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Canciamilla: Burton doesn’t speak for all Dems

Former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg, accompanied Republican incumbent Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado to his campaign stop this afternoon in Walnut Creek. Per my article, he explained that serving with Maldonado in the Assembly convinced him that Maldonado is truly interested in working across the political aisle, and is a straight shooter who means what he says.

Canciamilla and Maldonado 10-29-10 -- photo by Josh RichmanCanciamilla said that’s why other moderate Democratic former lawmakers like John Dutra of Fremont and Joe Nation of San Rafael are on Maldonado’s side, too.

That reminded me of what happened last week when Dutra, now an independent, was named the head of a Democratic and independent voter coalition supporting Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman: California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton unleashed his legendary ire.

“John (Dutra) is a nice guy, but if that’s the best she can do, her campaign is in more trouble than I think it is,” Burton had said at the time, noting Dutra finished third in a three-way Democratic primary for state Senate and since had abandoned the party.

So I asked Canciamilla if he was prepared to brave Burton’s raging rhetoric himself, and he replied with some of his own.

“I respect John but I think the years of drugs and alcohol have taken their toll,” Canciamilla said. “He doesn’t speak for all Democrats, and the extremes are entitled to their opinion but they shouldn’t be allowed to be the dominant voices in the debate.”

UPDATE @ 4:15 P.M.: While we’re on the subject of cross-party endorsements, Democrat Gavin Newsom‘s campaign sent out an advisory a few minutes ago announcing his endorsement for lieutenant governor by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican. “Running a city requires creativity and a commitment to solutions that work, regardless of their ideological origins,” Bloomberg said in the news release. “Mayor Newsom has demonstrated a dedication to innovative policies that protect the environment, improve the city’s education system, and create jobs. Gavin Newsom will bring this commitment to making government work for its citizens to Sacramento.”

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John Dutra endorses Whitman; Burton scoffs

Former Assemblyman John Dutra of Fremont is heading up a Democratic and independent voters’ coalition in support of Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman, her campaign announced this morning.

John DutraDutra, 75, represented the 20th Assembly District from 1998 through 2004 as a Democrat; he since has re-registered without any party affiliation.

“Meg Whitman is the only proven job creator in this race. While representing the eastern part of the Silicon Valley, I watched Meg take eBay from a start-up with 30 employees to a Fortune 500 company of 15,000. Only she possesses the leadership and management skills to stand up to the status quo in Sacramento and turn our state around,” Dutra said in Whitman’s news release. “As a small businessman, I know she will be the best governor for all Californians, regardless of party registration, who believe our state can again offer a friendly environment in which to do business and a wonderful place for families and communities to thrive.”

Whitman said she’s grateful to have Dutra’s endorsement and is “counting on his leadership to continue our successful outreach to Democratic and decline-to-state voters in the closing days. On the campaign trail, I meet Democrats and independent voters daily who support my vision for creating jobs, making government work for all of us and fixing our schools. Given the Democrats’ registration edge and the growing number of decline-to-state voters in California, I fully recognize that we need the support of these voters to declare victory on November 2.”

California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton laughed when he heard the news.

“Good for him,” Burton said. “John’s a nice guy, but if that’s the best she can do, her campaign is in more trouble than I think it is.”

“As I recall he ran third in a Democratic primary,” Burton added, referring to Dutra’s unsuccessful bid for the 10th State Senate District in 2006; he finished behind Ellen Corbett, who went on to win the seat, and former Assemblyman Johan Klehs. “The only people that know John either served with him or are in his district, and in his district he ran third … when he had the most money, so I have no idea what John’s doing or thinking now, but it’s a free country.”

The only other Bay Area leader of Whitman’s Democratic and independent voters coalition is former BART Director Erlene DeMarcus, 62, of Pleasanton; she’s a registered Democrat.

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Rivals pounce on Fiorina’s bankruptcy remark

Everyone’s all up in Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina’s grill today about her comment that California should consider bankruptcy; actually, states can’t declare bankruptcy.

Here’s Fiorina, per the Riverside Press Enterprise yesterday:

Fiorina made a campaign stop at the CalPortland cement plant in Colton. There, she met with more than two dozen local business owners, many in the construction and transportation industries. She fielded questions from them on a host of issues.

One businessman asked her thoughts on whether the state should consider bankruptcy.

“I think it should always be considered,” Fiorina said. “Whether that is the right approach now, I don’t know. I think bankruptcy, as a possibility, at the very least focuses the mind on what has to be done to salvage a situation.”

