5

Report: Calif., U.S. candidates mostly white men

White men still dominate electoral politics in California, though not by as wide a margin as the entire nation, a new report finds.

infographic-1White men represent two of every three names appearing on the ballot in 2012 and 2014 from the federal level down to counties, according to the “Who Runs (in) America?” report released Thursday by the Reflective Democracy Campaign of the Women Donors Network. Overall, 90 percent of candidates are white, 73 percent are men, and 66 percent are white men.

In California, 68 percent of candidates are white, 76 percent are men, and 54 percent are white men.

The demographics of candidates almost exactly match the demographics of those who hold elected office, as shown by the national “Who Leads Us?” report that the campaign released last fall. Of 42,000 people who hold office from the federal government down to the county level, 90 percent are white, 71 percent are men, and 65 percent are white men.

“The stark imbalance between the demographics of the American people and their elected officials will not change until voters have the opportunity to choose among candidates who reflect their communities,” Women Donors Network CEO Donna Hall said in a news release. “Women are half the population and people of color are almost 40 percent, and it’s time the people on our ballots reflect that.”

The new study analyzed more than 51,000 candidates running in nearly 38,000 elections in 2012 and 2014, and found the imbalance is a bipartisan problem. While 96 percent of Republican candidates are white, so are 82 percent of Democrats and 90 percent of independents; woman make up 24 percent of GOP candidates and 33 percent of Democratic candidates.

“This data shows that the problem is not that women and people of color candidates aren’t winning—in fact, they’re winning at the same rates as men and white candidates,” campaign director Brenda Choresi Carter said in the release. “The problem is that the demographics of our office holders are set when our ballots are printed.”

That is, the population that runs for office skews towards those who can afford not to hold a regular, full-time job; people who are connected to political networks; and people who aren’t perceived as “risky” by the political parties, donors, and other gatekeepers who select candidates, the report said.

4

The GOP candidates’ Secret Service code names

In case you missed it, one of the (intentionally) funniest moments at last night’s Republican presidential debate came when the candidates were asked what they would pick as their Secret Service code names if elected president.

Jeb Bush pretty clearly won this one by responding “Eveready – it’s very high energy, Donald” to counter Donald Trump’s prior criticisms that Bush has been sluggish on the campaign trail. But Trump got some points for his ever-so-slightly introspective, one-word answer: “Humble.”

Here’s what the rest of them chose, somewhere along the spectrum from woodenness to sly humor:

  • Chris Christie – “True Heart”
  • John Kasich – “Unit One”
  • Carly Fiorina – “Secretariat”
  • Scott Walker – “Harley”
  • Ben Carson – “One Nation”
  • Ted Cruz – “Cohiba”
  • Marco Rubio – “Gator”
  • Mike Huckabee – “Duck Hunter”
  • Rand Paul – “Justice Never Sleeps”
  • But here are MY picks for them:

  • Jeb Bush – “Threepeat”
  • Donald Trump – “Apprentice”
  • Chris Christie – “Traffic Jam”
  • John Kasich – “Longshot”
  • Carly Fiorina – “Pink Slip”
  • Scott Walker – “Stumbler”
  • Ben Carson – “Sleepy Doc”
  • Ted Cruz – “Cruise Ship”
  • Marco Rubio – “Gulper”
  • Mike Huckabee – “Preacher”
  • Rand Paul – “Wiretap”
  • Make your own suggestions in the comments (but as always, keep it clean).

    0

    Honda blasts GOP field on Asian-American issues

    Rep. Mike Honda helped make the Democratic National Committee’s case Tuesday for why the Republican presidential candidates are both insulting to and bad for the Asian American/Pacific Islander community, as part of a broader DNC push to rally minority voters.

    honda.jpg“On issue after issue, Republicans are pushing policies that will hurt the AAPI community,” Honda, D-San Jose, said on a DNC-organized conference call with reporters. “None of the Democratic candidates would even come close to the stupid rhetoric that the Republicans have put out there.”

    Honda and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, took the GOP field to task on immigration, economics, education and climate change. Chu said that as “the Republican presidential circus” comes to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley for Wednesday’s debate, “Donald Trump is clearly driving the GOP’s presidential clown car,” but a closer look at other candidates’ words and policies reveals “they’re all wearing face paint and red noses.”

    Chu noted not only Trump but also Scott Walker, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson have spoken of ending constitutionally protected birthright citizenship, and Rand Paul and John Kasich have offered legislation to do exactly that. The fact that Ronald Reagan signed immigration legislation granting amnesty to up to 3 million people means he probably would be consigned to Wednesday’s “happy hour” debate for low-polling candidates if he were running today, she added.

    Meanwhile, Republican disdain for setting a minimum wage and constant efforts to cut taxes deepest for the nation’s richest are not going to be “popular with the middle class and working Americans who have seen their wages remain stagnant” in recent decades, she added.

    Honda – who represents the first Asian-American majority district outside Hawaii – said various Republican candidates have supported cutting class sizes and education budgets in their respective states, often showing more concern for waging war on teachers’ unions than for plummeting graduation rates and test scores.

    And despite overwhelming scientific evidence of a significant human role in climate change, he said, Trump has insisted climate change is nothing more than a hoax perpetrated by China for economic gain. “And if you think he’s any different than any other Republicans running for president, you’re mistaken,” Honda said, adding they’re “living in a fictional, alternate universe when it comes to climate change.”

    The DNC held similar calls Tuesday to decry GOP stances that affect the Latino community – with House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, as spokespeople – and for the African-American community, with Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles.

