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SD10: Wieckowski & Kuo speak out on Tesla

Electric-car manufacturer Tesla’s decision to site its first “gigafactory” for battery production in Nevada has brought a wave of disappointment from Californians, including the two candidates hoping to represent the Fremont-based company’s 10th State Senate District.

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, looked for silver linings:

Bob Wieckowski“While I am disappointed in Tesla’s apparent decision to locate its battery factory in Nevada, I am proud of California’s partnership with Tesla resulting in significant job growth in Fremont, Santa Clara County and among the automakers’ suppliers. I am hopeful that as the company grows, Tesla may build additional battery facilities or other specialized facilities in California as it scales up manufacturing for current and future products. Our region continues to benefit from the growth of auto research and design investments in the Bay Area and Tesla is an important part of that industry growth locally. With more than 6,000 employees in our state and the new Model X on the way in 2015, Tesla will continue to contribute to California’s position as the green technology leader and highlight our commitment to job creation.”

But Republican candidate Peter Kuo noted the Legislature couldn’t reach a deal before adjourning last week on a bill to provide further incentives for Tesla to put the plant in California:

Peter Kuo “Over the past year California, and specifically the Bay Area, has seen tens of thousands of current and future jobs depart for other states. Jobs fleeing California has become common place, this is unacceptable and unsustainable for our economy.

“While my opponent Bob Wieckowski appears to dismiss the severity of this news, I am concerned about the economy and workers in this district. The type of policies that Bob has led on are a root cause of the exodus of businesses to more business friendly states. Since announcing my candidacy I have often pointed to California’s burdensome business climate that has resulted in an abysmal recovery in the Golden State. Tesla’s latest move hits close to home because many of those jobs could have filled by constituents of the 10th Senate District. I urge the legislature to take this seriously and stop the bleeding.”

Posted on Thursday, September 4th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate | 2 Comments »

CA17: Khanna’s endorsers & Honda’s border visit

With today’s 17th Congressional District news dominated by the candidates’ agreement on debate terms and Ro Khanna’s rally outside Rep. Mike Honda’s San Jose office, I didn’t have room in the story for Khanna’s latest endorsements and Honda’s run for the border.

Khanna is touting new endorsements from San Jose City Councilmen Pete Constant and Johnny Khamis; Santa Clara County School Board Trustee Grace Mah; Fremont Unified School Board Member Lily Mei; and former Fremont Vice Mayor and City Councilmember Steve Cho.

Constant, Khamis and Cho are Republicans, while Mah and Mei are registered without party affiliation.

“I’m very proud that my grassroots campaign is supported by so many leaders from different backgrounds and across the political spectrum,” Khanna said in a news release. “While my opponent has relied on national and special interest backing, our campaign has worked hard to gain the trust and respect of those who actually live and work in the 17th district. I look forward to taking this inclusive and accessible approach to Congress.”

Constant said Khanna “has had strong bipartisan support since he launched his campaign, and I’m proud to be part of that. Unfortunately, Mike Honda has never been interested in working across the aisle, which is a stark departure from the long tradition of pragmatic leadership in Silicon Valley. Given Ro’s common sense approach and his unique understanding of economic issues, I’m confident he’ll be an effective representative for our region.”

Meanwhile, Honda will be part of a bipartisan congressional delegation that tours the U.S.-Mexico border near McAllen, Tex., on Thursday and Friday.

“The recent surge of unaccompanied children coming across our border brought to the light the need for greater resources and understanding for our immigration and asylum processes,” Honda said in a news release. “This trip will help us learn more about what happens when someone comes to the border, how they are treated, and what both the US and Mexico need to improve the situation.”

Honda, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, said such knowledge will help him and his colleagues work with their peers and the White House to “better appropriate funds so they meet the specific needs of those who are working on the US/Mexico Border.”

Along with Honda, the delegation includes Phil Roe, R-Tenn.; Mark Takano, D-Riverside; Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo.; Dina Titus, D-Nev.; Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M. They’ll visit the Hidalgo International Bridge, the McAllen Border Patrol Station, and the Department of Health and Human Services BCFS Harlingen Children’s Facility. They’ll meet with the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, key U.S. border patrol and enforcement officials, and a Mexican government delegation.

Posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

CA17: Mike Honda outraises Ro Khanna again

Rep. Mike Honda significantly outraised his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna, in the year’s second quarter and has considerably more money with which to start their general-election showdown, according to Federal Election Commission reports provided by the candidates Tuesday.

