0

Neel Kashkari endorsed by Romney, Wilson & Issa

Struggling in the polls, Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari rolled out some high-profile endorsements Monday clearly aimed at shoring up his bona fides among the GOP rank and file.

Kashkari, a former Treasury Department official and asset manager from Laguna Beach, announced his endorsement by Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former California Governor Pete Wilson, and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Vista.

“Democrats’ big-government policies have hurt the middle class and reduced opportunity for Americans across the country, and that’s the reason it’s so important to elect leaders like Neel Kashkari who understand how to jumpstart the private sector, fix our schools and get people working again,” Romney said in the news release. “Republicans in California and across the nation must unite behind candidates who will fight for our Party’s principles of fiscal responsibility and hard work – and I believe Neel is that candidate. He has demonstrated courage and steady leadership in tough times, and his resilience and focus is exactly what we need leading California today.”

Wilson called Kashkari “the right candidate with the right message to challenge Gov. Brown, support Republican candidates up and down the ticket, and help us grow the Party in the long term. California needs new, fiscally conservative leadership in Sacramento to strengthen our state’s economy, and that’s the reason I urge Republicans across the state to join me in supporting Neel this June.”

And Issa said “Sacramento Democrats have a disastrous record of passing job-killing laws and regulations that have destroyed the middle class; it’s clearly time for new leadership to help restore the strength of our private sector and put people back to work. I’m pleased to endorse Neel because he is an honest, hard-working person who is clearly committed to public service, and I believe he’s the right candidate to lead the Republican ticket in California this November.”

A Field Poll released earlier this month showed Kashkari, who entered the race in January, trailing far behind the generally more conservative Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, while both are being pummeled by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. And just last week, a private poll found Kashkari trailing even fellow Republican Glenn Champ, a registered sex offender who’s running a religiously oriented campaign.

But Kashkari has had more fundraising success than any of his Republican rivals, and said earlier this month that he intends to launch targeted television ads and direct mail as vote-by-mail ballots go out starting May 5.

14

CA17: Ro Khanna signs up for Obamacare

South Bay congressional candidate Ro Khanna is using his own, positive experience with the Covered California health benefit exchange as a campaign asset.

Khanna, the former Obama administration official from Fremont who’s challenging Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, in the 17th District, send an e-mail to supporters Wednesday saying he signed up for health insurance the night before.

“I’ve heard a lot of people criticize the website for being too slow or shutting down before they could finish. I had a good experience using Covered California — it didn’t take too long and I’m going to be paying less now than I was before,” he wrote. “Members of Congress sometimes forget what it is like for the rest of us because they are treated differently. As your Congressman, I promise that I will always think about you when I am making decisions – that is the sort of change that we need.”

The email included a link to this video:

In other CA-17 news, the Honda campaign was quick to use my Tuesday blog post about contributors to the campaigns in its own email to supporters – though it was used rather selectively.

An email from Honda campaign manager Doug Greven noted my report that Marc Leder and Peter Thiel – both prominent GOP donors – had contributed to Khanna’s campaign, as had Chamath Palihapitiya, who has donated to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign and said October’s government shutdown wasn’t a bad thing. The email’s subject line: “Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz & Ro Khanna.”

“What do some of the biggest backers of the Tea Party, and the host of the fundraiser where Mitt Romney made his infamous “47%” comment, have in common?” Greven wrote. “Probably a lot of things, but this one might surprise you: they are some of the biggest donors to Mike’s primary opponent. We need your help to fight back against the far-right conservatives trying to buy a Congressman to replace Mike.”

But Greven’s email didn’t note my point that California’s top-two primary system naturally means the anybody-but-Honda crowd will support whoever has the best chance of beating him, and given the district’s heavy Democratic and independent voter registration, that’s probably Khanna.

“This is what old-school politicians do — portray their opponent as a ‘friend of the devil’ to try to scare people into giving them money. It’s why our politics is so broken today,” replied Khanna spokesman Tyler Law. “He also fails to note that, during his career, he’s taken over a third of all his contributions from special-interest PACs, totaling millions of dollars. Ro has decided to forgo any contributions from PACs and federal lobbyists, because he believes that they have too much control over a Congress that consistently puts those special interests ahead of the interests of regular Americans.”

“Congressman Honda can choose to distort both Ro’s and his own fundraising practices in a desperate effort to raise money,” Law said. “But this kind of divisive, alarmist rhetoric doesn’t help solve our problems. It only exacerbates the dysfunction of our politics that has led to the least productive Congress in history and its record-low public standing.”

11

Bloomberg: Food stamps biggest in red counties

Of the 254 counties in which food-stamp recipients doubled between 2007 and 2011, 213 were carried by Republican nominee Mitt Romney in last year’s presidential election, Bloomberg reported this week.

Graphic by Washington Post

(Graphic by Washington Post)

So it seems the heightened need for federal aid to combat hunger is primarily a red-state (or at least red-county) phenomenon. Yet House Republicans recently passed a Farm Bill reauthorization which didn’t include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. They’ve said they intend to move a separate bill that would cut $4 billion per year from food stamps and similar programs.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, joined with three other lawmakers this week to release a letter signed by more than 200 House Democrats urging Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to restore SNAP funding to the final Farm Bill.

“We voted against this bill in large part because of this intentional omission,” they wrote. “We strongly believe in the critical importance of SNAP. Given the essential nature of this program to millions of American families, the final language of the Farm Bill or any other legislation related to SNAP must be crafted to ensure that we do not increase hunger in America.”

15

The Obama-Romney lunch at the White House

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall. (Well, maybe not a fly, given President Obama’s moves.)

Here’s the official readout from the White House:

This afternoon, President Obama and Governor Romney visited for an hour over lunch in the Private Dining Room adjacent to the Oval Office. Governor Romney congratulated the President for the success of his campaign and wished him well over the coming four years. The focus of their discussion was on America’s leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future. They pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future. Their lunch menu included white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad.

11

3 things to remember about Romney’s binders

All joking aside, there are three points about Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment at Wednesday’s debate that shouldn’t get lost in all the fuss over the Internet meme.

1.) He didn’t actually answer the question.
Audience member Katherine Fenton asked, “In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?” In response, Romney talked about going the extra mile to find women to serve in his Massachusetts gubernatorial cabinet; about providing flexible work schedules so women can meet their family obligations (as if men don’t have those too?); and about strengthening the economy to create more jobs. He said nothing about pay inequity.

2.) The binders thing isn’t entirely true.
The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts Government Appointments Project was compiling this information and reached out to the gubernatorial candidates before Romney was even elected – they went to him, not vice versa. The Globe also reports:

Midway through his four-year term, 42 percent of his 33 new appointments were women, according to a study done by the UMass Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy using some of the data collected by MassGAP.

But over the next two years, women made up only 25 percent of the 64 new appointments Romney made. By the end of his term, the number of women in high-ranking positions was slightly lower than it was before Romney took office.

3.) Regardless of who went to whom, he made an amazing admission.
Romney said:

“An important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.”

“And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, ‘How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.’ They said, ‘Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.’ And I said, ‘Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?’”

It sounds as if Romney set a policy in which he took gender into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group in employment, as a means of countering the effects of a history of discrimination.

There’s a name for that: affirmative action. But he was panned for his affirmative action record as Massachusetts’s governor, and it’s not a concept that’s popular with a lot of conservatives.