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Senate contender touts tax pledge, flat tax plan

Former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette has sought to amp up his U.S. Senate campaign in the past few weeks by focusing on the reddest of GOP red meat: taxes.

Tom Del BeccaroHeading into the state GOP’s convention Sept. 18-20 in Anaheim, Del Beccaro staked out his place to the field’s right side by challenging his GOP rivals – Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside; fellow former state party chairman Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills – to join him in taking the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. As of Wednesday, they’ve not done so.

Crafted by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the pledge commits a candidate or officeholder to oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses, and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

This week, Del Beccaro rolled out his plan for a flat tax, which includes replacing current personal income tax brackets with a flat 15.5 percent rate on wages and salaries, capital gains, dividends, interest and inheritance; replacing current corporate taxes with a 15.5 percent net business income tax with immediate expensing for business purchases and deductibility of wages and salaries; and eliminating all itemized deductions while doubling the standard deduction.

He touted the plan at fundraising events this week in Riverside, Newport Beach and Diablo, accompanied by his economic advisor Stephen Moore, co-founder and first president of the conservative Club for Growth.

In an interview Thursday, Del Beccaro said he’s working with the Committee to Unleash Prosperity – a conservative group founded this summer by Moore, two-time Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes, economist and CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow, and economist Arthur Laffer – to preach the flat-tax gospel in the Golden State.

“A simple flat tax takes government out of the business of picking winners and losers and will allow the economy to grow,” he said, declaring it the best way to help those still struggling in the Great Recession’s wake. “We’ve tried just about every spending mechanism possible and they’re still falling behind …The key is economic growth – otherwise people get stuck where they are.”

Critics of flat-tax plans argue they penalize the poor, in that everyone must spend on the same necessities of life – housing, food, clothes, health care and so on – but those earning less have less money left over after those necessities with which to pay taxes. That is: a 10 percent tax would be a much bigger proportional hit for someone earning $50,000 per year than for someone earning $5 million.

Del Beccaro said that’s why his plan would exempt a family of four up to a household income of $48,000: “It gives them a start.” He also said talk of redistributing wealth via progressive taxes to close the vast income and wealth gap that has opened in recent decades is divisive and unproductive.

“Class warfare is never good, pitting one group of Americans against another is terrible,” he said. arguing that wealth inequality is a product of economic stagnation and overreaching government. “The key is always economic growth.”

Two prominent Democrats – California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana – also are running in next June’s top-two primary to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. A fourth prominent Republican, Santa Monica businessman and two-time former senate candidate Al Ramirez, is exploring a run.

Del Beccaro said he’d gladly debate his plan with any of his rivals from either party. “They’re running for the office, I’m running for the ideas. … I’m trying to elevate this into an actual discussion.”

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4th Republican considering U.S. Senate run

Santa Monica businessman Al Ramirez is mulling a run for California’s U.S. Senate seat in 2016, hoping the third time will be the charm.

Al RamirezRamirez placed fourth out of five in 2010’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate, taking 1.8 percent of the vote; GOP nominee Carly Fiorina lost to incumbent Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., by 10 percentage points that November.

Ramirez ran again for U.S. Senate in 2012’s top-two primary against incumbent Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. In a field of 24 candidates – including 14 Republicans – Ramirez came in eighth with 2.3 percent of the vote; Feinstein stomped Republican Elizabeth Emken by 25 points that November.

Friday, as the California Republican Party kicked off its fall convention in Anaheim, Ramirez said “he’s in the early stages of forming a new exploratory committee” – read as: lining up contributors – for another run as Boxer prepares to retire.

Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside; former state GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette; and former state GOP chairman Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills already are in the race, as are two Democrats – state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana.

In a brief telephone interview Friday, Ramirez said he’s not worried that adding another Republican to the field would further split the GOP base to Democrats’ advantage.

“All of them have failed getting out of the gate,” he said of his Republican rivals, adding support for them is “soft,” with many supporters still “willing to jump off that train” in favor of a stronger candidate – which he believes he is.

There’s a “lack of role-model-caliber leadership in the Latino community,” he said, but his business record and staunch conservative principles make him “someone that people can look up to,” he said.

Also, his father – though grappling with Parkinson’s disease – encouraged him to run again. Ramirez said his father watched this week’s Republican presidential debate and said Ramirez could’ve been on that stage too; when Ramirez replied that would’ve requiring winning in 2010 or 2012, his father replied, “That’s not stopping Carly.”

“My dad didn’t raise a quitter,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez, 46, is a senior-ranking executive for a privately held, Los Angeles-based cloud services company, leading its government markets and strategic defense systems efforts.

“You never lose when you serve your country and seeking this office is worth the challenge to insure that the values that make America great are restored and preserved for the next generation.” Ramirez said in his news release, adding he racked up some grassroots endorsements in 2012 as people got to know his stances on the economy, natural resources and national defense.

“Most of all, the reason I am considering running again is because we need leadership to restore law and order to the immigration crisis burdening our taxpayers,” he said. “The lawless tragedies we’ve seen speak for themselves. Ending welfare abuse and sanctuary city policies that jeopardize the public safety of innocent American families is long overdue.”

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Rocky Chavez gets rocky response at CoCo GOP

2016 U.S. Senate candidate and Assemblyman Rocky Chavez was in Walnut Creek on Thursday evening to take questions from the Contra Costa County Republican Party – and many in the crowd didn’t like some of his answers.

Rocky Chavez at CoCoCoGOP 8-20-2015 (photo by Josh Richman)Chavez, R-Oceanside, is running for the seat that Democrat Barbara Boxer will vacate next year. The Democrats seeking the seat are Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana; the other Republican in the race is Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette, a former chairman both of the state GOP and of the Contra Costa County committee that Chavez addressed Thursday (though he wasn’t present).

It started off innocuous before the crowd of about 50 people at the Diablo Hills Country Club in Walnut Creek, as Chavez briefly summarized his background and bona fides.

Rocky “is not a made up name, it’s on my birth certificate,” he advised them. He described his father’s U.S. Marine Corps service in the Pacific during World War II and subsequent junior-college education on the G.I. Bill while working for U.S. Steel. He spoke of his own Marine Corps service – he retired as a colonel – as well as his elected offices and his children’s college and graduate degrees.

“It’s the California dream and it’s about education – that’s one of the real strong reasons I’m running for office,” Chavez said, adding he’s been asked why he’s not a Democrat. “I could never be part of a party that ensured 50 percent of Latino boys in Los Angeles don’t even graduate from high school. … If you have no education, you have no job and you have no future.”

Then the question-and-answer period began, and the crowd’s mood began to change.

Read more, after the jump…
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Rocky Chávez takes Trump to task

Rocky Chávez, a Republican seeking one of California’s U.S. Senate seats in 2016, had some choice words Wednesday for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Trump’s incendiary comments about immigrants from Mexico have landed him in hot water, as Univision, NBC Universal and Macy’s have cut ties with the reality-television businessman. Chávez, a Republican Assemblyman from Oceanside, took him to task with a statement issued Wednesday.

Rocky Chávez“It saddens me that the narrative being set for Republicans at a national level can be initiated by someone who has never been elected,” he said, noting his GOP colleagues in the state Legislature “have a proven track record of supporting legislation that encourages comprehensive immigration reform.”

Chávez earlier this year co-authored Senate Joint Resolution 2 by Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, which urged Congress and the President to work together for comprehensive immigration reform; a majority of Assembly Republicans supported it.

“Immigrants come to the United States from all over the world to both benefit from and contribute to our society; we owe it to our nation to welcome immigrants with open arms and to reform our current broken immigration system,” Chávez said “We must not forget that the United States of America is a nation of immigrants and our society has always grown stronger as we form a more diverse society. Immigration was a catalyst of the American dream in the past and will be the key to the future.”

Others who have declared candidacy for California’s Senate seat in 2016 include state Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat; Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana; and former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette.