Honda, D-San Jose, finished first in the June 3 primary election with 48.2 percent of the vote, while Khanna – a former Obama administration official from Fremont – finished second with 28 percent. Two Republican candidates, Vanila Singh and Joel VanLandingham, finished further back and so were eliminated.

honda.jpgA report provided by Honda’s campaign Tuesday, combined with the one filed in mid-May, show he raised $522,086.37 while spending $542,605.07 from April 1 through June 30. This left him with $1,063,355.97 cash on hand as of June 30, but he also had $7,176.83 in debts, so his unencumbered cash was $1,056,179.14.

“Following the decisive 20-point win in the primary last month, the Honda campaign continues its strong fundraising leading up to the November election,” campaign manager Doug Greven said in a news release. “Mike Honda’s network of grassroots supporters – more than 7,000 of whom have given to the campaign so far – continues to grow.”

“We are going to keep this fundraising pace going and will have the resources to win in November while our debt-ridden challenger has some serious catching up to do,” Greven said.

Ro KhannaKhanna’s report filed Tuesday, plus the one he filed in mid-May, show he raised $337,673.26 in the second quarter while spending a tremendous $1,461,930.52 – which accounts for almost half of his total spending since the campaign began. This left him with $867,672.16 cash on hand as of June 30, but he also had $239,131.92 in debts, so his unencumbered cash was $628,540.24.

“There are only two numbers that matter in this reporting period: 50 and 202,” Khanna campaign manager Leah Cowan insisted in a news release. “That’s because a majority of Ro’s donations were under $50, while Rep. Honda doubled down on his 202 area code fundraising amongst Washington special interests. Understandably, the Honda campaign is eager to change the story after burning well over a million dollars and relying on desperate false attacks just to lose a majority of the vote. It’s become clearer than ever that voters will be supporting change in November, just as they did in the primary.”

That said, Honda begins the general-election race with a 20-point primary win, a big edge in money, the name recognition of seven terms in office, and the bully pulpit of incumbency. Khanna aired several television ads before the primary; Honda has yet to go on the air.

Read more, after the jump…
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Posted on Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
Under: campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

CA17: Honda and Khanna battle for GOP votes

With two Democrats having survived the 17th Congressional District’s primary to advance to November’s general election, the battle is on for the district’s Republican hearts and minds.

Weeks after Jim Cunneen – the last Republican to represent Silicon Valley in Sacramento – endorsed Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, for an eighth term, Republican former Rep. Ernie Konnyu has now cast his lot with Democratic challenger Ro Khanna.

Ernie Konnyu“I have been in touch with Ro and his staff and look forward to help unite Republican and independent voters who supported me in the western portion of the Congressional district with the thousands of voters already backing Ro Khanna,” Konnyu, 77, of San Jose, said in a statement issued Friday.

“My aim is to deliver to the House of Representatives a new bi-partisan Congressman from Silicon Valley ready to lead for jobs and greater Silicon Valley successes,” he said. “I trust that Ro will be good for America and great for Silicon Valley.”

Konnyu was a South Bay Assemblyman from 1980 to 1986, when he was elected to serve what was then the 12th Congressional District. He served only one House term, primaried out in 1988 by a more socially moderate Republican, Tom Campbell.

Honda finished first in last month’s primary with 48 percent of the vote, and Khanna – a former Obama administration official from Fremont – finished second with 28 percent. Republican Vanila Singh of Fremont got 17 percent and Joel VanLandingham of San Jose got 7 percent, and so they were eliminated.

Only 19 percent of the district’s voters are Republican while 44 percent are Democrats and 32 percent state no party preference, but that GOP fifth of the electorate could be a crucial bloc if either campaign can mobilize it. While many had assumed Republicans might favor Khanna – generally seen as being a smidgen to the right of the ultra-liberal Honda, or at least, more attuned to the tech sector’s needs – a poll in May found 19 percent of GOP voters favored Honda while 18 percent favored Khanna.

Singh sent a Fourth-of-July email to her supporters Friday saying that in recent weeks she has been “reaching out to voters, volunteers, and donors to keep this exciting and impressive movement that we have begun in motion! I am humbled by the endless amounts of phone calls I have been receiving both locally and nationally. This proves that we have laid the organizational foundation that will endure for those who share these ideals.”

“As we celebrate our independence today, I hope you can join me in preserving their vision by continuing to fight for our beloved country,” Singh wrote. “These next couple months are just the beginning of an inspirational movement and it is imperative that we keep a presence at this very pivotal time in our nation. I want you to remember that these campaigns are about the people – make sure your voice is loud this November!”

