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9/11

Rather than post any political proclamations or statements about today’s anniversary, I’ll instead offer just this video of Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising,” written in reaction to that awful day.

Lyrics after the jump…
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Posted on Thursday, September 11th, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Poll #s tanking, Props. 45 and 46 go on offense

As the Field Poll shows Proposition 46 all but done for and Proposition 45 struggling, backers of both those controversial, health-related measures went on the offensive Thursday by filing official complaints against their foes and challenging a big insurance company’s spending.

Prop. 46 author Bob Pack of Danville, whose two children were killed in 2003 by a drugged driver, filed a complaint with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission claiming the No on 46 committee violated state laws that require disclosure of major funders.

Insurance companies have contributed $42.8 million of the $56.5 million given to the No on 46 campaign, Pack says, and state law requires campaign committees to describe in descending order their major donors. Yet the No on 46 campaign committee is officially known as “No on 46 – Patients, Providers and Healthcare Insurers to Contain Health Costs.”

“How dare the insurance industry claim the mantle of ‘patients’ after blocking life-saving patient safety reforms for decades,” Pack said in a news release. “No on 46’s misleading attack ads, funded by mostly insurance industry money, pretend that they are a public campaign for patients. California’s TV and radio stations have a duty to the public to take these ads down until voters are told the insurance industry is really behind No on 46.”

Proposition 46 would raise the $250,000 cap on “pain and suffering” damages in medical malpractice cases; require random drug tests for doctors; and force doctors to use an existing prescription database to weed out drug abusers.

The campaign for it is being run by Consumer Watchdog, a lawyer-funded nonprofit advocacy group that’s also behind Proposition 45, which would give the state insurance commissioner power to reject health-insurance rate hikes.

Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court filed his own FPPC complaint Thursday arguing the No on 45 campaign’s name and radio ads don’t identify “health insurance companies” – the source of the $37.5 million to the campaign – as a major donor. But several insurers are listed by name, including Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc., Wellpoint Inc. and Blue Shield of California.

My read: This is a small-ball attempt to further publicize insurers’ role in the campaigns, a role that’s already been widely reported. Court said it himself in today’s story, describing why he believes Prop. 46 isn’t a lost cause despite cratering poll numbers among likely voters: “All we have to do is tell them that it’s the insurance companies on the opposing side lying to them.”

Court, California Nurses Association members and other Prop. 45 supporters will be rallying at 1:30 p.m. Thursday outside Blue Shield’s headquarters on San Francisco’s Beale Street to deliver 22,000 petition signatures decrying the insurer’s purchase of a costly luxury skybox at the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

Blue Shield’s decision to spend money on the skybox underscores the need for Prop. 45, they argue, so the insurance commissioner can reject excessive rate hikes that then pay for such luxuries.

Posted on Thursday, September 11th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, ballot measures, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Next week’s Commonwealth Club politics panel

Please come join me, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci and San Jose State University Professor and political analyst Larry Gerston at the Commonwealth Club of California’s “Week to Week” political roundtable and social next Tuesday evening, Sept. 16 in Palo Alto.

Moderated by club vice president John Zipperer, we’ll be chewing the fat about Tesla’s decision to site its battery “gigafactory” in Nevada instead of California; the campaign against Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper’s effort to split California into six states; and other hot political topics and campaigns.

We’ll be in the Schultz Cultural Hall at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, 3921 Fabian Way in Palo Alto; a wine-and-snacks social starts at 6 p.m., and the program starts at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for club members or $20 for non-members and are available online; students get in free with valid ID.

Posted on Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
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Rick Perry hires California ‘master of disaster’

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, recently indicted but still in the hunt for 2016’s presidential race, has hired a California crisis-communications guru to run interference for him.

Mark FabianiMark Fabiani, 57, of La Jolla, joins Perry’s legal team, lead attorney Tony Buzbee announced Monday.

“I’m proud to join Gov. Perry’s outstanding team which has been assembled to fight back against this attack on the rule of law,” Mark Fabiani said. “As we move forward to protect the Texas Constitution and the First Amendment rights of any governor, I am confident this prosecution will be revealed to be contrary to the law and wholly meritless.”

Fabiani cut his teeth as a special counsel to President Bill Clinton, and later was deputy campaign manager for Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign; he also has served as deputy mayor of Los Angeles and chief of staff to LA Mayor Tom Bradley, as well as in senior posts in the departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development.