She tried to walk it back today, talking with the Sac Bee’s Jack Chang:

When asked by The Bee on Wednesday whether she knew states couldn’t declare bankruptcy, Fiorina answered, “Sure, I knew, but what cold comfort is that to all these California voters who may not know that technicality but who are sitting here knowing that by any common-sense definition, this state can’t pay its bills.

“And in fact, the media has described California as bankrupt for months. So I find it interesting that the Democrats are saying legally, it’s not possible. Legally, it’s not possible. But the reality of where we are ought to be focusing people’s minds on what needs to be done.”

When asked what she meant to say the day before, Fiorina answered, “It’s a legal term. It’s also a common sense, everyday term that people use. Morally bankrupt, fiscally bankrupt. In every common sense definition of the word, this state is in serious trouble.”

Her rivals aren’t buying that. Are you?

From James Fisfis, spokesman for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Campbell:

“Carly Fiorina’s claim that bankruptcy ‘should always be considered’ as an option for California is even more bizarre than her ‘demon sheep’ ad. It’s absolutely not an option because it’s not permitted under federal law — which shows a disturbing lack of knowledge for a candidate running for a federal office.”

From Joshua Trevino, spokesman for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chuck DeVore:

“So, to recapitulate:

“1) Carly Fiorina’s mention of a legal impossibility is in fact a mention of a ‘technicality.’
“2) Carly Fiorina’s advocacy of considering an explicit course of action is meant to be understood as a description.
“3) Carly Fiorina says things she professes to have known were untrue when she said them.
“4) Carly Fiorina thinks that people who point out contrary facts are Democrats. (I’ll tell Chuck!)

“Leave aside the troubling nature of an aspirant to federal office dismissing a hypothetical illegality as a ‘technicality.’ Isn’t the bottom line really that Carly Fiorina has a low opinion of the public’s intelligence — and of the intelligence of the media that informs it?”

From California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton:

“Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina suggested that California should keep bankruptcy open as an option. Experts on all sides agree that a state does not have the option to declare bankruptcy.

“Not only does Fiorina’s statement display her ignorance of California and the issues our state faces, but it also sends a message to voters that she’s giving up on the people of California. In the same way that Fiorina thought it too much trouble to vote in the past, she’s now ready to throw in the towel on the state’s economic problems.

“The top of the Republican Senate primary is quickly shaping up to be a contest between a failed CEO looking for a hobby and a man who was the architect of the Schwarzenegger budget disasters that set California on its current course.”

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What they’re saying about the State of the State

We’ve got a full story up on the governor’s speech and Legislative leaders’ reactions, but here are some other quarters heard from:

From Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda:

“I am encouraged by the broad themes the Governor emphasized in his address, including making education a larger budget priority than prisons. This is the third state of the state address I have attended since taking office in 2006, and it is probably one of the most important, considering the fact that California is at a crossroads where the next year can define the character and determine the future of the entire State for decades to come.

“The Governor acknowledged that there is a severe financial crisis in California, and I agree with the Governor’s statement that the State needs to make education a priority. We are spending 11 percent of our budget on prisons and only 7 percent on higher education. We need to find a real, long-term solution to this systemic problem by determining our priorities and realizing that we increase the prison population by not instituting an aggressive rehabilitation strategy, failing to reduce prison overcrowding, and failing to respect education and the intellectual potential of our children.

“Privatization of prisons, however, is not the solution. Instead, we need to thoughtfully and critically evaluate the prison system, with a focus toward restructuring the parole system and reducing the recidivism rate, thereby realizing a savings of billions of dollars a year and freeing up funding for education.

“Although I don’t agree with some of the Governor’s solutions, I do agree with his proposals for job training, job development, and tax credits for housing and green technology. Those proposals are worth considering and I look forward to reviewing the details.”

From California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring:

“Too many Californians are hurting because the state’s economy is still lagging way behind the nation’s, with higher unemployment and slower growth. The Governor made it clear that improving California’s economy is his top priority in 2010 by promoting economic growth and the job creation that comes with it.

“Solving the state’s current budget crisis starts with fixing the health of California’s economy. Increasing the number of available jobs, supporting small business development, and allowing for more shovel-ready projects to actually get their shovels in the ground will finally create the positive economic results that Californians desperately need.

“With California already at the economic brink, we don’t need more job-killing policies from the Democrats. This is a critical time for all Californians and, hopefully, the Democrat legislators will stop taking their orders from the public employee unions and special interest groups that willingly stand in the way of opportunity, and realize that higher taxes and more red-tape will end up destroying the dream that made California great. We support the Governor’s efforts to re-establish California as a business-friendly environment and help make the Golden State golden again.”

