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John Pérez endorses Kamala Harris for Senate

Former California Assembly Speaker John Pérez has endorsed state Attorney General Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate in 2016 and will co-chair her campaign, a coup for a candidate who’s trying to shore up her bona fides among Latino voters as several potential rivals still consider running.

John Perez“I am proud to support Attorney General Kamala Harris’ candidacy to succeed Senator Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate, and I am honored to serve as campaign co-chair,” Pérez, D-Los Angeles, said in a news release. “As Attorney General, she has been a fighter for middle class families, for children, for immigrants, and for the environment. She will continue to be a tough, practical, results-oriented leader when she is in the Senate. I look forward to campaigning alongside Kamala Harris and working with her when she is representing California in Washington, D.C.”

Harris said she’s grateful for his support. “He has served his community and his state so effectively and passionately, as a leader in elected office, in the labor movement, and in the Democratic Party. He has a proven track record of working for the middle class and promoting economic fairness, and is a tireless campaigner. My campaign will benefit greatly from his service as co-chair.”

Pérez, who was Speaker from 2010 to 2014, was the first openly gay person of color to be elected speaker of any state legislature in the nation; earlier, he worked as political director for the California Labor Federation. In addition to his Latino and LGBT status, the fact that he’s from Los Angeles is good for Harris too, as she looks to strengthen her support in the voter-dense Southland.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who had been thought of as a prime possible contender for the Senate seat, announced last week announced he won’t run. But there’s still buzz among the state’s Latino Democrats that they’d like to field someone as an alternative to Harris, and House members including Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, and Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, have said they’re considering running.

On the Republican side, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, and former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette have formed exploratory committees for this contest.

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Electeds react to Obama’s immigration speech

Talking points

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio

“The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together; they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives. That is not how American democracy works. Not long ago, President Obama said the unilateral action he just announced was ‘not an option’ and claimed he’d already ‘done everything that I can on my own.’ He said it would lead to a ‘surge in more illegal immigration.’ He said he was ‘not a king’ and ‘not the emperor’ and that he was ‘bound by the Constitution.’ He said an action like this would exceed his authority and be ‘difficult to justify legally.’ He may have changed his position, but that doesn’t change the Constitution.

“By ignoring the will of the American people, President Obama has cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left. His ‘my way or the highway’ approach makes it harder to build the trust with the American people that is necessary to get things done on behalf of the country. Republicans are left with the serious responsibility of upholding our oath of office. We will not shrink from this duty, because our allegiance lies with the American people. We will listen to them, work with our members, and protect the Constitution.”

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

“Tonight, President Obama announced bold action to bring our broken immigration system into line with our values as a people and our needs as a nation. The President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions will secure our borders, prioritize enforcement, and provide relief to millions of hard-working, law-abiding families who may now have a happy Thanksgiving free from the fear of separation.

“The President’s actions fall well within the clear constitutional and legal authority of his office, and the well-established precedent set by every president since Eisenhower. Even Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush used this authority to refine our immigration system in service of the national interest.

“Executive action is no substitute for legislation, and the President’s action does not absolve Congress of its own responsibility. Democrats will continue to demand action on bipartisan immigration legislation that will provide lasting certainty to immigrant families, and secure the billions of dollars in economic benefits Republicans’ inaction has denied our country.”

From House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield:

“The President doesn’t seem to get the point that he must work with the government he has, not the government he wants. But despite Congress and the American people’s resistance to President Obama’s unilateral action—action the President himself said would ‘violate our laws’ and be ‘very difficult to defend legally’—the President has decided to go it alone yet again. As President Obama himself said, ‘there are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system.’ We urge the President to listen to his own words. America is a country of laws, and our Constitution does not grant the President the authority to legalize millions of immigrants with the stroke of a pen.

“Not only is this action wrong, it does absolutely nothing to solve the underlying problems of our open border and broken immigration system. In fact, it may exacerbate the problem.

“The President’s action is a prime example of Washington cynicism. He has responded to Congress and the public’s desire for positive change with an all-or-nothing approach that only damages the prospect of future cooperation. He did not even attempt to start on the right foot and work with us in the new year.

“While House Republicans will still work to do everything we can to move the country forward, it is our obligation and responsibility to fight this brazen power grab that doesn’t solve the real problems.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“The president tonight announced he will temporarily suspend deportation of some undocumented immigrants, allowing families to stay together and bringing workers out of the shadows. While I continue to believe the House should vote on the Senate bill to address this issue, I support the president’s decision to help millions of individuals who have lived in the United States for years.

“This decision is not ‘amnesty,’ as some critics contend, nor will anyone receive citizenship or a green card. The president is offering temporary work authorization and halting deportations of certain immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least five years, including parents of U.S. citizens and individuals who arrived before age 16. The authority he is using has been employed by every president since Eisenhower, including 14 times during the Reagan and Bush presidencies.

“While the president’s executive action will provide much-needed relief for immigrant families, a permanent solution can only be achieved by Congress. The Senate bill passed in June 2013 was painstakingly negotiated over many months and received 68 votes, including 14 Republicans. Unfortunately, House leadership has ignored this commonsense bill. I hope they reconsider.

“The president’s decision is especially important for California. According to the White House, more than 150,000 of California’s agricultural workers will likely be eligible for deferred action and temporary work authorization. This will help ensure that our farms can continue to feed the country and the world.

“I plan to re-introduce a bill similar to the agricultural worker provisions from the Senate bill as stand-alone legislation next year, which I believe will offer Congress a starting point for further action.”