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Endorsements, pledges in 2016 U.S. Senate race

Candidates in California’s 2016 U.S. Senate race continue to roll out their endorsements and commitments.

Rocky ChávezAssemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, announced Tuesday that he has the endorsements of 22 GOP assemblymemebers including Republican Leader Kristin Olsen.

“Rocky Chávez is the leader we need in Washington,” Olsen, R-Modesto, said in Chávez’s news release. “He has incredible experience in keeping our nation safe as a Marine colonel who served 28 years. He knows how to support our nation’s veterans, having served as California’s Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Finally, he knows the importance of a good education and has fought to improve California’s schools as a member of the state assembly.”

Meanwhile, former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette announced Tuesday that he has taken the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” offered by Americans for Tax Reform. The pledge commits him to oppose any and all efforts to increase marginal income tax rates for people or businesses, and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of tax deductions and credits unless they’re matched dollar-for-dollar by further reducing tax rates.

Tom Del Beccaro“California has the highest tax, regulations and debt burden of any state in the country,” Del Beccaro said in a news release. “That burden plays into California’s high unemployment rate and leader of poverty in the nation. No sensible candidate for U.S. Senate for California could advocate for even more taxes. I call upon Kamala Harris, Loretta Sanchez, Rocky Chavez, and anyone considering a run, to join me it protecting California tax payers from further tax increases.”

Del Beccaro favors a flat tax – a single, low rate for everyone, regardless of income – which he says would decrease the size of the IRS while boosting economic activity, creating jobs and reducing poverty. Critics say a flat tax would shift much of the nation’s revenue burden to middle- and lower-income Americans – who already spend a larger percentage of their income on necessities like food, housing and health care – while letting the rich pay far less.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said Del Beccaro “has been a proponent for tax reform from the moment he came on the scene.”

Kamala HarrisAnd the Service Employees International Union California announced Tuesday that the 700,000-member union has endorsed Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, in this race to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer next year. The huge union made its choice in a town-hall process in which all members had a chance to hear from and evaluate candidates’ policies.

“We know she’ll be a tough fighter for working families in Washington, the same way she’s shown courage and commitment to stand up for hard-working Californians as Attorney General,” union president Laphonza Butler said in a news release. “SEIU’s endorsement means our members will put our boots on the ground to deliver votes across California and put our hearts into a winning campaign to put Kamala Harris in the U.S. Senate.”

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Neel Kashkari endorses Rocky Chávez for Senate

2014 Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari has endorsed Assemblyman Rocky Chávez for California’s U.S. Senate seat in 2016.

NEEL KASHKARIChávez, R-Oceanside, “is the right candidate for California,” Kashkari said in a news release. “His story reflects that of so many Californians who want to preserve the American Dream for their families, but are in need of a better education system for their kids and who seek elected leaders who will balance the budget.”

“We need experienced and tested leaders in Washington who are prepared to tackle challenges at home and abroad,” Kashkari added. “As a Marine Colonel and a California Assembly Member, Col. Chávez has the experience to effectively represent California in the United States Senate.”

Chávez thanked Kashkari for his “incredible support. He understands what it takes to meet challenges head-on, and we continue to need voices like his in California.”

Kashkari, of Laguna Beach, got 40 percent of the vote in November’s general gubernatorial election, defeated by incumbent Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown. A moderate on some issues, he had struggled all last year to shore up his standing with the GOP’s conservative wing – a struggle the relatively moderate Chávez might face as well.

Former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette opened an exploratory committee for the 2016 Senate race in late February, and is expected to announce his candidacy soon. Another former state GOP chairman, Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills, also is considering a run for the seat. Two little-known Republicans, John Estrada of Fresno and Mark Hardie of Whittier, have declared their candidacies, though Hardie has yet to form a campaign committee.

The only Democrat in the race so far is California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who raised $2.5 million in the year’s first quarter and has been steadily rolling out endorsements in recent months. But a few other Democrats are mulling the race as well – most notably Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, who sounded like she was testing out her campaign oratory Monday in Orange County, the Los Angeles Times reported.