California could be cash cow for Brian Schweitzer

As former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer considers whether to run for the U.S. Senate seat from which fellow Democrat Max Baucus will retire next year, you can be sure that Californians and Schweitzer are preparing to rekindle their campaign-finance romance.

Brian SchweitzerWhile running for his second gubernatorial term in 2008, Schweitzer raised at least $137,000 in the Golden State – and that was for a contest that didn’t affect the national balance of power as this 2014 Senate race could.

Among the almost 300 California donors to Schweitzer’s 2008 campaign were entertainment figures such as Rob Reiner, Larry David, Michael Keaton and Casey Kasem; tech and venture capital figures like Steve Silberstein and Andrew Rappaport; Obama bundlers Wade Randlett, Steve Spinner, John Emerson and Nancy Koppelman; and other politically connected folks such as retired appeals court judge William Newsom, our lieutenant governor’s father.

Baucus’ announcement that he won’t seek a seventh term in 2014 has Democrats across the nation signing petitions, working social media and otherwise excited about Schweitzer’s potential candidacy. Baucus just incurred liberals’ wrath April 17 when he was one of four Senate Democrats to vote against the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey amendment to expand background checks for gun purchases; alas for those angry liberals, Schweitzer is pretty solidly opposed to gun control, too.


Liberals target Senate Dems for gun vote

Liberal groups already are launching efforts to deny re-election money to the four U.S. Senate Democrats who voted against the Manchin-Toomey gun background check amendment today.

The vote was 54-46 in favor – not enough “yea” votes to reach the 60-vote threshold to which Senate leaders have agreed for amendments. The Democrats who voted against the amendment were U.S. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Max Baucus, D-Mont.; and Mark Pryor, D-Ark. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., changed his vote to “no” toward the end as a parliamentary tactic, reserving the right to bring up the bill again.

Baucus, Begich and Pryor all are up for re-election in 2014.

In an e-mail blast, Courage Campaign founder and chairman Rick Jacobs said the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee rely on individual donors from all over the nation to get senators elected – something that’s particularly true for senators in “purple” states.

“Tell the DNC and DSCC you won’t donate a single penny to any Senator who opposes universal background checks for gun purchases,” Jacobs wrote. “The NRA can play hardball – but so can you. We’re the activists, the Democratic base. We’re the people who donate in elections, knock on doors, and get out the vote in tight elections. We’re the difference on Election Day all around the country.

“Sign the petition: ‘I won’t donate a dime or lift a finger to help any Democrat who opposes universal background checks get elected,’” Jacobs urged.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee announced it’ll run full-page newspaper ads against the four Senators.

“Today, the Senate voted against the 91% of Americans who support background checks to stop gun violence,” PCCC cofounder Stephanie Taylor said in a news release. “We’ll be holding accountable Democrats who voted against their constituents by running ads in their states, featuring some of the 23,000 gun owners who have joined our campaign for common sense gun reform”

And Democracy for America spokesman Neil Sroka said “Democrats who were too cowardly to get on the right side of a 90-10 issue like universal background checks better believe that the progressives will remember their spinelessness on gun violence prevention come reelection time. The over 1 million members of Democracy for America nationwide work to elect progressive fighters, not U.S. Senators who can be cowed by the right-wing fringe and gun industry lobbyists like the NRA.”

Some of the Democratic senators who opposed the amendment have explained their votes. Heitkamp issued a statement Wednesday:

“I’ve been adamant from the very beginning of this conversation that the focus should be on mental health issues, full and accurate reporting into the NICS database and ensuring that we are prosecuting criminals in possession of or trying to possess firearms. This conversation should be about what is in people’s minds, not about what is in their hands. I commend Senators Manchin and Toomey for working so hard to bring a serious bill to the floor. However, in its current form I do not see a path for my support. I’ve thought long and hard about this, I’ve taken the tough meetings, and I’ve heard overwhelmingly from the people of North Dakota; and at the end of the day my duty is to listen to and represent the people of North Dakota.”

Pryor posted to his Facebook page Wednesday:

“After talking with Arkansans, I’ve decided to oppose the Manchin-Toomey amendment. It’s too broad, unworkable, and unreasonable for hunters and gun owners in our state. Instead, I’ll support the Grassley amendment that better enforces the laws we already have on the books and protects the rights of law-abiding Arkansans.”

And Begich made his views known before last week’s cloture vote:

“I’ve long believed we don’t need more laws restricting the Second Amendment rights of Americans, we need to better enforce those on the books. So I’ll continue to fight against any new laws which infringe on our rights. At the same time, we can keep our communities safer by keeping guns out of the wrong hands and providing our schools more resources. That is why Senator Graham and I wrote a bipartisan bill which has been supported by both the NRA and mental health groups.”

“I voted today against the so-called cloture motion because I strongly disagree with many of the provisions of the anti-gun legislation currently on the Senate floor. By my vote, I’ll continue to work for the opportunity to consider more sensible measures to make our communities safer. I’ll continue to oppose any proposal that undermines the fundamental rights of Alaskans.”


DiFi hosting fundraiser tonight for Senate Dems

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, though her campaign was the victim of a tremendous embezzlement, seems unconcerned enough about her own re-election race that she’s hosting a fundraiser tonight mostly for other Democratic Senate candidates.

The 6:30 p.m. reception and 7 p.m. dinner tonight at her home in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood will benefit the Heartland Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee authorized by Feinstein; U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.; U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; North Dakota U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp; Nebraska U.S. Senate candidate Bob Kerrey; and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Tester, Heitkamp and Kerry will attend tonight’s dinner.

Tickets for the dinner cost from $15,000 per person to $35,800 per couple. The first $5,000 of each contribution will be allocated evenly between Feinstein’s, Tester’s, Kerrey’s, McCaskill’s and Heitkamp’s campaigns; the next $30,800 of each contribution from a person, and the next $15,000 of each contribution from a multicandidate committee, will go to the DSCC.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee took its shots this morning.

“It’s funny how the road from North Dakota to Washington keeps leading Heitkamp through the hills of San Francisco and Los Angeles,” NRSC spokesman Lance Trover said in a news release. “If North Dakotans want to see who Heidi Heitkamp will stand with in Washington, they don’t need to look any further than to see who she is hobnobbing with in San Francisco.”

Kerrey, who lived and worked in New York City from 2001 to 2010 as a university president, got a similar verbal beatdown.

“Last week, Democrat Bob Kerrey wanted to keep outside money out of Nebraska yet today he’s collecting cash from Dianne Feinstein’s liberal friends in San Francisco,” NRSC spokesman Jahan Wilcox said. “It’s clear liberals in New York and San Francisco know that Bob Kerrey will once again be a loyal vote for their big government agenda of higher taxes and reckless spending.”


ATF: No guns for medical marijuana users

Almost lost in the hubbub of this week’s IRS and Justice Department crackdowns on California’s medical marijuana dispensaries was another revelation of federal action: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is telling gun sellers it’s illegal for medical marijuana patients to own firearms.

The Sept. 21 letter from ATF Assistant Director Arthur Herbert states, “ Any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.”

A lot of advocates – be they advocates of medical marijuana or the Second Amendment – are boiling mad.

“ATF’s blatant discrimination against Americans whose use marijuana legally under state law is outrageous,” Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann said Thursday. “It’s not just that ATF is riding roughshod over the rights of citizens who use marijuana legally with a doctors’ recommendation and thumbing its nose at laws enacted by sixteen states. It’s that there’s absolutely no evidence whatsoever that use of marijuana – whether for medical purposes or otherwise – is linked to reckless use of guns. … There should be zero tolerance for this sort of discrimination by the federal government.”

Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who serve one of the 16 states with medical marijuana laws, each wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney Eric Holder earlier this week to protest the policy.

“We’re reviewing the matter,” Lynda Gledhill, spokeswoman for California Attorney General Kamala Harris, said Friday; the office of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said the same thing. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and the National Rifle Association didn’t immediately respond to inquiries today.


Boxer and Baucus bet on bambinos’ blazing bats

Teams from Huntington Beach and Billings, Mont., will face off Saturday for the U.S. championship in the Little League World Series, so U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Max Baucus have laid a friendly wager on the outcome.

Boxer, D-Calif., put up candy from Huntington Beach’s Surf City Candy. “I am so proud of the Ocean View Little League All-Stars of Huntington Beach for their hard work, team spirit and good sportsmanship. I can’t wait to see them put their skills and dedication to the test in the championship against a very talented Billings All-Star team,” she said.

Baucus, D-Mont., wagered one box of Billings’ famous Caramel Cookie Waffles. “I couldn’t be more proud of the Billings All Star team – not just for their historic season on the field, but also for reminding us all what amazing things we can accomplish with teamwork. There’s nowhere I’d rather place my bet than on good, old-fashioned Montana work ethic, and I can’t wait to cheer our boys on to victory Saturday,” he said.

The winner of Saturday’s game will go on to play the winner of the international championship for the World Series title on Sunday.

UPDATE @ 3:04 P.M. MONDAY 8/29: Time for Baucus to pay up.


Lt. Gov’s kids now a Newsom twosome

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Siebel Newsom announced the birth of their second child, Hunter Siebel Newsom, born in San Francisco at 9:18 a.m. today. Hunter is 20.5 inches long and weighs 8 lbs. 4 oz.

“The Newsoms and their 20-month old daughter Montana look forward to bringing baby Hunter home and spending time together with family,” according to the lieutenant governor’s news release.