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House members blast Brown’s Delta water plan

Five members of Congress held a news conference in Sacramento this morning to renew their staunch opposition to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Napa; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; John Garamendi, D-Fairfield; Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova; and Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, all believe the plan would devastate the Delta and ignores concerns repeatedly raised by local stakeholders. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, concurs but wasn’t at today’s news conference.

The state has released a 20,000-page Administrative Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement for the BDCP. Chapters 1-7 were released in the last few months and Chapters 8-12, including the financing mechanism, were released yesterday.

The lawmakers released statements after their news conference. From McNerney:

Jerry McNerney“The Governor recently released additional information on his deeply-flawed plan for the Delta region, which further proves he is intent on forcing this plan forward without any regard for the farmers, families and small business owners who rely upon a healthy Delta for their livelihoods, or for the incredible environmental damage that will result. As it stands, the plan will cost billions of dollars, devastate the most valuable water resource we have in California, and ultimately create no new water. There is a better way forward, and it must include the input of the people who stand to lose the most if the Delta is destroyed.”

From Thompson:

Mike Thompson“The proposed BDCP is not a workable solution. It puts the interests of South-of-Delta water contractors ahead of the Delta’s and North-of-Delta’s farmers, fishers and small business owners. Livelihoods are at stake. Until we have a plan that is transparent, based on sound science and developed with all stake-holders at the table, then any process that moves us closer to building these tunnels will recklessly risk billions of California tax dollars and thousands of jobs. Let’s take the time to get this right.”

From Miller:

George Miller“Governor Brown and his administration officials have failed to demonstrate that they are taking into account the real physical and financial harm that can come to Bay-Delta communities if a BDCP plan is pushed through without the proper cost benefit analysis of alternatives, an adequate finance plan, or without acknowledging the best available science — science that has pointed to the real possibility that this plan could overtax our water resources and devastate the Bay-Delta region. Without doing so the BDCP is further than ever from a sustainable policy. It is time to seriously reevaluate this plan to ensure it fulfills the co-equal goals that it is mandated to adhere to, and takes into consideration the concerns of the businesses, families and communities that rely on a viable, healthy Bay-Delta region for their livelihoods.”

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Super PAC, union reserve Sacramento ad time

A Democratic super PAC and one of the nation’s biggest unions announced today they’re backing Democratic House candidates by reserving almost $20 million worth of television ad time in 38 markets across the nation – with the biggest buy in Sacramento.

The House Majority PAC said it’ll spend $999,600 while the Service Employees International Union spends $488,000 in the Sacramento TV market.

That should accrue to the benefit of Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who are seeking reelection in the 9th Congressional District and 3rd Congressional District, respectively. But it may be primarily designed to help Ami Bera, who’s taking on Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, in the 7th Congressional District.

The PAC says this is just the first stage of its airtime reservations and a continuation of the SEIU’s voter-contact program.

“From day one, House Republicans have pursued an agenda that is extreme and out of touch – and House Majority PAC will be on TV to hold them accountable,” House Majority PAC Executive Director Alixandria Lapp said in a news release. “Partnering with SEIU allows us to be more successful by effectively leveraging every dollar we spend.”

SEIU National Political Director Brandon Davis said the partnership with the House Majority PAC “will ensure that the work being done by SEIU member volunteers at the doors, on the phones and in the neighborhoods is backed up by a vigorous paid media campaign. Our members want to make sure the voice of the hardworking men and women who keep America running is heard and the steps we are taking today will help ensure that happens.”

Reserving ad time early lets buys lock in lower ad rates, saving millions. Lapp said Republican benefactors such as the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and Karl Rove might “have deep pockets, but House Majority PAC has a proven ability to spend efficiently and effectively and win races – just like in the NY-26 and AZ-08 specials when we won despite being outspent by Republican groups.”

A full list of this round of ad buys follows, after the jump…
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McNerney, Garamendi & foes on SCOTUS ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ensures the health care reform law will be a top issue in this November’s battles for control of the House. In and near the Bay Area, the candidates have come out swinging today.

From Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, who’s seeking re-election in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District:

Jerry McNerney“When I am with people, working in our region, I hear how having access to affordable health care is imperative to our families. I have been unemployed and understand what it’s like to worry about providing for your family and had to struggle to find health coverage.

“The health care reform we passed is far from perfect and needs to be improved upon, but it is a big step in the right direction. Folks who are uninsured will now have some peace of mind, knowing that they will have health care. In our area, where unemployment has been much higher than the rest of the country, and where people need access to affordable health care, this is a vital element to our economic recovery.”

And from McNerney’s opponent this November, Republican candidate Ricky Gill of Lodi:

Ricky Gill “Jerry McNerney promised that his health care plan would reduce health care costs, but today we learned it is simply a massive tax increase that is already contributing to skyrocketing health care premiums for middle class families. Jerry McNerney stands for the status quo, but I am committed to moving responsibly towards bipartisan, comprehensive health care reform that increases patient choice, reduces costs, and protects coverage for seniors, young people and those with pre-existing health conditions.”

From Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who’s seeking re-election in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District:

John Garamendi “When people fall ill, we should help them get better. Most of us have experienced hard times. Many of us have gone without health coverage. When you lay all the heated rhetoric and legalese aside, the health care debate is really about what we’re going to do when people get sick or injured. In America, we should take care of each other. It is irresponsible to force millions of Americans to delay treatment because they can’t afford it, to live one broken leg or one chronic illness away from financial calamity.

“Today a 5-4 majority in the Supreme Court made the right decision. President Obama and Democrats in Congress did the right thing. We developed a plan that extended health coverage to most Americans. We fulfilled our moral obligation to seniors, to children, and to hardworking Americans. The Supreme Court sided with our authority to improve health care for all Americans.

“The health care law establishes a powerful Patient’s Bill of Rights. No longer will Americans with a pre-existing condition be denied health coverage. No longer will women be charged more for coverage. The health law will finally close the prescription drug donut hole, so seniors can afford their medication. The benefits of the Affordable Care Act have already started. 32.5 million Seniors have already received free preventative services. Three million additional young adults now have health coverage because of the law. Small businesses can take advantage of tax credits so they can provide insurance for their employees. Starting in 2014, 30 million more Americans will be able to afford access to health care.

“Jesus taught us, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ All the world’s great religions urge us to be compassionate and to help the sick. All good people recoil at the sight of needless suffering and cruelty.

“We all deserve the freedom from want and the freedom from fear. While I hope to eventually see Medicare for All in America, the Affordable Care Act is a vast improvement over the dark days when we allowed the insurance companies to run roughshod over our health.”

And from Garamendi’s opponent this November, Republican candidate and Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann:

Kim Vann “Today’s Supreme Court ruling underscores the urgency with which Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with solutions that do not tax and cripple our economy. Rather than providing a lasting solution to the challenges facing our health care system, the health care law places a $600 billion tax on American families and businesses, while cutting over $500 billion from Medicare, empowering an unelected and unaccountable board of bureaucrats to make decisions regarding seniors’ health care, and imposing burdensome and costly regulations on our small businesses. It’s clear these solutions aren’t working. We must work for real reforms that lower costs and increase access to quality care, while ensuring that patients and their doctors—not government bureaucrats—remain in control of their healthcare decisions.

“My opponent, Congressman John Garamendi, has already voted for a more radical government health care overhaul than Obamacare. He supports the complete government takeover of health care—a ‘single payer’ government-run system. This radical position is not only out of step with most Republicans and Democrats—it’s out of touch with reality.”

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Is one of these ‘Young Guns’ shooting blanks?

Two of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” are near the Bay Area, but one of them might be shooting blanks.

Unofficial results from Tuesday’s primary in the 3rd Congressional District show incumbent John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, got 52.5 percent of the vote while “Young Gun” Kim Vann – a Colusa County supervisor – got 25.4 percent.

It’s true that Vann had to beat back three other Republican challengers, but the long and short of it is that Garamendi still managed to pull a majority of the votes in a low-turnout election that should’ve favored Republicans. In November, with the presidential election drawing many more voters to the polls and Democratic turnout improving accordingly, Vann’s going to have a much tougher time. The well-respected Cook Political Report agrees, listing Garamendi’s district – which has pieces of Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Sacramento, Solano, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties – as a “likely Democratic” win this fall.

Not that Vann is letting any grass grow under her feet. Here’s the video she released yesterday:

It could be somewhat different story over in the 9th Congressional District, listed by Cook as “lean Democratic” as incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, seeks re-election.

Unofficial results show McNerney got 48.4 percent of the vote, while “Young Gun” Ricky Gill – a Lodi native who just finished law school at UC-Berkeley – drew 39.5 percent; another Republican, Mountain House businessman John McDonald, got 12.1 percent.

Unlike Garamendi, McNerney didn’t manage to get a majority on Tuesday. Spokeswoman Lauren Smith told me late Tuesday night that he’s not worried; he believes stronger Democratic turnout in November will buoy him to victory. The district – with parts of San Joaquin, Contra Costa and Sacramento counties – is registered 43.8 percent Democrat, 36.5 percent Republican and 15.8 percent no-party-preference, which gives him a better edge than the tiny GOP advantage he overcame in his old district in November 2010. But Gill is playing up his local roots and has raised a lot of money, and McNerney certainly can’t kick back and relax this summer.

