Mercury News environment writer Paul Rogers spoke about California’s largest-ever dam removal project.

Posted on Saturday, January 16th, 2010
Under: same-sex marriage, Tom Campbell | No Comments »

‘Good luck,’ ‘Get lost’ messages for Tom Campbell

California Insurance Commissioner and Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner wishes former GOP gubernatorial primary rival Tom Campbell the best of luck as he switches to the U.S. Senate race:

“In this race, Tom Campbell was never afraid to answer the tough questions, debate the issues, and offer specific ideas for pulling California out of economic crisis. I may not have agreed with all of Tom’s proposals, but I admire his attention to policy and his willingness to present detailed specifics. The seriousness of the problems we face demand that our next governor have thoughtful and well-formed plans for bringing California back from the brink. Having served in state government, Tom knows that California cannot be run like a business and the Governor’s office is not a boardroom. It was a pleasure to debate Tom Campbell many times on our plans and I wish him the best of luck in the future.”

GOP gubernatorial primary candidate Meg Whitman was similiarly gracious, if not quite as laudatory:

“Tom is a man dedicated to public service. We now have three strong Republican contenders vying to become California’s next United States Senator, and I look forward to campaigning for victory in November with whomever our nominee is. I am going to ask Tom’s early supporters and the rest of our party to join me in the fight to create jobs, cut spending and fix education in California. I’m confident that on Election Day my credentials as a proven job creator and an effective manager will attract the voters we need to win.”

Campbell’s U.S. Senate primary rival Carly Fiorina – well, not so much:

Carly Fiorina“Today Tom Campbell kicked off yet another campaign for yet another office in his never ending quest to get elected again – but using his electoral history as a guide, his kick off tour is more likely to be a farewell tour. Tom’s unending quest for statewide office has nothing to do with serving the people of California, rather it’s about satisfying Tom Campbell’s quixotic personal ambition and the false premise that he will be acceptable to Republican primary voters. California Republicans won’t vote for a proponent of higher taxes and more government; they’re smarter than Tom Campbell gives them credit for.

“We view Tom’s candidacy as an opportunity for Carly to further distinguish herself as a political outsider and fiscal conservative who will always be on the side of the taxpayers – not just for the primary election, but also for the general election. Tom Campbell and Barbara Boxer share many of the same views, not the least of which is their mutual support for increased taxes and government expansion. Running against Tom in the primary provides our campaign an ideal sparring partner for the main event.”

Fiorina’s release goes on to paint Campbell as a career politician, a lackluster fundraiser and a fiscal liberal. But this one release today spends more time and verbiage talking about Campbell than Fiorina has said to date about her other competitor in the primary, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore – clearly, Fiorina’s campaign believes Campbell is a foe worth naming and trying to nip in the bud.

Game on!

Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Tom Campbell, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

Campbell donors react to campaign switch

I made calls today to a bunch of Bay Area people who’d made significant donations to the gubernatorial campaign of Tom Campbell, who’s reportedly announcing tomorrow that he’ll run in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, instead.

David Teece, professor and director of the Center for Global Strategy and Governance at UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business – where Campbell used to be dean – and his wife, Leigh, gave Campbell’s campaign $45,000 last March. “My wife and I support him 100 percent no matter which public position he’s running for,” Teece said this afternoon.

“One part of me is sad because I believe Tom is unquestionably the best person to be governor,” he said – a former state finance director, state Senator and Congressman with detailed, extensive knowledge of the state’s fiscal woes. “To have him not be the next governor, to me, is a great disappointment. The other candidates have one thing he doesn’t, which is a lot of money, but they don’t have the knowledge and experience that he has in government … They don’t have, off the top of their head, substantive answers.”

David Teece“On the other hand, I think he must have made a calculation that his chances are better – I think he’s probably right – in the Senate race, and I do believe if he can get through a Republican primary, he can win because he is what California is waiting for if the voters ever actually get to see him and understand him,” Teece said.

Campbell is “the kind of Republican that the country wants,” he said – a fiscal conservative who’s more liberal on social issues. “I don’t think a heavy conservative (like Chuck DeVore) can win in California, and Carly (Fiorina) has a lot of charisma and experience in the private sector, but this country is at a point where it needs some public officials … with a proven commitment to righting the economy and our society.”

Frances Nelson – president of Bohannon Development Co. which owns the Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo – gave Campbell’s campaign $10,000 in August and another $10,000 in December, and said today’s she’s “tickled” by his decision.

“I think we need somebody like Tom Campbell in the Senate of the United States. at this stage of our lives. He certainly has the background and the savvy to be of real value to us,” she said.

