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Rocky Chávez declares candidacy for Senate

Assemblyman Rocky Chávez on Thursday became the first prominent Republican to declare candidacy for California’s U.S. Senate seat in 2016.

Chávez, R-Oceanside, said he plans to focus on strengthening national security, creating more education opportunities for our children and improving our economy for all Californians.

Rocky Chávez“Our national security is a major concern, with ISIS growing bolder every day,” Chávez said. “If things get worse overseas, who would Californians want representing them in the Senate? A lawyer from San Francisco, or a Marine Colonel who knows how lives can be protected and understands the importance of keeping America and her allies safe and secure?”

Chávez, 63, said Californians “want to take their state back” and “are looking for someone who shares their story.”

“My father taught me the value of hard work in the grape fields with my uncles and cousins, which led to my success in the military and desire to give back through public service,” he said. “I learned about the American Dream from my father, but I’m afraid we risk losing that dream for our children if we can’t get our country back on track.”

Chávez is in his second term representing the 76th Assembly District in northern San Diego County. Earlier, he was acting secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs and an Oceanside councilman; he’s retired from the Marine Corps.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, declared candidacy in January for the senate seat that Barbara Boxer will vacate next year. Harris polls strongest among those who have expressed interest in the race; a Field Poll last month found 46 percent of likely voters would be inclined to vote for her, while 20 percent would be inclined to vote for Chávez.

Two little-known Republicans, John Estrada of Fresno and Mark Hardie of Whittier, say they’re running too, though Hardie has yet to form a campaign committee. And former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette has formed an exploratory committee for the race.

On the Democratic side, two who were thought to be potential rivals to Harris – hedge fund billionaire and environmentalist Tom Steyer of San Francisco, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have decided not to run. But several other Democrats still are pondering the contest, including House members Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove; Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles; and Adam Schiff, D-Burbank.

Chávez’s status as a moderate – on issues such as same-sex marriage, immigration and his statement that he wouldn’t vote to repeal Obamacare – has some conservatives chafing.

“Rocky Chávez is not so much a Republican, or a Democrat or nonpartisan as he is a opportunist. To get where he wants to go, Rocky Chávez will say whatever he things it will take,” Stephen Frank, publisher of California Political News and Views and a past president of the conservative grassroots California Republican Assembly, wrote in his online column Wednesday.

Frank, who said he supports Del Beccaro for this race, said Chávez’s candidacy “is being supported by the same folks that talked Neel Kashkari into running. But Kashkari was new to politics, did not understand the goal was not to win in November, but to assure a solid Republican was not the nominee. Poor Neel, after he won the primary, his primary ‘friends’ stopped returning his calls. So he lost by 20 points.”

“Is Rocky the 2016 version of Kashkari, put into the race to assure NO Republican is on the November 2016 U.S. Senate ballot?” Frank wrote. “Only time will tell. What is certain now is that it is uncertain who Rocky will be and what he will believe in the future – being a member of the Opportunist Party does that to a guy.”

Posted on Thursday, March 5th, 2015
Under: Barbara Boxer, Kamala Harris, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

John Pérez endorses Kamala Harris for Senate

Former California Assembly Speaker John Pérez has endorsed state Attorney General Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate in 2016 and will co-chair her campaign, a coup for a candidate who’s trying to shore up her bona fides among Latino voters as several potential rivals still consider running.

John Perez“I am proud to support Attorney General Kamala Harris’ candidacy to succeed Senator Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate, and I am honored to serve as campaign co-chair,” Pérez, D-Los Angeles, said in a news release. “As Attorney General, she has been a fighter for middle class families, for children, for immigrants, and for the environment. She will continue to be a tough, practical, results-oriented leader when she is in the Senate. I look forward to campaigning alongside Kamala Harris and working with her when she is representing California in Washington, D.C.”

Harris said she’s grateful for his support. “He has served his community and his state so effectively and passionately, as a leader in elected office, in the labor movement, and in the Democratic Party. He has a proven track record of working for the middle class and promoting economic fairness, and is a tireless campaigner. My campaign will benefit greatly from his service as co-chair.”

