Miller administers DeSaulnier’s ceremonial oath

Sometimes it’s not just the oath you take, but who administers it.

Mark DeSaulnierFreshman Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, officially was sworn into office Jan. 6 by Speaker John Boehner. But he was administered a ceremonial oath Tuesday night by his predecessor, former Rep. George Miller, in the Concord City Council chambers in front of constituents and local officials.

“It means the world to me to have a special ceremony in Concord where I raised my two sons, opened a small business, and served as a local elected official and as mayor,” DeSaulnier said in a statement issued afterward. “To be here surrounded by constituents and colleagues, and for my mentor George Miller to administer the oath of office, is something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Miller, who retired after 40 years in Congress, said it was an honor to administer the oath, just as it was a privilege serving the district for so long.

“This is a great district marked with both beauty and diversity. I now have the honor of passing the torch to an accomplished public servant, a leader, and a longtime friend,” Miller said in DeSaulnier’s release.

Former Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder and voter registrar Steve Weir served as master of ceremonies at Tuesday night’s event, and Concord Mayor Tim Grayson offered opening remarks. Concord Boy Scout Troop 465, led by Mike Roark, served as color guard and Jason Warrenburg, a Los Medanos Community College student, sang the National Anthem.


Bay Area campaign calendar heats up

The general-election season is in full swing, with a full calendar of campaign and fundraising events for Bay Area candidates. Here’s a sampling of what’s going on out there in the next week or so:

11th Congressional District: Tue Phan – the Republican retired immigration judge from Danville who’s facing off against state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, for the seat from which George Miller is retiring – is having a fundraiser tonight at La Veranda Café in Clayton. Tickets cost $150 per person or $275 per couple; it’s hosted by Roger Petersen, who ran against Miller in 2008 and 2010.

16th Assembly District: California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte will be in the East Bay this weekend to stump and raise money for Catharine Baker, the Dublin attorney who’s facing off against Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti for the 16th Assembly District seat. Brulte and Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen will join Baker for a fundraiser Saturday evening at a Danville home, with tickets ranging from $100 to $4,100, and Brulte plus GOP volunteers from across the state will be out walking precincts for Baker on Saturday and Sunday. Meanwhile, Sbranti and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, will kick off the Tri-Valley area’s United Democratic Campaign with a rally, phone bank and precinct walk on Saturday, and then wine scion Phil Wente will host a fundraiser for Sbranti on Sunday in Livermore with tickets ranging from $500 to $4,100.

15th Assembly District: Elizabeth Echols of Berkeley, one of two Democrats vying for the 15th Assembly District seat, has a fundraiser set for next Tuesday evening, Sept. 16 at the Piedmont home of Steve Schiller and Kristine Kaiser; tickets cost from $100 to $1,000. The other Democrat hoping to succeed the term-limited Nancy Skinner is Tony Thurmond of Richmond, who’s opening his campaign HQ this Saturday, Sept. 13 on San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito; walking in the Solano Stroll on Sunday; and holding house parties next Wednesday and Thursday in Berkeley and El Cerrito, respectively.

Lieutenant Governor: Ron Nehring, the Republican challenger to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, will hold a meet-and-greet next Monday evening, Sept. 15 at a San Rafael home; will address the Novato Republican Women Federated at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16 at the Marin Country Club; and will appear with 10th State Senate District candidate Peter Kuo at a dinner Tuesday night in Fremont.

State Controller: Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, the Republican candidate for state controller, will speak at a Nob Hill Republican Women’s Club dinner next Wednesday, Sept. 17 at San Francisco’s L’Olivier restaurant. Swearengin’s opponent is Democrat Betty Yee, a Board of Equalization member from Alameda, who has evening receptions scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 11 in Fresno; Friday, Sept. 12 in Folsom; Monday, Sept. 15 in Santa Cruz; and Friday, Sept. 19 in San Francisco.


George Miller to receive two awards this month

Rep. George Miller, retiring at the end of this year after 40 years in the House, will pick up awards later this month as part of a victory lap that could last through the end of his 20th term.

George MillerThe California League of Conservation Voters will present Miller, D-Martinez, with its “Byron Sher Lifetime Achievement Award” during the group’s 2014 Northern California Environmental Leadership Awards ceremony on Thursday, June 26 in San Francisco.

The group notes that Miller “has been a leading advocate in Congress on the environment, education, labor, and the economy since he was first elected in 1975. From 1991 to 1994 he chaired the House Natural Resources Committee, overseeing the environment, energy, and public lands, and served as that committee’s Senior Democrat until 2000, taking what worked in California to the national level.”

Then, the Contra Costa County Democratic Party will honor Miller at its inaugural Roosevelt Awards Dinner on Friday, June 27 in Concord.

State Sen. Mark DeSaunlier, D-Concord, and retired immigration judge Tue Phan of Danville will compete in November to succeed Miller in the 11th Congressional District. DeSaulnier won 59 percent of the vote in June 3’s primary election while Phan got 28 percent; four other candidates were eliminated.