Nelson had already made a campaign contribution to Fiorina, she said, “but of course Tom Campbell has been a friend of long standing, I’ve supported him on many prior occasions and I really would feel very comfortable at this time contributing to him. … Tom Campbell represents, to me, my ideal Senator.”

One donor was more taciturn. Kenneth Olivier, president of the Dodge and Cox investment management firm, and his wife, Angela Nomellini, of Hillsborough, gave Campbell’s campaign $48,000 in April. “All I’ve seen so far is the press reporting on it,” he said today, adding it would be “premature” to say anything about it. “We obviously like him as an individual but I really don’t have any comment on the switch.”

At least for today, Campbell was still billed as a gubernatorial candidate as the Commonwealth Club of California announced he’ll speak on Wednesday, Jan. 20 about “The Economy: National and California – What Government Must Do to Promote Recovery.” The event at the club’s offices, on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco, includes a 5:30 p.m. networking reception and 6 p.m. program; tickets are available online, costing $12 for club members, $18 for nonmembers and $7 for students with valid ID.

Posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
Under: 2010 governor's race, Barbara Boxer, Tom Campbell, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

Poizner antes up $15 million for gov race

In what’s turning out to be a self-funded showdown for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman this year has put $19.02 million into her campaign and already is airing an ad blitz to raise her name recognition.

Meanwhile, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner had anted up only – only! – $4.2 million, leading some to wonder when he was going to pull out the stops and take to the airwaves in a meaningful way.

Well, wonder no longer. Poizner announced this morning that he’ll be contributing $15 million to his campaign, and that as governor he’ll slash California’s welfare spending by more than half. Nice symmetry, no?

His e-mailed statement:

“California is in deep trouble and I truly believe there could be no better time to run for Governor. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to really fix and reform our state. As we look towards 2010, I know the Republican primary will be won based on which candidate presents clear, specific, and conservative solutions for solving California’s economic problems. I will communicate my message of bold 10 percent tax cuts, a 10 percent reduction in state spending, creating a $10 billion rainy day fund, and I will cut our welfare spending so that it is in line with the national average or better. We have 30 percent of the nation’s welfare recipients and only 12 percent of the population. That’s change for the better and a message that I am confident will resonate with Republican voters.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza says the third GOP gubernatorial contender, Tom Campbell, may be considering switching over to the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, where he would face former HP CEO Carly Fiorina and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

Posted on Monday, December 14th, 2009
Under: 2010 governor's race, campaign finance, Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner, Tom Campbell | 1 Comment »

Tom Campbell offers health care reform plan

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Campbell rolled out his plan for health-care reform in California today, assuming there’ll not be significant, far-reaching federal reform.

It’s a 14-page plan and, given health-care reform’s complexities, I’ll not do it the disservice of immediately trying to explain every point of it here – go read it yourself.

In brief, it involves getting waivers from the federal government so California can spend its Medicaid and SCHIP funding to set up a system in which each region of the state – counties or clusters of counties – invites private health insurers and providers to bid on the right to cover all those below a certain income level (including current MediCal and Healthy Families recipients) plus all those who’ve been rejected by private insurers due to pre-existing conditions. The government will set the dollar amount of the five-year contract, and each bidder will explain what it would provide for that amount (above certain minimum criteria). The winning contractor would be able to sue anyone who’s financially capable of buying insurance but chose not to and then seeks emergency care.

Campbell also wants medical malpractice tort reform, which he said would decrease costs associated with “defensive medicine” – doctors covering their own butts by ordering unneeded, costly tests.

And he called for repeal of the federal antitrust exemption for insurance companies, and passage of federal laws to permit the interstate sale of insurance policies. Sure enough, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., today introduced a bill that would eliminate this 60-year-old exemption, which a broad exemption from antitrust scrutiny of price fixing and price setting by insurance companies.

As for national reform, Campbell told reporters today, he wants to see “the least intrusion as possible to achieve the purposes … Let’s just be targeted, you don’t need the big approach.” Besides repealing the antitrust exemption and enacting tort reform, he suggests requiring all insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and including the cost of COBRA continuation in unemployment insurance for people between jobs.

Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2009
Under: 2010 governor's race, healthcare reform, Tom Campbell | 3 Comments »

PG&E doubles down again vs. local energy choice

Now comes the serious money. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. on Friday contributed $1.5 million to its somewhat euphemistically named “Californians to Protect Our Right to Vote,” doubling the $1.5 million with which it already had seeded the committee in July and August. As reported here at the times of the earlier contributions, the “Taxpayers Right to Vote Act” that this committee is pushing would require local governments to obtain the approval of two-thirds of their voters before providing electricity to new customers or expanding such service to new territories if any public funds or bonds are involved, or before providing electricity through a community choice program if any public funds or bonds are involved. Critics say PG&E is playing on populist themes in order to block local governments from abandoning the utility giant in favor of power contracts with smaller, greener energy producers – a movement that’s been gaining steam in recent years. The proponents have until Dec. 21 to gather the 694,354 signatures needed to place this on the ballot next year.

