Happy birthday to polar political opposites

Two well-known figures in California politics celebrate their birthdays today, but I figure that’s about all they have in common.

Bob Mulholland, 65, of Chico, served almost two decades as a senior advisor to the California Democratic Party, bringing to the job a broad depth of political knowledge as well as an attack-dog demeanor that sometimes had members of his own party disavowing his actions.

Jon Fleischman, 44, of Rancho Santa Margarita, is a political consultant and former vice chairman of the California Republican Party who publishes FlashReport, the state’s most prominent news and commentary clearinghouse for GOP politics.

Both, I believe, are good men – affable, knowledgeable, principled. And both regularly engage in the kind of hyper-partisan hyperbole that polls show voters blame for the state’s seemingly intractable fiscal and governance woes.

Each is admired by his own political tribe, and reviled by the other’s. Each hews to his own uncompromising ideology, which under many other circumstances would be considered a sign of character – but is it bad for California? Do we blame the individuals who won’t bend, or the system that allows this to paralyze the state?

I’d love to imagine the two of them getting together somewhere to drink to each other’s health today, but I think imagining is about as far as that would go. So, I’ll raise a glass to both of them from here and continue mulling what they and those like them mean for our state and its future.


Pollster says Pombo bad for Republican Party



Flashreport blogger Jon Fleischman posted this item late last night citing a very interesting push poll memo from the 19th Congressional District, where former GOP Rep. Richard Pombo has declared his candidacy for the seat held by retiring Rep. George Radanovich.

Dave Gilliard, the campaign consultant for the other major Republican candidate in this race, state Sen. Jeff Denham of Merced, commissioned the poll from Public Research Strategies based in Redondo Beach.

Gilliard and the pollster conclude that Pombo is bad for the Republican Party, citing high negative poll numbers after voters were informed about a variety of Pombo’s problems when he served as the 11th District representative.

“Based on these survey findings, it is our opinion that former Congressman Richard Pombo is very unlikely to win the Republican Primary in the 19th District,” the memo said. “Further, if he were to win the primary election, it is our opinion that much of the Republican base would not stay with him and make Republicans have to spend significant money to keep this Republican Congressional seat in the Republican hands even with the very comfortable registration margin.”

As Jon writes, “Who says politics isn’t a contact sport?”

Read on for Gilliard’s email, which you can find in its entirety and all of Jon’s comments on FlashReport. Or you can click through at the bottom of this post, where I have pasted the full memo text.


TO: Interested Parties

FR: Dave Gilliard

Public Opinion Strategies just completed a poll in CA 19. A memo from the pollster is attached. The bottom line is that Jeff Denham starts with strong name ID and positives as well as a significant lead on the ballot test. When voters learn of a single fact – the Radanovich endorsement of Denham – Denham’s lead over Pombo expands to 38 % to 11 %. That lead becomes insurmountable once voters learn about both major candidates. It is also clear that Richard Pombo’s candidacy is very harmful to the Republican Party in 2010.

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California Republicans on stimulus bill passage

I posted earlier on what your Bay Area House members were saying about the economic stimulus bill, but they all bat for the same team.

California Republican Party vice chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette had this and more to say (on Thursday, though I assume he still felt the same or moreso after the votes were taken Friday) at his Political Vanguard site:

Most of this bill is a Christmas tree of handouts to unions and other Left leaning causes. Remember, this is the first time the Dems have had control of Congress and the Presidency in 15 years – they went for it all because they know in 21 months, they may not have the House. That is why it is packed with items that will advance socialized medicine, global warming rescues and the rest. They also know that it is easier to create a government program than it is to end it. Hence their haste.

Jon Fleischman, a state GOP regional vice-chair, posted to his FlashReport.org a statement from Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, which said in part:

Instead of pork barrel spending, Congress should look toward spurring investment and job growth through the private sector. Any type of stimulus package should be focused on encouraging private capital into the system rather than redistributing taxpayer money through the government.

Hear from California Republican Party chairman Ron Nehring, after the jump…
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FlashReport launches anti-McNerney web site

Conservative Republican FlashReport founder Jon Fleischman launched a new web site this week —  www.ONETERMISENOUGH.COM — targeting freshman Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton.

What does a Southern California Republican care about the outcome in District 11?

For one, it’s the only competitive congressional race in California and one of the top five targeted races in the nation. In a big upset, McNerney beat seven-term incumbent Richard Pombo in 2006 and this year, Republican Dean Andal of Stockton hopes to put the seat back in the GOP column.

(And no, Fleischman says, he’s not on the Andal campaign payroll. He donated his own money to start the web site.)

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton

On the site, Fleischman calls McNerney out for having pizza with CodePink activists. (For those who don’t know, CodePink is a high-profile anti-war activist group that conservatives loath, particularly after the group supported the removal of a Marine recruiting office in Berkeley.)

But if you look at link to CodePink’s own web account of the lunch, McNerney didn’t go to a CodePink sponsored pizza party. It was one of McNerney’s own “Congress on the Corner” events in May 2007. Continue Reading


Are Jerry McNerney’s earmarks bad or good?

Jon Fleischman, a political consultant and state GOP vice chairman who runs the conservative FlashReport.org blog, has launched a “One Term is Enough” Web site characterizing Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, as “the poster boy for special interest hypocrisy.”

Showcased there now is a piece on how McNerney’s campaign has accepted $9,500 from the EDO Corp. Political Action Committee, and how McNerney brought in a $1 million earmark for EDO “for electronic warfare concept demonstrator for the Littoral Combat Ship.” EDO, which merged last December with ITT Corp., was East Coast-based but has a facility in Morgan Hill, within McNerney’s 11th Congressional District.

