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CA17: Five statewide officials endorse Honda

By Josh Richman
Monday, January 11th, 2016 at 10:33 am in Mike Honda, U.S. House

Five of California’s eight statewide constitutional officers endorsed Rep. Mike Honda on Monday for re-election over Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in the 17th Congressional District.

Honda, D-San Jose, issued a news release saying he’s humbled to have the support of Attorney General Kamala Harris, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Treasurer John Chiang, Controller Betty Yee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

“I share their deep passion and commitment to solving problems facing many of California’s working families,” Honda said. “They represent the very best of what our state has to offer and I look forward to continuing my work with them.”

Harris, currently the frontrunner for the U.S. Senate seat from which Barbara Boxer will retire at year’s end, said that “from improving public safety, fighting to end human trafficking, and ensuring the civil rights of all people are protected – Mike has always been there.”

Yee said “Honda has been a tireless advocate for the people of Silicon Valley: securing funding for BART expansion, boosting critical research in nanotechnology, and fighting to ensure that every child has access to quality education.”

And Torlakson called Honda “an unwavering ally to California’s students and teachers. As a former science teacher and principal, education has always been one of his top priorities. Mike is working across the aisle to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in our classroom’s, which will provide our children and country with the skills to stay competitive in this global economy.”

Among the other statewide constitutional officers, Secretary of State Alex Padilla has endorsed Khanna; Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom endorsed Khanna in 2014 but has not yet made an endorsement for 2016; and Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed Honda in 2014 but has not yet made an endorsement for 2016.

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CA17: Honda fires back on union’s Khanna nod

By Josh Richman
Friday, January 8th, 2016 at 1:45 pm in Mike Honda, U.S. House

Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign shot back Friday against a construction-workers’ union that has switched its endorsement from Honda in 2014 to Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in their rematch this year.

Vedant Patel, political director for Honda’s campaign, issued a statement expressing disappointment at the decision of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), Pacific Southwest Region – boasting 63,000 members in California and a few thousand more in Hawaii, New Mexico and Arizona – to endorse Khanna but allowing that “sometimes friends disagree.” Patel also touted the 98 percent lifetime rating that Honda, D-San Jose, has earned from the AFL-CIO for his consistent pro-labor stances.

honda.jpg“In this case, we could not be more proud of Congressman Honda’s ardent advocacy to protect America’s environment with his opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline – a pipeline supported by LIUNA,” Patel said, noting Honda voted thrice against the controversial pipeline, signed seven opposition letters to President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and supported a Democratic National Committee resolution against the project. Obama put the final kibosh on Keystone XL in November.

“Congressman Honda was proud to be a leader in the successful fight to oppose Keystone in order to prevent astronomical amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, polluted water and fisheries with elevated cancer rates, and exposing nearby communities to highly toxic materials,” Patel said.

Khanna also opposed the Keystone XL pipeline.

“It is unfortunate that an organization committed to advancing the rights of working class men and women would stand with someone who has never had a track record that benefits the working class,” Patel continued. “Ro Khanna has never stuck his neck out for working families. From cagey positions on the Trans Pacific Partnership, and flip flopping on key issues like Social Security benefits and pension reform, Ro has simply failed to take a real stance when it mattered.”

Patel also blasted Khanna for accepting campaign contributions from people who’ve been at odds with organized labor, who’ve advocated for privatizing Social Security, and who lead corporations that violated living wage laws.

Khanna has never advocated for privatizing Social Security, and I dinged Honda’s campaign in 2014 for misrepresenting Khanna’s stances on benefits. Khanna condemned the wage violations for which Fremont-based Electronics for Imaging was fined in 2014 and he removed CEO Guy Gecht from his endorsement list, but declined to return Gecht’s $2,600 campaign contribution as labor unions had urged.

LiUNA held a news conference Friday in San Jose to tout its endorsement of Khanna. San Jose Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco was there to announce her endorsement, too, and later issued a statement calling Khanna “a dependable advocate for middle-class families with a clear vision to move our communities forward.”

