CD10: Antioch mayor bashed for endorsement

Some Republicans are up in arms about Antioch Mayor Jim Davis – also a Republican – endorsing Democrat Lt. Gov. John Garamendi over Republican David Harmer in the 10th Congressional District special election.

“Why is he doing this? Harmer is a conservative Republican and we need to call these guys out on this! Any way you can help David Harmer and California out,” said a posting made today to a local conservative MeetUp group’s message board.

The posting urges people to call, fax and e-mail Davis to ask questions such as “May I ask WHY you are endorsing a democrat when the Republican party is already so fragmented?;” “How can we get you to change your mind?;” “We would love you to have your job another term and THIS may affect it.” (Yes, I know that’s not a question); and the one-two punch of “Why didn’t you endorse David Harmer?” and “Will you consider changing your mind?”

Davis’ pick doesn’t seem so shocking given that it’s not his first endorsement across party lines; I see he endorsed Ellen Tauscher for re-election to this seat over Republican Darcy Linn in 2006.

UPDATE @ 5:35 P.M.: Mayor Davis just e-mailed me a statement: “I have not endorsed anyone for the General elect in Nov.” But seeing as how the Sept. 1 vote was a special primary — in which Garamendi could’ve won the seat outright had he topped 50 percent of the vote — it’s not entirely clear to me why Davis would endorse Garamendi in that vote but someone else in the general election.


CD10: Tauscher’s endorsement questioned

A Lafayette attorney wants State Department lawyers to force Under Secretary Ellen Tauscher to repudiate her endorsement of state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier to succeed her in Congress.

And DeSaulnier rival John Garamendi made sure to give Tauscher a heads-up.

Jason A. Bezis – who in the final days of Tauscher’s Congressional career was berating her for what he says were too few and too inaccessible CD10 town meetings – has drafted an extensive memo, with exhibits, illustrating his complaint that Tauscher is in violation of State Department rules.

“The State Department’s ‘Rules on Political Activities’ state their rationale, ‘The Department has a long-standing policy of limiting participation in partisan campaigns by its top officials and political appointees in recognition of the bipartisan character of our foreign policy,’” Bezis noted in an e-mail to the DeSaulnier campaign accompanying the memo. “Therefore, Undersecretary Tauscher’s endorsement of your campaigns has the potential of harming American foreign policy. Your acceptance and prominent use of her endorsement may have a similar damaging effect.

He’s asking that DeSaulnier’s campaign remove all reference’s to Tauscher’s endorsement from its Web sites; remove from circulation and destroy any campaign literature and fundraising invitations stating or implying the endorsement; advise other Democratic groups to do the same; instruct staff and volunteers not to mention Tauscher’s endorsement; and omit any mention from it from future advertisements.

“Senator DeSaulnier is seeking to become a federal lawmaker. It is imperative, especially as an aspiring federal legislator, that he follows the letter and spirit of existing federal law. Mr. DeSaulnier should not enjoy ‘fruit from the poisonous tree’ of Undersecretary Tauscher’s illegal endorsement,” Bezis wrote in his e-mail.

Garamendi’s campaign sent a copy of Bezis’ memo this week to a Tauscher aide, with a cover note that said:

I have been informed by a lawyer in the 10th Congressional District that he is preparing a formal complaint concerning U.S. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher’s endorsement of California State Senator Mark DeSaulnier in the run up to the September 1st Special Election.
I am a long time friend of Ellen’s and I do not want her to be jeopardized in any way. As a former Deputy Secretary at Interior, I am aware of the issue that she faces and I wanted the Undersecretary to know of this problem ahead of any formal complaint. Please let me know what the Undersecretary intends to do.
Attached is the draft of the lawyer’s memo.
John Garamendi

DeSaulnier campaign spokeswoman Katie Merrill offered just one word of response today: “Seriously?”

Tauscher’s office declined comment, but longtime Tauscher campaign consultant Lisa Tucker – no longer in the Under Secretary’s employ – said this is “sour grapes” on Garamendi’s part.

