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Neel Kashkari endorses Rocky Chávez for Senate

2014 Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari has endorsed Assemblyman Rocky Chávez for California’s U.S. Senate seat in 2016.

NEEL KASHKARIChávez, R-Oceanside, “is the right candidate for California,” Kashkari said in a news release. “His story reflects that of so many Californians who want to preserve the American Dream for their families, but are in need of a better education system for their kids and who seek elected leaders who will balance the budget.”

“We need experienced and tested leaders in Washington who are prepared to tackle challenges at home and abroad,” Kashkari added. “As a Marine Colonel and a California Assembly Member, Col. Chávez has the experience to effectively represent California in the United States Senate.”

Chávez thanked Kashkari for his “incredible support. He understands what it takes to meet challenges head-on, and we continue to need voices like his in California.”

Kashkari, of Laguna Beach, got 40 percent of the vote in November’s general gubernatorial election, defeated by incumbent Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown. A moderate on some issues, he had struggled all last year to shore up his standing with the GOP’s conservative wing – a struggle the relatively moderate Chávez might face as well.

Former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette opened an exploratory committee for the 2016 Senate race in late February, and is expected to announce his candidacy soon. Another former state GOP chairman, Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills, also is considering a run for the seat. Two little-known Republicans, John Estrada of Fresno and Mark Hardie of Whittier, have declared their candidacies, though Hardie has yet to form a campaign committee.

The only Democrat in the race so far is California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who raised $2.5 million in the year’s first quarter and has been steadily rolling out endorsements in recent months. But a few other Democrats are mulling the race as well – most notably Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, who sounded like she was testing out her campaign oratory Monday in Orange County, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
Under: Neel Kashkari, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Obama honors Cal labor scholar at White House

A Berkeley labor scholar and consultant was among those honored by President Obama at the White House on Thursday as “Champions of Change” for working families.

Netsy FiresteinNetsy Firestein, 62, is a senior fellow at UC-Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and a consultant on work and family, child care, women and labor issues.

As founder and director of the Labor Project for Working Families, Firestein led a coalition that passed paid family leave in California, which covers almost every worker in the state. She also co-founded Family Values @ Work, a network of 21 states working to build a movement for family-friendly workplace policies such as family leave insurance and paid sick days.

Obama’s Champions of Change program lets the White House honor people who do extraordinary things to empower and inspire their communities. Thursday’s batch of 11 honorees were selected for having worked within their companies, communities or organizations for commonsense paid sick and paid leave policies, equal pay and an end to pregnancy discrimination to support families, businesses, and the economy.

The president singled out Firestein’s case as an example, citing her lead role in enacting California’s first-in-the-nation paid family leave law in 2002.

“People said it was a long shot,” Obama said. “And 13 years later, only two other states have done the same. But Netsy has proved that it’s possible – California is growing, businesses are being created. Not only is it possible, it’s the right thing to do. It’s patriotic. We should learn from her example and get those numbers up. We need more states to join in.”

Also speaking at Thursday’s ceremony were senior advisor Valerie Jarrett – chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls – and U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez. The honorees took part in two panel discussions on working families moderated by Tina Tchen, executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Roy Austin, deputy assistant to the president for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity.

Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2015
Under: Barack Obama, Labor politics, Obama presidency | 1 Comment »

Clinton taps Kamala Harris’ sister as policy advisor

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has named California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ younger sister, civil rights attorney Maya Harris, to help lead her campaign’s policy team.

Maya HarrisMaya Harris – who also is the wife of former Associate Attorney General Tony West, who stepped down last year from his third-in-command post at the U.S. Justice Department – most recently was a senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress. Before that, she was vice president for democracy, rights and justice at the Ford Foundation; before that, she was executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, based in San Francisco.

Harris, 48, is one of three senior policy advisers Clinton named Tuesday to lead the development of her campaign’s agenda, Politico reported. The others are Ann O’Leary, a former legislative director to Clinton when she was in the Senate; and Jake Sullivan, a top aide to Clinton while she was Secretary of State and a former national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.

Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris | 2 Comments »

Clinton aims to break James Buchanan’s curse

James_BuchananMy article in today’s editions about the Bay Area being “Ready for Hillary” included this historical fact: “Six American presidents had prior experience both as members of Congress and as cabinet secretaries; the most recent one, James Buchanan, left office in 1861. Then again, Buchanan is widely panned for letting the nation slide into the Civil War; as divisive a figure as Clinton might be, she’ll never top that.”

In case you were wondering, the other presidents who had been both members of Congress and cabinet secretaries were Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams and Martin Van Buren.

