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Neel Kashkari endorses Rocky Chávez for Senate

2014 Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari has endorsed Assemblyman Rocky Chávez for California’s U.S. Senate seat in 2016.

NEEL KASHKARIChávez, R-Oceanside, “is the right candidate for California,” Kashkari said in a news release. “His story reflects that of so many Californians who want to preserve the American Dream for their families, but are in need of a better education system for their kids and who seek elected leaders who will balance the budget.”

“We need experienced and tested leaders in Washington who are prepared to tackle challenges at home and abroad,” Kashkari added. “As a Marine Colonel and a California Assembly Member, Col. Chávez has the experience to effectively represent California in the United States Senate.”

Chávez thanked Kashkari for his “incredible support. He understands what it takes to meet challenges head-on, and we continue to need voices like his in California.”

Kashkari, of Laguna Beach, got 40 percent of the vote in November’s general gubernatorial election, defeated by incumbent Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown. A moderate on some issues, he had struggled all last year to shore up his standing with the GOP’s conservative wing – a struggle the relatively moderate Chávez might face as well.

Former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette opened an exploratory committee for the 2016 Senate race in late February, and is expected to announce his candidacy soon. Another former state GOP chairman, Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills, also is considering a run for the seat. Two little-known Republicans, John Estrada of Fresno and Mark Hardie of Whittier, have declared their candidacies, though Hardie has yet to form a campaign committee.

The only Democrat in the race so far is California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who raised $2.5 million in the year’s first quarter and has been steadily rolling out endorsements in recent months. But a few other Democrats are mulling the race as well – most notably Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, who sounded like she was testing out her campaign oratory Monday in Orange County, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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SD7: No, Alameda Co. GOP didn’t endorse Glazer

I just received a call from Alameda County Republican Party Chairwoman Lori Drake of Dublin and county GOP treasurer Jeff Wald of Fremont asking that I clarify that the county party has not endorsed centrist Democrat Steve Glazer in the 7th State Senate District special election.

They wanted to make sure nobody was left with the wrong impression from a story I wrote earlier this week about how Michaela Hertle – an alternate county GOP committeewoman from Pleasanton and the only Republican to file as a candidate in the SD7 race – had dropped out and endorsed Glazer.

In that story, I quoted Patrick McGarrity – spokesman for Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, who also is seeking the senate seat – as saying Bonilla is the Democratic Party’s choice while “Steve Glazer is the choice of delegates from the Alameda County Republican Party.”

I then tweeted out a link to the story Monday evening that said, “#SD7 As @MichaelaHertle drops out/endorses @Steve_Glazer, @ASMSusanBonilla’s camp says Glazer is @AlamedaGOP’s pick.”

So, consider this clarified: Steve Glazer is the pick of the only Republican who had been in the race, but not of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee.

Drake declined to comment just now when I asked her what she thought of Hertle’s leaving the race and endorsing Glazer.

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Eric Swalwell endorses Kamala Harris for Senate

Rep. Eric Swalwell, the East Bay congressman who’d sent up a trial balloon last week about running for the U.S. Senate seat that Barbara Boxer will vacate in 2016, instead endorsed California Attorney General Kamala Harris for that seat Wednesday.

“From her days as a prosecutor in the Alameda County D.A.’s office through her time as California Attorney General, Kamala has been an innovative and effective leader on so many issues facing Californians — crime prevention, consumer protections, environmental preservation, and strengthening public education,” said Swalwell, D-Dublin, who also was an Alameda County prosecutor. “I look forward to campaigning alongside Kamala and working together on behalf of the next generation of Californians.”

Swalwell, 34, who has just begun his second House term, will serve Harris’ campaign as chairman of Young Professionals outreach, spearheading young voter organizing and fundraising efforts. Harris said he’s “an incredibly hard-working and effective representative of his East Bay constituents in Congress, and I am grateful to have him by my side in this campaign.”

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CA17: San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed backs Khanna

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has endorsed Ro Khanna in his bid to unseat fellow Democrat Rep. Mike Honda.

Chuck Reed

Reed, a Democrat who’s term-limited out of office at the end of this year, said Friday that as he prepares to leave public life, he’s been thinking about the future challenges Silicon Valley will face.

“I think our Silicon Valley team in Washington would be greatly strengthened if we add Ro Khanna,” he said, particularly for the sake of changing federal taxes and regulations that impede the region’s economy. “Silicon Valley’s interests would be his number-one priority.”

Khanna “understands the tech sector and the global challenges to the valley,” Reed said, and can make the region’s case “in a way that can get bipartisan support, which is certainly needed in the House.”

Reed said he called Honda earlier Friday to inform him of the choice, which was “a sad conversation.”

“It’s nothing personal,” he said, adding Honda is “an affable guy” and “has done a good job, but I think we need to step up our game in Washington.”

Khanna’s campaign was not immediately available for comment Friday.

Honda campaign spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Reed’s endorsement of Khanna is “not at all surprising.”

“Both politicians believe in stripping public servants of retirement benefits – even if that means decimating our public safety network in Reed’s case – and both have been labeled Republican lites,” he said. “Reed may call himself a Democrat, but his track record of pushing to overhaul unions, oppose gay marriage, block minimum wage increases and eliminate limits on campaign contribution suggest otherwise.”

