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CA17: Republican enters race to unseat Honda

By Josh Richman
Thursday, November 19th, 2015 at 11:38 am in Mike Honda, U.S. House

A Republican candidate has entered the race to unseat Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District – and that’s potentially bad news for Democratic challenger Ro Khanna.

Ron CohenRon Cohen, 56, of Fremont, filed papers with the Federal Election Commission earlier this month to form a campaign committee. In a brief interview Thursday, Cohen said he’s not yet ready to share his entire platform, but described himself as a fiscal and social conservative who wants to provide a counterpoint to Honda, D-San Jose, and Khanna.

Cohen said he has never sought public office before, as he was too busy building his CPA practice; he’s an international tax partner at Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co. in Fremont. But having become a grandfather recently, he’s grown more concerned with the nation’s debt.

“I’m getting to the age now that if I’m going to do something, it’s time to do it,” he said. “I checked into it with the Republican party and nobody else seems to be running – it’s a tough district for Republicans, I realize.”

The 17th District – a central swath of Silicon Valley, and the first Asian-American majority district outside Hawaii – is 43 percent Democrat, 19 percent Republican and 33 percent nonpartisan. Republican Vanila Singh got only 17 percent of the vote in last June’s primary, failing to make the “top two” cut and leaving Khanna to challenge Honda in November. Honda defeated Khanna by 3.6 percentage points.

Still, Singh’s presence affected last year’s race. Khanna spent big before the primary, even airing several television ads, in trying to finish a strong second behind Honda and to ensure Singh didn’t peel away too many “anyone but Honda” votes. That left Khanna’s campaign practically broke in the general election campaign’s final weeks.

Once again this year, any Republican votes going to Cohen are more likely to come out of Khanna’s pocket than Honda’s. However, this being Khanna’s second run, he already has far better name recognition and funding than Cohen is likely to be able to muster.

UPDATE @ 3:49 P.M.: Click here for a more complete story, with comments from the Honda and Khanna campaigns.


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Mike Honda blasts calls to lock up Syrian refugees

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 at 4:32 pm in International politics, Mike Honda, U.S. House, War on Terror

Rep. Mike Honda, who spent part of his childhood in a World War II-era internment camp for Japanese-Americans, opened a six-pack of verbal whup-ass Wednesday all over state and local politicians who have suggested not only barring Syrian refugees from entering the country, but perhaps locking up those already here.

Roanoke Mayor David Bowers, a Democrat, issued a statement Wednesday hailing his city as “welcoming” and America as “the melting pot of the world,” but saying that “it is presently imprudent to assist in the relocation of Syrian refugees to our part of Virginia.”

“Thus, today, I’m requesting that all Roanoke Valley governments and non-governmental agencies suspend and delay any further Syrian refugee assistance until these serious hostilities and atrocities end, or at the very least until regarded as under control by U.S. authorities, and normalcy is restored,” Bowers wrote. “I’m reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis [sic] now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”

Meanwhile, Tennessee House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada told the Tennessean that said his state should “activate the Tennessee National Guard and stop them from coming in to the state by whatever means we can.”

“I’m not worried about what a bureaucrat in D.C. or an unelected judge thinks,” he said. “We need to gather (Syrian refugees) up and politely take them back to the ICE center and say, ‘They’re not coming to Tennessee, they’re yours.’ ”

And Rhode Island state Sen. Elaine Morgan, a Republican, sent an email Tuesday saying her state should reject Syrian refugees in part because “the Muslim religion and philosophy is to murder, rape, and decapitate anyone who is a non Muslim.”

“If we need to take these people in we should set up [a] refugee camp to keep them segregated from our populous,” she wrote. “I think the protection of our US citizens and the United States of America should be the most important issue here.”

honda.jpgHonda, D-San Jose, issued a statement Wednesday noting he knows “firsthand how that dark moment in our nation’s history led to repercussions that have resonated over the years.

“I am outraged by reports of elected officials calling for Syrian Americans to be rounded up and interned,” he said. “We simply cannot let the extremist perpetrators of these hateful acts of violence drive us into such a misguided action. For it is when we allow these criminals to lead us down a dark path, away from our principles and ideals, that we as a country suffer.”

“The Japanese and Japanese Americans interned after the bombing of Pearl Harbor was an outrage, as was turning away Jews at our borders who were fleeing German persecution. We cannot allow this to happen again and reverse the progress we have made in the last several decades,” Honda said. “We look back, as a nation, and we know this was wrong. We look back and know, as defined by the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, that the internment was a result of ‘race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.’ We look back and know that an entire ethnicity was said to be, and ultimately considered, the enemy. We know that internment happened because few in Washington were brave enough to say ‘no.’”

