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Sam Liccardo endorses Kamala Harris for Senate

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo endorsed California Attorney General Kamala Harris for 2016’s U.S. Senate race on Monday, the third of the Bay Area’s big-city mayors to do so.

Sam LiccardoLiccardo, a Democrat one year into his first mayoral term, said Harris “wins results for our families, even when powerful interests try to stand in her way.”

“As a former prosecutor, I watched with admiration as she took on the nation’s biggest banks during the mortgage crisis, winning $20 billion dollars to help families and homeowners in our state,” he said. “And I’ve seen her work hard to keep protect our kids – whether she’s taking down transnational criminal gangs or tackling elementary school truancy and working to ensure every child has a shot at success in school and in life. I’m proud to endorse Kamala in this race and am looking forward to her continuing her fight for us in the U.S. Senate.”

Harris said she’s “humbled” by Liccardo’s endorsement. “We are building a campaign that lifts up the voices of all Californians and gets results for our families. Our fight for California has just begun, and I’m glad to have the mayor on our team.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee endorsed Harris earlier, as did Bay Area House members Mark DeSaulnier, Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, Mike Honda and Jared Huffman.

Though Harris has a large lead in fundraising and endorsements, her Democratic rival in this Senate race – Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana – has been making inroads recently around the state. The Orange County Register’s Martin Wisckol noted Sunday that Sanchez has picked up some key endorsements and even here in the Bay Area, Harris’ home turf – including nods from Rep. Anna Eshoo and Rep. Sam Farr.

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Senate candidate: ‘We’re all going to die.’

A San Francisco attorney’s guerrilla campaign to succeed Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate rests upon a laser-like focus on combating climate change and a hefty dose of sarcastic humor.

“ISIS. Obamacare. Russia. The NSA. Wealth disparity. Immigration reform. Gun control. What do all of these hot issues for the 2016 election have in common? None of them matter because we’re all going to die,” says the home page at IWillNotDoNothing.com, the campaign website of Mikelis Beitiks, 32.

“Every forecast on climate change predicts severe consequences without dramatic measures. And yet, federal legislators do essentially nothing,” the Democrat wrote. “In light of this, I offer myself as a candidate for U.S. Senate. If elected, I vow to address global warming like a human being with basic reasoning and any sense of proportion.”

Here’s the basic pitch:

Beitiks on Tuesday published an open letter to Boxer (on letterhead emblazoned “From the Dining Room Table That Doubles as the Desk of Mike Beitiks”) thanking her for her service, particularly her work to combat climate change.

“In your 32 years on the Hill, you have undoubtedly formed bulletproof alliances, banked countless favors, and compiled mountains of insider knowledge. Imagine the possibilities if, to save future generations of Americans, you torch all of that in your final year of service,” he wrote. “Hear me out here – You don’t have to worry about re-election, and you never have to work with these people again. This is freedom that could change the world.”

Beitiks then proceeds to urge Boxer to “abandon courtesy, call in favors without mercy, blackmail – stuff like that” to force the Senate to approve the most ambitious climate treaty possible when President Obama goes to Paris in November for the United Nations Climate Conference.

“Then, filibuster all legislation that makes its way up into the Senate until concrete solutions on climate change are created in the house,” he wrote. “Sure, you’ll get roasted in the media for it, but so what? In 15 short months, you’ll be retired and off the grid – daiquiris, Grafton and sandy toes in Aruba, popsicle-blue surf shushing the stateside wonk jibber-jabber.”

“And, you know, I’m just spit-balling now, but the next time a fellow Senator says something untrue or unproductive about climate change, consider slugging him/her,” he continued. “Imagine how you’d change the national conversation with a well-placed right hook! Squaring up would be ideal, but a sucker-punch would work, particularly as a metaphor.”

Beitiks said Wednesday he’s a stay-at-home father of two who realized in January, when Attorney General Kamala Harris declared her candidacy to succeed Boxer, that she’s “a very qualified candidate and I’d be very excited if she got elected” yet she lacks a strong platform position on climate change.