The message, however, made no mention of an endorsement.

Honda and Khanna appear to be equally matched in campaign money to spend from now to November. You can bet that some of that money will be spent wooing the Singh and VanLandingham voters who are now up for grabs.

Posted on Saturday, July 5th, 2014
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

CA17: Honda and Khanna take their victory laps

Rep. Mike Honda’s 22-percentage-point lead over insurgent Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in Tuesday’s 17th Congressional District primary has both the party’s establishment and its liberal wing crowing with delight.

honda.jpgDemocratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel issued a statement praising Honda, D-San Jose, on his “decisive win” and calling him “the ideal leader for the Bay Area” with “an unparalleled record of delivering results in education, innovation and helping to rebuild the middle class.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the liberal grassroots group Democracy for America, used sharper terms, calling Honda “the true grassroots progressive in the race, over the billionaire-backed, Republican-lite Ro Khanna.”

“With the registered Republicans now out of the race, Democracy for America members look forward to continuing to make clear that Mike Honda is the only progressive Democrat in this race — a job we expect to be made considerably easier as Republican-lite Ro Khanna inevitably begins making the same right-wing pitch to voters that he used to ‘win’ the support of fringe-right millionaires and billionaires,” Chamberlain said.

And the Progressive Change Campaign Committee counts Honda among victories in what it “is calling ‘Progressive Super Tuesday’ because ‘Elizabeth Warren wing’ Democrats across the country won their races against Corporate Democrats.”

As I wrote Tuesday night, Honda’s victory margin gives him some room to breathe as he heads for his November showdown with Khanna. They’re about equally matched in money, and Honda – who already has the name recognition that comes with being a seven-term incumbent – has not yet even started advertising on television.

But Khanna – who came out swinging Tuesday night by challenging Honda to swear off negative campaigning, shun independent expenditures and meet for five debates – says he has five months to play catch-up. His campaign issued a lengthy memo Wednesday from consultant Jeremy Bird – who was national field director of President Obama’s re-election camoaign – explaining why Khanna is “in a strong position” looking ahead to November.

Ro KhannaThe memo notes that Khanna has moved from 5 percent in the polls to his 27 percent showing on Tuesday, even with three other candidates in the field, while Honda dropped from 57 percent in his own poll to 49 percent Tuesday. “And any time an incumbent falls below 50% – especially one who started with as strong name ID as Honda – that suggests a highly vulnerable candidate,” Bird wrote.

November will offer a larger, more moderate electorate, the memo says.

“Honda’s best performing group (strong partisan Democrats) is already accounted for in the primary vote,” Bird wrote. “There is no more natural constituency for Rep. Honda to reach out to. Rep. Honda’s worst performing groups, independent Democrats, DTS and Republican voters, make up the vast majority of the up-for-grabs vote pool. He has to win votes from groups outside his core appeal. This will be a formidable challenge because his vote share over the primary shrunk, especially with these groups, while Ro Khanna’s grew.”

Posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

CA17: Singh to hold GOTV rally with Kashkari

Congressional candidate Vanila Singh will host a rally at her campaign’s headquarters in Milpitas this Saturday, May 31, with a slew of other Republicans including gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari.

“The Silicon Valley has never seen a Republican ‘Get-Out-The-Vote’ effort like this before,” Dr. Singh said in a statement issued Monday.

Also scheduled to attend are Ron Nehring, a former state GOP chairman who now is running for lieutenant governor; 10th State Senate District candidate Peter Kuo, 20th Assembly District candidate Jaime Patino; and 28th Assembly District candidate Chuck Page, as well as party leaders such as Alameda County Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Caro.

The rally is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Singh’s campaign headquarters, 1313 N. Milpitas Blvd, Suite 215 in Milpitas. Singh is running to unseat Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, in the 17th Congressional District; also in the race are Democrat Ro Khanna and Republican Joel VanLandingham. A poll conducted last week found Singh running a distant third behind Honda and Khanna.

Singh launched her second television ad Saturday:

Posted on Monday, May 26th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, Neel Kashkari, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

CA17: VanLandingham says he’ll move into district

Joel VanLandingham, one of the Republicans challenging Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District, said Tuesday he will move into the district this summer whether or not he makes it past next month’s top-two primary.

And he says Honda, D-San Jose, should do the same.

Joel Vanlandingham“Being part of the district you represent is really important,” he said. “You’ve got to be part of something, you can’t just phone it in. He should do the same thing… he should be willing to be part of the community he represents.”