Fabiani and Chris Lehane, a fellow Clinton White House “master of disaster,” run a prominent crisis communications firm. Their past clients have included Madonna, Goldman Sachs and Lance Armstrong, to name but a few.

Posted on Monday, August 25th, 2014
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Paying to work on a political campaign? Sort of.

The Obama campaign veterans now consulting with Democratic House candidate Ro Khanna have created a stir by charging young campaign newbies $5,000 each for a chance to learn at their knee and then get a five-week, unpaid campaign job somewhere, Buzzfeed reports.

Run by (Jeremy) Bird and (Mitch) Stewart’s consulting company, 270 Strategies, the new program’s emphasis on placing paying customers in essentially volunteer roles on Democratic campaigns is atypical in the campaign training industry, and some Democrats say it sets a dangerous precedent. The firm’s first-ever “270/360 Training Intensive” program is scheduled to begin in September.

The program’s website describes a six-week program, consisting of five days of “intensive” campaign training at 270’s Chicago HQ featuring Stewart and Bird and other “architects of the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns,” followed by five weeks of volunteer work on an “an important Democratic campaign in the United States.”

Participants must pay $3,500 for the five days of training, and another $1,500 to be placed in the volunteer campaign job, though 270 Strategies said it will offer scholarships and discounts on a case-by-case basis. Applications are due next Thursday, July 31.

Asked Friday whether any of these trainees might wind up working for Khanna’s campaign to unseat Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, 270 Strategies replied it has “not yet made decisions about campaign assignments.”

Khanna campaign spokesman Tyler Law said “I don’t know what their plans are, but we’re definitely excited about having 170 active fellows” working unpaid campaign jobs, drawn mostly from local high schools and colleges. “Every fellow that we have has been recruited by our campaign, or has shown up at one of our campaign offices because they are ready to work for someone who will provide forward-looking leadership for the 17th District.”

Honda campaign spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan declined to comment Friday.

Lots more on this, after the jump…
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Posted on Friday, July 25th, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Jeremy Bird’s Twitter account was hacked

Jeremy Bird, the rock-star Democratic political consultant who was President Obama’s national field director in 2012 before co-founding the 270 Strategies firm, apparently had his Twitter account hacked today.

Or he’s decided that peddling get-rich-quick schemes is more lucrative than political strategy.

Here’s a screen shot from just a few minutes ago:

(Click to enlarge)
Jeremy Bird hacked

Among Bird’s current clients is Ro Khanna, the former Obama Administration official who’s challenging Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District.

Posted on Friday, July 11th, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

CA17: Honda and Khanna battle for GOP votes

With two Democrats having survived the 17th Congressional District’s primary to advance to November’s general election, the battle is on for the district’s Republican hearts and minds.

Weeks after Jim Cunneen – the last Republican to represent Silicon Valley in Sacramento – endorsed Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, for an eighth term, Republican former Rep. Ernie Konnyu has now cast his lot with Democratic challenger Ro Khanna.

Ernie Konnyu“I have been in touch with Ro and his staff and look forward to help unite Republican and independent voters who supported me in the western portion of the Congressional district with the thousands of voters already backing Ro Khanna,” Konnyu, 77, of San Jose, said in a statement issued Friday.

“My aim is to deliver to the House of Representatives a new bi-partisan Congressman from Silicon Valley ready to lead for jobs and greater Silicon Valley successes,” he said. “I trust that Ro will be good for America and great for Silicon Valley.”

Konnyu was a South Bay Assemblyman from 1980 to 1986, when he was elected to serve what was then the 12th Congressional District. He served only one House term, primaried out in 1988 by a more socially moderate Republican, Tom Campbell.

Honda finished first in last month’s primary with 48 percent of the vote, and Khanna – a former Obama administration official from Fremont – finished second with 28 percent. Republican Vanila Singh of Fremont got 17 percent and Joel VanLandingham of San Jose got 7 percent, and so they were eliminated.

Only 19 percent of the district’s voters are Republican while 44 percent are Democrats and 32 percent state no party preference, but that GOP fifth of the electorate could be a crucial bloc if either campaign can mobilize it. While many had assumed Republicans might favor Khanna – generally seen as being a smidgen to the right of the ultra-liberal Honda, or at least, more attuned to the tech sector’s needs – a poll in May found 19 percent of GOP voters favored Honda while 18 percent favored Khanna.

Singh sent a Fourth-of-July email to her supporters Friday saying that in recent weeks she has been “reaching out to voters, volunteers, and donors to keep this exciting and impressive movement that we have begun in motion! I am humbled by the endless amounts of phone calls I have been receiving both locally and nationally. This proves that we have laid the organizational foundation that will endure for those who share these ideals.”

