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Rep. Tom McClintock endorses Ted Cruz

Rep. Tom McClintock, one of California’s best-known conservatives, endorsed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for the Republican presidential nomination Thursday.

Tom McClintock“This election is too important to leave to chance,” McClintock, R-Elk Grove, said in Cruz’s news release. “Ted Cruz is the only top tier candidate we can be absolutely certain will govern conservatively and constitutionally; who will stand his ground no matter what the pressure and articulate our positions boldly and convincingly to the American people. After nearly three decades of disappointments, our next president needs to come from the Republican wing of the Republican Party.”

Cruz called McClintock “an unwavering leader in working to reduce government spending, reign in our debt and work for conservative reforms. He has consistently fought against the Washington Cartel. We need more leaders like Tom in Washington to protect conservative principles. I am thrilled to have Tom’s support in working together to restore the principles America was founded on.”

McClintock, 59, was elected to the House in 2008 after eight years in the state Senate and two stints – from 1982 to 1992 and from 1996 to 2000 – in the Assembly. He finished third behind Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrat Cruz Bustamante in California’s 2003 gubernatorial recall election, and lost 2006’s election for lieutenant governor to Democrat John Garamendi.

McClintock quit the Tea Party-dominated House Freedom Caucus in September, saying the group’s political showmanship – particularly its threats to partially or totally shut down the federal government – actually undermines conservative goals in Congress. Cruz was among key architects of the third-longest government shutdown in U.S. history, in October 2013.

Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2016
Under: 2016 presidential election, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

CA17: Khanna tops Honda again in fundraising

Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna significantly outraised incumbent Rep. Mike Honda in 2015’s final quarter, and now has about three times as much money banked for their electoral rematch this year, according to initial reports from both campaigns.

Both Democrats want to represent the 17th Congressional District, which lies in the heart of Silicon Valley and is the first district outside Hawaii in which Asian-Americans make up a majority of voters. Khanna, a Fremont resident who served for two years in President Barack Obama’s Commerce Department, lost 2014’s bruising, nationally watched election by 3.6 percentage points as Honda held on for an eighth term.

Ro KhannaKhanna’s campaign said Wednesday that he raised more than $500,000 and spent about $117,000 from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, leaving him with more than $1.7 million cash on hand and about $52,800 in outstanding debt.

“I am proud to see support for our campaign to strengthen the middle class create this type of enthusiasm and energy,” Khanna said in a news release. “Because we refuse to take PAC and lobbyist money, we’re going to need our grassroots support to take on the special interests and bring change to Washington. As we grow our campaign in 2016, we will continue to fund a grassroots campaign that engages and empowers the people of the 17th District.”

Khanna spent big on television ads and campaign consultants in 2014’s primary, leaving his campaign almost broke in the final weeks before that November’s general election; a super PAC called Californians for Innovation independently spent about $776,000 on his behalf to help bear him over the finish line.

Honda’s campaign said Wednesday that he raised $290,250 and spent $276,137 – a much higher burn rate than Khanna’s – in 2015’s fourth quarter, leaving him with $571,266 cash on hand and $20,907 in outstanding debt.

honda.jpgThe congressman “has raised more money at this point in the campaign cycle than in 2014, and like last time, the campaign is on track to raise the resources necessary to win this race,” campaign manager Michael Beckendorf said. “Even without the luxury of conservative millionaires and billionaires bankrolling his campaign, Mike Honda will win this race because he is the only candidate who has a track record of reaching across the aisle to deliver for Silicon Valley while standing up for justice and equality.”

But it’s not just re-election for which Honda is raising money. His campaign in the first three quarters of last year paid out a total of about $109,000 to two Washington, D.C., law firms and a San Francisco crisis-communications shop to combat the ongoing ethics investigation of which he’s a target. The House Ethics Committee is still probing whether Honda’s office and campaign broke House rules or federal laws by sharing resources, and it’s not yet known how much he paid his lawyers and spokespeople in the year’s final quarter.

Neither candidate’s full report to the Federal Election Commission is available yet; the filing deadline is Jan. 31. Khanna outraised Honda in 2015’s third, second and first quarters, too.

Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2016
Under: campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Barbara Lee is running for Dem Caucus vice chair

Rep. Barbara Lee has launched her campaign to become the House Democratic Caucus’ vice chairwoman, asking her peers for support.

Lee, D-Oakland, official threw her name into contention for House Democrats’ fifth-highest leadership post with a letter Tuesday; Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, declared her candidacy for the post last month. Current vice chairman Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., is limited to two terms in the post, and Democrats are expected to pick a new chairman and vice chairman soon after November’s elections.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“As Vice Chair, I will work to find innovative ways to champion the issues that are important to you, your district and our caucus,” Lee wrote in her letter to fellow House Democrats. “In 2013, I identified an opportunity to expand Democratic leadership on ending poverty in America. Together with our leadership, we launched the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity which works for the more than 46 million Americans struggling to make ends meet while developing pathways for these families into the middle class.”

Lee also touted her work on the Appropriations, Budget and Steering and Policy committees, as well as her stints as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, executive board member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and vice chairwoman and founding member of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

“In these roles, I have built diverse coalitions that advance our shared Democratic values,” she wrote. “Simultaneously, I have reached across the aisle to deliver bipartisan results, such as creating the bipartisan and bicameral HIV/AIDS Caucus and authoring or co-authoring every major piece of HIV/AIDS legislation signed into law since 1998. The importance of listening to others with different points of view and new ideas has been critical in these and many other efforts.”

“It is an honor to work with you, side by side, to further our shared values and fight to ensure opportunity for all. I know firsthand the depth of your passion, talent and experience. It is this diversity of experience that is the backbone of our caucus,” she concluded. “I hope to serve you as the next Vice Chair and I look forward to continuing our discussions.”

Lee, 69, was first elected to the House in a 1998 special election to replace her mentor and longtime employer, Rep. Ron Dellums of Oakland, who retired mid-term. Earlier, she served in the state Senate from 1997 to 1998, and in the Assembly from 1991 to 1997.

Posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2016
Under: Barbara Lee, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Brown names DiFi’s daughter to state Med Board

Katherine Feinstein – a former San Francisco County Superior Court judge, and daughter of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein – was appointed Wednesday to the Medical Board of California by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Katherine FeinsteinFeinstein, 58, of Kentfield, served in several positions within San Francisco’s courts from 2000 to 2013, including presiding judge, assistant presiding judge, supervising judge for the Unified Family Court, and trial judge for the criminal, civil, family law and juvenile delinquency divisions.

She was supervising attorney for family and children’s services at the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office from 1998 to 2000; director at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice from 1994 to 1996; an attorney in private practice from 1991 to 1994; and an associate at Carroll, Burdick and McDonough LLP in 1989. She also worked as a San Francisco assistant district attorney from 1985 to 1988.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Feinstein earned her law degree from the UC Hastings College of the Law. She is a Democrat.

The Medical Board of California licenses and regulates physicians and surgeons and enforces the state’s Medical Practice Act. Members are appointed by the governor but must be confirmed by the state Senate, and while serving receive a $100 per diem.

Upon announcing her retirement in 2012, Feinstein had told the San Francisco Chronicle that she would do something in public service, which could range from helping set up effective judicial systems in Africa to running for office

“Of course I’ve thought about politics. I was born thinking about politics,” she said at the time. “It’s something I’ve always shied away from. Whether I continue to shy away from it would depend on the position at this point.”

But in 2014, when asked by NBC Bay Area if she would ever consider running for office, she reaffirmed her decision to remain a private citizen. “I don’t think campaigns always bring out the best in people.”

Posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2016
Under: Dianne Feinstein, Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Your House member’s State of the Union guest

Here are the special guests whom Bay Area members of Congress are bringing to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland: Black Lives Matter movement co-founder Alicia Garza

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin: Fremont Police Chief Richard Lucero, a gun-control advocate

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough: Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who first published findings on the impact of chronic traumatic encephalopathy on football players; Omalu is portrayed by Will Smith in the film Concussion.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord: Amanda Wilcox, the legislation and policy chair for the California Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; Wilcox’s daughter, Laura, was shot to death in 2001.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael: Ali Rezaian, brother of Jason Rezaian, the Iranian-American journalist and Washington Post Tehran bureau chief who has been imprisoned in Iran since July 2014; the brothers are Marin County natives.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose: Irene Bueno, whose family immigrated to the United States from the Philippines; due to the slow legal process, her aunt and cousins were separated for many years. Honda will introduce family reunification immigration legislation in March.

Rep Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose: Sameena Usman, government relations coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ San Francisco Bay Area chapter.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: Intuit CEO Brad Smith, who hosted Eshoo and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for a tour and Q&A with company executives.

UPDATE @ 3:34 P.M.: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson earlier Tuesday questioned the wisdom of allowing two members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group, to attend the State of the Union. Both Lofgren and Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., brought them as invited guests.

“They have done things that are clearly, you know, not pro-American,” Carson said on CNN. “If they are our buddies, let’s put that clearly out there. And if they’re not our buddies, let’s not be giving them access to the ability to further carry on what they call a civilization jihad and to change us from a Judeo-Christian foundation to a Muslim foundation. We have got to be smarter than that.”

But Lofgren told me this afternoon that Carson’s comments are “sadly misinformed,” and she was delighted that Usman had accepted her invitation as a means of “highlighting patriotic Americans who are also Muslims.”

“She has been a terrific leader in our community for civil rights” not only among Muslims but in the Bay Area at large, Lofgren said. “To suggest somehow that she is un-American is just pathetic … It’s ignorant and sad, but luckily it’s very clear Dr. Carson will not be our president, so I guess he’s entitled to his ignorant statements.”

Posted on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Mike Honda, Obama presidency, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 2 Comments »

CA17: Five statewide officials endorse Honda

Five of California’s eight statewide constitutional officers endorsed Rep. Mike Honda on Monday for re-election over Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in the 17th Congressional District.

Honda, D-San Jose, issued a news release saying he’s humbled to have the support of Attorney General Kamala Harris, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Treasurer John Chiang, Controller Betty Yee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

“I share their deep passion and commitment to solving problems facing many of California’s working families,” Honda said. “They represent the very best of what our state has to offer and I look forward to continuing my work with them.”

Harris, currently the frontrunner for the U.S. Senate seat from which Barbara Boxer will retire at year’s end, said that “from improving public safety, fighting to end human trafficking, and ensuring the civil rights of all people are protected – Mike has always been there.”

Yee said “Honda has been a tireless advocate for the people of Silicon Valley: securing funding for BART expansion, boosting critical research in nanotechnology, and fighting to ensure that every child has access to quality education.”

And Torlakson called Honda “an unwavering ally to California’s students and teachers. As a former science teacher and principal, education has always been one of his top priorities. Mike is working across the aisle to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in our classroom’s, which will provide our children and country with the skills to stay competitive in this global economy.”

Among the other statewide constitutional officers, Secretary of State Alex Padilla has endorsed Khanna; Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom endorsed Khanna in 2014 but has not yet made an endorsement for 2016; and Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed Honda in 2014 but has not yet made an endorsement for 2016.

Posted on Monday, January 11th, 2016
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

CA17: Honda fires back on union’s Khanna nod

Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign shot back Friday against a construction-workers’ union that has switched its endorsement from Honda in 2014 to Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in their rematch this year.

Vedant Patel, political director for Honda’s campaign, issued a statement expressing disappointment at the decision of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), Pacific Southwest Region – boasting 63,000 members in California and a few thousand more in Hawaii, New Mexico and Arizona – to endorse Khanna but allowing that “sometimes friends disagree.” Patel also touted the 98 percent lifetime rating that Honda, D-San Jose, has earned from the AFL-CIO for his consistent pro-labor stances.

honda.jpg“In this case, we could not be more proud of Congressman Honda’s ardent advocacy to protect America’s environment with his opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline – a pipeline supported by LIUNA,” Patel said, noting Honda voted thrice against the controversial pipeline, signed seven opposition letters to President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and supported a Democratic National Committee resolution against the project. Obama put the final kibosh on Keystone XL in November.

“Congressman Honda was proud to be a leader in the successful fight to oppose Keystone in order to prevent astronomical amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, polluted water and fisheries with elevated cancer rates, and exposing nearby communities to highly toxic materials,” Patel said.

Khanna also opposed the Keystone XL pipeline.

“It is unfortunate that an organization committed to advancing the rights of working class men and women would stand with someone who has never had a track record that benefits the working class,” Patel continued. “Ro Khanna has never stuck his neck out for working families. From cagey positions on the Trans Pacific Partnership, and flip flopping on key issues like Social Security benefits and pension reform, Ro has simply failed to take a real stance when it mattered.”

Patel also blasted Khanna for accepting campaign contributions from people who’ve been at odds with organized labor, who’ve advocated for privatizing Social Security, and who lead corporations that violated living wage laws.

Khanna has never advocated for privatizing Social Security, and I dinged Honda’s campaign in 2014 for misrepresenting Khanna’s stances on benefits. Khanna condemned the wage violations for which Fremont-based Electronics for Imaging was fined in 2014 and he removed CEO Guy Gecht from his endorsement list, but declined to return Gecht’s $2,600 campaign contribution as labor unions had urged.

LiUNA held a news conference Friday in San Jose to tout its endorsement of Khanna. San Jose Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco was there to announce her endorsement, too, and later issued a statement calling Khanna “a dependable advocate for middle-class families with a clear vision to move our communities forward.”

Posted on Friday, January 8th, 2016
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

CA17: Union flips support from Honda to Khanna

A labor union that had endorsed Rep. Mike Honda in 2014 now has switched sides to endorse Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in this year’s 17th Congressional District rematch.

LiUNAThe Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), Pacific Southwest Region – a construction-workers union boasting 63,000 members in California and a few thousand more in Hawaii, New Mexico and Arizona – announced its endorsement of Khanna on Wednesday.

“We honor your commitment to fairness and truth as you seek to represent the interests of our communities, our Union, and all working men, women and families,” Rocco Davis, the union’s vice president and regional manager, wrote in a Dec. 18 letter to Khanna. “We take seriously your commitment to these issues that are critical to our union and our members and to this end we look forward to assisting your campaign and working with you in progressing our mutual goals in the future.”

Asked Wednesday whether Davis’ “fairness and truth” line refers to the ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation of whether Honda’s office and campaign broke rules or laws by sharing resources, LiUNA international representative Izaak Velez replied, “That is not a swipe at Mike Honda in any way, shape or form.

“We fully respect Mike Honda’s service and appreciate everything he’s done,” Velez said. “We’re not here to badmouth the service Mike Honda has given.”

Ro KhannaKhanna, a former Obama administration official from Fremont who now works for a company that makes water and electricity conservation software, issued a news release saying the Bay Area’s working men and women have forged the community’s and economy’s strength. “As we march into a new century we must find new, innovative ways to ensure we hold onto that strength by revitalizing our manufacturing base, expanding the middle class and strengthening educational opportunity.”

Santa Clara Vice Mayor Debi Davis and former two-term Milpitas Mayor Bob Livengood also have flipped from supporting Honda, D-San Jose, in 2014 to supporting Khanna now. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen, Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone, Secretary of State Alex Padilla and state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles – all of whom remained neutral in 2014 – have endorsed Khanna, too.