Pérez, who was Speaker from 2010 to 2014, was the first openly gay person of color to be elected speaker of any state legislature in the nation; earlier, he worked as political director for the California Labor Federation. In addition to his Latino and LGBT status, the fact that he’s from Los Angeles is good for Harris too, as she looks to strengthen her support in the voter-dense Southland.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who had been thought of as a prime possible contender for the Senate seat, announced last week announced he won’t run. But there’s still buzz among the state’s Latino Democrats that they’d like to field someone as an alternative to Harris, and House members including Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, and Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, have said they’re considering running.

On the Republican side, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, and former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette have formed exploratory committees for this contest.

Posted on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
Under: John Perez, Kamala Harris, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Today’s congressional odds and ends

Sacramento_San_Joaquin_Delta_NHA Oct 2012-page-001DELTA NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA: The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would become a National Hertiage Area, to be managed by the Delta Protection Commission, under companion bills introduced Tuesday by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove. The lawmakers say the goal is to protect and promote the vast history, resources, and economy of the Delta community. Property owners and tribes are explicitly protected in the bill and capable of opting out of any recommendations, and the bill will have no effect on water rights or water contracts and creates no new regulatory authority or burden on local government or citizens. The bill’s original cosponsors are Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; and Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento. “Covering more than 700 square miles and nearly 60 islands and boasting more than 400,000 people, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the largest delta in the world and a critical resource for California,” Feinstein said. “With a National Heritage Area designation, we can support a future for the Delta that is sustainable and bright.”

FAMILY ENGAGEMENT IN EDUCATION: Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, joined with Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., to introduce H.R. 1194, the Family Engagement in Education Act, to provide money for schools to promote effective strategies to get parents involved. “Education doesn’t stop at the end of the school day,” DeSaulnier said. “Research shows that family engagement in a child’s learning experience increases student achievement, improves attendance, and reduces dropout rates.” The bill is supported by the National PTA.

e-verifyE-VERIFY FOR ALL EMPLOYERS: Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, blasted a proposal to mandate use of E-Verify – an online government system for determining people’s eligibility to work in this country – for all employers. The House Judiciary Committee advanced the Legal Workforce Act on Tuesday on a 20-13 vote. But Lofgren, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, noted the bill is opposed by the agricultural sector, unions, civil liberties groups and many others. Without comprehensive immigration reform, “expanding E-Verify would devastate the agricultural economy, resulting in closed farms, a less-secure America, and the mass off-shoring of millions and millions of U.S. jobs, including all of the upstream and downstream jobs created and supported by agriculture,” Lofgren said. Expanding E-Verify alone would also increase the deficit and decrease tax revenues. Last Congress, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation concluded that the Legal Workforce Act would have resulted in a net revenue loss of $39 billion over ten years.”

Posted on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
Under: Dianne Feinstein, education, Immigration, John Garamendi, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Uncategorized, Zoe Lofgren | 4 Comments »

Could-be 2016 U.S. Senate candidates keep circling

After former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Tuesday that he won’t run for U.S. Senate in 2016, a couple of southern California politicos are making sure their names continue to circulate among those still possibly interested in the contest.

Xavier BecerraRep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, issued a statement Wednesday morning noting a lot can happen in the next 16 months before the primary election, and he respects Villaraisgosa’s decision.

“As for me, I take seriously my recent election to Congress in November and the responsibility it brings to address matters ranging from war against our enemies to economic security for our families,” Becerra said. “I will weigh just as seriously whether to run for the Senate, where I would continue my more than 20 years of work on behalf of my state and my country. There’s a lot of work and a lot of listening to do until I make that decision.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying he thinks “there’s a real opportunity for a strong Southern California candidate to get into this wide open race. I’m continuing to have conversations with constituents and supporters, and hope to make a decision in the near future.”

The only well-known declared candidate so far is state Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat; two little-known Republicans, John Estrada of Fresno and Mark Hardie of Whittier, are running too though Hardie has yet to form a campaign committee. Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, opened an exploratory committee for this race last week, and former state GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette opened one this week.

A Field Poll released last week found 30 percent would be inclined to support Schiff, and 28 percent would be inclined to support Becerra. (This wasn’t a head-to-head choice and those surveyed could say they were inclined to support more than one of 18 names offered). By comparison, 49 percent said they would be inclined to support U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a Republican who has said she has no plans to run; 46 percent said they would be inclined to support Harris; and 35 percent said they would be inclined to support Villaraigosa.

Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Under: U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Who will skip Netanyahu’s speech to Congress?

The Bay Area delegation is split over attending Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress next Tuesday, March 3.

Democrats and the White House remain miffed that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, invited Netanyahu unilaterally. The Israeli leader is expected to speak against the Obama administration’s ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran, instead urging Congress to impose further sanctions; also, the address comes two weeks before Israel’s legislative election. For these reasons, and as some pro-Palestinian groups urge a boycott, some Democrats are choosing to skip the speech.

Here’s how the Bay Area delegation shakes out:

Skipping the speech: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose

Attending the speech: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin; Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz

Undecided: U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa

Didn’t respond to inquiries: Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo

A few of them offered explanations, or at least, comments:

Lofgren: “I am disappointed Speaker Boehner chose to irresponsibly interject politics into what has long been a strong and bipartisan relationship between the United States and Israel. As President Obama has noted, it is inappropriate for a Head of State to address Congress just two weeks ahead of their election. I agree that Congress should not be used as a prop in Israeli election campaigns, so I intend to watch the speech on TV in my office.”

Huffman: “I call upon Speaker Boehner and Ambassador Dermer to do the right thing and postpone this speech. Once the election in Israel is over and the current P5+1 negotiating deadline has passed, they should respect protocol and confer with President Obama and congressional Democrats on a time for the Prime Minister of Israel to address a joint session of Congress.”

Boxer: “Whether I wind up going or not, it was a terrible mistake by the Republican majority to play politics with this enduring relationship.”

McNerney, via spokesman Michael Cavaiola: “Rep. McNerney is not planning to attend the speech. He’s got several previously planned commitments for that day.”

DeSaulnier, via spokeswoman Betsy Arnold Marr: “Congressman DeSaulnier has not made a final decision as he hopes the Prime Minister will reconsider his plans particularly in light of the upcoming election.”

Honda, via spokesman Ken Scudder: “Congressman Honda regrets that Speaker Boehner ignored protocol in making this invitation. The speaker turned what should have been an important visit of one of our closest allies into a political stunt. Congressman Honda also has concerns about the potential political nature of this speech given Israel’s elections are less than two weeks away. Despite this, and the congressman’s disagreement with the Prime Minister’s opposition to the U.S. nuclear negotiations with Iran, Congressman Honda is going to attend the address on March 3. The United States and Israel share strong cultural, economic and security partnerships, and he will attend the speech to hear firsthand what the Prime Minister has to say on these serious and complicated issues.”

Thompson, via spokesman Austin Vevurka: “We still don’t know what the Congressman’s schedule will be that week, but I will of course keep you posted as we know more. That being said, Congressman Thompson understands the importance of hearing from international leaders, but he is concerned that the speech has become overtly political. He hopes the speech is rescheduled and Netanyahu is invited back at a later date in a manner that respects long-established diplomatic protocol.”

Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, Eric Swalwell, Iran, Israel, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Jerry McNerney, John Boehner, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Obama presidency, Sam Farr, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 24 Comments »

Hillary on Blackberries, Fitbits and tighty-whities

After Hillary Clinton finished her speech Tuesday at the Lead On Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women in Santa Clara, she sat for a Q-and-A session with noted tech pundit Kara Swisher. Before getting to more serious stuff, they took a quick run through gadgets, Fitbit guilt, and appearing in front of 37.3 million viewers in one’s tighty-whities:

SWISHER: So I want to ask the big question, iPhone or Android?

CLINTON: iPhone. (Cheers.) Okay, in full disclosure, and a Blackberry. And I think the president told you the same thing, because I think he really loves his.

SWISHER: Well, you know, it is –

CLINTON: There are reasons why when you start out in Washington on a Blackberry you stay on it in many instances. But, it’s also — I don’t know. I don’t throw anything away. I’m like two steps short of a hoarder. So I have an iPad, a mini iPad, an iPhone and a Blackberry.

SWISHER: You know, if you lived in, and I go to Washington a lot lately, my kids are living there, and you would think Blackberry was the biggest company in the world form all the people that — because everybody uses it. All right, second one, Apple Watch or Fitbit?