Given that he has “a certain amount of unresolved anxiety” about the climate-change crisis, he said dryly, “It seemed like a reasonable avenue to offer myself as an idiot with a bulletproof premise … an act of political self-immolation.”

“I know a lot of people feel this strongly about it – that’s the response I’ve been getting to the campaign so far,” he added.

Read more about Beitik’s quixotic campaign, after the jump…
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SD7: Bonilla won’t run against Glazer in 2016

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla won’t run next year against fellow Democrat state Sen. Steve Glazer, who defeated her in the 7th State Senate District’s special election earlier this year.

In a Facebook post Monday morning, Bonilla, D-Concord, indicated she doesn’t want a do-over of that ugly race.

Susan Bonilla“I believe our efforts are best spent in uniting our collective voices to help achieve a better quality of life for our entire community,” she wrote. “Having our community experience a negative and divisive election based on lies, personal attacks, and defamation of character is harmful and damaging for our community. Running for public office should always be focused on a debate of ideas and values that will help our community and not tear us apart.”

“Therefore, in order to ensure that all of our collective efforts remain focused on building a stronger foundation for the next generation of families, I am announcing that I will not run for State Senate in 2016,” she wrote. “I hope we can continue to work together for the betterment of our state, community, and our families as I complete my term in the Assembly in December 2016. Together, we can ensure the next generation of Californians will achieve their dreams by having high quality schools, good paying jobs, and safe communities in which to raise their families.”

Glazer, D-Orinda, beat Bonilla by 9 percentage points in the May special election to fill the vacancy left by Mark DeSaulnier’s election to Congress last year. The contest between the centrist Glazer and union-backed liberal Bonilla saw tremendous independent spending and a corresponding avalanche of negative advertising that soured many of the district’s voters.

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Draft Biden group launches national TV ad

With speculation reaching a fever pitch over whether Vice President Joe Biden will jump into the 2016 presidential race, the national organization seeking to draft him has released its first national television ad.

Draft Biden says the ad “will run on national cable with a six-figure buy.”

Conceived and produced by one of President Obama’s lead media consultants, Mark Putnam (who also worked on Biden’s first presidential campaign in 1987), the ad aims to parlay Biden’s personal tragedies and hopes for the future – as described during a Yale University commencement address – into a sense of authenticity and likeability that many believe current Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton lacks.

Biden is rumored to be ready to make a decision this weekend or early next week, Politico has reported. The Democratic presidential candidates’ first televised debate is scheduled for Tuesday night in Las Vegas; the criteria announced by CNN would let Biden participate even if he declares candidacy earlier that same day.

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4th Republican considering U.S. Senate run

Santa Monica businessman Al Ramirez is mulling a run for California’s U.S. Senate seat in 2016, hoping the third time will be the charm.

Al RamirezRamirez placed fourth out of five in 2010’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate, taking 1.8 percent of the vote; GOP nominee Carly Fiorina lost to incumbent Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., by 10 percentage points that November.

Ramirez ran again for U.S. Senate in 2012’s top-two primary against incumbent Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. In a field of 24 candidates – including 14 Republicans – Ramirez came in eighth with 2.3 percent of the vote; Feinstein stomped Republican Elizabeth Emken by 25 points that November.

Friday, as the California Republican Party kicked off its fall convention in Anaheim, Ramirez said “he’s in the early stages of forming a new exploratory committee” – read as: lining up contributors – for another run as Boxer prepares to retire.

Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside; former state GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette; and former state GOP chairman Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills already are in the race, as are two Democrats – state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana.

In a brief telephone interview Friday, Ramirez said he’s not worried that adding another Republican to the field would further split the GOP base to Democrats’ advantage.

“All of them have failed getting out of the gate,” he said of his Republican rivals, adding support for them is “soft,” with many supporters still “willing to jump off that train” in favor of a stronger candidate – which he believes he is.

There’s a “lack of role-model-caliber leadership in the Latino community,” he said, but his business record and staunch conservative principles make him “someone that people can look up to,” he said.