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CA17: Union flips support from Honda to Khanna

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, January 6th, 2016 at 6:52 pm in Mike Honda, U.S. House

A labor union that had endorsed Rep. Mike Honda in 2014 now has switched sides to endorse Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in this year’s 17th Congressional District rematch.

LiUNAThe Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), Pacific Southwest Region – a construction-workers union boasting 63,000 members in California and a few thousand more in Hawaii, New Mexico and Arizona – announced its endorsement of Khanna on Wednesday.

“We honor your commitment to fairness and truth as you seek to represent the interests of our communities, our Union, and all working men, women and families,” Rocco Davis, the union’s vice president and regional manager, wrote in a Dec. 18 letter to Khanna. “We take seriously your commitment to these issues that are critical to our union and our members and to this end we look forward to assisting your campaign and working with you in progressing our mutual goals in the future.”

Asked Wednesday whether Davis’ “fairness and truth” line refers to the ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation of whether Honda’s office and campaign broke rules or laws by sharing resources, LiUNA international representative Izaak Velez replied, “That is not a swipe at Mike Honda in any way, shape or form.

“We fully respect Mike Honda’s service and appreciate everything he’s done,” Velez said. “We’re not here to badmouth the service Mike Honda has given.”

Ro KhannaKhanna, a former Obama administration official from Fremont who now works for a company that makes water and electricity conservation software, issued a news release saying the Bay Area’s working men and women have forged the community’s and economy’s strength. “As we march into a new century we must find new, innovative ways to ensure we hold onto that strength by revitalizing our manufacturing base, expanding the middle class and strengthening educational opportunity.”

Santa Clara Vice Mayor Debi Davis and former two-term Milpitas Mayor Bob Livengood also have flipped from supporting Honda, D-San Jose, in 2014 to supporting Khanna now. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen, Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone, Secretary of State Alex Padilla and state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles – all of whom remained neutral in 2014 – have endorsed Khanna, too.

But overall, much of the Democratic establishment and most labor unions seem to be staying in Honda’s corner.

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BART strike bill is dead, but another is coming

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, January 6th, 2016 at 11:36 am in Assembly, California State Senate, Catharine Baker, steve glazer, Transportation

Assembly Democrats on Wednesday killed an East Bay lawmaker’s bill that would’ve essentially banned strikes by BART workers, like the ones that threw Bay Area commutes into chaos in 2013 – but another lawmaker is preparing to take another stab at it.

Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, introduced AB 528 last February, delivering on a campaign promise that had helped her become the Bay Area’s only Republican lawmaker.

Catharine Baker“In June 2017, the current BART contract expires. We should never be subject to BART strikes again,” Baker said in a news release issued Wednesday after the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee killed the bill on a party-line vote. “This is just the first step in the fight to protect us from BART strikes and I will keep pursuing solutions that will prevent the entire Bay Area from coming to a grinding halt in the face of another strike.”

Many didn’t think the bill would last even this long in the Democrat-dominated Legislature. The committee first heard it in May, and rather than voting it down, agreed to make it a two-year bill; then-chairman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, said that would give more time for legislators and other interested parties to discuss the issues. Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, now chairs the committee.

Baker’s AB 528 instead would have barred BART workers from striking as long as they continue to get wages and benefits – in other words, if an existing contract has a no-strike clause and management keeps honoring the pact’s financial terms after it expires, unions couldn’t strike. Baker campaigned on pursuing a bill like this after two 2013 strikes brought BART to grinding halts, snarling Bay Area traffic and costing the local economy $73 million per day by one business group’s estimate.

Democrat Steve Glazer made a similar campaign promise when competing with Baker in 2014’s 16th Assembly District primary, and again in his successful campaign in last year’s 7th State Senate District special election. Glazer intends to introduce a BART-strike bill sometime in the next few weeks, spokesman Steve Harmon said Wednesday.

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Lookin’ rather vice presidential there, Gov. Haley…

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, January 5th, 2016 at 4:56 pm in 2016 presidential election

Giving fresh credence to rumors that Republican elders look upon her as a possible vice-presidential nominee, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been tapped to deliver her party’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech next Tuesday, Jan. 12.

