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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
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 »

Sheriff Joe Arpaio to visit Silicon Valley next week

Joe Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., will speak to the Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley next Tuesday, May 6, in Mountain View.

ArpaioTickets, costing $30 for forum members and $40 for non-members, are available online; doors open at the IFES Portuguese Hall, 432 Stierlin Road, at 6:15 p.m. and the program starts at 7 p.m.

The forum – perhaps one of the final bastions of conservatism in an increasingly blue region – welcomes Arpaio, 81, as a hero. First elected to his office in 1992 and since nicknamed by supporters as “America’s toughest sheriff,” Arpaio might best be known for his stance over the past decade as an outspoken advocate for stronger enforcement and laws against illegal immigration. He also has undertaken an investigation into the validity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

But a federal judge twice has ruled unsafe living conditions and inadequate health care at Arpaio’s jails violate inmates’ constitutional rights; he’s been accused of abusing his authority for political purposes against local officials; and he has been sued by the U.S. Department of Justice and by other plaintiffs for racial profiling.

Posted on Thursday, May 1st, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Hillary Clinton joins Political Shoe Hall of Fame

Hillary Clinton’s brush with flying footwear yesterday got us thinking about great shoes of political history. (Oh, just shut up and go with it.)

Naturally, we all went to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on his delegate desk at the United Nations in 1960; we were stunned to find out that there is neither film footage nor a photograph of this moment. (No, he didn’t wield the shoe during his “We will bury you” speech at the podium, of which footage exists.)

Another reporter suggested the Imelda Marcos shoe collection, circa 1986.

President George W. Bush showed quick reflexes in December 2008 by dodging shoes hurled by an Iraqi journalist in Baghdad.

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard was the target in October 2010:

In October 2011, Egyptians in Cairo’s Tahrir Square held their shoes aloft in protest as Hosni Mubarak gave a speech:

Likewise in a January 2012 protest against German president Christian Wulff in Berlin:

And that brings us to yesterday’s moment as Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Las Vegas:

Posted on Friday, April 11th, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

CA17: GOP candidate Vanlandingham speaks out

San Jose Republican Joel Vanlandingham decided to enter the 17th Congressional District race because he “got a little frustrated with all the politics,” he said Thursday afternoon.

Joel VanlandinghamFremont Democrat Ro Khanna’s challenge to incumbent Mike Honda, D-San Jose, has been making headlines for almost a year, and though Fremont Republican Vanila Singh entered the race at the start of 2014, none of them impress Vanlandingham.

The 47-year-old father of three said none of them seem willing or able to address “what’s going on in this country … the complete lack of accountability and perpetuation of the problems.”

He said Honda’s seven terms in Congress and Khanna’s stint in President Obama’s Commerce Department haven’t led them to any concrete achievements or plans on behalf of the district’s constituents. “It just doesn’t make any sense, the things that they say and do.”

Instead, he said, the district needs someone who’ll be accountable for what they actually accomplish – and that takes knowing what constituents want and need. He noted he’s half-Latino and was raised in a working-class family, and has worked as a tech-sector job recruiter for almost 20 years.

“I understand the people who actually live here, who are striving to build something better for their children,” he said.

Both Vanlandingham and Vinesh Singh Rathore, a product counsel at Google, filed candidacy papers shortly before last Friday’s deadline, perhaps radically altering the electoral calculus for June’s primary election.

Vanlandingham – who finished a distant second to incumbent Democrat Ron Gonzales in San Jose’s 2002 mayoral election – isn’t concerned that the other 17th District candidates have raised enough money to drown him out.

“This is not about money for me, I don’t need to raise $6 million so I can put TV commercials on – I think the people who live in this area are much more intelligent than that,” he said. “If you want donate some money, donate it to a charity – I don’t need it, I don’t want it.”

Posted on Thursday, March 13th, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

Dueling petitions on the Chabot Gun Club’s fate

Activists are petitioning for and against an effort to shut down or significantly restrict the Chabot Gun Club, one of the East Bay’s most accessible and most used public outdoor shooting ranges.