Now it’s time to say no to the likes of Bowers, Casada and Morgan, he said, “who would make such ill-advised and backwards-thinking recommendations. They are perpetuating the messages of hate and fear that fly in the fact of what America stands for in the world.”

“As we learn more about the complexity and the extent of the attacks on Paris, this tragedy continues to send shockwaves through the world community,” Honda said. “I am hopeful we will not allow our anger and outrage towards these terrorists and their cowardly attacks on civilians to turn us away from compassion and generosity. We need to find ways to help the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who are entering through our thorough screening and resettlement process now to find safe haven in the United States. As a world leader, we need to help these people escape from the brutal ISIL regime – they are fleeing the very perpetrators of these senseless acts of violence.”

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Bobby Jindal ends his presidential campaign

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, November 17th, 2015 at 4:45 pm in 2016 presidential election

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal dropped out of the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Bobby Jindal“I cannot tell you what an honor it has been to run for President of the United States of America. My parents came to this country 45 years ago searching for freedom and a chance.

“When I was born, we lived in student housing at LSU, and never in their wildest dreams did they think their son would have the opportunity to serve as Governor of Louisiana or to run for President.

“They raised me to believe Americans can do anything, and they were right, we can. But this is not my time, so I am suspending my campaign for President.

“Going forward, I believe we have to be the party of growth and we can never stop being the party that believes in opportunity. We cannot settle for The Left’s view of envy and division. We have to be the party that says everyone in this country – no matter the circumstances of their birth or who their parents are – can succeed in America.

“One of the things I will do is go back to work at the think tank I started a few years ago – where I will be outlining a blueprint for making this the American century.

“We must show the way forward on growing our economy and winning the war against terror, and especially defeating radical Islam.

“I realize that our country is off on the wrong track right now. Everyone knows that, but don’t forget, this is still the greatest country in the history of the world – and every single one of us should start every day by thanking God that we are fortunate enough to be US citizens.

“Now is the time for all those Americans who still believe in freedom and American exceptionalism to stand up and defend it. The idea of America – the idea that my parents came here for almost a half a century ago – that idea is slipping away from us. Freedom is under assault from both outside our borders and from within. We must act now, we do not have a moment to spare.

Not many will shed a tear. Jindal had the support of 0.3 percent of Republican voters, according to an average of recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. And here in the Bay Area, only four people had contributed any money to his campaign by Sept. 30 – a total of $1,500. (See my earlier story on presidential fundraising for one opinion on why the Bay Area’s huge Indian-American population didn’t pony up for Jindal.)

So, “‘Bye, Felicia.

Nonetheless, several of his Republican presidential candidate peers issued laudatory statements.

From U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas:

“Bobby Jindal is a friend, a patriot, and an incredible governor who has consistently and passionately championed conservative values. He brought a unique talent and many strengths to the Republican primary competition.

“His focus on substantive policy matters advanced the debate that our party must have on the issues most important to American voters. And his vision for fundamental tax reform, as well as repealing and replacing Obamacare, helped set an important standard among the Republican field. He presented bold policy proposals that helped strengthen the ideas put forth in this primary to prepare our eventual nominee for the general election.

“Bobby will always be an important conservative leader in the Republican Party and serve to better the future of our country. Heidi and I wish Supriya, Bobby, and their family all the best.”

From U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.:

“Governor Jindal is a true conservative and a principled leader, whose story epitomizes the American Dream. Governor Jindal has served the people of Louisiana with distinction, and I have no doubt that he will play an important role in helping to elect the next President of the Unites States, and beyond. I wish him and his family all the best.”

From neurosurgeon Ben Carson:

From former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush:

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Bay Area House members laud FAA noise plan

By Josh Richman
Monday, November 16th, 2015 at 2:56 pm in Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, Sam Farr, Transportation, U.S. House

Three Bay Area House members are praising the Federal Aviation Administration for launching an initiative to address concerns about noise from air traffic above San Francsico, San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties.

Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; and Sam Farr, D-Carmel, released the FAA’s action plan to the public.

