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Chris Christie to keynote California GOP convention

By Josh Richman
Friday, January 23rd, 2015 at 10:31 am in Republican Party, Republican politics

Potential 2016 presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will keynote the California Republican Party’s spring convention luncheon on Saturday, Feb. 28 in Sacramento.

“Governor Christie is working to move New Jersey forward with balanced budgets, sensible tax reform and a focus on improving K-12 education,” state GOP chairman Jim Brulte said in a news release. “We are thrilled he will be joining us at convention to share his story and wisdom.”

Party vice chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon called Christie “a great example of Republican leadership. He has helped New Jersey overcome some of its toughest challenges in decades, and has been a guiding voice across the nation as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.”

Christie said he’s “excited to be joining Republicans in California as we plan for the years ahead and look to build upon the successes of 2014.”

Christie, whose popularity rose has he handled the aftermath of 2012’s “Superstorm” Sandy, has had a rockier road since late 2013, when the “Bridgegate” scandal – in which some of his top aides ordered closure of lanes on the busy George Washington Bridge as payback to his political foes – came to light. A new Quinnipiac Poll trend line tells the tale:

Christie Quinnipiac poll

The poll shows more New Jerseyans support Christie than any of a dozen other potential GOP candidates, but Christie would lose the Garden State in a head-to-head with potential Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Nationally, an average of five polls conducted late last year shows Christie trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush among potential GOP candidates.

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Mike Honda endorses Kamala Harris for Senate

By Josh Richman
Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 at 2:02 pm in Barbara Boxer, Kamala Harris, Mike Honda, U.S. House, U.S. Senate

The big U.S. Senate 2016 news du jour is that hedge fund billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer won’t be in the race, but meanwhile, California Attorney General Kamala Harris – the only person to declare candidacy so far – continues rolling out endorsements.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, on Thursday joined his Bay Area peers Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, in backing Harris to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.

“As a leader in protecting the privacy rights of consumers, preserving California’s environment, and fighting for women’s rights, Kamala is the best candidate to carry on the legacy of our great Senator Barbara Boxer,” Honda said in a news release. “Kamala and I share a deep passion for many of the issues important to California families, and I look forward to continuing our work together when Attorney General Harris becomes our newest Senator.”

Harris said she and Honda “have enjoyed a long partnership on many important issues such as combating domestic violence, improving public safety, and protecting civil rights for all Americans. I look forward to continuing our work together.”

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Ro Khanna has a new job & got engaged

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 at 3:43 pm in 2014 general, U.S. House

Former congressional candidate Ro Khanna has a new job, and is engaged to be married.

Khanna, 38, has joined Smart Utility Systems – a company with offices in Irvine and in Noida, India – as vice president of strategic initiatives.

Ro Khanna“I am excited about opening Smart Utility’s Silicon Valley office, and working on increasing awareness for an energy-efficiency software that will save consumers money and reduce energy consumption at peak hours,” Khanna said Wednesday.

Khanna, a former Obama administration Commerce Department official who lives in Fremont, last year mounted an insurgent Democratic campaign against seven-term incumbent Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, in the 17th Congressional District. After a costly and hard-fought race, Honda prevailed by 3.6 percentage points.

Khanna also said his longtime girlfriend, Ritu Ahuja, is now his fiancée.

As reported here last week, Khanna has been spending some time recently helping organize opposition to a proposed expansion of the Newby Island Landfill, at the end of Dixon Landing Road in Milpitas.

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Jeb Bush to address car dealers Friday in SF

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 at 3:01 pm in 2016 presidential election

As he “actively explores” a 2016 presidential run, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be in San Francisco on Friday to give a convention keynote speech.

Jeb BushBush will address the National Automobile Dealers Association’s convention and expo at the Moscone Center late Friday afternoon. Former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno will address the convention Saturday.

“Jeb Bush is a visionary leader and successful governor,” said 2014 NADA Chairman Forrest McConnell. “We are delighted to have him keynote NADA’s convention this year, and we hope to learn a bit more about his future ambitions.”

Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush and younger brother of former President George W. Bush, was Florida’s governor from 1999 to 2007. He announced in December that he’s considering a presidential run, and has been hiring staff and meeting with contributors in recent weeks.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Tuesday found Bush lags in popularity behind 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who announced this month that he’s considering a third run for the White House. Bush’s numbers have fallen since his own December announcement; 37 percent of Republicans now view him positively, down from 44 percent in November, the poll found.