The club, located in Chabot Regional Park, is open four days a week, never before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. Its lease with the East Bay Regional Parks District to operate for the marksmanship range in Chabot Regional Park expires this year, and critics’ MoveOn petition to the EBRPD board reads:

Require a schedule for specific, stringent limits on noise as a condition of any operation of a gun range in Anthony Chabot Regional Park after the lease of the Chabot Gun Club expires this year. Your website says, “We acquire, manage, and preserve natural and cultural resources for all to enjoy now and into the future. Our parks are ideal for healthful recreation and environmental education. We invite you to enjoy hiking, biking, picnicking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, golfing, and nature study in our parks.” Consistent with your statement, users of the parks and neighbors deserve to be able to enjoy the parks and their homes and yards without being assaulted by the sound of gunfire, which because of increased use of the gun range and the way the sounds reverberate in the canyons and hills, is incessant and intrusive sometimes for hours at a time.

But club supporters’ petition reads:

We support the Chabot Gun Club marksmanship range as a safe place to shoot. This is a valuable community resource in that it promotes firearms training and safe use among local citizens.

The latter petition – which has more than twice as many signatures as of now – bears a warning that says, “MoveOn volunteers reviewed this petition and determined that it may not reflect MoveOn members’ progressive values. MoveOn will not promote the petition beyond hosting it on our site. Click here if you think MoveOn should support this petition.”

Posted on Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Jesse Jackson on Silicon Valley’s ‘apartheid’

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is back in the valley.

The renowned civil rights leader told the Mercury News editorial board Thursday that his Rainbow PUSH Coalition plans to revitalize its Silicon Valley project and make its case to the region’s top tech firms that “we need to democratize the economy.”

Dai SuganoThe lack of minorities in Silicon Valley’s upper echelons is symptomatic of an economic apartheid that is less visible than the segregation of half a century ago but just as pernicious, he said.

“This valley is driving the industrial growth of America – in fact, it’s driving global growth,” Jackson said. But while people of color constitute a huge part of the marketplace for tech products and services, he said, they’re woefully underrepresented in the sector’s executive offices and boardrooms.

“To make America America, all of us must play,” he said. “This is not about diversity as much as it is about justice.”

It’s not a new theme. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition in 1999 bought stock in 50 Silicon Valley companies so it could have a say at annual shareholder meetings. Later that year, it announced the opening of an East Palo Alto office to highlight the disparity between Silicon Valley’s richest and poorest residents and advocate for more training and hiring of minorities and women at high-tech companies.

Jackson at the time ended up in an op-ed war with Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers, who contended the tech industry was a meritocracy offering equal access to anyone with the talent, education and ambition to succeed.

The public exchange got incredibly nasty. “Once, the civil rights movement was led by a great American who stirred the conscience of the nation,” Rodgers wrote at the time. “Today, its most visible spokesman is a hustler who exploits white shame for his own financial and political ends.”

Jackson on Thursday contended minorities still are being shut out of many of Silicon Valley’s opportunities. He scoffed at the idea that there aren’t enough minorities entering the industry with appropriate training: “It’s almost insulting to suggest they can’t be found.”

“We can’t go on this way,” he said, adding the coalition will reach out to the region’s leading employers and arrange meetings either individually or en masse. “We must begin to take these numbers back across the country to make people aware of who are partners and who are not.”

Reminded about his war of words with Rodgers, Jackson smiled and asked: “Is he still around?” Assured that he was, Jackson quipped that he wouldn’t mind meeting up with Rodgers — perhaps for a round of golf “one night.”

We would like to caddy.

Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

Politicians mourn folk legend Pete Seeger’s death

Some prominent politicians from the Bay Area and beyond are among the legions mourning the death of folk music legend and activist Pete Seeger.

From President Barack Obama:

Once called “America’s tuning fork,” Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community – to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be. Over the years, Pete used his voice – and his hammer – to strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Pete’s family and all those who loved him.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, posted this on Facebook:

I join the world in mourning the loss, but also celebrating the life, of legendary folk musician and incomparable American, Pete Seeger. He sang for all of us, and he got us all singing, as you can see in this video.

Pete Seeger stood for equality, for children, for a clean environment, and for an end to war. May the memory and spirit of Pete Seeger live in all of us for years to come.

From the Facebook page of Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

I am saddened to hear of the passing of folk legend Pete Seeger. His songs and activism inspired generations to fight for justice and peace. It is hard to imagine the Civil Rights and anti-war movements without “We Shall Overcome,” “If I Had a Hammer,” and “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” I will honor his legacy by continuing to fight for the rights of all Americans and for justice around the world.

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., tweeted:

And former President Bill Clinton tweeted:

Posted on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »