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Rick Perry is running for president

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday became the 10th Republican to declare candidacy for president in 2016:

Here’s the brief video he launched today:

California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton issued a statement Thursday taking Perry to task.

“Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry compared homosexuality to alcoholism, rejected Medicaid expansion for more than 1 million of the poorest Texans, and denies climate change science. He fits right in to the Republican presidential primary pack,” Burton said. “Last year I sent an open letter to Gov. Perry when he said he was weighing a move to the Golden State. Gov. Perry’s retirement in California will have to wait until voters see through his cruel healthcare policies and the sham of Texas’ economic miracle.”

Read the text of Perry’s speech as prepared, after the jump…
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Warren & Frank to headline state Dem convention

Once again underscoring deep-blue California’s penchant for pulling the Democratic party leftward, the state party will have progressive favorites U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and retired Rep. Barney Frank headline its convention May 15 through 17 in Anaheim.

My Approved Portraits“Sen. Warren and retired Rep. Frank embody Democrats’ fight for fairness in our economy and financial reforms that reward Americans’ hard work and hope for the future,” California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton said in a news release.

“As California Democrats, we’re proud to count so many elected leaders who are in the same tradition and are showing leadership through action,” he said. “Democrats must redouble their efforts to combat growing income inequality so that the American dream is attainable for a new generation of Americans, and California Democrats must lead that charge.”

Barney FrankThe Massachusetts liberals represent much that some Democrats fear presidential candidate Hillary Clinton does not. Warren, who in 2012 became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts, has been a leader on protecting workers and consumers. Frank, who served in the House from 1981 to 2013, was its first openly gay member and championed reforms to repair the U.S. economy with 2010’s Dodd-Frank Act.

Others scheduled to speak at the convention include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who’s running for governor in 2018; Attorney. General Kamala Harris, who is running for the U.S. Senate in 2016; Controller Betty Yee; Treasurer John Chiang; Secretary of State Alex Padilla; Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones; state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles; and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

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Brownie Mary Democratic Club rises in East Bay

The East Bay has its first marijuana-oriented Democratic club.

As Brownie Mary Democratic Club, created to advocate for the rights of California marijuana. has been chartered by the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee with members including Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward; county Democratic chairwoman Robin Torello; and county committeewoman Ginny DeMartini. It’ll be chaired by committeewoman Denise Martellaci and vice-chaired by committeeman Rick Trullinger.

“The Brownie Mary Club will help bridge the cannabis community throughout Alameda County and educate our elected and future elected with cannabis reform issues,” Martellacci said in a news release. “Our Brownie Mary members are representatives from a wide spectrum and will demonstrate to the Democratic community our seriousness and abilities to meet our 2016 goal of full marijuana legalization for adults in the state of California.”

Members of the club are already walking precincts for cannabis-friendly candidates, and plan to help with phone banking and fundraisers. But its first order of business was to make endorsements – no surprises in the state, congressional and legislative races – including Rebecca Kaplan for Oakland mayor and taking a “no” position on Proposition 46 and a “yes” on Proposition 47.

The new club also is working on a pending Alameda County ordinance that would limit use of e-cigarettes, by advocating for patients who vaporize their medical marijuana.

It’s named for “Brownie Mary” Rathbun, a renowned activist who baked brownies for AIDS patients in San Francisco in the run-up to California voters’ approval for legal medical marijuana in 1996.

The Alameda County club is the sixth such group chartered in the state, after Riverside, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Francisco. The previous clubs were a visible presence at the March 2014 state Democratic convention in Los Angeles, and succeeded in getting the party to add a platform plank supporting “the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol.

Also represented in the club are cannabis reform groups California NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance and the California Cannabis Industry Association, along with cannabis advocates Dan Grace of Dark Heart Nursery, Sean Luce of Berkeley Patients Group, attorney James Anthony, and Hank Levy, CPA. Union representative Debra Pearson, with SEIU Local 1021’s Alameda County Committee on Political Education, and campaign strategist Mark Goodwin are also on board.

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George Miller to receive two awards this month

Rep. George Miller, retiring at the end of this year after 40 years in the House, will pick up awards later this month as part of a victory lap that could last through the end of his 20th term.

George MillerThe California League of Conservation Voters will present Miller, D-Martinez, with its “Byron Sher Lifetime Achievement Award” during the group’s 2014 Northern California Environmental Leadership Awards ceremony on Thursday, June 26 in San Francisco.