Nikki Haley“Nikki Haley has led an economic turnaround and set a bold agenda for her state, getting things done and becoming one of the most popular governors in America,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said in a news release. “In a year when the country is crying out for a positive vision and alternative to the status quo, Governor Haley is the exact right choice to deliver the Republican Address to the Nation.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., called Haley “a proven leader and committed reformer who believes deeply in the promise of the country we all share. Not only has Governor Haley fought to bring opportunity and prosperity to the people of her state, but she’s also demonstrated how bringing people together can bring real results.”

The prime-time rebuttal slot has been a prized perch for those with higher aspirations. Those tapped in the past few years to deliver the GOP response include Ryan himself in 2011 – the year before he was GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate. Current presidential candidate Marco Rubio gave the response in 2013, and former candidate Bobby Jindal gave the response to Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress in February 2009.

Many believe Haley’s conservative bona fides, along with the diversity she symbolizes as a woman and as a daughter of Indian immigrants, make her a good pick for the number-two slot on this year’s GOP ticket. Her popular decision to remove the Confederate battle flag from her capitol’s grounds after June’s massacre in a black church in Charleston, and her steadfast refusal to wade into this year’s presidential morass – she has made no endorsement – could help her chances.

In Ryan’s news release, Haley, 43, said she’s honored to get the speaking slot. “This is a time of great challenges for our country, but also of great opportunities. I intend to speak about both.”

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Dentists ante up for cigarette tax hike

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, January 5th, 2016 at 3:27 pm in ballot measures

The California Dental Association said Tuesday it will kick in $1 million to help pass a proposed ballot measure that would raise California’s cigarette tax by $2 per pack and impose similar taxes on e-cigarettes.

That would bring the Save Lives California committee’s war chest to $6 million so far; the committee already has received $3 million from the Service Employees International Union’s California State Council; $1 million from the California Medical Association; and $1 million from hedge fund billionaire turned environmentalist Tom Steyer of San Francisco.

“Our contribution reflects the importance of this initiative to save lives and prevent more people from suffering the devastating effects of smoking-related diseases such as oral cancer and gum disease that dentists see every day in their practices,” California Dental Association President Ken Wallis said in a news release. “This measure will combat tobacco use and help fund essential programs to improve the oral health as well as the overall health of our most vulnerable Californians.”

The measure’s proponents are circulating petitions now; they must collect signatures from 585,407 registered voters by June 13 in order to qualify the measure for November’s ballot.

It’s likely to be a costly battle. California voters rejected a $1-per-pack increase in 2012 after tobacco companies outspent proponents about 4-to-1; that measure was defeated by just four-tenths of a percentage point, the narrowest defeat of any statewide measure in California’s history.

(I considered including a photo of a long-time smoker’s teeth, but the images I found were far too gross. You’re welcome.)

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Candidates weigh in on Obama’s gun orders

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, January 5th, 2016 at 11:14 am in 2016 presidential election, gun control

DONALD TRUMP, to CNN: “Pretty soon you won’t be able to get guns. … It’s another step in the way of not getting guns.”

TED CRUZ, on Twitter: Fight back against @BarackObama’s unconstitutional #2A executive actions! #ComeAndTakeIt

HILLARY CLINTON, on Twitter: “Thank you, @POTUS, for taking a crucial step forward on gun violence. Our next president has to build on that progress—not rip it away. –H … .@POTUS is right: We can protect the Second Amendment while protecting our families and communities from gun violence. And we have to.”

MARCO RUBIO, to Fox News: “It undermines the Second Amendment and it will do nothing to keep people safe. Barack Obama is obsessed with undermining the Second Amendment. … Now this executive order is just one more way to make it harder for law-abiding people to buy weapons or to be able to protect their families. This is going to do nothing to prevent violence or crimes, because criminals don’t buy guns that way. They buy from the black market.”