Lots more, after the jump…
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Carly for President? BRING ON THE DEMON SHEEP!

My colleague Michelle Quinn reports today on the possibility that Carly Fiorina, the former HP CEO who was California’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010, might be exploring a presidential bid.

Me, I just hope that if she does, she once again hires Fred Davis to do her campaign videos, since he’s the creator of the BEST CAMPAIGN VIDEOS EVER!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, I was just looking for an excuse to post these again. Deal with it.

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Carly Fiorina will chair conservative foundation

Carly Fiorina – the former Hewlett Packard CEO who was U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s Republican challenger in 2010 – has been named chairwoman of the American Conservative Union’s educational arm.

ACU Chairman Al Cardenas on Tuesday announced his appointment of Fiorina, 59, who now lives in Virginia, to chair the American Conservative Union Foundation; she’ll succeed current chairwoman Cleta Mitchell on Oct. 1.

Carly Fiorina “I very much look forward to reaching out to all Americans – whether they think of themselves as conservatives or not – and engaging in a conversation about why the principles of personal liberty and personal responsibility simply work better,” Fiorina said in the ACU’s news release. “Bloated and unaccountable bureaucracies cannot make better decisions than families and entrepreneurs can make for themselves.”

The ACU’s release said “Fiorina’s conservative philosophy has been battle-tested on Wall Street and Main Street.”

“It’s one thing to be a conservative among friends; it’s quite another to be an unapologetic public conservative in California,” Cardenas said. “At this pivotal moment for our nation’s economy, we look forward to Carly’s razor sharp insights into restoring prosperity and entrepreneurship to America.”

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House OKs bill allowing drilling off California coast

As I’d previewed Tuesday, the House voted 243-179 today to pass HR 1231, the “Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act,” which would re-open oil drilling off California’s coast and anywhere else significant deposits are found three miles offshore. As expected, no Bay Area members supported it.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters at a Capitol Hill briefing that “the American people are demanding that Congress take concrete steps to increase the supply of American energy to lower costs, to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and to create jobs. Republicans are listening, and taking action to provide much-needed relief to families and small businesses who are struggling with high prices at the pump.”

It stands little chance in the Senate, where the dominant Democrats are moving to end tax subsidies for oil companies. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., quickly condemned the House’s vote.

“This Republican bill is a direct assault on California’s $23 billion coastal economy and nearly 390,000 jobs in tourism, fishing and recreation that would do nothing to lower gas prices for consumers,” she said. “A year after the devastating BP oil spill sparked an economic and environmental disaster on the Gulf Coast, big oil companies and their allies are now seeking to put our coast at risk – even though they already have 50 million acres of oil and gas leases that they have yet to drill and even though this is not the way to lower gas prices.”

She said the right steps to address high gas prices include releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve; cracking down on fraud and speculation; forcing oil companies to either use active leases they already have or put them back on the market; ending oil’s tax subsidies and reinvesting that money in clean energy; continuing to raise fuel economy standards; and pursuing policies to limit exports of U.S. oil.

HR 1231 is part of a three-bill package authored by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., aimed at ending the Obama Administration’s moratorium on new leases for domestic offshore oil and gas drilling.

MAPLight.org, the Berkeley-based nonprofit that studies the influence of money in politics, took a close look at Wednesday’s 263-163 vote to pass Hastings’s HR 1229, the Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act, which would give the Interior Department a 30-day window in which to decide on Gulf of Mexico drilling applications. More than two dozen Democrats crossed the aisle to vote for the bill, while no Republicans opposed it.

MapLight.org found that interest groups supporting HR 1229 – including Republican/conservative groups, major oil and gas producers, agricultural chemical firms and pro-business associations – had given almost five times more on average to House Democrats who voted for on this bill than to Democrats who voted against it. Among all House members, interest groups supporting HR 1229 had given 6.5 times more on average to those voting for than to those voting against.

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Boxer, Lee differ on Obama’s Libya policy

Even after President Barack Obama laid out his rationale for military intervention in Libya’s civil war yesterday, lawmakers from the Bay Area who are among the most liberal members of their respective chambers remain split on whether it was a wise move.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, last week said she felt the President had the Senate’s support in launching the air attacks, and had this to say after the President’s speech yesterday:

“President Obama reminded the country tonight of why it was critical for the international community to take action to prevent the mass slaughter of innocent men, women and children by Moammar Gaddafi’s forces.

“I am pleased that NATO is now assuming control of the mission, and it is important that partners in the Arab League, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, continue to play an active role in enforcing the no-fly zone and ensuring the protection of the Libyan people.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, an early and ardent supporter of Obama’s candidacy who since has parted ways with him on many military matters, today said:

“The President’s speech yesterday was an important opportunity to address many of the unanswered questions about U.S. military involvement in Libya, and he was able to explain why his Administration felt compelled to intervene in Libya. Like the President, I am deeply concerned with the serious humanitarian crisis in Libya and Gaddafi’s reprehensible treatment of the Libyan people, and I believe that the U.S. should work with the international community to protect the well-established fundamental international recognition of civil and political rights. But I maintain my belief that an increased U.S. military presence in Libya could inflame the situation and, ultimately, prove counterproductive to the end goal of sustainable peace.

“I am pleased with the news that soon NATO will be leading the military effort in Libya, and I share the President’s praise for our courageous troops. But a more thorough discussion about the ramifications of U.S. military engagement in Libya should have occurred before the recent action was taken. Congress must have an opportunity for a robust debate on the risks associated with committing our military resources to Libya, especially with two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still being fought.”