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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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Scott Walker, we hardly knew ye

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker suspended his presidential campaign today, and urged other Republicans to do the same so that the electorate can coalesce behind anyone but Donald Trump:

It doesn’t sound like any other Republicans are immediately ready to follow him out the door.

But some Democrats were ready with double-barreled snark.

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Sanchez is NOT declaring Senate candidacy. Yet.

The Sacramento Bee, Politico and other outlets reported Tuesday afternoon that Rep. Loretta Sanchez had sent an email to supporters saying she would announce her 2016 U.S. Senate candidacy Thursday morning in Santa Ana.

Loretta SanchezBut a short while later, the Los Angeles Times’ Michael Finnegan tweeted that Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, had told him that a draft announcement had been released mistakenly. “I have actually not made a decision,” he quoted her as saying. “That is the truth.”

And a short while after that, the Bee reported that a Sanchez campaign consultant had confirmed the email was sent out in error. I left a message with Sanchez’s office a few hours ago, but it wasn’t returned.

Sanchez has been busy in recent months meeting with Latino Democrats up and down the state, many of whom have been concerned that Attorney General Kamala Harris – the only prominent Democrat in this race so far – seems headed for a coronation that keeps their growing bloc out of the loop. And the timing seemed right, as Sanchez, Harris and Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles – who also is contemplating a Senate run – all are scheduled to address the Chicano Latino Caucus at the California Democratic Party convention this Saturday in Anaheim.

But this “She has decided! No she hasn’t!” fiasco isn’t a good omen for Sanchez, said Larry Sabato, who directs the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

“When a horse stumbles out of the gate, it almost never wins,” he said. “It’s highly embarrassing and it’s a terrible start to what will be an uphill challenge anyway.”

Sabato acknowledged this must be “a tough decision for her because she’s giving up a safe seat in the House for a chancy run at the Senate. She certainly will not be the frontrunner; Harris has lined up a remarkable team and war chest.”

It’s rare for a single candidate like Harris to essentially clear the field for an open seat in so big a state, but given Democrats’ strong advantage, this race “is over before it starts if there isn’t a strong second Democrat in the runoff,” Sabato said.

Sanchez and Becerra would be wooing many of the same Latino and Southern California audiences, he added. “I would be stunned if both of them ran, I would be a little surprised if neither of them ran.”

UPDATE @ 3:38 P.M. WEDNESDAY: Aaaaand now Sanchez IS indeed making “a significant political announcement” at 11 a.m. Thursday in Santa Ana. Full story here.

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Rocky Chávez opens Senate exploratory committee

Assemblyman Rocky Chávez announced Tuesday that he’s forming an exploratory committee for the U.S. Senate seat that Barbara Boxer will vacate in 2016.

Rocky Chávez“Our nation suffers from a lack of clear leadership when it comes to issues of national security and looking out for California families who have seen stagnant wage growth for almost two decades,” Chávez, R-Oceanside, said in a news release. “My story is like that of so many other California families, having worked in the grape fields with my uncle and cousins as a child to seeing one of my own children attend an Ivy League medical school. That’s the American Dream, and it’s what every parent hopes to see for their own children. But if we don’t take steps to protect our nation and help create more opportunities for our children, we risk losing that Dream.”

Chávez, 63, who retired from the U.S. Marine Corps as a colonel, describes himself as a fiscal conservative and social moderate. A former Oceanside city councilman and former acting secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs, Chávez was elected to the Assembly in 2012 to represent the 76th District in northern San Diego County. He’s the Legislature’s only Republican Latino. (Ed. note: I shouldn’t have taken Chavez’ biography page as the gospel: Assemblyman Eric Linder, R-Corona, is Latino as well.)

Chávez is the first Republican to take the step of forming an exploratory committee; former state GOP chairmen Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette and Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills have expressed interest in running but haven’t decided yet.

The only person who has declared candidacy so far is California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat; other Democrats including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are considering running too.

