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Ex-Walnut Creek mayor named to medical board

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, October 28th, 2015 at 3:13 pm in Contra Costa politics

Gov. Jerry Brown appointed former Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson to the Medical Board of California on Wednesday.

Kristina LawsonLawson, 38, a Democrat, served on the city’s council from 2010 to 2014 and as mayor in 2014; she chose not to seek re-election last year. A land use, environment and natural resources attorney, Lawson has been a partner at Manatt, Phelps and Phillips since 2011; earlier, she was an associate and shareholder at Miller, Starr, Regalia from 2003 to 2011 and an associate at Meyers Nave from 2001 to 2003.

Lawson earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the University of Arizona and her law degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law.

The Medical Board of California licenses and regulates physicians and surgeons and enforces the state’s Medical Practice Act. Members are appointed by the governor but must be confirmed by the state Senate, and while serving receive a $100 per diem.

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CA17: Honda endorsed by prominent Democrats

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, October 28th, 2015 at 1:50 pm in Mike Honda, U.S. House

A big chunk of Northern California’s Democratic establishment endorsed Rep. Mike Honda on Wednesday for re-election to a ninth term, shoring up his 17th Congressional District campaign against the second consecutive challenge from fellow Democrat Ro Khanna.

honda.jpgThe list released by Honda’s campaign includes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove; former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; and California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton.

“Mike Honda is a tireless champion for his constituents and for hard-working families across the country,” Pelosi said in the release. “His background in education has made him a strong voice for underserved students and for reforming our broken immigration system to reunite families. Mike’s unwavering dedication to public service has made him a strong and respected leader.”

Lofgren praised Honda’s work in “securing funds for Silicon Valley” and “fighting for fairness in immigration.” McNerney called Honda one of the party’s strongest voices ““when it comes to building a strong middle class, reversing income inequality, and expanding opportunities for women and underrepresented communities,” as well as for boosting STEM education. And Panetta called him “an honest and hardworking public servant who gives his all to his constituents.

The endorsements come despite the cloud of a pending House Ethics Committee investigation into whether Honda’s office and campaign blurred or crossed their lines in violation of House rules or federal law.

Khanna’s campaign respects these leaders who have been Honda’s longstanding friends and colleagues, spokesman Hari Sevugan said in an email Wednesday. “At the same time, we are humbled by the support of many Democratic leaders who like Ro’s background as an educator and his vision of making college more affordable, of universal preschool education, and fighting for equal pay for women for equal work.”

Ro KhannaRecent endorsements of Khanna – a former Obama administration official who lives in Fremont and lost to Honda by 3.6 percentage points last year – have included state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles; San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and and Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone; and two local officials who had endorsed Honda in 2014.

“Congressman Honda may be in denial that his campaign is in a downward spiral, but when you’re under federal investigation for using your taxpayer-funded office for personal political gain and you’re spending donor money on an expensive legal defense, it shouldn’t be surprising that you’re losing support,” Sevugan said.

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Gun-rights groups rev up against Newsom measure

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 at 10:51 pm in ballot measures, Gavin Newsom, gun control, Lt. Governor

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom filed his proposed gun-control ballot measure with the state attorney general’s office Tuesday, and gun-rights activists are preparing for battle.

The Firearms Policy Coalition and the Firearms Policy Coalition Second Amendment Defense Committee PAC – the latter formed specifically to fight Newsom’s measure – have begun sending out more than 25,000 grassroots activism guides to volunteers and activism hubs throughout the state, with another 75,000 guides expected to ship within the next week.

Brandon Combs“We are committed to building the biggest, most-organized, and highly informed Second Amendment grassroots army ever seen in California to fight and oppose Gavin Newsom’s assault on our civil rights,” PAC president Brandon Combs said in a news release. “We want 100,000 volunteers working on this by the end of the year. This initial deployment is just the beginning of our much larger opposition plan.”

Combs said the organizations have infrastructure in place and have hired lawyers and other experts. “These measures will do nothing to advance public safety, but they will further undermine the Second Amendment rights of all Californians,” he said. “The time to draw a line in the sand is right now.”

Newsom and his allies must collect 366,000 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify the proposal for the 2016 general election ballot, but Combs and his allies seem to believe that won’t be a problem – they’re preparing for a showdown at the polls next November. “All California gun owners and civil rights organizations must stand together, dig in, and do whatever it takes to defeat this anti-rights initiative at the ballot box,” Combs said.