Friday’s address is expected to be among his last paid speeches before he shifts more fully into potential-candidate mode; he’s scheduled to give a policy speech at the Detroit Economic Club early next month.

NADA represents nearly 16,000 new-car and new-truck dealerships with 32,500 franchises, both domestic and international. The group says its convention and expo, expected to draw more than 23,000 attendees, “is the automotive industry event of the year and the world’s largest international gathering place for franchised new-vehicle dealers.” Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who many believe will be a Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, spoke at NADA’s convention last year in New Orleans.

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Eric Swalwell endorses Kamala Harris for Senate

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 at 2:19 pm in Barbara Boxer, Eric Swalwell, Kamala Harris, U.S. House, U.S. Senate

Rep. Eric Swalwell, the East Bay congressman who’d sent up a trial balloon last week about running for the U.S. Senate seat that Barbara Boxer will vacate in 2016, instead endorsed California Attorney General Kamala Harris for that seat Wednesday.

“From her days as a prosecutor in the Alameda County D.A.’s office through her time as California Attorney General, Kamala has been an innovative and effective leader on so many issues facing Californians — crime prevention, consumer protections, environmental preservation, and strengthening public education,” said Swalwell, D-Dublin, who also was an Alameda County prosecutor. “I look forward to campaigning alongside Kamala and working together on behalf of the next generation of Californians.”

Swalwell, 34, who has just begun his second House term, will serve Harris’ campaign as chairman of Young Professionals outreach, spearheading young voter organizing and fundraising efforts. Harris said he’s “an incredibly hard-working and effective representative of his East Bay constituents in Congress, and I am grateful to have him by my side in this campaign.”

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Barbara Lee named to voting task force

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 at 11:24 am in Barbara Lee, U.S. House

Rep. Barbara Lee will be part of an 11-member House Democrat task force driving new efforts to increase voter participation, 50 years after the Voting Rights Act’s enactment and two years after the Supreme Court voided key provisions.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“Voting is our sacred right. Tragically, this right is under assault from voter ID laws, active voter suppression and corporate dark money,” said Lee, D-Oakland. “This task force is a renewed commitment to empowering voters to have their voices heard at every level of government and to have a impact on the policies that affect their daily lives. We will engage everyone, including young people; we will engage the future.”

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn, D-S.C., on Wednesday announced members of the Democratic Outreach and Engagement Task Force, which Clyburn will chair.

Pelosi said it will “work to reawaken our communities to the power of the vote to destroy injustice, create opportunity and sustain our democracy.” Clyburn said by using the Voting Rights Act’s anniversary as an example, “we hope to inspire Americans from all walks of life to become more engaged.”

Besides Clyburn and Lee, the task force’s other members are Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Downey; Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y.; André Carson, D-Ind.; Cedric Richmond, D-La.; Matt Cartwright, D-Pa.; Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.; Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M.; Grace Meng, D-N.Y.; and Brendan Boyle, D-Pa.

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Citizens United anniversary brings protests

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 at 10:59 am in campaign finance

Activists are taking to the streets Wednesday in the Bay Area and across the nation to mark the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has let an unprecedented flood of money wash across the face of American politics.

money in politicsIn Berkeley, the California Public Interest Research Group, local officials, students and residents gathered Wednesday morning on Cal’s Sproul Plaza. “Five years ago today, the Supreme Court went way off track, and gave mega-donors and corporate interests free rein to drown out the voices of the majority,” said Zach Weinstein of CALPIRG. “But we’re here today because the decision also sparked a movement of Americans working to take back our democracy, city-by-city and state-by-state.”

“We must stop the influx of big money in our democracy by passing an amendment to our constitution to stop corporations from being defined as people and money as speech; enacting disclosure laws, campaign finance contribution limits and publicly funded campaigns,” said Helen Grieco of Common Cause.

In San Francisco, activists are organizing a “Mourning in America” march starting at 3:30 p.m. from Market and Montgomery streets to the federal building at 450 Golden Gate Ave. for a 4:30 p.m. rally. The march, to “call for a reversal of corrupt campaign finance system that favors wealthy special interests over the public interest,” will be led by hip-hop artist Khafre Jay, effigies of the five Supreme Court Justices who were in the majority on Citizens United, a live band, and a coffin containing Uncle Sam; marchers are encouraged to wear black, and black armbands will be handed out.