California’s Latinos will form a crucial voting bloc in this high-turnout presidential election year, but they tend to break heavily toward Democrats. Chávez seems undaunted.

“My strong history of leadership and compelling personal narrative give me great confidence,” he said. “I believe we can start a movement that will make a real difference in the lives of California families.”

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Senate 2016: A tale of three GOP chairmen

Two former California Republican Party chairmen, both from the Bay Area, say they’re seriously considering running to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbrara Boxer in 2016 while a third ex-chairman won’t rule it out.

But having been the state GOP’s chief executive might not be the best resume fodder for this or any statewide race.

Tom Del BeccaroTom Del Beccaro, 53, of Lafayette, who chaired the party from 2011 to 2013, was first out of the gate – he had a publicist issue a news release last Thursday, within hours of Boxer’s announcement that she wouldn’t run.

“My first love has been national politics and foreign affairs for decades,” he said during an interview Monday.

“Seats like this don’t come open very often. I want to be part of the debate and I want to make sure our side has a positive image and positive things to say.”

Duf SundheimGeorge “Duf” Sundheim, 62, of Los Altos Hills, who chaired the party from 2003 to 2007, also has floated a trial balloon.

Sundheim said Monday he’s moved by the plight of students in failing schools, and of small businesses lacking access to capital. It’s not a matter of whether we should be in the political left lane or the right lane, he said: “We’re on the wrong road.”

Framing a race like this as Republican versus Democrat or conservative versus liberal won’t work well for the Republican conservatives, he added, but voters would much rather hear about the future versus the status quo. If a candidate can do that, he said, “I think you have a real shot.”

Ron NehringAnd Ron Nehring, 44, of El Cajon, who chaired the party from 2007 to 2011, said Monday he’s “very flattered that people have been talking about me as a potential candidate for the office. … Let’s just leave it at that.” Nehring is the only one of the three who has even sought elected office before: He ran for lieutenant governor last year, finishing 14 percentage points behind incumbent Democrat Gavin Newsom.

Should they run, they could find that having chaired their state party is more liability than asset. Already each has critics within the party who are burning up various social media with reasons they shouldn’t run.

“A necessary (but not sufficient) ingredient for a successful California senate run is the ability to raise tens of millions of dollars for your campaign, and another is significant name recognition,” one state GOP insider said Monday on condition of anonymity. “An ideal candidate would also have been elected to office before, preferable statewide or in a major city.”

“Neither of these two candidates (Sundheim and Del Beccaro) has these necessary qualifications,” the party insider said.

Lots more, after the jump…
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Ex-Rep. Radanovich exploring run for governor

With Abel Maldonado and Tim Donnelly not exactly tearing it up in their nascent efforts to run for governor in 2014, another Republican may be preparing to enter the race.

RadanovichFormer Rep. George Radanovich sent out an e-mail this morning announcing his exploration of a run. Radanovich, 58, of Mariposa, said he has created a 501(c)(3) group called The Four Institutions – so named for family, business, religion and government, which he says are the basis of any society – to start giving the private sector a more prominent role in rebuilding the state nation.

Of those four institutions, he wrote, family is weakest and can best be shored up by addressing the issue of fatherless children. He touted his Restore Fresno pilot project – aimed at reducing fatherlessness, unwed pregnancy and divorce through persuasion and private investment – and said he’d like to expand to every California county. Doing so, he wrote, will reduce education, public safety, prison and welfare costs.

“A program of rebuilding the private sector and then cutting government represents a radical departure from business as usual in Sacramento,” Radanovich wrote. “But I believe Californians are ready for change and the time is ripe for a new approach. That is why I am considering entering the race for governor of California. Exploring the privilege to serve as California’s governor will give me the opportunity to visit community leaders throughout the state and discuss the details of Restore California.”

Radanovich served the 19th Congressional District from 1995 to 2011; as his wife fought the ovarian cancer that eventually claimed her life in 2010, he chose not to seek re-election.

Read Radanovich’s entire email, after the jump…
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