“My colleagues and I have worked tirelessly to engage the FAA’s leadership to take concrete steps to mitigate and address the noise from aircraft in our respective congressional districts,” Eshoo said in a news release. “As a result of our collaboration, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and FAA Regional Director Glen Martin met with local elected officials, community groups and individuals from our congressional districts to discuss the impacts of NextGen and additional issues prior to its implementation, including Surf Air at the San Carlos Airport.

“I welcome this important first step the FAA has developed. The FAA leadership will follow up with community meetings, coordinated through our offices, to explain in detail the FAA’s plan to address the noise problems being experienced in our region.”

Speier said her constituents long have been affected by noise from San Francisco International Airport and more recently from the San Carlos and Half Moon Bay airports. The FAA’s initiative “is a compilation of the ideas that were offered by the public regarding SFO at the FAA’s recent meetings in our three congressional districts, as well as requests made by the SFO Airport Community Roundtable. Some of these ideas may be deemed workable by the FAA and some may not.

“However, having previously been resistant to taking community suggestions, the FAA, for the first time in many years, has committed to studying ideas submitted by the affected communities,” Speier said. “I am gratified that the FAA is rolling up its sleeves to come up with solutions. The health of those who live under constant bombardment of airplane noise is being seriously compromised and the FAA has a responsibility to take action to address it.”

Farr said the action plan “is evidence the FAA is willing to consider the changes proposed by the community. For months, the commercial aircraft noise in Santa Cruz and the surrounding area has been terrible. From the beginning, I have told the FAA that they created this mess so it is up to them to fix it.”

“This is only a first step but it is a good one,” he said. “It shows everyone is committed to developing some real solutions. I hope the FAA will continue to listen to the communities it serves and work with them to solve any problems that arise from the switch to the NextGen flight plan.”

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CA17: Sec’y of State Alex Padilla backs Ro Khanna

By Josh Richman
Sunday, November 15th, 2015 at 9:00 pm in Alex Padilla, Mike Honda, U.S. House

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has endorsed Democratic candidate Ro Khanna to unseat Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, in the 17th Congressional District.

Alex Padilla“Ro Khanna will help get Congress working again with his innovative ideas and freedom from special interests,” Padilla said in Khanna’s news release. “Ro’s commitment to building a grassroots campaign has shown me that he’s serious about increasing participation, and being accountable to the people he represents. I look forward to working with him as a United States Congressman.”

Khanna said he’s honored to have Padilla’s support. “As he did in leading the charge to bring automatic voter registration to California, Alex has proven he can offer new solutions and get things done. I look forward to working as his partner in Washington to bring about results for the people of California.”

This is Khanna’s second bid to unseat Honda, who is now serving his eighth House term. Honda defeated Khanna last year by 3.6 percentage points.

Padilla is the state’s second prominent Latino politician to endorse Khanna; state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, did so in September. The 17th District’s population is about 16 percent Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau‘s 2014 American Community Survey.

Other Democrats picking the challenger over the incumbent this year include San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen and Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone. Khanna also has peeled away two local officials who had endorsed Honda last year.

Honda recently announced his endorsement by Northern California House members Nancy Pelosi, Zoe Lofgren, Barbara Lee, Jerry McNerney, Jared Huffman and Ami Bera, as well as by former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton.

UPDATE AT 6:40 A.M. MONDAY: I’ve noticed now that Padilla had endorsed Honda in last year’s race.

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DiFi urges crackdown on advertising minors for sex

By Josh Richman
Friday, November 13th, 2015 at 4:06 pm in Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein this week urged the Justice Department to crack down on websites that advertise minors for prostitution.

Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., authored a section of the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act – which President Obama signed into law in May – that makes this a federal crime.

But in her letter Tuesday to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI Director James Comey, Feinstein wrote that she has “heard from various anti-trafficking task forces in California, and have been informed that the advertisement of minors for commercial sex continues to occur on websites such as Backpage, a website notoriously used by traffickers to advertise victims.”

“Congress and the President have made clear that sex trafficking must be stopped,” she wrote. “This cannot be done without strong action to prevent the continued advertisement of minors for commercial sex over the Internet, which fuels the continued demand for this horrific crime. I urge you to aggressively enforce the provision above, and ask that you report to me quickly what steps are being taken to do so. In my view, inaction is not an option.”

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Rep. Sam Farr is retiring; peers sing his praises

By Josh Richman
Thursday, November 12th, 2015 at 1:26 pm in Sam Farr, U.S. House

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, announced Thursday he won’t seek another term next year, ending his House run of more than two decades – and some of his local peers are singing his praises.