From California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton:

“For the last three years the budget has been balanced on the backs of the aged, the blind, the disabled, the poor and those who are without a strong voice in Sacramento.

“Our sincere hope is that the governor’s call for teamwork extends to members of his own Republican Party in the legislature. California Republicans should at least consider, if not agree to, a tax on oil company profits instead of insisting on what amounts to wholesale divestment from California.”

From former eBay CEO and Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman:

“Governor Schwarzenegger’s remarks were a sober reminder that we have a government that we can no longer afford and we have serious challenges to overcome. I am confident that by focusing on the number one priority for the state, creating a prosperous economy and putting Californians back to work, we will succeed. As Governor, I will focus on implementing targeted tax cuts and eliminating burdensome regulations so it’s easier to create jobs and start new businesses. We must also put an end to the never-ending cycle of wasteful overspending in Sacramento and spend smarter so we can focus on priorities like improving our schools. Time is urgent. Californians cannot afford to let Sacramento politicians in the legislature continue to promote the same failed policies of the past. We must overcome our challenges by counting on the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that is a hallmark of California, and put in place real, lasting solutions.”

From state Controller John Chiang:

“A year ago, I told the Governor and Legislature that without their courage and collaboration in fixing the budget, there would not be enough cash in the treasury to pay for hard-working Californians’ tax refunds through the spring, and local governments would be hung out to dry. Our cash crisis last year was a shameful chapter in California’s history and a dark reminder of the consequences of a government’s reluctance to make tough decisions quickly.

“We are a year older, and I hope we are a year wiser. Although the deficit is a third of the size of what we faced last year, the one-time solutions and accounting tricks in the last budget pushed more problems into 2010. There are no easy cuts to now bare-bone programs, and federal stimulus funds are drying up.

“I hope we have learned that the best prevention against future payment delays and IOUs is for the Governor and Legislature to quickly provide lasting, responsible budget solutions. I look forward to updating the State’s cash outlook for the year as soon as I have the opportunity to test the cash flow data in the Governor’s budget proposal.”

Lots more after the jump…
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Dems ask FPPC to yank Arnold’s TV ad on budget

California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton has filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission asking for an injunction to block Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from airing a television ad about the state budget crisis.

The ad is being paid for by the governor’s California Dream Team ballot measure committee, but a new FPPC regulation says candidate-controlled committee funds “shall be used only to make expenditures related to a state or local measure or potential measure anticipated by the committee, or to qualification or pre-qualification activities relating to such measures.” (I wrote about this back when Don Perata was moving money from his Leadership California ballot measure committee into his own legal defense fund.) The governor’s ad deals with state budget negotiations, Burton’s complaint says, but not with any ballot measures.

What’s particularly worrisome, Burton wrote in a letter accompanying the complaint, is that Schwarzenegger wrote to the FPPC earlier this year while it was considering the new regulation, asking for a loophole so ballot measure committee funds could still be used for lobbying. “Despite the Commission’s rejection of the Governor’s proposed changes… the Governor has chosen to run the television advertisements,” Burton wrote. “The Commission should take immediate steps to seek an injunction and any other relief it deems necessary and appropriate against the continued broadcast of the above-discussed ad under the Commission’s power as civil prosecutor.”

Balderdash, replies Dream Team spokeswoman Becky Warren.

“The Sacramento interests fighting to increase taxes and spend money we don’t have are fully aware that they have no public support,” she said in an e-mailed statement. “It’s no surprise that they would rather use political tactics in an attempt to get the ad pulled than debate the actual policy of living within our means.”

Again, here’s the ad…

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A few upcoming political events

A slew of interesting things to see, hear and do in the next 10 days, including several this Thursday…

Thursday, March 12 – Noon-1 p.m., Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will address the Commonwealth Club of California on what he believes it will take to get California back in the black as California’s fiscal melodrama heads to voters in a special May election, at the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel, 999 California St. in San Francisco. Tickets are available online at a cost of $15 for club members and $25 for non- members, or for premium seating in the first few rows, $45 for members and $65 for non-members.

Thursday, March 12 – 7-9 p.m., State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo; and Jewish Public Affairs Committee lobbyist Cliff Berg will discuss the state’s budget and finances, and their impact on Jewish issues and the broader community, at a forum hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council in the Contra Costa Jewish Community Center, 2071 Tice Valley Blvd. in Walnut Creek. The event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, March 12 – 7-9 p.m., Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas will speak about the intersection of politics and technology and the impact of the Internet on our democracy, in Room 250 of McLaren Hall at the University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton St.; the entrance is on Fulton between Clayton and Parker. The event is free and open to the public.

More, after the jump…
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