“Garamendi sought her endorsement and didn’t get it, and if he’d gotten it he wouldn’t be doing this,” Tucker said. “Everything that DeSaulnier is using says ‘Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher’ — it’s from before she was sworn in, so it’s all on the up-and-up.”

Tauscher endorsed DeSaulnier in late March, well before President Barack Obama formally nominated her in early May to serve as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

I tried to reach Bezis to ask whether he has endorsed, contributed to, or in any way supported any of the CD10 candidates, but my e-mail and voice mail weren’t returned. He is registered to vote as a Democrat and has written several articles for the Democrat-run California Majority Report, but I don’t see that he has made any campaign contributions to Garamendi or any other CD10 candidate.

UPDATE @ 7:33 A.M. FRIDAY: Bezis wrote back to me overnight, stating he’d endorsed DeSaulnier early on but revoked that endorsement “motivated in part by the campaign literature touting Ellen Tauscher’s backing of his campaign.” He said he has spoken with DeSaulnier, Garamendi, Joan Buchanan, Anthony Woods and Adriel Hampton in recent weeks and believes “all of the candidates (from all political parties) deserve a fair ‘playing field’ — which Tauscher’s illegal endorsement upsets.”

Tucker’s statement, he said, is “outrageous. Tauscher should not have made an endorsement in any partisan election would coincide with any day of her tenure at the State Department. Tauscher went out of her way to make a ‘pre-endorsement’ of DeSaulnier for a special election that did not yet exist. Tauscher knew that a vacancy would be created and a special election called because of and only because of her State Department appointment. It was obvious that her successor would be elected while she was at the State Department, when she undisputedly could not make an endorsement.”

Other CD10 tidbits, after the jump…
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CD10: The campaign-finance filing deadline

Today is a deadline for CD10 candidates to file campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission, and in a quick snapshot, Democrat John Garamendi looks like the leader in money raised and cash on hand.

As he’d promised in a news release yesterday, Garamendi filed a report saying his campaign raised $300,463.37 – $271,213.37 from individuals and $29,250 from PACs – from April 1 through June 30, and had $260,144.02 cash on hand at the end of that period (though it also had $54,762.29 in debts yet to pay).

I don’t see his report online yet, but Democrat Mark DeSaulnier issued a news release saying he has raised a total of $211,229 from more than 415 donors and has $136,509 cash on hand. He touted the fact that 70 percent of his contributions to his campaign came from donors within CD10 and Contra Costa County, while only about 5 percent of Garamendi’s contributions come from the district.

Republican David Harmer filed a report saying his campaign raised $175,131.23 in the year’s first half – $162,272.03 from individuals, $10,000 from PACs and $2,859.20 from his own pocket. He reported spending $30,566.68 and having $144,564.55 cash on hand as of June 30 with $16,993.29 in outstanding debts.

Democrat Anthony Woods filed a report saying his campaign raised $104,725.60 in the year’s first half — $101,976 from individuals, $349 from PACs and $2,400 out of his own pocket. He reported spending $39,447.46 and having $65,403.14 cash on hand as of June 30 with only $58.27 in outstanding debts.

I’ll update this post as other candidates’ information rolls in…

UPDATE @ 6:16 P.M.: Here’s DeSaulnier’s report, which matches his news release but also indicates that $156,939 of his contributions came from individuals while $54,290 came from PACs. Also, the report indicates his campaign has $77,130.85 in outstanding debts.

Democrat Joan Buchanan filed a report saying her campaign raised $63,865 from April 1 through June 30 – $50,365 from individuals and $13,500 from PACs – and loaned her own campaign $250,000. But she spent $134,418.75 in the same period, leaving her with $179,289.48 cash on hand as of June 30 with $307,659.38 in outstanding debts.

UPDATE @ 7:28 P.M.: Democrat Adriel Hampton filed a report saying his campaign raised $22,569 in the first half of this year, but only $4,928 came from individual donors and none from PACs; he has put in $17,641.02 from his own pocket. Meanwhile, the campaign spent $22,299.25, leaving $269.77 cash on hand as of June 30 with $346.82 in outstanding debts.