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Meg Whitman to host Chris Christie fundraiser

By Josh Richman
Monday, October 26th, 2015 at 4:21 pm in 2016 presidential election, campaign finance, Meg Whitman

Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman will host a fundraising reception for a Republican presidential candidate next month – but not for her HP predecessor and 2010 ticket-mate, Carly Fiorina.

Meg WhitmanWhitman and her husband, Griff Harsh, will host a $2,700-per-person fundraiser for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 19 at their Atherton home. Whitman signed on to Christie’s campaign in June as a national finance co-chair.

This event’s host committee includes real estate developer Steve Eggert and his wife, Pam, of Sacramento; businessman and Wall Street heir Nick Loeb of Florida; Bullpen Capital managing director Paul Martino of Mountain View; Palo Alto Networks chairman, president and CEO Mark McLaughlin and his wife, Karen, of Saratoga; real estate investor Carole McNeil of San Francisco; and GOP strategist Jeff Randle and his wife, Kellie, of Sacramento.

Christie currently is ranked ninth in the GOP field, with 2.4 percent support, according to an average of five recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. Fiorina is in sixth place, at 5.4 percent.

Whitman and Fiorina made their first runs for public office at the same time in 2010 – Whitman, who had been eBay’s CEO from 1998 to 2008, ran for governor of California while Fiorina, HP’s CEO from 1999 to CEO, challenged U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Both lost – Whitman by 13 percentage points, Fiorina by 10 – with Fiorina garnering more raw votes than Whitman.

Fiorina has raised $317,879 and Christie has raised $37,200 from the greater Bay Area this year, according to Federal Election Commission data crunched by the Center for Responsive Politics.

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Hillary Clinton to raise funds Nov. 4 in Bay Area

By Josh Richman
Saturday, October 24th, 2015 at 9:12 am in 2016 presidential election, campaign finance, Hillary Clinton

Here she comes again: Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton will be raising funds in the Bay Area again in the first week of November, after doing so here in May, June, August, and September.

This time around, she’ll start Wednesday, Nov. 4 in Sacramento, with a $2,700-per-person luncheon hosted by Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary from 2010 to 2013. Kounalakis is a four-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention and the daughter of Angelo Tsakopoulos, a Sacramento developer, mega-donor to President Bill Clinton, and key fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s first presidential bid in 2008.

Then the candidate is headed for Los Altos, where she’ll attend a “family celebration” hosted by Anne, Esther, Janet, and Susan Wojcicki; $1,000 buys admission for one adult and two children under 16, while $2,700 allows that plus a family photo with Clinton. (Apparently there were $500 tickets available too, but those have sold out.)

Anne Wojcicki is co-founder and CEO of the personal genomics company 23andMe, and the ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube. Dr. Janet Wojcicki is a pediatric epidemiologist and assistant professor at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine. The three sisters’ mother, Esther Wojcicki, is a Palo Alto High School journalism and English teacher who is vice chair of the board of Creative Commons.

Clinton will finish that day down in Beverly Hills with a $2,700-per-person reception at the home of pop star Christina Aguilera and Matthew Rutler; Aguilera will perform. The next day – Thursday, Nov. 5 – she’ll attend a morning event in Los Angeles co-hosted by director Rob Reiner and his wife, Michele, and interior decorator Michael Smith.

UPDATE AT 8:54 AM MONDAY: Whoops, there’s one more Bay Area event. After looping down to Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, Clinton will come north again for a reception Thursday evening at Hall Wines in St. Helena; tickets cost $1,000, or $2,700 for a photo with the candidate.

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Jerry Brown blasts states fighting carbon-limit plan

By Josh Richman
Friday, October 23rd, 2015 at 12:54 pm in energy, Environment, Global warming, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown

California Gov. Jerry Brown vowed Friday to fight the 25 states and various business groups that are suing to block the Obama administration’s plan to curb carbon emissions from power plants.

“While the world’s scientists warn of the existential threat we face, these misguided political representatives seek to take America into a dark age of climate denial,” Brown said in a news release. “I will do everything in my power to fight this pernicious lawsuit.”

Power plants are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases among stationary sources in the United States, accounting for about a third of all emissions. The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan sets greenhouse gas emissions guidelines for each state based on current levels of pollution; on average, it would help cut pollution from existing power plants nationwide approximately 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

California already is primed to meet and exceed these new, national reduction targets, having committed to cutting emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 under an executive order Brown issued in April – the most ambitious target in North America and consistent with California’s existing commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050.