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“For 23 years in the Congress, Sam Farr has served as a tenacious, far-sighted champion for California’s Central Coast and hard-working families across America. With a career in public service that stretches across five decades, Congressman Farr has truly devoted his life building a better future for his communities, our country, and our world.

“Congressman Farr’s determined leadership on behalf of veterans, farmers, the environment and working families has left an indelible mark on California and our country. As Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development and FDA, Congressman Farr has championed safe, sustainable and nutritious food and hard-working farmers, ranchers and producers. As the longest-serving Democrat on the Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Congressman Farr has stood strong for ensuring all veterans have access to the health care and resources their service and sacrifice have earned. As founder of the House Oceans Caucus, Sam Farr has been a leader for our climate and an invaluable voice for preserving the beauty and bounty of the oceans for future generations.

“From his early service in the Peace Corps through his decades in the Congress, Sam Farr has defined courageous and thoughtful leadership. When he leaves the House, he will be missed by friends and colleagues on both sides of the aisle. We wish him, his wife Shary, and the entire Farr family all the best in their next adventures together.”

From Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose:

“Sam Farr has been a valued member of the California Democratic Delegation and champion of the Central Coast in Congress for 23 years. A former Delegation Chair, Sam serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and is the Ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee for Agricultural Development, Food and Drug Administration where he championed safe and nutritious food for consumers, farmers, and producers.

“He has dedicated his life to public service, from his early service in the Peace Corps in Columbia, to representing his wonderful home on the Monterey County Board of Supervisors for 6 years, and the California State Assembly for 12 years before being elected to Congress. A national leader on protecting our oceans, he founded the House Oceans Caucus and authored the Oceans Act, which created the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. While on the Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Farr helped convert the Fort Ord Military Base into the biggest California coastal ocean park in modern history, with Cal State University Monterey as its crown jewel. Sam stands for peace and diplomacy and always stands up for the “little guy.” We wish him well as he retires and know he will enjoy the serene beauty of the region he has spent a lifetime protecting.”

From Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

“Sam Farr has led a long and honorable life dedicated to public service. I had the pleasure of serving with him in Congress and on the House Appropriations Committee where he distinguished himself as the champion for our oceans and precious coastline. A fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Congressman Farr has continued his commitment to a just foreign policy, particularly in our relationship with Latin America, and specifically with Colombia. Sam’s fingerprints will be indelible from his work as an Appropriator. Sam cared about our veterans, our oceans, and our future global relationships because of his Peace Corps service. I know he will continue to work passionately in his future endeavors, and I wish the best for him and his family. I’ll miss his humor, counsel, and photos. I’m proud to call him my Peace Corps buddy, my friend and colleague.”

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Mike Huckabee to raise funds in Bay Area

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 at 2:42 pm in 2016 presidential election, campaign finance

Hot on the heels of being dropped from prime time to undercard status in Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debates in Milwaukee, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will be in the Bay Area on Wednesday to raise money for his apparently flagging campaign.

HuckabeeHuckabee will attend a reception Wednesday evening at the Los Altos Hills home of tech entrepreneur Joe Tan and his wife, Mary (insert manger joke here); tickets cost $500 per person, or $1,000 or $2,700 for a photo opportunity with Huckabee. Co-hosts include Christian grant-making charity founder and former tech executive Ken Eldred and his wife, Roberta, of Portola Valley; Cepheid cofounder Tom Gutshall and his wife, Kipp, of Los Altos Hills; venture capitalist Tim Eun and his wife, Amanda, of Los Altos; and several others.

Huckabee now polls at 2.4 percent – in ninth place among GOP candidates – according to an average of five recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, down from a high of 13.3 percent in early March. He has dipped below the 2.5 percent threshold that FOX Business Network and the Wall Street Journal set for participation in Tuesday’s prime-time debate; Huckabee and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had been in the first three prime-debates, both didn’t make the cut this time.

As previously reported here, Christie will be in the Bay Area next Thursday, Nov. 19 for a fundraiser at the Atherton home of Hewlett Packard CEO and 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. Christie now polls at 2.2 percent – in 10th place – according to Real Clear Politics, down from a high of 11.5 percent about a year ago.

Marco RubioA somewhat more successful Republican candidate is on the way too. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. – already the beneficiary of Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s largesse – will return to the Bay Area for a fundraising reception on the evening of Monday, Dec. 7, at the Mozart Foundation Automobile Museum in Mountain View; tickets cost $1,000 per person, or $2,700 including a photo opportunity with the candidate. Rubio is now polling at 11.8 percent nationwide – in third place behind Donald Trump and Ben Carson – according to Real Clear Politics, down from a high of 14.3 percent in May.