The group notes that Miller “has been a leading advocate in Congress on the environment, education, labor, and the economy since he was first elected in 1975. From 1991 to 1994 he chaired the House Natural Resources Committee, overseeing the environment, energy, and public lands, and served as that committee’s Senior Democrat until 2000, taking what worked in California to the national level.”

Then, the Contra Costa County Democratic Party will honor Miller at its inaugural Roosevelt Awards Dinner on Friday, June 27 in Concord.

State Sen. Mark DeSaunlier, D-Concord, and retired immigration judge Tue Phan of Danville will compete in November to succeed Miller in the 11th Congressional District. DeSaulnier won 59 percent of the vote in June 3’s primary election while Phan got 28 percent; four other candidates were eliminated.

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Legal scandals lead Dems to cancel golf fundraiser

Chalk up one immediate victim of the ethical and legal scandals sullying the state Senate: Golf.

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Kevin de Leon, who’ll succeed Steinberg in the top spot at the end of this year, issued a joint statement Tuesday announcing they’ve cancelled this weekend’s Pro Tem Cup – the annual Democratic party fundraiser at which donors give tens of thousands of dollars to join legislative leaders on the links at Torrey Pines in La Jolla – “in light of the very recent and extraordinary breaches of the public trust by three individuals.”

C’mon, guys, SAY THE NAMES! Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood, convicted of voter fraud and perjury; Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, indicted on bribery charges; and Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, charged last week with trading favors for money and conspiring to traffic arms.

So, no golf!

“In its place, we intend to spend this weekend in our districts having an open and public conversation with our constituents about the work ahead for this Legislature and for this state,” Steinberg and de Leon said in their joint statement. “It’s important that our constituents understand that, despite the appalling acts of a few individuals who – on their own – put self-interest ahead of the public interest, the Senators who are here are here to serve, to do the hard, unglamorous work of fixing tough public-policy problems, and – most important – to do it the right way.”

And that means putting the putters away. Steinberg and de Leon said the modern campaign system makes fundraising “an occupational necessity, but Senate Democrats have always prided themselves on doing it ethically, appropriately, and in full adherence to every rule and regulation governing public disclosure.

“The Pro Tem Cup has long been a successful, signature example of this,” they said. “But these are unprecedented times and they demand that we take a step back and take stock of how we all do the people’s business and balance it against the demands of running for office.”

The lawmakers said Senate leadership in coming weeks will conduct a “rigorous review of existing campaign finance laws and our own internal fundraising practices – and make recommendations on where we can improve as a caucus and a state, with a focus on when, where and how we raise campaign dollars and how we increase public transparency.” They’ll also schedule a public hearing to discuss campaign finance “the constitutional limits on reform.”

“Make no mistake: Senate Democrats fully intend to strengthen our productive, progressive majority this election year and have no intention of unilaterally disarming in terms of campaign resources,” Steinberg and de Leon said. “But this is time for a reality check. And, while the Legislature as a whole cannot be held responsible for the bad acts of three individual members, we do bear a high and profound responsibility to do all we can to repair the excruciating breach of public confidence they left behind.”

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County Dems urge racist elected official to quit

(Ed.’s note: This post is by my colleague Thomas Peele, who has been on this story’s trail from the start. -J)

The Contra Costa County Democratic Party has joined the chorus of those demanding the resignation of West County Wastewater District Director Leonard Battaglia.

Leonard BattagliaBattaglia, you will remember, made racist remarks about African-Americans and Asians during an interview with this newspaper about his salary and benefits, saying that during his time as a Koren War fighter pilot he trained with black and found them as a race to be genetically inferior.

“Battaglia’s comments are an insult to all Americans who have and are honorably serving our country, including the President of the United States, who is of African American descent,” Ellis Goldberg, the party’s communications officer, said in a statement issued Wednesday that demanded Battaglia’s immediate resignation.

Battaglia, 85, of El Sobrante, is a registered Democrat.

Earlier this month, his water board colleagues asked, by way of a 4-0 vote, for Battaglia to resign. He did not. Several Richmond council members have also called for his resignation. The San Pablo City Council has scheduled a vote for Monday night to condemn Battaglia, whose term expires next year.

Goldberg is calling on other Democratic leaders to pursue similar measures.