But overall, much of the Democratic establishment and most labor unions seem to be staying in Honda’s corner.

Posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2016
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 19 Comments »

Dentists ante up for cigarette tax hike

The California Dental Association said Tuesday it will kick in $1 million to help pass a proposed ballot measure that would raise California’s cigarette tax by $2 per pack and impose similar taxes on e-cigarettes.

That would bring the Save Lives California committee’s war chest to $6 million so far; the committee already has received $3 million from the Service Employees International Union’s California State Council; $1 million from the California Medical Association; and $1 million from hedge fund billionaire turned environmentalist Tom Steyer of San Francisco.

“Our contribution reflects the importance of this initiative to save lives and prevent more people from suffering the devastating effects of smoking-related diseases such as oral cancer and gum disease that dentists see every day in their practices,” California Dental Association President Ken Wallis said in a news release. “This measure will combat tobacco use and help fund essential programs to improve the oral health as well as the overall health of our most vulnerable Californians.”

The measure’s proponents are circulating petitions now; they must collect signatures from 585,407 registered voters by June 13 in order to qualify the measure for November’s ballot.

It’s likely to be a costly battle. California voters rejected a $1-per-pack increase in 2012 after tobacco companies outspent proponents about 4-to-1; that measure was defeated by just four-tenths of a percentage point, the narrowest defeat of any statewide measure in California’s history.

(I considered including a photo of a long-time smoker’s teeth, but the images I found were far too gross. You’re welcome.)

Posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 2016
Under: ballot measures | 3 Comments »

Hillary praises California’s new voter-reg law

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton praised California’s new voter-registration law Saturday, and is coming to the Golden State next week to rally the Asian-American vote.

New laws effective Jan. 1 in California and Oregon mean residents will be automatically registered to vote when they get a driver’s license, unless they opt out; California’s system won’t take effect until the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Secretary of State’s office work out technical issues. Clinton, who has called for universal, automatic voter registration across the nation, thinks it’s a nifty idea.

Hillary 12-29-2015 in NH (Getty Images)“The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, and America is stronger when more of us vote. That’s why I and many others have been alarmed to see several states make it harder — not easier — for people to vote,” she said in a news release. “That’s wrong, and goes against everything our country stands for. California and Oregon have the right idea. I hope more states follow their lead. And I hope more Americans step up to defend this right for themselves and each other.”

Clinton’s campaign also announced she’ll be in San Gabriel this Thursday, Jan. 7 with Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park – chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus – to launch Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Hillary.

Joined by dozens of AAPI elected officials and community leaders from across the nation, “Clinton will discuss what’s at stake in this election for the AAPI community, and how she’ll fight for them as president,” her campaign said.

Asian-Americans have emerged as a major, Democrat-leaning voting bloc in battleground swing states such as Nevada, Virginia and Florida.

Clinton also has several fundraisers scheduled for her California visit. She’ll attend a $2,700-a-head luncheon with Chu on Thursday in the San Gabriel Valley, and then a “family celebration” reception Thursday afternoon at Jim Henson Studios in Los Angeles, hosted by television and movie producer Lisa Henson and artist and animator David Pressler; tickets range from $500 to $2,700. On Friday, she’s scheduled to attend a $2,700-per-person “Conversation with Hillary” event in San Francisco hosted by Diana Nelson, chairwoman of the Carlson global hospitality and travel company, and then a $2,700-per-person evening reception in Palo Alto hosted by venture capitalist Greg Sands and his wife, Sarah.

Clinton leads Bernie Sanders, the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont and her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, by about 23 percentage points, according to the latest average of recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. She leads Sanders by about 13 points in Iowa, but Sanders leads by about 4 points in New Hampshire.

Posted on Saturday, January 2nd, 2016
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, voter registration | 3 Comments »