CLINTON: Well, you can tell I’m not doing Fitbit and I haven’t gotten into the Apple Watch yet. I’m not in a wearable frame of mind yet. You know, I mean three people have given me a Fitbit or a Jawbone, and I look at it and I think do I really want something telling me I should do what I know I should do? I mean I have enough stress in my life avoiding doing what I’m told I should do, so I haven’t jumped off the ledge yet.

SWISHER: Okay. President of the United States, running for President of the United States or host of the Oscars next year, both jobs are open it seems?

CLINTON: Yes. Well, and both jobs are really painful from my own personal experience and observation. I don’t think I could do the “Birdman” man imitation. That goes back to the Fitbit conversation. I just couldn’t do that.

SWISHER: What about the president thing?

CLINTON: You know, there have been a lot more Oscar presentations than there have been presidents. So the pressure is probably somewhat less. It’s a one-night gig. And for many it’s just one night. And the other one it’s like a many-year commitment.

Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 1 Comment »

Ex-GOP chair forms Senate exploratory committee

Former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro has formed an exploratory committee for the 2016 U.S. Senate race.

Tom Del BeccaroDel Beccaro, 53, of Lafayette, was among the first possible candidates to express interest in the race after Sen. Barbara Boxer announced last month that she won’t seek another term. “This next step allows me explore these possibilities further and raise a limited amount of money to help with that process,” he wrote Tuesday morning on Facebook.

He sees his run as a means to discuss important conservative issues, he told the San Diego Union Tribune on Monday.

“The combination of the California state and federal economic policies, including lopsided income tax codes and environmental policies that have gone too far, are resulting in economic stagnation for too many Californians,” Del Beccaro told the Union Tribune. “We need a better balance of regulations and pro-growth policies designed to encourage the private sector to promote economic growth throughout the state. If I run, I intend to offer those policies.”

Del Beccaro chaired the state Republican Party from 2011 to 2013, a period that proved financially difficult for the GOP.

The only well-known declared candidate so far is state Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat; two little-known Republicans, John Estrada of Fresno and Mark Hardie of Whittier, are running too though Hardie has yet to form a campaign committee. And Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, opened an exploratory committee for this race last week.

A Field Poll released last week found 21 percent of likely voters would be inclined to vote for Del Beccaro, while 46 percent would not be inclined and 33 percent had no opinion. The early poll was largely based on name recognition – not a strong point for a former party official who has never run for elected office before. By comparison, 49 percent said they would be inclined to vote for former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, while 39 percent were not inclined and 12 percent had no opinion – but Rice says she’s not interested in running.

Posted on Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
Under: U.S. Senate | 3 Comments »

‘Draft Condi’ petition starts, but is it a ‘scam PAC?’

A conservative PAC is gathering petition signatures online to draft former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice into California’s 2016 U.S. Senate race.

Rice, who a recent Field Poll found ranked highest among those for whom Californians would be inclined to vote, has said she’s not interested in running. The only well-known declared candidate so far is state Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat; two little-known Republicans, John Estrada of Fresno and Mark Hardie of Whittier, are running too though Hardie has yet to form a campaign committee.

The Conservative Action Fund, based in Virginia, has established a webpage to gather petition signatures calling for Rice to enter the race. Chairman Shaun McCutcheon then sent out an email urging supporters to sign it “and then make a generous contribution of $25, $50 or even $100 to the Conservative Action Fund, so that we can convince Condi to enter the race and ensure we’re ready to maximize her impact and help propel her to victory!”

The email offers more red meat for conservative voters.

“Friend, you know the Obama Democrats consider California their own private political preserve — the soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat permanently held for the next Big Government, nanny state liberal in line,” it reads. “The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and a host of left-wing special interests will pump tens of millions into holding the seat — by demonizing any Republican who dares to run.”

“That holds especially true for a tough, accomplished African American woman like Condi Rice — it’s their worst nightmare!” the email continues. “That’s why we need your help to encourage her to enter the race and ensure she has the support she needs to run a successful campaign!”

But whether or not there’s a genuine grassroots groundswell for Rice, potential donors might want to beware.