Those scheduled to speak at the rally include former Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco; former Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin; good-government expert and former Secretary of State candidate Derek Cressman; and others. Endorsers and organizers include the Money Out! People In! Coalition, 99Rise, CA Nurses Association, Common Cause, Courage Campaign, California Clean Money Campaign, Free Speech for People, Money Out Voters In (MOVI), MoveOn Councils, Move to Amend, Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center, Public Citizen, Represent.us, San Francisco Labor Council AFL-CIO, Solar Justice, and the Sunflower Alliance.

99RiseIn Washington, D.C., seven 99Riseactivists disrupted Wednesday morning’s U.S. Supreme Court session. Each stood up and demanded that the court overturn Citizens United, before raising his or her index finger in the air – a gesture meant to represent the “one person, one vote” principle that they say the ruling undermined.

“We have seen the consequences of the free flow of private money rushing into our public political system,” activist Curt Ries said. “Nearly $4 billion was spent in the 2014 midterm elections, and almost all of it came from a handful of wealthy individuals and organizations. The kind of influence that money buys fundamentally corrupts our electoral process by giving undue representation to wealthy donors and corporations. That’s not a democracy, it’s a plutocracy.”

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East Bay Dem wants to take on Tom McClintock

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 at 3:54 pm in U.S. House

A firebrand liberal from Walnut Creek says he intends to take on Gold Country conservative Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, in 2016, but his goal of enlisting national aid seems a longshot at best.

David Peterson made his pitch Monday night to the TriValley Democratic Club in Dublin, a good 60 or 70 miles from the nearest edge of McClintock’s 4th Congressional District.

David Peterson“I intend to oust Tom McClintock, a Republican in a very Republican district – he’s bad for America and we can do this,” he said, adding he was seeking this club’s support “because you are exceptional. We’ve done this before. We ousted Richard Pombo… and we’ve held the district ever since.”

A handbill he provided says he wants to “take the profit out of war profiteering,” “defund domestic spying,” “prevent Wall Street financial schemes,” “legalize whistleblowing of government crimes,” pursue women’s and LGBT equality, “fund rehabilitation and mental health services,” cut red tape for transitioning to green energy sources, and save Social Security and Medicare “from Republican pilfering and pocketing.”

Peterson said Tuesday he worked with moderate Republican former Rep. Pete McCloskey, who challenged Pombo in the 2006 GOP primary before endorsing Democrat Jerry McNerney in that year’s general election.

Peterson then tried to organize opposition to Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, who he deems a hawkish supporter of war profiteering. He said he switched from the Green Party to the GOP “because the Green Party was ineffective and nobody on the Democratic side would work hard to oust Ellen Tauscher.” When she left Congress to take a State Department post in 2009, he ran as a Republican in the special primary election to succeed her – partly to be a spoiler against Republican “Wall Street bankster” David Harmer but also “to get my message out as well,” he said.

Peterson also has tried to organize opposition to Democratic House incumbents such as Pete Stark, whom he said wasn’t delivering on his progressive promises, and Jane Harman, who he also deems too hawkish. More recently, Peterson ran as a Democrat against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francsico, in 2012 and 2014, believing she needed to be pulled toward more progressive stances like avoiding military involvement in Syria and more actively supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Peterson said Monday night that his goal is to spark a big voter registration drive to engage and mobilize Democrats in McClintock’s district, and get the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to target McClintock in 2016. He asked for the club’s support in phone banking, doing field work in the district, and contributions.

It’s hard to see how the DCCC would want to get involved. The 4th Congressional District’s current voter registration is 44.4 percent Republican, 28.6 percent Democratic and 20.9 percent nonpartisan, so there’s an enormous registration mountain to climb. No Democrat ran there at all last year; independent Jeffrey Gerlach was eliminated in the top-two primary, leaving McClintock to duke it out with comparatively moderate fellow Republican Art Moore in November. McClintock won by 20 points.