The host committee for Rubio’s event includes former longtime tech executive Susan Atherton of San Francisco; angel investor Oren Dobronsky of Palo Alto; buyout firm CEO Saul Fox of Woodside; real estate developer John Mozart of Los Altos Hills; former Accenture general counsel Doug Scrivner and his wife, Mary, of Los Altos Hills; and more than 20 others. Mozart’s car private collection of automobiles including Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Duesenberg, Pierce Arrow, Packard, and Ferrari is not open to the public.

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Jerry Brown honored by GOVERNING magazine

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 at 10:48 am in Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown is among nine public officials nationwide honored as the year’s most outstanding leaders in state and local government by GOVERNING magazine.

From the magazine’s website:

Not that long ago, people were questioning whether California could be governed. The state faced multibillion-dollar shortfalls every year, leading to questions about whether California would go broke before Greece. In terms of dysfunction, Sacramento appeared to have beaten even Washington.

Then Jerry Brown returned as governor. When he took office in 2011, the state was $26 billion short. This year, lawmakers were fighting about what to do with a surplus. Much of that had to do with the state’s rising economy, but Brown had helped put the state back on a sustainable course.

In 2012, he convinced voters to raise sales and income taxes. Since then, he has managed to curb the impulse legislators have to spend money as fast or faster than it’s coming in, using his veto power freely and instead diverting the money to the state’s rainy day fund. “His ability to follow through on his promise to voters that he was going to stabilize the financial situation, which every year had been a problem, has made all the difference in the world,” says Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California.

GOVERNING’s profile also praised Brown’s work on benefits and rights for undocumented immigrants, higher education funding, climate change, and combating the state’s historic drought.

“We’re thrilled to be recognizing such remarkable officials,” GOVERNING Executive Editor Zach Patton said in a news release. “These outstanding men and women are tremendous examples of the power of public service, especially at the state and local level.”

“We are all too aware of the daunting challenges facing many of our states and localities and the people who live in them,” said GOVERNING Publisher Mark Funkhouser. “But this year’s award recipients inspire me with great optimism, showing how determined leadership can address even the steepest challenges.”

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Neel Kashkari named CEO of Minneapolis Fed

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 at 10:32 am in 2014 general, 2014 primary, Neel Kashkari

Neel Kashkari, the Republican who ran unsuccessfully against Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014, won’t be running for public office in California again any time soon – he’s trading the warm sun of Laguna Beach for the cold snows of Minneapolis to become president and CEO of that city’s Federal Reserve Bank, effective Jan. 1.

NEEL KASHKARIKashkari, 42, will replace Narayana Kocherlakota, who has served in the post since 2009 and announced last December that he wouldn’t seek reappointment at the end of his term, according to the Minneapolis Fed’s news release.

Kashkari will be part of the Federal Open Market Committee that helps formulate U.S. monetary policy, and will oversee 1,100 employees in Minneapolis and in Helena, Mont., who do economic research, supervise financial institutions and provide payments services to commercial banks and the U.S. government.

Kashkari said in the release that he’s “truly honored” to get the job. “I look forward to working with the Bank’s dedicated staff and continuing the Bank’s long-standing tradition of excellent service to the Ninth Federal Reserve District and to the nation. The Minneapolis Fed has built a strong reputation for economic research and thought leadership as well as excellence in Bank operations. I am delighted that I will be working with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis team to build on the Bank’s many achievements.”

Kashkari beat a more conservative Republican, then-Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, by about five percentage points to finish second behind Brown in June 2014’s top-two gubernatorial primary. He lost to Brown by 20 percentage points in November’s general election.

Before running against Brown, Kashkari had been a managing director and head of global equities at PIMCO from 2009 to 2013; before that, he served in the Treasury Department from 2006 to 2009, culminating with his oversight of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to bail out reeling Wall Street firms under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“Mr. Kashkari is an influential leader whose combined experience in the public and private sectors makes him the ideal candidate to head the Minneapolis Fed,” said MayKao Hang, incoming chair of the Minneapolis Fed’s board of directors and co-chair of the search committee. “We were fortunate to have outstanding candidates during our national search. Mr. Kashkari stood out because of his inspiring leadership skills, solutions-oriented nature, collaborative style and deep commitment to public service,” she added.

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