Brown has been focused on subnational pacts – collaboration between cities, states and provinces around the world – to fight climate change, even as national governments seek a deal ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference next month in Paris.

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SD9: School funding activist launches campaign

By Josh Richman
Friday, October 23rd, 2015 at 10:42 am in California State Senate

Katherine Welch, an education funding activist from Piedmont, will formally announce her 9th State Senate District candidacy Saturday, joining two longtime East Bay politicos in the race.

Katherine WelchWelch, 54, was registered as a Republican as of early 2014 but is running as a Democrat against Democratic former Assembly members Nancy Skinner of Berkeley and Sandre Swanson of Alameda, as well as San Pablo Vice Mayor Richard Kinney, a Republican.

“I’ve always been a Democrat, if you look at my political contributions,” Welch said Friday, adding that registering for a time with the GOP “was more my frustration with the political process than about the candidates I support … It was a little bit of a protest.”

Campaign finance records support her claim. Welch has contributed to the unsuccessful Proposition 34 of 2012, to abolish the death penalty; ActBlue California, an online Democratic fundraising clearinghouse, in 2012 and 2014; Joan Buchanan’s and Sandra Fluke’s unsuccessful Democratic state Senate campaigns in 2014; and Democrat Betty Yee for state controller in 2014. And her federal contributions dating back to 2004 have supported only Democrats.

She also sank money into last year’s effort by Educate Our State – a nonprofit of which she’s a board member and former chairwoman – to field a ballot measure that would’ve protected local property tax revenues designated for schools from being borrowed or otherwise re-directed by state lawmakers. The measure failed to get enough petition signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Welch said Friday she’s making her first run for public office partly to encourage more moms like herself to “go up there (to Sacramento) and start talking about the things we’re not talking about in this state” – mainly, about fully committing to full funding for public schools.

“I’m fortunate enough that I have the time and the passion to do it,” she said, adding that “this whole ‘it’s my turn’ mentality” among politicians is unhealthy for the state and nation.

But asked whether Skinner’s and Swanson’s platforms are lacking, Welch replied, “I’m not running against anyone. … It’s not a question of who’s more progressive, it’s a question of priorities.”

She’s running because “kids, public education and people who don’t really have a voice in Sacramento,” she said. “Money and power and lobbyists have a voice, and kids don’t.”

Welch is working with Democratic political strategist Lisa Tucker of Pleasant Hill, who has worked for figures including former Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin. Though she tweeted her intent to run on Sept. 23, she and about 100 of her supporters will kick off her campaign at 11 a.m. this Saturday, Oct. 24 in Crocker Park, 81 King Ave. in Piedmont.

Welch served on the board of Gateway Public Schools, a pair of public charter schools in San Francisco, from 2008 to 2014; she currently serves on the board of Head Royce School, an exclusive and very expensive private school in the Oakland Hills. She worked as an analyst for Goldman Sachs for a few years in the 1980s, then as an operations manager for a film and video service, and then as associate director of the Breakthrough Collaborative, a San Francisco nonprofit that helps high-potential, low-income middle school students reach college and inspires high school and college students to pursue careers in education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy studies from Duke University and an MBA from Harvard University.

The 9th District – from which state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, will be term-limited out next year – is a swath of Contra Costa and Alameda counties from Rodeo in the north to San Leandro in the south, including Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Piedmont, Emeryville, Richmond, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Hercules, Kensington and other communities. The district’s voter registration is 63 percent Democrat, 8 percent Republican and 21 percent independent.

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Hillary Clinton had a hell of a good week.

By Josh Richman
Friday, October 23rd, 2015 at 9:24 am in 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton

After a summer of uneven, if not rather calamitous, performance on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton had a hell of a good week.

Democratic also-rans Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee dropped out – not that they’d made enough ground for Clinton to care, but their absence reduces some of the white noise from the race and from the second debate, scheduled for Nov. 6.

Vice President Joe Biden ended months of speculation Wednesday by announcing he won’t run – a huge boon for Clinton, as his path forward would’ve been to peel away her supporters and donors.

Hillary Clinton at Benghazi hearing 10-22-15 (AP photo)And Thursday’s Benghazi hearing brought nothing new, even by chairman Trey Gowdy’s own admission – 11-plus hours without a solid punch landed, without a gaffe, without Clinton losing her cool.