CD11: Walnut Creek Mayor Lawson opts out of congressional bid

Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson

In yet another name of someone who will not run for the congressional seat being vacated by retiring Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson says she has decided not to seek the job.

Her announcement was somewhat expected. A respected landuse attorney with a 4 and 9-year-old still at home, taking on a major congressional campaign would have been a life-altering family decision. And that is before she even gets the job and begins those bicoastal treks between California and the Capitol. I suspect we’ll see and hear a good deal more of Lawson in the coming years, though.

Lawson’s departure all but clears the field for state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who declared himself a candidate within minutes of Miller’s retirement announcement.

Just about every politician who might have challenged DeSaulnier has taken his or her name off the table and many have outright endorsed the senator.

There’s still time to enter the fray, of course. The official filing period runs Feb. 10 through March 14. And the top two election system will give a second-place finisher in June a second bite at the seat in November. But time is running seriously short to raise money.

Here’s what Lawson had to say in an email this morning:

Dear Friends and Family,

I write this morning to thank you for your support and encouragement, and to let you know that I will not run for Congress in 2014.

I had the great fortune to be born and raised in California, and I want the same for my two children, Kate and Graham. And, I want to be here in California with them as they grow up.

I also have the great fortune to serve as the Mayor of Walnut Creek, and I am committed to working hard this year to honor our longstanding community commitments to a vibrant economy, the environment, and children and families of all types. I do plan to run for re-election to the Walnut Creek City Council.

Thank you again for your support and encouragement.






CD11: Ex-Walnut Creek Councilman Kish Rajan won’t run

Kish Rajan, GO-Biz director

Former Walnut Creek Councilman Kish Rajan has taken his name out of the running for the 11th congressional district seat that Rep. George Miller will vacate at the end of the year after four decades  in the House of Representatives.

Rajan left the city council in 2012 when he was offered a job as the director of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

“I love working for Gov. Brown and feel we are doing good things for the California economy,” Rajan texted a few minutes ago. “So, I plan to stick with it.”

That leaves only one name still floating around as a potential serious challenger to state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier of Concord: Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson.

The senator declared his candidacy within minutes of Miller’s retirement announcement on Jan. 14 and has locked down endorsements from almost everyone who might mount a credible challenge against him.

Lawson has said she is seriously considering running for the rare open congressional seat and is expected to make an announcement within a few days.

The other declared candidates are retired immigration judge and Republican Tue Phan-Quang of Danville and Jason Ramey, a 33-year-old political newbie from Concord. You can check out Ramey’s website at www.jasonrameyforcongress.com.


CD11: Buchanan will endorse rather than challenge DeSaulnier

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, is endorsing rather than challenging state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, in the race for Contra Costa County’s largest congressional district.

DeSaulnier hopes to succeed retiring Rep. George Miller of Martinez, who will leave office at the end of the year after serving 40 years in the House of Representatives.

District 11 encompasses north and central Contra Costa County, stretching from Richmond to Pittsburg along the shoreline and southward through Lamorinda, Walnut Creek, Concord, Pleasant Hill, Clayton, Alamo and Danville.  See map here.

Buchanan’s departure from the District 11 field is the latest in a series of potential challengers who have instead opted to endorse the senator including Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson of Pittsburg and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord.

Buchanan was DeSaulnier’s most serious potential opponent. She and DeSaulnier both ran unsuccessfully in 2009 against then-Lt. Gov. John Garamendi for the neighboring congressional seat vacated by Ellen Tauscher.

“I’m pleased to support Mark DeSaulnier for Congress,” Buchanan said in a prepared statement from his campaign. “Mark and I share a common goal of improving California’s schools and making our K-12, community colleges, and universities the best in the nation. I’m confident that Mark will be a strong advocate for our students and families in Congress.”

The assemblywoman and former San Ramon Valley School board member will term out of office this year. Now that she has ruled out a congressional bid, she is expected to run for DeSaulnier’s senate seat.

DeSaulnier terms out in 2016 but if he is elected to Congress this fall, a special election will be set for March 2015 to fill the remainder of his term.

The senator’s campaign also released other endorsements including Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover. Other new names on the list include:

  • Antioch Mayor Wade Harper
  • Former Antioch Mayor Donald Freitas
  • Antioch City Council member Monica Wilson
  • Orinda City Council member Amy Worth
  • Orinda City Council member Victoria Smith
  • Former Richmond Mayor Jim McMillan
  • Former Richmond Mayor Erma Anderson
  • Pleasant Hill Vice-Mayor Ken Carlson
  • Pleasant Hill City Council member David Durant
  • Clayton City Council member & Former Mayor Julie Pierce
  • El Cerrito Mayor Janet Abelson
  • El Cerrito City Council member Mark Friedman