The Conservative Action Fund seems to be the poster child for what some are calling “scam PACs” that spend a lot more money on their own fundraising, salaries and other administrative costs than they give to or spend on behalf of candidates. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, this fund spent about 73 percent of its money in the 2014 cycle on fundraising and administrative costs.

UPDATE @ 10:32 A.M. WEDNESDAY: Apparently the Black Conservatives Fund – a somewhat more reputable PAC that spends more supporting candidates than on itself – also is launching a drive to draft Rice.

Posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2015
Under: U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

73% of California voters disapprove of Congress

Californians still hold a dismal view of how Congress is doing its job, and more believe that Republican control of both chambers is a bad thing than a good thing for the nation, a new Field Poll found.

The poll clearly reflects the state’s heavily Democratic leaning; 43 percent of California’s voters are Democrats, while 28 percent are Republicans and 23 percent declare no party preference.

nobody likes CongressNearly three-fourths – 73 percent – of California voters now disapprove of Congress’ job performance, while 18 percent approve and 9 percent had no opinion, the poll found. Sadly, that’s not even close to the worst it ever has been – disapproval peaked at 86 percent back in September 2011, shortly after that summer’s debt-ceiling crisis.

Californians have a brighter, albeit still negative, view of the job congressional Democrats are doing – 53 percent disapproval and 35 percent approval, with 12 percent expressing no opinion. That’s roughly the same as where the Field Poll has pegged it over the past five years, and heavily influenced by party affiliation – only 35 percent of Democrats disapprove of how Congressional Democrats are doing, while 79 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of nonpartisans disapprove.

Similarly, 67 percent of Californians disapprove of the job congressional Republicans are doing while 23 percent approve and 10 percent have no opinion, a ratio that hasn’t changed much over the past eight years.

But unlike their Democratic counterparts, a plurality of California’s Republican voters – 47 percent – disapproves of the job being done by congressional Republicans, while only 40 percent approve. Disapproval of congressional Republicans increases to 82 percent among Democrats and 63 percent among nonpartisans.

Finally, the poll found 49 percent of registered California voters believe Republican control of both houses of Congress is a bad thing, while 37 percent think it’s a good thing. Democrats heavily lean toward believing it’s bad (71 percent to 15 percent), while nonpartisans are more split (49 percent to 34 percent). Republicans think it’s a good thing, 73 percent to 17 percent.

The Field Poll surveyed 1,241 California voters Jan. 26 through Feb. 16; the poll has a margin of error or plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

Posted on Saturday, February 21st, 2015
Under: polls, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 3 Comments »

Rocky Chávez opens Senate exploratory committee

Assemblyman Rocky Chávez announced Tuesday that he’s forming an exploratory committee for the U.S. Senate seat that Barbara Boxer will vacate in 2016.

Rocky Chávez“Our nation suffers from a lack of clear leadership when it comes to issues of national security and looking out for California families who have seen stagnant wage growth for almost two decades,” Chávez, R-Oceanside, said in a news release. “My story is like that of so many other California families, having worked in the grape fields with my uncle and cousins as a child to seeing one of my own children attend an Ivy League medical school. That’s the American Dream, and it’s what every parent hopes to see for their own children. But if we don’t take steps to protect our nation and help create more opportunities for our children, we risk losing that Dream.”

Chávez, 63, who retired from the U.S. Marine Corps as a colonel, describes himself as a fiscal conservative and social moderate. A former Oceanside city councilman and former acting secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs, Chávez was elected to the Assembly in 2012 to represent the 76th District in northern San Diego County. He’s the Legislature’s only Republican Latino. (Ed. note: I shouldn’t have taken Chavez’ biography page as the gospel: Assemblyman Eric Linder, R-Corona, is Latino as well.)

Chávez is the first Republican to take the step of forming an exploratory committee; former state GOP chairmen Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette and Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills have expressed interest in running but haven’t decided yet.

The only person who has declared candidacy so far is California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat; other Democrats including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are considering running too.

California’s Latinos will form a crucial voting bloc in this high-turnout presidential election year, but they tend to break heavily toward Democrats. Chávez seems undaunted.

“My strong history of leadership and compelling personal narrative give me great confidence,” he said. “I believe we can start a movement that will make a real difference in the lives of California families.”

Posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
Under: Assembly, U.S. Senate | 11 Comments »