Also, his father – though grappling with Parkinson’s disease – encouraged him to run again. Ramirez said his father watched this week’s Republican presidential debate and said Ramirez could’ve been on that stage too; when Ramirez replied that would’ve requiring winning in 2010 or 2012, his father replied, “That’s not stopping Carly.”

“My dad didn’t raise a quitter,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez, 46, is a senior-ranking executive for a privately held, Los Angeles-based cloud services company, leading its government markets and strategic defense systems efforts.

“You never lose when you serve your country and seeking this office is worth the challenge to insure that the values that make America great are restored and preserved for the next generation.” Ramirez said in his news release, adding he racked up some grassroots endorsements in 2012 as people got to know his stances on the economy, natural resources and national defense.

“Most of all, the reason I am considering running again is because we need leadership to restore law and order to the immigration crisis burdening our taxpayers,” he said. “The lawless tragedies we’ve seen speak for themselves. Ending welfare abuse and sanctuary city policies that jeopardize the public safety of innocent American families is long overdue.”

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Proposed measure would drop drinking age to 18

Terrance Lynn doesn’t see himself as the new patron saint of college keggers, but his proposed ballot measure to lower California’s drinking age from 21 to 18 might get him there nonetheless.

Lynn, 42, of Portola Valley, sees it as a civil-rights issue.

out of the shadows“There is no kind of ‘junior citizen’ status – you’re either an adult or you’re not” except when it comes to drinking, he said; 18-year-olds can be held criminally liable as adults and can volunteer or be drafted into the military, yet can’t legally buy a beer.

Alcohol enforcement, like the war on drugs, often has a disproportionate socio-economic impact, Lynn added: A Stanford student caught drinking a beer might get a pass or at least have an easy time clearing his or her record, while a poor kid from East Palo Alto could face more serious repercussions. And making it legal for college-age people to drink could help reduce binge-drinking by bringing campus consumption out of the shadows, he said.

Lynn acknowledged that while 18-to-20-year-olds would “obviously vote their self interest on this,” that age group usually doesn’t go to the polls in great numbers – though if this won’t bring them out, he can’t imagine what will.

This would run afoul of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, which punishes states that allow those under 21 to drink by reducing annual federal highway funds by 10 percent. Lynn believes that with California’s clout in D.C. – its huge congressional delegation, and the fact that it pays a lot more in federal taxes than it gets back – “I can’t imagine that situation would last for long.”

Michael Scippa, public affairs director at San Rafael-based Alcohol Justice, said Lynn isn’t the first and won’t be the last to propose reducing the minimum legal drinking age, but “from a public health perspective, it’s extremely foolish and there’s no reason to do it.”

Scippa said there’s “an overwhelming body of scientific evidence… case after case, study after study” showing that barring drinking until age 21 reduces youth drinking and alcohol-related harm, especially on the roads. Reducing the age to 18 would mean “we’d start seeing a spike (in drinking) at 16,” he said. “We don’t want to go backwards here – it’s such a public health and safety success story. The only people who would benefit from this are alcohol producers.”

Lynn, a tech-company chief financial officer making his first foray into public policy, has submitted another proposed measure that would strip party affiliation from ballot designations so that it would be harder to see and vote a straight party line. “This labeling and partisan generalization is really hurting us in the national dialog,” he said. “It’s a tool of the powerful to control the ignorant.”

And he’s working on a third measure that would impose a 1000 percent sales tax on all political advertisements in California, with all revenue going to public schools; Lynn said it’s a way to counter the avalanche of money in politics since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. (A true “sin tax,” some might say.)

There’s little chance of any of these making it onto 2016’s ballot. Lynn said he can’t spend much money on them beyond fees for filing and website-hosting: “Nothing beyond the bare minimum… I don’t have the wherewithal to do it, and I wouldn’t be inclined to if I did.” He’s hoping they’ll catch fire on social media and, once he’s cleared to start circulating petitions, will become a true grassroots signature-gathering campaign.

The public-comment periods for Lynn’s drinking-age measure and the party-affiliation measure last through Sept. 24.