VanLandingham now lives off Alamden Road in San Jose, within Rep. Anna Eshoo’s 18th Congressional District. Asked where he and his family might move, he replied, “We haven’t looked at specific housing but we’ve looked at two areas: Cupertino or Fremont. We really like that Irvington district.”

The San Jose house in which Honda has lived in for four decades was in the district he represented until the boundaries were redrawn three years ago; it’s now within Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s 19th Congressional District. Honda won’t move, his campaign spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said last month, but he “has deep roots in every part of the 17th District.”

The U.S. Constitution requires only that a member of Congress be a resident of the state he or she represents, not the specific district.

VanLandingham’s candidacy has been controversial as accusations arose that Democratic candidate Ro Khanna and/or his followers played a key role in getting him on the ballot at the last minute, in order to dilute a Republican voting bloc that otherwise would’ve gone all to candidate Vanila Singh and so endangered Khanna’s chances of finishing in the top two with Honda. VanLandingham and Khanna have denied any such collusion.

Honda has refused to attend any debates before next month’s primary; he, Khanna and VanLandingham have been together only once, for a League of Women Voters forum early this month in Fremont, which Singh refused to attend. VanLandingham said he’s still trying to convince Khanna and Singh to meet him for a debate, but so far has heard “nothing from either of them.”

Posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | No Comments »

CA17: Vanila Singh launches TV ad

Vanila Singh, a Republican candidate in the 17th Congressional District, has launched her first television advertisement:

Singh campaign manager Matt Shupe said the ad will run on cable channels from now through the June 3 election, but when pressed for details on how often it will air and the ad buy’s cost, added “it could be fluctuating.”

Singh and another Republican, Joel VanLandingham, are fighting for notice as incumbent Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, and Democrat Ro Khanna suck most of the oxygen out of the room with their epic, year-long battle. Khanna has run a few TV spots and a ton of online advertising; Honda has foregone TV and stuck mostly to direct mail; and VanLandingham has no money to spend on anything, after refusing to accept any campaign contributions.

Posted on Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

SD10: Of polls, endorsements and mailers

The war in the 10th State Senate District continues, with a poll by Mary Hayashi’s campaign that claims she’s in the lead; an endorsement for Bob Wieckowski that takes a swipe at Hayashi; and labor unions’ second attack mailer focusing on Hayashi’s shoplifting conviction.

Mary HayashiHayashi’s campaign on Friday issued a poll memo saying that a survey of 400 likely voters in the district found 21 percent support Hayashi, 18 percent support Wieckowski, 7 percent support Republican Peter Kuo, 5 percent support Democrat Roman Reed, 2 percent support independent Audie Bock and a whopping 47 percent are undecided. Hayashi’s lead is within the poll’s 4.9-percentage-point margin of error.

“Hayashi has the clearest path to victory of any candidate,” pollsters Celinda Lake and Liesl Newton wrote in the memo. “Furthermore, despite attacks against her, Mary Hayashi’s favorability ratings remain net positive.”

Lisa Tucker, Wieckowski’s campaign consultant, noted the poll was conducted after Hayashi sent out a series of mailers about herself, but while the first negative mailers went out against her (although Wieckowski did launch an attack website against Hayashi more than a week earlier).

“It seems that her investment in trying to rehabilitate herself after her shoplifting conviction, while still serving probation, is not paying off,” Tucker said. “We feel confident that character does matter to voters and that they will reject Mary Hayashi when they learn she was convicted of shoplifting and is seeking public office while still serving probation.”

Hayashi has insisted she was distracted and inadvertently left San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus store with $2,450 worth of clothes in a store-branded shopping bag she had brought with her that day in October 2011. In a deal with prosecutors, the felony grand theft charge against her was reduced to a misdemeanor, to which she pleaded no contest in early 2012.

Meanwhile, Democracy for America, the progressive group founded a decade ago by former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean, announced its endorsement of Wieckowski on Monday.

Bob Wieckowski“Primaries can sometimes present tough decisions, especially since California adopted the top two primary. When looking at a choice between a convicted shoplifter and a strong progressive, however, the choice is clear,” DFA digital programs manager Andy Kelley wrote in a fundraising plea for Wieckowski. “Bob Wieckowski is up against a Republican who wants to return the state legislature to the bad old days of gridlock and cuts to the social safety net, and a former Democratic lawmaker who demonstrated her unfitness for office by stealing thousands of dollars of goods from a San Francisco store.”