    4

    Jerry Brown enters the presidential debate fray

    California Gov. Jerry Brown threw himself into the presidential debate fray Wednesday morning by pressing the Republican candidates to describe their plans to deal with the threat of climate change.

    Jerry BrownBrown wrote an open letter to the 17 candidates and also submitted his question using the “Debate Uploader” on the Fox News Facebook page, through which members of the public can send queries for Thursday’s debates in Cleveland.

    “Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts aren’t on the horizon, they’re all here – and here to stay. This is the new normal. The climate is changing,” Brown wrote in his letter. “Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”

    “Continuing to question the science and hurl insults at ‘global warming hoaxers’ and ‘apostles of this pseudo-religion’ [ed. note: Rick Santorum’s words] won’t prevent severe damage to our health and economic well-being,” Brown continued. “Americans, their children and generations to come deserve – and demand – better.”

    Brown then describes California’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and details efforts by Republicans – including former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and current presidential candidate and former New York Gov. George Pataki – who’ve dealt with the issue head-on.

    “And lest you think this movement is limited to Democrats and only embraced within our borders, the conservatives in England, the moderates in Germany, and even the communists in China are on board,” he added. “As the fires continue to burn here in California, don’t wait for the smoke to clear. It’s time to act.”

    Brown issued an executive order earlier this year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most ambitious target in North America, and part of California’s existing commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050. Last month, he attended a Vatican symposium on climate change and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, both as part of his work to build cooperation between cities, states and provinces on climate-change pacts.

    0

    Ben Affleck for Senate? You can pledge $$$ now…

    A Palo Alto-based political engagement startup has launched a new page giving people the power to pledge money to candidates for California’s 2016 U.S. Senate race – even if those potential candidates have not yet even expressed interest in running.

    Crowdpac – described by Yahoo News last fall as “a Kickstarter for politics and a Match.com for web-savvy politicos” – has set up a pledge system in accordance with an August 2014 Federal Election Commission ruling allowing pledges, but not actual donations, before a candidate forms a campaign. Only if and when a candidate chooses to run will the user be charged.

    Ben AffleckSo the group’s 2016 California Senate page includes declared candidates like state Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, and Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, D-Oceanside; people who’ve expressed interest but haven’t yet declared, like House members Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, and former state GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette; and celebs who’ve said nothing about entering the race, like actors Ben Affleck (D) and Kelsey Grammer (R).

    Crowdpac already has a similar pledge page for the 2016 presidential race, including “say WHAT?” candidates like former Vice President Al Gore and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

    The idea is to alleviate the chicken-or-egg problem in modern campaign finance: Many ordinary Americans won’t make political contributions because they feel good candidates aren’t stepping forward, and many good potential candidates won’t step forward because they don’t think they can raise the tremendous sums required to run a big campaign. The Crowdpac team believes their pledge system will get more people engaged and invested in the process, and avoid having a few rich people anoint their chosen candidates.

    It’s an interesting team. CEO and cofounder Steve Hilton is a visiting professor at Stanford, and a former senior advisor to British Prime Minister David Cameron. Cofounder Adam Bonica is a Stanford assistant professor of political science who studies the quantitative measurement of political ideology; he built the algorithms driving Crowdpac’s various services. And chief operating officer and cofounder Gisel Kordestani is a tech entrepreneur who has worked in early stage startups, management consulting and spent more than eight years at Google in senior global roles in finance and new business development.

    3

    Will the rich buy California’s 2016 Senate race?

    Campaign finance reform is needed to keep California’s 2016 U.S. Senate race from being bought by a small number of deep-pocketed donors, a consumer advocacy group said Wednesday.

    The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) is pushing for a federal program that would match small contributions with limited public funds, so that grassroots candidates relying on small donors can compete with big-money candidates.

    “California is no exception to the rule of big donor domination of politics,” CALPIRG campaign organizer Zach Weinstein said in a news release. “Any candidate who wants to run a viable campaign for Senate in 2016 will need to raise millions and millions of dollars to do so, and our current system makes that level of fundraising nearly impossible if you rely on small donors. Unless you’re connected to a network of big donors, you’re out of the running before you even start. The reforms we’re proposing could fundamentally change that system.”

    U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., announced last week that she won’t seek a fifth six-year term in 2016. California Attorney General Kamala Harris declared her candidacy Tuesday, and although Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has opted out, several other well-known names are considering whether to run.

    Candidates in California’s last four Senate elections raised an average of $8.76 million, according to a memo issued Wednesday by CALPIRG; the highest amount, $23.17 million, was raised by Boxer for her 2010 re-election battle against Republican Carly Fiorina, who raised $11.63 million.

    Current rules say individual donors can give up to $2,600 to a candidate for a primary election and another $2,600 for the general election for a total of $5,200 per campaign cycle; the Federal Election Commission will to revise this limit upward in the next few weeks after receiving new Consumer Price Index figures from the Labor Department.

    But based on the current limit, a Senate candidate would have to raise more than $13,000 from individuals every day from now until Election Day in order to hit the average $8.76 million mark, CALPIRG notes. For a candidate relying on donors who “max out,” that’s five donors per day; for a candidate relying on small donors giving an average of $150, that’s 88 donors per day.

    “When campaigns are paid for by big donors, those are the voices candidates hear the loudest,” Weinstein said. “In a democracy based on the principle of one person, one vote, small donors should be at the center of campaign finance – not an afterthought.”