Reed also has endorsed Republican Ashley Swearengin over Democrat Betty Yee in the race for the state controller’s office, Kembaiyan noted, and “has served as a faithful and longtime ally of San Jose Councilman turned evangelical right-wing activist Larry Pegram.”

“Reed’s endorsement of Khanna is just further reflection of his conservative values,” he said.

UPDATE @ 7:20 P.M.: “I think he did it because it’s what best for the future of Silicon Valley,” Khanna said of Reed’s endorsement Friday evening, despite Honda having represented the region for so long.

Taken together with endorsements from other Democrats like former state Controller Steve Westly and Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom, Reed’s backing says something about philosophical differences within the Democratic party, Khanna said.

Party leaders like President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are in Honda’s corner, but “Honda is a more orthodox, traditional Democrat” while Khanna said he has always made it clear he’ll reach out to independents and Republicans for a chance to work across the aisle in the GOP-controlled House. “It raises a question of what it means to be a Democrat from Silicon Valley.”

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CA15: California Labor Federation backs Corbett

It’s not so often that the California Democratic Party and the California Labor Federation end up on different sides of a Bay Area House race.

Ellen CorbettThe labor federation – made up of more than 1,200 AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions representing 2.1 million members – announced Thursday that it has endorsed state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, in the 15th Congressional District

The party endorsed incumbent Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, last month. Republican Hugh Bussell of Livermore also is in the race.

The labor federation announced this and dozens of other endorsements as its biennial pre-primary convention finished up in Oakland. In a news release, the federation said the endorsements are “the launching pad for the massive grassroots voter outreach efforts that will activate tens of thousands of volunteers from now until Election Day.”

Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski said the labor federation’s power “derives from workers coming together on nights and weekends to talk to friends, neighbors and co-workers about the importance of this year’s election. What our grassroots efforts lack in money we more than make up for in face-to-face voter engagement.”

That’s key for Corbett, who very much needs some institutional support to augment her campaign’s meager bankroll. Swalwell’s campaign started 2014 with four times as much money in the bank; consultant Lisa Tucker this week said he raised about $270,000 in this year’s first quarter, and had around $920,000 cash on hand as of March 31. Corbett has not yet disclosed her first-quarter fundraising; the deadline to do so is next Tuesday April 15.

Tucker said Swalwell was on a plane coming back from Washington, D.C., on Thursday afternoon, and she didn’t want to comment on the labor federation’s choice without speaking with him first.

Swalwell, Corbett and Bussell will share a stage for the first time at a League of Women Voters candidates’ forum at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday, April 15 in the Castro Valley Library, 3600 Norbridge Ave.

From the “no surprise” desk: The labor federation endorsed longtime friend to labor Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, in his bid for an eighth term, over Democratic challenger Ro Khanna and two Republicans in the 17th Congressional District.

In races for some of the Bay Area’s open legislative seats, the labor federation endorsed Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, in the 10th State Senate District; Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti in the 16th Assembly District; San Jose Councilman Kansen Chu in the 25th Assembly District; and Campbell Councilman Evan Low in the 28th Assembly District. The federation made a dual endorsement in the crowded 15th Assembly District race, backing both Elizabeth Echols and Tony Thurmond over three more Democrats and three additional candidates.

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SD10: Another endorsement for Mary Hayashi

It seems I was premature in assuming former Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi would have trouble securing endorsements in her run for the 10th State Senate District seat.

Mary HayashiThe Hayward Democrat’s campaign announced Tuesday evening that she has been endorsed by the California School Employees Association; this comes one week after the United Farm Workers announced its support.

According to Hayashi’s news release, CSEA Executive Director Dave Low wrote that his group’s support is based on Hayashi’s “support for public education and labor issues of importance to classified employees. Once elected, we will continue to work with you to find practical, equitable solutions to issues of mutual concern.”

CSEA represents more than 216,000 classified employees in California’s public school and community college systems: instructional aides, peace officers, secretaries, groundskeepers, food service, transportation and maintenance personnel and more.

Hayashi, who represented what was then the 18th Assembly District from 2006 to 2012, was convicted two years ago of shoplifting $2,450 worth of clothes from San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus; she was sentenced to three years of probation.

Also seeking the 10th State Senate District seat are Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont; Democrat Roman Reed, a spinal-injury research advocate and planning commissioner from Fremont; Republican Peter Kuo, an insurance agent from Santa Clara; and former Assemblywoman Audie Bock, also a Republican. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Roy Hashimoto also has taken out papers for this race; this Friday, March 7 is the filing deadline.

Wieckowski has the lion’s share of endorsements so far and – based on the results at a local caucus meeting last month – is likely to win the California Democratic Party’s endorsement at its convention this weekend in Los Angeles.

UPDATE @ 3:27 P.M.: It turns out the CSEA also has endorsed Wieckowski, who also Wednesday announced his backing by Teamsters Joint Council 7.

“Supporting working women and men and ensuring they have a voice in the workplace has been a priority for me in the Assembly and will continue to be a priority for me in the Senate,” Wieckowski said.

As I think I’ve noted before, dual endorsements – like tied sports scores – are like kissing your sister, boring enough to mean practically nothing at all.

UPDATE @ 3:16 P.M. THURSDAY: Teamsters Joint Council 7 endorsed Hayashi, too; this is fast becoming the “duel of the duals,” though Wieckowski’s overall endorsement list dwarfs Hayashi’s.