House Republicans long have wanted to pin Clinton with having ignored intelligence that an attack was coming, or with having stood in the way of sending aid during the attack; neither has been borne out by facts, so they’ve the cover-up narrative is what’s left. Thursday’s hearing probably cemented Republicans’ criticism that she wasn’t completely straight with the public in the days right after the September 2012 attack, but there are more than just political reasons why that might’ve been so. Might not a balance between intelligence, diplomacy and military action sometimes require not publicly tipping your whole hand right away, especially if some misdirection might provide time and space to identify and strike back against those responsible? And if the administration’s comments in the first few days after the attack were motivated only by presidential election politics, wouldn’t they have tried to maintain the charade longer, rather than acknowledging before that month’s end that the evidence supported a premeditated attack? Still, the information she and others put out in the first few days was wrong, and that’s been aired again.

Meanwhile, Democratic primary voters saw an all day-marathon of Clinton looking calm, cool, collected and thoughtful, which is what most want in a presidential candidate. She’s not out of the woods yet – trustworthiness and transparency issues raised by her overall email situation will continue to plague her – but she’s on the path.

Clinton already was trending upward in the polls at this week’s start, based on her performance in last week’s Democratic debate. I expect to see a more dramatic increase next week, as she gains support from many who had been holding out for Biden and as the dust settles from Thursday’s hearing.

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One of Lincoln Chafee’s 10 big donors is from SF

By Josh Richman
Thursday, October 22nd, 2015 at 11:08 am in 2016 presidential election

NPR had a fun story Wednesday about how Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee got contributions of $200 or more from only 10 people across the nation during this year’s third quarter. And don’t’cha know, one of them was from right here in the Bay Area!

Todd Rosoff of San Francisco gave $250 to Chafee’s campaign on Aug. 17, according to a report filed last week with the Federal Election Commission. Rosoff, 39, is a vice president at the Raine Group, a global merchant bank focused exclusively on technology, media and telecommunications. He declined to comment when reached by phone at his office Thursday.

Chafee, the former U.S. Senator and governor from Rhode Island, currently polls at a flat zero in an average of six recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics; he’s at 0.3 percent in Iowa, and 0.8 percent in New Hampshire.

UPDATE @ 8:39 A.M. FRIDAY: A tree fell in the woods, and we did indeed hear it – Lincoln Chafee has dropped out of the race.

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CA17: Two former Honda backers turn to Khanna

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, October 21st, 2015 at 3:54 pm in Mike Honda, U.S. House

Two South Bay politicians who endorsed Rep. Mike Honda for re-election last year are now supporting Democratic challenger Ro Khanna instead.

Debi DavisSanta Clara Vice Mayor Debi Davis and former two-time Milpitas Mayor Bob Livengood now prefer Khanna, a former Obama administration official who lives in Fremont, to the eight-term Honda, D-San Jose.

“I’m convinced that Ro Khanna is the type of principled, energetic fighter Santa Clarans need in Washington to get things done for our families,” Davis, who is registered as an independent voter, said in Khanna’s news release. “I am impressed with his focus on education and preparing our young folks for citizenship and jobs in the 21st century. His ideas for revitalizing our manufacturing base and strengthening the middle class also make me proud to endorse his candidacy.”

Bob LivengoodLivengood, a Democrat, said Khanna’s priorities “are in line with the people of Milpitas, from public safety, to job creation, to bringing the highest ethical standards to Washington, he’s proven he’s not only the right choice for CD-17, but to bring leadership free from the grip of the special interests to Washington.”

Those comments about “highest ethical standards” and “the grip of the special interests” seem to be thinly veiled referrals to the ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation of whether Honda’s campaign and office blurred or crossed their lines.

After several prominent Democrats endorsed Khanna last month, Honda campaign spokesman Adam Alberti had noted nobody who backed Honda in 2014 had endorsed Khanna for 2016. Davis and Livengood are the first two public “defections” from the ranks of Honda’s former backers.

“While the Congressman is sorry to have lost the support of Debi Davis and Bob Livengood, we are confident that with the continued support of the California Democratic congressional delegation and the vast majority of the party he will continue his efforts in Congress, fighting for working class families and a better life for all residents of Silicon Valley,” Alberti said Wednesday.

Khanna said he’s grateful for the faith they’ve put in him.

“Debi has been a strong advocate for working Californians, and I look forward to joining her side as we take on that fight in Washington,” he said. “After three decades of service, Bob has shown the proven ability to get things done to make our community safer and more prosperous. I look forward to being their partner and advocate in Washington and delivering results for the families of the South Bay.”

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