JEB BUSH, in the The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, Iowa: “Barack Obama has proved again why he will go down as one of the most liberal and divisive presidents in the history of our nation. Obama’s declaration that he will impose his gun control agenda by executive order shows an utter disregard for the Second Amendment as well as the proper constitutional process for making laws in our nation.”

BERNIE SANDERS, in a news release: “A vast majority of the American people, including responsible gun owners who are sickened by the deaths of so many innocent people, agree with the common sense reforms announced today. As president, I will continue these executive orders because it’s past time to end the moral outrage of Aurora, and Newtown and Charleston.”

BEN CARSON, on Twitter: “We the People have a Constitutional right to bear arms and it is the President’s responsibility to uphold that right. … Pres. Obama has told us to trust him on gun rights – just like “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”. … Any executive order President Obama signs that regulates firearms transactions will merely regulate the freedom of law abiding citizens. … The President’s actions have everything to do with advancing his political agenda & little to do with actually protecting American citizens.”

CARLY FIORINA, on Twitter: “Another lawless, unconstitutional overreach. The 2nd Amendment is an individual right. Mr. President, how about enforcing the laws we have?”

RAND PAUL, to Breitbart: “If Obama was planning infringement of the First Amendment, the media would be going crazy. But we should never let any president abbreviate any part of the Bill of Rights. No matter what amendment it is, we should never allow it to be abbreviated by executive order. … I’m going to fight him tooth and nail.”

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Trump’s first TV ad, from Morocco to Mexico

By Josh Richman
Monday, January 4th, 2016 at 12:53 pm in 2016 presidential election

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has released his first television campaign ad.

Trump has pledged to spend at least $2 million every week as the GOP nominating contest heats up, CNN reports, and the Iowa and New Hampshire television ad buys will cost him slightly in excess of that, according to his campaign.

PolitiFact notes while the narrator describes Trump’s vow to “stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for,” the footage displayed actually depicts migrants in Morocco trying to enter a Spanish enclave (and thus, the European Union).

But Politico’s Eliza Collins tweeted a statement from the Trump campaign saying that this was intentional “and selected to demonstrate the severe impact of an open border and the very real threat Americans face if we do not immediately build a wall and stop illegal immigration. The biased mainstream media doesn’t understand, but Americans who want to protect their jobs and their families do.”

This, of course, doubles down on Trump’s longstanding contentions that some crisis exists in southern border immigration, when in fact more people have been leaving the United States over that border than entering in recent years; and that immigrants pose a special criminal threat to Americans, which statistically speaking, they don’t.

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Hillary praises California’s new voter-reg law

By Josh Richman
Saturday, January 2nd, 2016 at 3:38 pm in 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, voter registration

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton praised California’s new voter-registration law Saturday, and is coming to the Golden State next week to rally the Asian-American vote.

New laws effective Jan. 1 in California and Oregon mean residents will be automatically registered to vote when they get a driver’s license, unless they opt out; California’s system won’t take effect until the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Secretary of State’s office work out technical issues. Clinton, who has called for universal, automatic voter registration across the nation, thinks it’s a nifty idea.

Hillary 12-29-2015 in NH (Getty Images)“The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, and America is stronger when more of us vote. That’s why I and many others have been alarmed to see several states make it harder — not easier — for people to vote,” she said in a news release. “That’s wrong, and goes against everything our country stands for. California and Oregon have the right idea. I hope more states follow their lead. And I hope more Americans step up to defend this right for themselves and each other.”

Clinton’s campaign also announced she’ll be in San Gabriel this Thursday, Jan. 7 with Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park – chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus – to launch Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Hillary.

Joined by dozens of AAPI elected officials and community leaders from across the nation, “Clinton will discuss what’s at stake in this election for the AAPI community, and how she’ll fight for them as president,” her campaign said.

Asian-Americans have emerged as a major, Democrat-leaning voting bloc in battleground swing states such as Nevada, Virginia and Florida.