UPDATE @ 7:43 P.M.: A summary of the debt-free cash-on-hand (that is, cash on hand as of June 30 less outstanding debts and obligations):

    Garamendi: $205,381.73
    Harmer: $127,571.26
    Woods: $65,344.87
    DeSaulnier: $59,378.72
    Hampton: minus $77.05
    Buchanan: minus $128,369.90

CD10: Vets for Woods, GOP infighting

Lisa is off enjoying a well-deserved vacation week, so I’ll be serving up your CD-10 news. Here are today’s tasty nuggets:

The VoteVets.org PAC, which describes itself as “the largest progressive group of veterans in America,” threw its endorsement and a promise of campaign money today to Democrat Anthony Woods, himself an Iraq veteran discharged from the Army after challenging the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. “Anthony is fresh, eager, and has an incredible track record of service,” VoteVets.org chairman Jon Soltz said in the news release. “His military record is incredibly impressive. And, he’ll bring vigorous leadership to Congress that will benefit his district. We urge voters in his district to send him to Congress.”

Democrat Mark DeSaulnier opened his campaign headquarters yesterday in Walnut Creek, and then had dozens of volunteers precinct-walking and phone-banking afterward. Amond those present at the grand opening: Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister, Walnut Creek City Councilmember Kish Rajan and Contra Costa County Democratic Chair Chuck Carpenter.

Former Lafayette Mayor Scott Talan, a former television journalist who now is the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration’s communications director, says he’s getting “close to the final decision” on whether to move back from Washington, D.C. and run as a nonpartisan candidate.

And last but messiest, lest anyone think love and harmony really are breaking out at the Contra Costa Republican Party, the Halfway to Concord blog has e-mail correspondence from county committeeman Ted Hudacko of Richmond complaining that county GOP general counsel Steve Sonaty violated the state’s Election Code and the state GOP’s bylaws by urging the county GOP to rally behind one particular Republican in this special election, David Harmer. I’ve put out e-mails seeking comment from all the GOP candidates who’ve filed or declared candidacy: Harmer; David Peterson, John Toth, Chris Bunch and Gary Clift. Clift said he doesn’t know all the facts, but “it would be unfortunate if the Republican Central Committee was intentionaly breaking the law. This would only serve to further alienate our constituents and disenfranchise more voters from this important election.” For my own part, this smells like a county GOP internecine feud that has far less to do with Harmer himself — as Halfway to Concord’s headline implies — than with an effort to badmouth Harmer endorser and (Del Beccaro says he hasn’t endorsed Harmer; that’s my mistake, and I apologize) county and state GOP bigwig Tom Del Beccaro and those aligned with him. In fact, I’m in possession of another part of that same e-mail string in which Sonaty says his comments weren’t made in his capacity as legal counsel, but rather “as an elected member of the central committee in response to an e-mail sent to all members. I have one vote, and a right to state my personal opinion on issues presented to the committee, just as we all do.”

UPDATE @ 9:50 A.M. TUESDAY: Fairfield construction business owner Chris Bunch said the Alameda, Solano and Sacramento county GOP committees gave his CD10 candidacy a warm welcome, but things got icy at the Contra Costa County line. “My experience has been that the Contra Costa GOP has literally blocked my ability to come present myself as a candidate and by doing so has disabled me from getting Contra Costa support,” he told me this morning.

Bunch said he tried to make inroads as early as April, speaking with Contra Costa GOP executive director Michael Caporusso – who now works on Harmer’s campaign. The response, Bunch said, essentially was “don’t call us, we’ll call you” – and they didn’t.

“It’s disturbing, it is a violation of the Republican party bylaws, it is a violation of California election law,” Bunch alleged, but the state generally doesn’t enforce such things so it’s up to private citizens to file civil lawsuits – something he’d rather not get bogged down in while trying to run a campaign.

“It’s very unfortunate. There is obviously an implication of some if not illegal then unethical actions, and I don’t believe that’s what Republican voters are looking for,” he said, adding voters want “something to give them faith again that the Republican Party is going to stand up for the principles it originally professed … This kind of thing only serves to disincentive them.”

“Whoever wins this primary, I’ll be out there trying to help him win the district, and hopefully when I win they’ll be doing the same thing,” Bunch said.

UPDATE @ 12:06 P.M. TUESDAY: All of the CD10 Republican candidates are invited to the Contra Costa GOP’s forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 30 at 1706 Countrywood Court in Walnut Creek; guests inclined to attend should RSVP by July 24th 925-930-9551 or gpoulos@sbcglobal.net. Each candidate will be allowed a five-minute statement, and then there’ll be a 15-minute open Q-and-A period.


Another candidate declares in CD-10

With 11 candidates already declared or most likely in the field and a few more rumored to be mulling it over, the race to succeed Rep. Ellen Tauscher in the 10th Congressional District became an even dozen Monday with an entry from the “who’s that?” department.

Self-described “soccer mom” Tiffany Attwood of Danville, a Democrat and Bay Area native, says she’s the only minority woman (Latina/Filipina) in the race.

“Why would anyone elect the same officials that put California in a $21 billion deficit in a federal seat?” she said. “I don’t think constituents of the 10th District want to put an experienced deficit-spending, tax-increasing politician in Congress.”

Her news release says that with her father and two brothers as former or current Marines, she’s “acutely aware of the issues surrounding veterans and senior citizens, especially with health care.” She also touts her experience as a wife, a mother, a mortgage officer with Emery Financial and a Danville Planning Commissioner, noting she faces the everyday challenges of holding down two jobs and balancing a family life to make ends meet.

From her campaign’s Web site:

As health care is a personal issue with Tiffany and her family, she has taken on a second job with United Parcel Service (UPS) to secure full health benefits, which her union manages. Over the years with UPS, Tiffany has found that not only do her coworkers hold down second jobs too, but are there also to cover family health benefits. Outside of UPS, health care is a cost problem within the 10th District and needs to be addressed.

She said her priorities will focus on responsible home ownership, open dialogue on solutions for the health care industry, and federal help for small business owners in order to boost the district’s employment.

“Defaults in home ownership are up, on average by 14 percent in the district. Families are now faced with possible layoffs, bad credit and nowhere to turn to for help. I want to get the word out that Obama’s stimulus for housing is working, although a little bureaucratic, we’ve been able to give families their lives back,” she said. “We’re all going through tough times right now – my family is too. But there is hope! With American ingenuity and a positive attitude we can ALL make it through this.”

This race ought to be getting off the ground in earnest soon, as Tauscher’s confirmation hearing went off without a hitch last week and the vote on her appointment to a high-ranking State Department should be soon to follow. Other declared candidates or those likely to run include Democrats Tony Bothwell, Joan Buchanan, John Garamendi, Adriel Hampton, Mark DeSaulnier and Anthony Woods; Republicans Nick Gerber, David Harmer and Catherine Moy; Green Jeremy Cloward; and independent Gino VanGundy.

UPDATE @ 3:24 P.M.: I spoke with the new candidate about an hour ago; read about it here.


FrontPage tears into Ellen Tauscher

Ben Johnson, managing editor of the conservative FrontPage magazine, today tears into Rep. Ellen Tauscher’s nomination to a high-ranking State Department post, saying she’s too naive for the job:

President Obama’s nomination of Rep. Ellen Tauscher as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security will exacerbate rogue states’ worst behavior and assure the president receives the worst counsel about how to respond. Tauscher believes the United States should disarm, as our arsenal provokes aggressive dictators into developing nuclear weapons. She deems long-range missile defense unnecessary, because Iran and al-Qaeda do not yet have nuclear weapons. She calls for negotiating with our enemies while punishing close allies who have abided by the highest standards of non-proliferation. She may also have been the first Democrat of national prominence to accuse President Bush of lying but Iraqi WMDs, and her troubling record on Homeland Security includes advocating habeas corpus rights for terrorist detainees.

It seems as if Johnson’s complaints — perhaps especially the final two — would be seen as huge assets by most Bay Area liberals, no?

As we reported Friday, it sounds as if Tauscher’s confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be held next Tuesday, June 9; although there’d been some early whispers of conservative opposition, I’ve not heard anything more recently.