The DCCC usually focuses its resources in more winnable districts. McClintock’s district has a Democratic Performance Index – the average Democratic percentage over three similar past elections – of 39.4 and President Obama got only 40.6 percent of the vote there in 2012. That’s nowhere what the DCCC has deemed competitive recently:

  • CA-07, Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove: 49 DPI, Obama 2012 52%
  • CA-10, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock: 47.3 DPI, Obama 2012: 51.8%
  • CA-21, Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford: 49 DPI, Obama 2012 55.7%
  • CA-25, Rep. Steve Knight, R-Lancaster: 43 DPI, Obama 2012 49.1%
  • CA-26, Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village: 50.5 DPI, Obama 2012 55.2%
  • CA-52, Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego: 48.7 DPI, Obama 2012 53.3%
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    California lawmakers’ State of the Union guests

    By Josh Richman
    Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 at 2:46 pm in Ami Bera, Dianne Feinstein, Eric Swalwell, Jackie Speier, Mike Honda, U.S. House, U.S. Senate

    Here’s a sampling of guests invited by California lawmakers to attend President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight:

    FloresRep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose: Honda is bringing Claudia Flores, an immigration rights activist who was allowed to stay in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Flores and her family moved to San Jose from Honduras when she was a teenager; she became a leader at San Jose High School and in her community, eventually earning a full-ride scholarship to Santa Clara University. She was an intern in Honda’s office two summers ago and is now a public policy fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. “This hard-working, bright woman, who has done so much in her young career, would have been deported if not for President Obama’s action in 2012,” Honda said. “She is exactly the type of person this policy was meant to encourage to stay in the United States.”

    UsafiRep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin: Swalwell is bringing Mohammad Usafi, an Afghan interpreter who worked with U.S. Marines and after waiting nearly four years received a special immigrant visa to move to the Bay Area one year ago. The Taliban kidnapped Usafi’s young brother for ransom and killed his father because of the aid he had worked for American troops; after Swalwell and other House members helped friends and advocates petition the State Department, Usafi’s mother and seven siblings were granted humanitarian parole to join him here in December. “It’s a great relief that today Mohammad and his family live in the Bay Area, but more must be done and can be done in a bipartisan fashion to help interpreters like Mohammad,” Swalwell said.

    ChristensenRep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo: Speier is bringing retired U.S. Air Force Col. Don Christensen, that branch’s longest-serving chief prosecutor and a leading advocate of military sexual assault reform. Christensen is president of Protect Our Defenders, a group that’s leading efforts to remove sexual assault cases from the military chain of command. “I invited Colonel Christensen with the hope that he could witness President Obama announce his support of fundamental reform of the military justice system,” Speier said. “A year after requesting a report from the Pentagon, the president now has the results on his desk. He has all the information he needs. Tonight would be a perfect time for him to lead on this issue by supporting taking sexual assault cases out of the chain of command.”

    MartinezRep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara: Capps is bringing Richard Martinez, whose son, Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20, was among those slain in last May’s rampage near UC-Santa Barbara. Martinez, of Los Osos, became a face of the tragedy as he urged lawmakers to pursue stricter gun-control measures; he since has joined the staff of Everytown for Gun Safety. “As the 114th Congress begins their tenure, it is time they put the public safety of their constituents first, and that means making gun safety a priority to help reduce gun violence in America,” Martinez said.

    OliverRep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove: Bera is bringing Susan Oliver, widow of Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver, who was shot to death in the line of duty in October by a gunman who also killed a Placer County deputy. Their lives “remind us that our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day for our safety,” Bera said. “They were true heroes and we are forever indebted to them and their loved ones. Let’s honor their memory by building understanding and trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, just like Deputy Oliver did.”

    U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.: Feinstein is bringing Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. He’s been mayor since 2013 and earlier was a councilman; Feinstein said they’ve worked together on issues such as funding for the Metro’s Purple Line extension and efforts to reduce homelessness among veterans.

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    Hillary Clinton in Silicon Valley next month

    By Josh Richman
    Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 at 12:54 pm in Hillary Clinton

    Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State and presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, will give a paid speech at a women’s conference on professional development and personal growth next month in Silicon Valley.

    Clinton is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

    She last visited the Bay Area in October for a Democratic fundraiser; in August for a paid speech at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit; and in July to visit tech companies and tout her book.

    Themed “Lead On,” next month’s nonpartisan, nonprofit conference is “a unique place for women coming together to promote professional development and personal growth, to further opportunities for connections and to inspire each another,” organizers say. “The day will feature one-of-a-kind discussions among thought leaders and industry experts about how women can rise to the top of their organizations; insight and expertise about navigating career and life transitions, and interactive sessions offering practical advice to help create and grow positive personal experiences outside the workplace.”

    Others scheduled to speak at the conference include fashion icon Diane von Fürstenberg; former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson; artist and motivational speaker Candy Chang; and author and motivational speaker Brené Brown.

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