Clinton also has several fundraisers scheduled for her California visit. She’ll attend a $2,700-a-head luncheon with Chu on Thursday in the San Gabriel Valley, and then a “family celebration” reception Thursday afternoon at Jim Henson Studios in Los Angeles, hosted by television and movie producer Lisa Henson and artist and animator David Pressler; tickets range from $500 to $2,700. On Friday, she’s scheduled to attend a $2,700-per-person “Conversation with Hillary” event in San Francisco hosted by Diana Nelson, chairwoman of the Carlson global hospitality and travel company, and then a $2,700-per-person evening reception in Palo Alto hosted by venture capitalist Greg Sands and his wife, Sarah.

Clinton leads Bernie Sanders, the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont and her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, by about 23 percentage points, according to the latest average of recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. She leads Sanders by about 13 points in Iowa, but Sanders leads by about 4 points in New Hampshire.

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CA17: Khanna & Honda spar over Trump reference

By Josh Richman
Friday, January 1st, 2016 at 4:04 pm in Mike Honda, U.S. House

The dark specter of Donald Trump has reared its ugly, inexplicably-coiffed head in the never-ending battle between Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, and two-time Democratic challenger Ro Khanna.

Michael Beckendorf, Honda’s campaign manager, sent out a fundraising email Wednesday evening that name-checked the GOP presidential frontrunner.

Dear Friend,

I’ll cut to the chase:

honda.jpgMike Honda has spent his career fighting for justice and equality in Washington — and the Republicans can’t stand it. That’s why they’re aligning themselves, again, with our opponent, Ro Khanna, in attacking one of the nation’s leading progressive champions.

It’s shameful — and we can’t let Donald Trump’s Republican Party get away with [it].

Contribute $3 or more to our campaign before tomorrow’s deadline to help us fight back.

At a time when fear is rising again in American politics, we cannot afford to lose Mike Honda’s voice in Congress. Can you speak up today to support our campaign?

Khanna responded with an angry Facebook post:

Ro KhannaRep Mike Honda, is there no limit to what you will do to hold on to office? Everyone knows that I am a ‪#‎Democrat‬ inspired by my grandfather who spent years in jail under British colonialism, and have stood up against hate and racial profiling my whole life and in our community. Yet, today you sent out an email to raise money conveniently misrepresenting my party affiliation, and ignoring that I worked for President Barack Obama or that I have a record of standing up for civil rights and civil liberties. You imply that somehow I or my supporters would not stand up to hate and bigotry. That is a new low.

Once elected, I will work across the aisle to solve the issues that face our nation and be a strong voice for justice and human rights. What I will not do is engage in ad hominem, non-fact based attacks. I will not stoop to that level when dealing with either Democrats or Republicans or independents.

How about having 4-5 real debates Rep Honda instead of hiding behind your political consultants with cheap political attacks? Emails like the one below is exactly what’s wrong with politics. ‪#‎CA17‬

It’s true that some Republicans are supporting Khanna, even if only as an “anyone but Honda” vote, and that Khanna’s campaign calculus involves getting such votes – as any competent campaign would under our top-two primary system. And while plenty of Republicans are appalled by Trump’s rhetoric, there’s no denying that he has been the party’s frontrunner for all but three days since mid-July and currently is close to his all-time high, according to averages of national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics.

But it’s also hard to imagine any Trump supporter casting a ballot for Khanna – especially given that they could vote instead for conservative Republican Ron Cohen (in the primary, anyway). Beckendorf’s email never explicitly says Khanna is a Trumpist or a Republican, but rather implies that Trumpists or Republicans are using Khanna as a tool to unseat Honda – a sentiment that won’t sit well with the many Democrats who prefer Khanna.

“Neither the GOP nor Trump have ever, in any way whatsoever, shown any support of Khanna. Indeed, you have to embrace Trump’s method of politicking to even make such allegations,” wrote Margarita Lacabe, an Alameda County Democratic committeewoman from San Leandro who lives in a different House district but received Honda’s fundraising email.

“I know that like Pete Stark before him, Honda will not give up in his quest for re-election, but his staff should show respect for Honda’s past accomplishments by making sure he runs a dignified campaign,” wrote Lacabe, a longtime Khanna supporter.

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