Also, Buchanan both was the last to succeed a fellow Democrat to the presidency by election, and was the last former U.S. Secretary of State to win the White House — a pair of 19th-century curses Clinton hopes to break.

Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 6 Comments »

San Diego’s Faulconer endorses Chávez for Senate

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer endorsed Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, on Friday for California’s 2016 U.S. Senate race.

With state Attorney General Kamala Harris having locked down a lot of prominent Democratic side, Faulconer’s nod marks one of the highest-profile GOP endorsements so far.

Kevin Faulconer“It’s time we united Californians on the issues that matter to them,” Faulconer said in a news release. “Colonel Rocky Chávez is a fiscal conservative who’s bringing people together on issues like national security, education and making government more efficient.”

Faulconer apparently acceded to Chávez’s desire to use the title “colonel” – he retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2001 after 28 years of service – than his current title of “assemblyman.” That’s probably not surprising, given most Californians’ relatively low opinion of the Legislature.

“San Diego is home to thousands of veterans and active-service military personnel,” Faulconer said. “Colonel Chávez cares about our veterans – and as a Marine colonel, he knows what it takes to have an effective national security strategy, something that’s lacking in Washington.”

Faulconer is that rarest of birds – a California GOP rising star. Though he almost immediately ruled out a run for the Senate seat that Democrat Barbara Boxer will vacate next year, many in the GOP see him as a leading contender for statewide office in 2018. A San Diego city councilman since 2006, he won a special mayoral election in early 2014; his term expires at the end of next year.

Rocky Chávez“Mayor Faulconer has a passion for getting things done in his city,” Chávez said in his news release. “That’s why his support means so much, because as U.S. Senator, I want to create real immigration reform, bring our education system into the 21st century and ensure our men and women in uniform are fighting for just causes – and fighting to win.”

Two little-known Republicans, John Estrada of Fresno and Mark Hardie of Whittier, also have declared their candidacies, 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.

Posted on Friday, April 10th, 2015
Under: U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

Hillary Clinton hires Google exec for campaign tech

A longtime Google executive will run the tech division of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, the Washington Post reports.

Stephanie HannonStephanie Hannon, Google’s director of product management for civic innovation and social impact, will be the Clinton campaign’s chief technology officer, charged with building new ways for the former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady to engage with voters, sources told the Post. Hannon, a 40-year-old Democrat from San Francisco, is the first woman to hold the top tech post in a major presidential campaign.

My colleague Matt O’Brien has confirmed with Google that Hannon is departing to go work for Clinton.

Hannon’s LinkedIn profile shows she has held her current post at Google since March 2013, “building innovative technology to help people broaden engagement with their community, government and nonprofits” with a focus on “changing how the world prepares and responds to natural disasters, using big data and experiments to enable cities to make evidenced based decisions and sharing transparent election ballot, candidate and results globally.”

Here’s Hannon speaking last year about share how Google helps cities make better decisions with data:

Earlier, she was a product manager at Facebook from 2012 to 2013, working in site integrity and trust engineering – that is, “building product features and operations tools to ensure Facebook is a safe space for communication where people use their authentic identities.”

Earlier still, she was a vice president at Eventbrite from late 2011 to early 2012; a cofounder at Sensey, a startup that aimed to bring web technology to residential energy management through smart thermostats, in 2011; and a Google product manager from 2004 to 2011 in Mountain View, Zurich, and Sydney, Australia. And she was a software engineer at Cisco Systems from 1996 to 2002.

Posted on Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 1 Comment »

Ben Affleck for Senate? You can pledge $$$ now…

A Palo Alto-based political engagement startup has launched a new page giving people the power to pledge money to candidates for California’s 2016 U.S. Senate race – even if those potential candidates have not yet even expressed interest in running.

Crowdpac – described by Yahoo News last fall as “a Kickstarter for politics and a Match.com for web-savvy politicos” – has set up a pledge system in accordance with an August 2014 Federal Election Commission ruling allowing pledges, but not actual donations, before a candidate forms a campaign. Only if and when a candidate chooses to run will the user be charged.

Ben AffleckSo the group’s 2016 California Senate page includes declared candidates like state Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, and Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, D-Oceanside; people who’ve expressed interest but haven’t yet declared, like House members Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, and former state GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette; and celebs who’ve said nothing about entering the race, like actors Ben Affleck (D) and Kelsey Grammer (R).

