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Heavy hitters helping Garamendi raise funds

Rep. John Garamendi, challenged in his bid for re-election by Republican Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, apparently feels it’s enough of a race to warrant asking some well-known names to help him raise money.

John GaramendiGaramendi, D-Fairfield, on Monday had a fundraiser at the San Francisco office of the Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe law firm, with former Mayor and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown as the guest speaker and the current and former chairmen of the California Democratic Party – John Burton and Art Torres, respectively – among the co-hosts. Individual tickets ranged from $250 to $2,500, while “PAC Friends” were asked to give $1,000 to $5,000.

Now Garamendi is touting an evening with House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on Tuesday, August 21 at Prima, a lovely Italian restaurant in Walnut Creek; the theme will be “rebuilding the American manufacturing base.” Individual tickets for this one range from $500 to $2,500, while PAC sponsors will pay $2,500 and PAC co-hosts will pay $5,000.

“This is a critical event for me,” he said in an e-mail that went out today. “The Republican SuperPACs have made me a prime target in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District, pouring over $130,000 of PAC money into my opponent’s campaign in just the last two weeks of June and now buying up millions of dollars of air time to smear and distort my image. Please consider supporting my campaign and help me fight back by attending this event.”

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A roast of Gray Davis. No, really.

Former aides and advisers to Gray Davis are planning a 70th birthday celebration and roast in the former governor’s honor for Nov. 14 at the California History Museum in Sacramento.

Organized by Lynn Schenk, Garry South and Dan Zingale, the event will be MCed by former California Democratic Party chairman Art Torres.

A roast. Of Gray Davis. The mind fairly reels with possibilities.

To commemorate the governor’s tenure, they should brown out the lights several times during the party. Or make it a casino night, so you have to pay to play. Or have a dance contest, in which people will be judged solely on their ability to do the robot.

In related news, the remake of “Total Recall” opens this Friday.

(C’mon, readers, help me out here with your own ideas.)

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Art Torres stumping for Nadia Lockyer

Former California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres will be pounding the pavement in Hayward tomorrow on behalf of Alameda County Board of Supervisors candidate Nadia Lockyer.

The candidate – executive director of the Alameda County Family Justice Center in Oakland, a Hayward resident, and wife of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer – is competing with former state Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Sunol; Hayward City Councilman Kevin Dowling; and perhaps some other local officials for the District 2 Supervisor’s seat now held by Gail Steele, who’s retiring next year. District 2 encompasses parts of Hayward, Newark, Union City, Fremont, and Sunol; the election will be in June.

Torres, in Lockyer’s news release, said he’s “so proud” to support her.

“I have had the pleasure of knowing her ever since she was a young person who was intent on serving her community and making a difference,” he said. “Over the years, Nadia has proven herself as a leader who has consistently fought to empower her community, and Alameda County will greatly benefit from her dedication, hard work, and enthusiasm.”

Lockyer, who posted an early fundraising lead in August, said she’s “deeply honored” to have Torres’ support.

Her community walk with Torres will start at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Starbucks Coffee at 245 W. Jackson St. in Hayward. Looks as if her campaign Web site isn’t up yet, however.

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Commonwealth hosts talk on political spin

I know, I know, it’s short notice but if you have a free evening tonight, come to the Commonwealth Club’s lecture series tonight at the Bentley School in Lafayette titled “The Psychology of Political Communication:Are We Buying What Spindoctors are selling?”

Panelists include SF State professor of political and legal communication Joe Tuman, California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres, California Republican Party Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro and Kiron Skinner, a Hoover Institution research fellow and Stanford professor of history and political science.

I am the moderator.

Registration begins at 6 p.m., followed by the speakers at 6:30 p.m. at the Bently School, 1000 Upper Happy Valley Road in Lafayette. The cost is $15 for members, $30 for nonmembers and $7 for students.

Tuman and Skinner will also be selling and signing their books. Tuman authored “Political Communication in American Campaigns,” while Skinner is the co-author of “Strategy of Campaigning: Lessons from Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin.”

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Bay Area blogger to run for state Dems vice chair

San Francisco blogger/activist Brian Leubitz — founder of Calitics.com, an information clearinghouse for California’s left wing — announced today he’ll be running for vice-chairman of the California Democratic Party.

This people-powered party shouldn’t simply exist to serve a legislative caucus or any particular donor, but rather to ensure that the collective action of thousands of grassroots Democrats can be heard. This means truly opening up ourselves to introspection. It means reviewing our processes to ensure that we are an institution that is seeking the best solution rather than the easy solution. It means recalibrating ourselves to overcome inertia in the service of positive change. After all, if there is one thing that term limits have taught us, it is that incumbency is ephemeral, values are permanent.

It’s not surprising, given all the scorn the Calitics folks have heaped upon the party’s current leadership, be it for bankrolling Don Perata’s legal fund, defending Dianne Feinstein even as she continues to offend progressives, or what have you. It’ll be interesting to see how grassroots progressives fare against the entrenched regime.

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Schwarzenegger to appear with McCain tomorrow

The California Republican Party says Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will join presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain for a discussion on energy efficiency and conservation tomorrow morning in Santa Barbara, along with other panelists including former CIA director James Woolsey; Mike Feeney, Executive Director of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County; and Matt Tirrell, a UC-Santa Barbara professor and founder of the Institute of Energy Efficiency.

Off all the issues and all the venues where Schwarzenegger could stump with McCain, this seems an odd choice: They’ve just recently had a big public disagreement on whether to lift the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling, a proposal supported by McCain and President Bush but opposed by Schwarzenegger.

Democrats are seizing the opportunity. California Democratic Party chairman Art Torres; U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; and Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, held a prophylactic press teleconference this afternoon noting that Santa Barbara in 1969 was the site of one of the nation’s worst oil spills: an oil platform five miles offshore caused three million gallons of oil to mar 35 miles of coastline and kill thousands of birds, seals, dolphins and other animals. “John McCain has tried to portray himself as an environmentalist this election, but his proposals make it clear McCain offers more of the same failed energy policy and skyrocketing gas prices American families have suffered from under President Bush,” the California Democratic Party’s news release said.

Or, as Capps said last week when McCain and Bush called for lifting the moratorium:

“I find it disappointing but not exactly surprising that Senator McCain is now borrowing a page from the Bush-Cheney energy playbook. Oddly, Senator McCain was actually for the offshore drilling ban before he was against it. He has apparently abandoned his earlier position in an effort to pander to oil companies and roll out another political gimmick like his much ridiculed proposal for a ‘gas-tax holiday’.


“Senator McCain has missed an opportunity to push for real solutions to our energy needs such as enhanced efficiency and alternative fuel sources. Efficiency measures are the fastest, easiest way to lower gas prices and encourage energy self sufficiency, and we have to develop alternatives to fossil fuels. Despite the fantasy being spun by President Bush and Senator McCain, we simply can’t drill our way to energy independence when we have only 3% of world resources but make up 25% of world demand. As evidence of the futility of this way of thinking, in the last 8 years the Bush Administration has opened huge swaths of public lands to drilling already and dramatically increased the amount of drilling on public lands yet oil prices have continued to rapidly rise. Now the oil companies are sitting on nearly 70 million acres of public lands where they could be, but are not, producing already. One of the results of this dead-end strategy is today’s $4 a gallon gasoline.”