Other sizeable chunks of change contributed in recent days include $25,900 from Oracle heiress and real estate agent Nicola Miner of San Francisco to Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign; $25,900 from former FTD Group CEO Michael Soenen of Chicago to Meg Whitman’s gubernatorial campaign; $25,000 from the Mercury Trust (apparently controlled by financier Saul Fox) in Foster City to Tom Campbell’s gubernatorial campaign; and $10,000 each to Whitman’s campaign from venture capitalist and former Motorola Chairman and CEO Christopher Galvin of Winnetka, Ill., and from retired investment banker James Love of Healdsburg, all last Thursday.

Posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009
Under: 2010 governor's race, ballot measures, campaign finance, energy, Gavin Newsom, Meg Whitman, Tom Campbell | 4 Comments »

CD10 outcome could trigger more elections

The campaigns for the 10th Congressional District have nearly reached the end of the line and polls will open in a matter of hours.

By this time Wednesday, we should know the outcome of what has been a suspense-filled accelerated primary election season, chiefly due to the presence of three elected Democrats in the contest — Lt. Gov. John Garamendi of Walnut Grove, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier of Concord and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo.

The Democratic top vote-getter will become the prohibitive favorite in the Nov. 3 runoff election and if one of these three ultimately prevails, it will trigger one of three events:

1. If Garamendi wins, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will nominate someone to fill out the remainder of his term or 2010. The nomination is subject to approval of both houses of the California Legislature. But if state lawmakers fail to vote within 90 days, the governor’s choice automatically takes the seat.

2 and 3. If DeSaulnier or Buchanan win, a vacancy in the Assembly or Senate seat triggers the state’s special election rules. The governor cannot appoint members of the Legislature. The governor has 14 days as soon as the seat becomes vacant to call a special general election, which must occur within 114 to 126 days. A special primary will be held eight weeks prior to the general election.

Of course, one could extend this line of thought to the extreme. Let’s say DeSaulnier wins the Congressional seat and triggers a special Senate election. Then Buchanan wins the Senate seat and her departure triggers a special Assembly election. All of which translates into millions of dollars to pay for more special elections and all on the backs of the district’s taxpayers.

A few folks have already indicated they will run for an open Senate seat, including Danville Councilman Newell Arnerich and West Contra Costa School Board Trustee Tony Thurmond. Open seats usually attract additional candidates, so we almost certainly expect that list would grow.

As for the lieutenant governor’s seat, talk among Sacramento politicos is that Schwarzenegger favors the appointment of a Republican although the names of several prominent Democrats have surfaced, too.

The governor can either use the post to elevate someone into a position where he or she can run as an incumbent in 2010 for this job or even for governor. Or he could nominate a place-holder, someone who poses no threat to the current gubernatorial or statewide candidates.

“The person who gets appointed has an advantage and the (governor and his staff) will be very careful about who they give that advantage to,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at University of Southern California and a former Republican political consultant.

On the GOP side, names include state Sen. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria. He infuriated Republicans when he voted with Schwarzenegger last year for a state budget that contained tax hikes in return for a redistricting ballot measure. On the plus side, Democrats might go along with it; his departure from the Senate creates an opportunity for Democrats to win the seat in a special election. But it would look like political pay-back, a label the moderate Maldonado might not survive in a tough 2010 primary.

Another GOP possibility is Assemblyman Mike Villines of Fresno, the former minority leader who also sided with Schwarzenegger in February on a state budget that included temporary tax hikes in return for spending reform.

There is also speculation that Tom Campbell, the governor’s former finance director, might be persuaded to give up his gubernatorial bid in exchange for the lieutenant governor’s nomination. Campbell’s presence could lead to an unusual partnership between the two Constitutional offices. (Garamendi and Schwarzenegger are not pals. Garamendi’s opposition to the governor’s policies and ballot measures cost the lieutenant governor half of his office budget.)

Democrats who might make the short list include former Assembly speaker Bob Hertzberg. I’m told the two have a strong relationship and Hertzberg might view it as a pulpit for his California Forward initiative, a study of potential governance reforms in the state.

Other Democratic names that come up include former state Controller Steve Westly, state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, and Board of Equalization Member Betty Yee.

Would Schwarzenegger appoint a Democrat? Who knows? He is unpredictable. And with just a 1 1/2 left in his term, he could always decide to shake things up.

Posted on Monday, August 31st, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election, California Legislature, Congressional District 10, Schwarzenegger, Tom Campbell | No Comments »