Crowdpac already has a similar pledge page for the 2016 presidential race, including “say WHAT?” candidates like former Vice President Al Gore and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

The idea is to alleviate the chicken-or-egg problem in modern campaign finance: Many ordinary Americans won’t make political contributions because they feel good candidates aren’t stepping forward, and many good potential candidates won’t step forward because they don’t think they can raise the tremendous sums required to run a big campaign. The Crowdpac team believes their pledge system will get more people engaged and invested in the process, and avoid having a few rich people anoint their chosen candidates.

It’s an interesting team. CEO and cofounder Steve Hilton is a visiting professor at Stanford, and a former senior advisor to British Prime Minister David Cameron. Cofounder Adam Bonica is a Stanford assistant professor of political science who studies the quantitative measurement of political ideology; he built the algorithms driving Crowdpac’s various services. And chief operating officer and cofounder Gisel Kordestani is a tech entrepreneur who has worked in early stage startups, management consulting and spent more than eight years at Google in senior global roles in finance and new business development.

Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Under: campaign finance, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Loretta Sanchez to meet with SF Latino Dems

Sure, Attorney General Kamala Harris already has raised a cool $2.5 million for her 2016 Senate run, but that doesn’t mean other Democrats aren’t still seriously considering taking her on – even on her home turf.

Loretta SanchezRep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, is meeting with the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club from 5 to 7 p.m. this Friday at Don Ramon’s Mexican restaurant, 225 11th St. in San Francisco. The event is co-sponsored by a bunch of local Latino organizations; there’s been some dissatisfaction voiced among Latino Democrats at not having one of their own in the Senate race.

This isn’t Sanchez’s first trip to Kamala Harris’ home base since she first expressed interest in running in January. Photos posted to her Facebook page show her at Don Ramon’s restaurant in mid-March with California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton, and at North Beach’s Stella bakery the next day with former San Francisco supervisor Angela Alioto.

Sanchez isn’t the only Southern California House member pondering a run for the seat Barbara Boxer will vacate next year; others include Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, and Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles.

Harris is the only prominent Democrat who has declared her candidacy for the seat so far; Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, is the only prominent Republican to throw his hat into the ring so far.

Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Under: U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Joe Biden to visit San Francisco, Oakland this week

Vice President Joe Biden is coming to the Bay Area this week.

The White House announced Tuesday that Biden will arrive in San Francisco on Thursday for a political event, and on Friday is scheduled to visit a PG&E center in Oakland to discuss the importance of workforce development and investing in job-training programs across the country.

His wife, Jill Biden, is coming as well, and plans to visit De Anza College in Cupertino to highlight the administration’s commitment to community colleges and their importance to the nation’s future.

The vice president last visited San Francisco in early October to raise money for the Democratic National Committee, and before that in late May.

More details to come…

Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Under: Joe Biden | 2 Comments »

Rand Paul launches his presidential campaign

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul declared his presidential candidacy Tuesday.

“I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government,” Paul, R-Kent., said on his website, which features the slogan, “Defeat the Washington machine.” The website also features his first presidential campaign video:

Rand held a rally Tuesday morning in Louisville, and then is scheduled to start a campaign tour through the early-primary states of New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa and Nevada.

Paul might have an edge up on other GOP contenders by way of his appeal to younger voters from a wider political spectrum, as well as to the “disruptor” culture of Silicon Valley. His outspoken criticism of government surveillance programs and the war on drugs help him draw huge crowds at his appearances across the nation, including the fervent, standing-room-only throng that welcomed him a year ago at the University of California, Berkeley. And Paul has a head start on building a ground campaign, given the many loyalists he inherited from his father, three-time presidential candidate and former congressman Ron Paul.

But libertarians still comprise a relatively small part of the GOP electorate, and some libertarians fault Paul for being too open to military interventions abroad, his opposition to same-sex marriage, and his opposition to marijuana legalization.

His website also features merchandise including the Rand Paul campaign eye chart (he’s an ophthalmologist, remember?) and the NSA spy cam blocker, a campaign-logoed doohickey to place over your laptop’s webcam. (Heh.)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who announced his own candidacy March 23, issued a statement saying he’s glad to welcome his friend into the primary race.

“Rand is a good friend, and we have worked side by side on many issues,” said Cruz, R-Texas. “I respect his talent, his passion, and the work he has done for Kentuckians and Americans in the U.S. Senate. His entry into the race will no doubt raise the bar of competition, help make us all stronger, and ultimately ensure that the GOP nominee is equipped to beat Hillary Clinton and to take back the White House for Republicans in 2016.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is expected to launch his campaign next week, and about 10 other potential GOP candidates are circling as well.

Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Rand Paul | 1 Comment »