“As we celebrate our independence today, I hope you can join me in preserving their vision by continuing to fight for our beloved country,” Singh wrote. “These next couple months are just the beginning of an inspirational movement and it is imperative that we keep a presence at this very pivotal time in our nation. I want you to remember that these campaigns are about the people – make sure your voice is loud this November!”

The message, however, made no mention of an endorsement.

Honda and Khanna appear to be equally matched in campaign money to spend from now to November. You can bet that some of that money will be spent wooing the Singh and VanLandingham voters who are now up for grabs.

Posted on Saturday, July 5th, 2014
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

AD16: Glazer blasted for appeal to GOP voters

A Democratic Assembly candidate’s appeal to Republican voters has drawn a stern rebuke from state GOP Chairman Jim Brulte.

Steve Glazer, an Orinda councilman and former political advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown who now is seeking the 16th Assembly District seat, sent out a mailer recently urging Republicans to “put an effective fiscal conservative in the state Assembly” by voting for him.

The mailer included statements of praise for Glazer from three Republicans who hold local elected offices: Orinda Mayor Sue Severson, Lafayette Mayor Don Tatzin and Moraga Councilman Dave Trotter.

Click to enlarge:
Glazer Republican mailer

“The California Republican Party believes that a Republican can’t win in our Assembly District,” Severson said in her statement on the mailer. “Don’t throw away your vote. Vote Steve Glazer for Assembly.”

But the California Republican Party has included 16th Assembly District candidate Catharine Baker, a Dublin attorney, in its “Trailblazers” program – a recruitment, training and advisory program for state legislative candidates.

“A pro-tax liberal Democrat like Steve Glazer can try all he wants to deceive Republican voters to vote for him, however, as Chairman of the Republican Party, I speak on behalf of California Republicans,” Brulte said in a statement issued Friday morning. “I can assure you that the CRP, the Alameda Republican Party and the Contra Costa Republican Party are doing everything possible to win the 16th Assembly District. We are confident Republican Catharine Baker will be the top vote-getter in the primary. A Republican will win the 16th Assembly District and Catharine Baker is that Republican.”

The 16th District’s voters are about 40 percent Democrats, 32 percent Republicans and 22 percent nonpartisan. Two other Democrats – Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti and Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich – are also in the race, and experts believe either Glazer or Sbranti will finish with Baker in the top two in June 3’s primary.

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 15 Comments »

John Burton agrees with Grover Norquist. Sort of.

Conservative political advocate Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, also heads up a Ronald Reagan Legacy Project that aims to name something after the former president and California governor in each of the nation’s 3,141 counties or their equivalent.

And California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton thinks that’s a nifty idea.

May 19, 2014

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform
722 12th Street, NW
Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20005

Dear Mr. Norquist,

I’m very concerned that our political philosophies may be starting to merge.

I commend you on wanting to name three thousand items in the country after Ronald Reagan. As you know, I was in the state legislature when Ronald was governor and I fondly remember his signing the largest tax increase in the more than hundred year history of our state. That Reagan tax increase stood as the state’s largest until of course the early 1990s, when Governor Pete Wilson signed a $7.3 billion dollar tax increase.

I also fondly remember Governor Reagan signing the bill that liberalized abortion, the Therapeutic Abortion Act.

I think it’s wonderful that you’re willing to honor somebody who has such a liberal progressive record.

Peace and friendship,

John Burton
Chairman
California Democratic Party

Posted on Monday, May 19th, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Jennifer Granholm & Duf Sundheim on midterms

It’ll be my honor to moderate the Commonwealth Club of California’s “Midterm Election Forecast: Politics in 2014” next Monday, May 12, featuring former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former California Republican Party chairman Duf Sundheim.

Check-in starts at 6 p.m. for the 6:30 program at the Lafayette Veterans Memorial Hall, 3780 Mt. Diablo Blvd.; tickets costs $15 for club members, $25 for non-members or $10 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

“Join our political pundits as they make predictions for this fall and discuss the key questions regarding this year’s race,” the club’s promo says. “Who are the major political players to watch? What does the political landscape look like just six months from Election Day? Will the Republicans win back the Senate? How might the rest of President Obama’s presidency look following this November?”

The participants and I have been swapping ideas on what to cover, and I can tell you confidently that it’ll be a lively program. Hope to see you there.

Posted on Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »