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Chris Christie to keynote California GOP convention

Potential 2016 presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will keynote the California Republican Party’s spring convention luncheon on Saturday, Feb. 28 in Sacramento.

“Governor Christie is working to move New Jersey forward with balanced budgets, sensible tax reform and a focus on improving K-12 education,” state GOP chairman Jim Brulte said in a news release. “We are thrilled he will be joining us at convention to share his story and wisdom.”

Party vice chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon called Christie “a great example of Republican leadership. He has helped New Jersey overcome some of its toughest challenges in decades, and has been a guiding voice across the nation as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.”

Christie said he’s “excited to be joining Republicans in California as we plan for the years ahead and look to build upon the successes of 2014.”

Christie, whose popularity rose has he handled the aftermath of 2012’s “Superstorm” Sandy, has had a rockier road since late 2013, when the “Bridgegate” scandal – in which some of his top aides ordered closure of lanes on the busy George Washington Bridge as payback to his political foes – came to light. A new Quinnipiac Poll trend line tells the tale:

Christie Quinnipiac poll

The poll shows more New Jerseyans support Christie than any of a dozen other potential GOP candidates, but Christie would lose the Garden State in a head-to-head with potential Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Nationally, an average of five polls conducted late last year shows Christie trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush among potential GOP candidates.

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California reps sign brief for right to carry guns

Two California congressmen are among 34 GOP lawmakers who have signed onto a legal brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether the Second Amendment secures the right to carry handguns outside the home for self-defense.

The brief signed by Reps. Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville, and John Campbell, R-Irvine, urges the high court to review the Drake, et. al. v. Jerejian, et. al. case that was decided last July by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Four New Jersey residents and two organizations had challenged a state law requiring that people show a “justifiable need” for a permit to carry a handgun outside the home; they lost both in the district and appellate courts.

“We conclude that the District Court correctly determined that the requirement that applicants demonstrate a ‘justifiable need’ to publicly carry a handgun for self-defense qualifies as a ‘presumptively lawful,’ ‘longstanding’ regulation and therefore does not burden conduct within the scope of the Second Amendment’s guarantee,” the appeals court concluded.

Second Amendment Foundation founder and executive vice president Alan Gottlieb said he’s glad so many members of Congress signed onto the brief urging the high court to take the case.

“The Supreme Court has already affirmed that the right to keep and bear arms applies to individual citizens, so it simply makes sense that this right extends beyond someone’s doorstep,” Gottlieb said. “A right limited to someone’s home unless a citizen can demonstrate some nebulous ‘justifiable need’ is not a right at all, but a heavily-regulated privilege.”

UPDATE @ 12:43 P.M.: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has just ruled today in a similar case, finding San Diego’s – and by extension, many other California counties’ – requirements for proving “good cause” for a concealed carry permit are unconstitutionally restrictive. Read my full story here.

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Mike Thompson helps introduce FISA oversight act

Rep. Mike Thompson helped introduce a bipartisan bill today that he and his co-authors say would strengthen congressional oversight and improve accountability from the nation’s intelligence community, which has been accused of overstepping its bounds in surveillance of U.S. citizens.

The Intelligence Oversight and Accountability Act of 2013, H.R. 3103, requires that any Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decision, order or opinion that includes a denial or modification of an intelligence community request, or that results in a change to any legal interpretation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, be shared with Congress.

Mike Thompson“Our government has a responsibility to both protect American lives and our citizens’ civil liberties,” Thompson, D-Napa, said in a news release. “This bill helps us meet that responsibility by strengthening Congress’ aggressive oversight of our Intelligence Community. Through the oversight and accountability provided by this bill, we can help make sure our Intelligence Community operates within legal and constitutional boundaries while they continue their brave work to keep Americans safe.”

The bill’s other co-authors are Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J.; Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.; and J. Randy Forbes, R-Va.

Under current law, when the FISC or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review issues a decision, order, or opinion, the attorney general must determine if the issue considered by the FISC includes a “significant construction or interpretation of the law.” If the attorney general determines that the decision is significant, that information must be shared with Congress. But if the attorney general determines that the decision is not “significant,” the information doesn’t have to be shared with Congress.

The bill also requires the Justice Department to include enhanced summaries of the FISC’s decisions, orders, and opinions to make the facts, issues, and legal reasoning involved in these matters more accessible to Congress.

H.R. 3103 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, on which Gutierrez and Forbes are senior members, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, on which Thompson, LoBiondo and Gutierrez are senior members.

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Protesters to target Chris Christie in Palo Alto

Protesters intend to besiege Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s home tomorrow while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is there doing some social networking and campaign cash collection.

CREDO is organizing the protest at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday outside 1456 Edgewood Ave. in Palo Alto. Activists will be “protesting against Zuckerberg’s support for the governor, citing Christie’s repeated efforts to gut women’s reproductive health care services and defund Planned Parenthood,” according to a news release. Christie is seeking re-election this year, and is thought to be a prime contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Organizers note that although more than 58 percent of Facebook users are women, Christie defunded Planned Parenthood by cutting $7.4 million from women’s health care, including funding for life-saving cancer screenings, breast health exams and birth control. The $7.4 million in cuts led to the closures of six women’s health clinics in New Jersey.

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Chris Christie calls Jerry Brown ‘an old retread’

Media including the Los Angeles Times are reporting on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s tirade against California Gov. Jerry Brown this morning as he addressed California’s delegation to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.:

“California made the bad choice by going with an old retread,” Christie told California’s delegation to the Republican National Convention here, a crowd that lapped up his message. “Let me tell you this – I cannot believe you people elected Jerry Brown over Meg Whitman. … Jerry Brown. Jerry Brown? I mean, he won the New Jersey presidential primary over Jimmy Carter when I was 14 years old.”

Christie said the 74-year-old, three-term governor told him that he’s not trying to raise taxes, that he is allowing voters to decide by putting a tax proposal on the ballot.

“Man, that’s leadership, isn’t it?” Christie said.

Seems like my story in today’s editions about California being a popular GOP punching bag was timely, no?

A few observations: Christie governs a state that doesn’t require two-thirds majorities of both houses of the Legislature in order to raise taxes. California’s GDP grew by 2 percent last year, while New Jersey’s shrank by -0.5 percent. And Meg Whitman now presides over Hewlett-Packard, which last week reported its largest-ever quarterly loss – $8.9 billion – and is stumbling dangerously, according to the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek.

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Barbara Lee becomes Sudan Caucus co-chair

Rep. Barbara Lee is the newest of four co-chairs of the Congressional Sudan Caucus, which is still trying to draw more attention to the ongoing humanitarian disaster in that African nation.

Lee, D-Oakland, succeeds the late Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., as a co-chair; the other three co-chairs are Michael Capuano, D-Mass., Frank Wolf, R-Va., and Michael McCaul, R-Tex. The caucus was founded in 2005.

In her news release Tuesday, Lee noted ongoing strife in the Sudanese border areas of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Abyei, and Darfur, and in Yida and other refugee camps in South Sudan. Civilians are subject to the Sudanese government’s indiscriminate bombing and denial of humanitarian aid, leaving nearly half a million at risk of starvation.

Lee said she’ll work with the other co-chairs “to bring Khartoum, Juba, and all stakeholders together to ensure that peace prevails in the region. At this critical time with Sudan and South Sudan on the brink of war, it is critical that Congress and the United States use all tools at its disposal to bring the two sides to the negotiating table for peace talks.”

Lee will take part in a subcommittee hearing on Sudan this Thursday and will host U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice for a special briefing with members of Congress on international efforts to reach a peaceful resolution.

Lee has been active on the issue for some time, sponsoring legislation recognizing acts of genocide in the region and urging China as well as the Arab League to step up efforts to stop the genocide in Darfur. Her bill to allow divestment from companies doing business in the region was enacted into law in 2007.