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New fundraising figures in hot House races

Candidates have filed campaign-finance reports to the Federal Election Commission for the first quarter of 2012. Here’s a round-up of the news from the more vibrant races in or near the Bay Area:

15th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, raised $60,255 and spent $90,299 in the first quarter, and had $551,341.79 cash on hand with no outstanding debts as of March 31.

Dublin City Councilman and Alameda County prosecutor Eric Swalwell, also a Democrat, raised $100,930.24 and spent $96,592.16 in the first quarter, and had $93,311.05 cash on hand with $8,572.50 in outstanding debts as of March 31.

A report from Hayward businessman Chris Pareja, a conservative independent, wasn’t available Monday. “We filed last week, but noticed some of our supporting documentation was not included in the package,” he said. “I have notified the FEC that we identified the situation and are amending our report. It may be tomorrow or the next day before I can email you the info.”

Attorney and former Obama Administration official Ro Khanna of Fremont – who’d raised a startling $1.2 million in the last quarter of 2011, but said he wouldn’t run this year if Stark did – raised $15,929 and spent $41,266.10 in the first quarter of 2012, and had $1,109,715.90 cash on hand with $58.50 in outstanding debts as of March 31.

State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro – who had explored a run in the 15th Congressional District this year but instead chose to finish her state Senate term in 2014 – raised $7,800 and spent $51,585.51 in the first quarter, and had $103,947.94 cash on hand with no outstanding debts as of March 31.

9th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, raised $264,592.85 and spent $108,140.08 in the first quarter, and had $937,802.55 cash on hand and $20,694.46 in unpaid debts as of March 31.

Lodi law student Ricky Gill, a Republican, raised $308,070.08 and spent $104,035.41 in the first quarter, and had $988,585.80 cash on hand with $179,151.91 in unpaid debts as of March 31.

Tech executive John McDonald of Mountain House, another Republican, raised $6,695.98 and spent $13,467.06 in the first quarter, and had $28,736.48 cash on hand and $25,300 (the amount he personally has loaned his campaign) in unpaid debts as of March 31.

3rd CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, raised $261,183.09 and spent $308,387.76 in the first quarter, and had $255,448.26 cash on hand with $14,324.18 in outstanding debts as of March 31.

Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann of Arbuckle, a Republican, raised $120,504.99 and spent $93,967.47 in the first quarter, and had $216,646.14 cash on hand with $5,409.97 in outstanding debts as of March 31.

United Airlines pilot and Air Force reservist Rick Tubbs of Vacaville, another Republican, raised $16,492.44 and spent $23,591.01 in the first quarter, and had $5,391.41 cash on hand and $11,622.23 (all of which he personally loaned his campaign) in outstanding debts as of March 31.

Retired U.S. Marine Charles Schaupp of Esparto, another Republican, raised $610 and spent $27,792.78 in the first quarter, and had $5,223.75 cash on hand and $50,179.32 (including $50,000 he personally loaned his campaign) in outstanding debts as of March 31.

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See your House member’s 2011 spending

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, unsurprisingly has spent the most of any Bay Area House member so far in 2011 while Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, has spent the least, according to Congressional spending data crunched by the Sunlight Foundation.

Here are the year-to-date spending numbers through Sept. 30, the end of the third quarter:

Nancy Pelosi — $1,131,048.95
Lynn Woolsey — $1,102.313.04
Anna Eshoo – $1,065,928.98
Jackie Speier — $1,053,889.75
Mike Honda — $1,037,247,79
Barbara Lee — $1,009.844.70
Zoe Lofgren — $970,630.03
George Miller — $950,707.76
Pete Stark — $941,132.97
Jerry McNerney — $838,944.86
John Garamendi — $780,133.41

Pelosi’s spending has been driven in large part by her $201,793.78 in the rent/communications/utilities category, which was about three times the lowest amount a Bay Area member spent in that area (that’s Pete Stark, D-Fremont, at $67,773.11). As reported last year, the rent on Pelosi’s district office – in the new federal office building on Seventh Street south of Market in San Francisco – is the House’s highest by far, at $18,736 per month.

Stark, however, has spent more than three times the next-closest Bay Area member on franked mail – $56,489.20 – and almost twice as much on printing and reproduction, at $53,887.27. That’s in keeping with Stark’s past practices, however: In 2010 he spent $100,518.11 on franked mail and $69,001.83 on printing and reproduction; in 2009, it was $165,554.82 on franked mail and $141,112.70 on printing and reproduction. As one of his constituents, I can attest that Stark loves sending mailers regularly to his district’s voters, updating them on issues and inviting them to town meetings.

Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, who is retiring at the end of this term, clocked in with both the highest personnel costs of any Bay Area member so far this year – $883,353.14 – and the highest travel costs, at $40,870.14. Garamendi has the lowest personnel costs ($573,073.70) while Stark logged the least travel costs ($7,369.66).