“Bob Wieckowski will help push California’s politics in a more ethical direction and will stand on principle,” Kelley wrote. “The State Senate has had enough scandal. Bob Wieckowski will bring ethical, progressive leadership and a strong backbone — two things Sacramento needs right now.”

Also Monday, a group of labor unions supporting Wieckowski issued their second attack mailer against Hayashi within a week’s time.

Click to enlarge:
Second IE Hayashi mailer-page1

Second IE Hayashi mailer-page2

“If Mary Hayashi can’t go within 50 feet of a Neiman Marcus store … shouldn’t it be the same for the State Senate” the mailer asks, over a photo illustration of Hayashi separated from the State Capitol by what looks like police tape reading “MARY HAYASHI DO NOT ENTER.” On the other side, the mailer repeats the same alleged ethical transgressions as last week’s mailer.

The mailer comes from “Californians for Integrity in Government Opposed to Hayashi for Senate 2014, Sponsored by Peace Officers, Nurses and Labor Organizations.” The committee’s mailing address is that of the California Nurses Association, and the mailer discloses the committee receives “major funding by California State Council of Service Employees Political Committee.”

“Clearly this is in response to the polling that shows Mary is in the lead,” Josh Pulliam, Hayashi’s campaign manager, said Monday. “Apparently Bob and his backers think the only way to beat her is to bully her, to beat up on her” about the shoplifting in order to make voters forget about her lengthy, strong legislative record.

“They don’t want the voters to get a full view of all of the candidates because they know if voters do, they’re going to lose,” Pulliam said. “Bob still hasn’t given anybody a reason to vote for him.”

UPDATE @ 2:17 P.M.: Also, here’s the ad that Kuo’s campaign says it has been airing for several days:

Posted on Monday, May 12th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Mary Hayashi | 17 Comments »

CA17: More on VanLandingham’s nomination

The ties between Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna’s supporters and those who helped get Republican candidate Joel VanLandingham into the 17th Congressional District race might run deeper than initially reported.

My story early last month outlined how Khanna supporters associated with the Fremont Hindu Temple – including one Newark woman in particular – seemed to have been instrumental in circulating VanLandingham’s nominating petitions. Khanna said neither he nor any members of his campaign staff had anything to do with it.

Vanila Singh, the first Republican to enter the race, has said she doesn’t believe that – she insists Khanna and his supporters recruited VanLandingham to split the GOP vote and boost Khanna’s chances of getting into the June primary’s top two with Rep. Mike Honda. She has used this as an excuse for skipping candidate forums, saying she’ll not take part in any event in which VanLandingham participates.

Now comes new research from Margaret Okuzumi, a Honda supporter who is the Democratic Club of Sunnyvale’s incoming president.

Okuzumi claims Khanna’s campaign moved to “hijack” that club by having more than 45 of campaign staffers and supporters – and even Khanna, who lives in Fremont – become members in the latter half of last year in order to sway the endorsement vote.

“People would only do that if directed by a campaign to do so. Otherwise, they are hardly likely to know that our Democratic Club even exists or that our endorsement is considered of strategic importance, especially if they live as far away from Sunnyvale as Fremont,” she said. “I wouldn’t have minded as much if they’d actually recruited new people from Sunnyvale to join our club. Instead they recruited over 30 people who didn’t care about our city and who weren’t interested in our activities other than our endorsement.”

But Nancy Smith, the Sunnyvale club’s cofounder and former president, said Monday that Honda’s and Khanna’s campaigns both were notified of the club’s endorsement rules – namely, that a person would have to sign up and attend at least one meeting before being allowed to take part in an endorsement vote. “I would have to say Ro’s campaign took that more seriously than Mike’s did,” she said.

The club eventually voted overwhelmingly not to endorse anyone in this race – which some might see as a win for Khanna, given Honda’s incumbency.

However, five of those new Sunnyvale Democratic Club members – including Shivani Sanan, Rajesh and Madhu Gupta, Priya Kapil and Tanu Kalra, all of Fremont – later signed VanLandingham’s Alameda County nominating petitions, Okuzumi found. Another one, Mahesh Pakala, reportedly asked a Fremont couple affiliated with the temple to sign Vanlandingham’s petition. And several of VanLandingham’s petition-signers either themselves gave money – more than $10,000 total – to Khanna’s campaign or had immediate family members who did.

“Without Khanna campaign involvement, VanLandingham would not have received enough signatures to qualify for the ballot,” Okuzumi said.

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, May 12th, 2014
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 34 Comments »