“That’s right. McNerney took money from New York-based special interests and then just two days later requested an $800,000 taxpayer funded earmark for the same company,” Fleischman wrote on his Web site, not mentioning the company’s local facility. “McNerney has learned Washington’s special interest ways; he just isn’t very good at hiding it.”

Fleischman, for the record, says he has no affiliation whatsoever with the campaign of Dean Andal, the Republican nominee challenging McNerney in November’s election. “I’m just fired up and I’ve had enough of McNerney trying to posture himself as some sort of moderate centrist when he’s really voting with Nancy Pelosi all the time,” Fleischman told me today.

Well, I’ve found that Pleasanton’s Corrina, Helmuth and Stephanie Meissner – the president; founder/chief technological officer; and CEO, respectively, at Dublin-based Onyx Optics Inc.gave McNerney’s campaign a total of $3,750 in May, while Onyx Optics senior scientist Huai-Chuan Lee of Albany donated $500 in June. McNerney sponsored a $2 million earmark for Onyx Optics “for manufacturing technology development of advanced components for high power solid-state lasers.”

Furthermore, CPU Technology chief scientist Gail Walters has given McNerney $2,500 in this election cycle while vice president Richard Kessinger has given $1,500. Pleasanton-based CPU Technology makes microprocessor-based electronic systems used in defense technology, and with global defense/aerospace giant BAE Systems got a $2 million McNerney-sponsored earmark “for virtual simulation and modernization of (the) Bradley Fighting Vehicle.” CPU Technology got a $47 million contract from BAE in June.

But, as noted in the USA Today article from last December which Fleischman cites:

Money follows power. Political action committees and executives of at least 20 companies that received defense contracts through earmarks shifted their political donations this year from defeated Republican incumbents to their Democratic replacements, a USA TODAY analysis found.

“This is less a partisan issue as it is a power issue,” says Steve Ellis of the non-partisan budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Some of these companies, they’re going to support whoever’s got the ability to deliver the goods.”

Indeed, the article notes EDO’s PAC gave $6,000, and I see CPU Technology’s PAC gave $3,500, to McNerney’s Republican predecessor, Richard Pombo of Tracy, in the last election. And in this cycle, EDO’s PAC has given more than $106,000 to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

I guess you could look at it simply as McNerney scoring handouts for moneyed special interests, or you could see it as McNerney bringing federal funds to his district’s appreciative contractors.

“Congressman McNerney was proud to push for major ethics and earmark reform as one of his first acts in Congress,” spokesman Andy Stone told me today. “And he was one of the first members of Congress to release his entire list of project requests for the world to see. The (EDO Corp.) project in question is an important one because it means not only jobs for local residents, but also radar for Navy combat ships.”

McNerney has never made a secret of his earmarks; he announces them each year (2007, 2008). And considering California is a “donor state,” getting back about 79 cents on every dollar it sends to the federal treasury, some East Bay politicians are very proud of whatever money they can bring in for their districts’ businesses and agencies.

Thoughts, anyone?


This is why we’re not getting anywhere.

Former California Republican Party chairman and incoming Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel posted a blog entry last night on the FlashReport saying it’s fine with him that California is more than 50 days past its constitutional deadline for a state budget.

Democrats are actually counting the days since the budget was supposed to be approved. Who cares?

Not real people. Not the producers. Not the private sector workers. Not families who want to be left alone. Not those who find government a busy-body-nanny-state-regulators.

Only those on the take. Those who take state pay checks. And, they should be comfortable waiting. After all one of the key reasons for the massive hemorrhage of red ink, are government unions greed in fleecing taxpayers at any cost.

Any budget delay is good news for taxpayers.

Grammatical errors notwithstanding, this is a great glimpse into the soul of the Republicans who’re steadfastly standing in the way of a state budget. They believe government — all government — is bad, and they’ll do anything to starve it.

It’s no surprise Steel feels this way; he was a founder of California’s arm of the Club for Growth, the arch-conservative political organization and PAC which stands for slashing government through means such as making permanent the Bush tax cuts for the rich; privatizing Social Security and otherwise slashing the public social safety net for seniors and others; and gutting funding for public schools.

But it’s patently offensive — and many might argue, inane — to characterize “those who take state paychecks” as being “on the take.” Claiming that all public employees are corrupt money-grubbers is a lowest-common-denominator argument, appalling from someone who plays so high-profile a role in our political process.

And is the budget delay good for low-income families who’re struggling to get child-care so they can hold onto their jobs? For seniors and disabled people who rely on state health services to remain in their homes, or to survive? For our children’s schools? Methinks this well-to-do trial attorney — who lives in a tiny, rich, gated community — isn’t very much in touch with the day-to-day lives of most Californians.

This isn’t “run government like a business;” it’s “run government into the ground.” This isn’t conservatism; it’s anarchism.

Not even the U.S. Constitution is safe from Steel’s allegedly conservative rant.

Add the very liberal, former social worker and Jimmy Carter appointee, Federal Judge Thelton Henderson , who now threatens to exacerbate the California catastrophe by demanding some 8 billion dollars so that convicts can have better care than many lawful Californians.

Henderson placed the state prisons’ healthcare system in federal receivership not only because the state lost a lawsuit claiming inmates were receiving constitutionally inadequate care — that’s “cruel and unusual punishment” — but because the state for years after losing that lawsuit failed to make any significant effort to fix the problem. In other words, if Sacramento hadn’t been cutting corners for so long as to the true costs of incarceration (our prison system now has about 170,000 inmates, a population larger than that in any of 27 California counties), we wouldn’t be in this bind right now.

Steel and those of his ilk want to see government fail so they can continue to argue for its dismantling, hence Steel’s suggestion to “let the budget process drift along.” But it’s ordinary Californians who’re set adrift by this patently partisan political ploy.