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Scott Walker, we hardly knew ye

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker suspended his presidential campaign today, and urged other Republicans to do the same so that the electorate can coalesce behind anyone but Donald Trump:

It doesn’t sound like any other Republicans are immediately ready to follow him out the door.

But some Democrats were ready with double-barreled snark.

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Stanford prof gears up for U.S. Senate campaign

A prominent political figure now teaching at Stanford University is considering a run for the U.S. Senate.

No, calm down, Kamala – it’s not Condoleezza Rice in California’s 2016 race. It’s former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., laying the groundwork for a campaign to retake his old seat.

The Wall Street Journal reported March 3 that Feingold – a liberal best known for coauthoring a bipartisan campaign-finance reform law that since has been eviscerated by the U.S. Supreme Court – will split his time this year between teaching law and international relations at Stanford and going on a listening tour of Wisconsin.

Hot on the heels of a new poll that found Feingold leading incumbent Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Thursday released a web video that pokes fun at Feingold’s California-based Wisconsin campaign.

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Lee, Huffman will help seek budget deal

Two Bay Area House members will be on the conference committee charged with completing a federal budget deal, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday.

Pelosi, D-San Francisco, appointed all Democrats from the House Budget Committee as conferees; that includes Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael. Pelosi also called out House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, for having not appointed any Republican conferees, even though the U.S. Senate passed a budget bill 96 days ago.

“The American people can’t afford to wait any longer for Republicans to act on a reasonable, responsible budget, and neither should we,” she said. “Democrats have put our ideas on the table time and again, with a budget proposal to create jobs, promote growth, invest in innovation and infrastructure, and bring down the deficit in a balanced way.”

Boehner at a news conference this morning said the nation’s 1.8 percent economic growth in the year’s first quarter isn’t enough. “That’s why Republicans are continuing to listen to the American people, and offering a real jobs plan for American families and small businesses,” he said. “Our jobs plan can bring us out of this ‘new normal’ and deliver sustained economic growth, and expand opportunity for all Americans.”

Meanwhile, the House Budget Committee held a hearing Wednesday on “America’s Energy Revolution,” which chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc, acknowledged “isn’t a big part of the federal budget.” Huffman accused the committee of wasting time.

“We continue to have these pep rallies for the oil and gas industry while real problems are simply, for some reason, off the table. We don’t even have a conference committee so we can move forward and try to negotiate a federal budget, but we’re here to have a pep rally for the oil and gas industry,” Huffman said at the hearing. “We’ve got student loan interest rates about to double in less than a week, but we’re not talking about that. We’re not talking about any number of things, like the sequester and the people that are actually suffering. We’re here to talk about folks who are experiencing record profits. There are real problems that we need to be solving, and we need to be working together.”

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Renewed calls for gun control: article and video

After writing a story that’s appearing today – about how mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Oak Creek, Wisc., have led to renewed calls from California lawmakers for more stringent gun-control measures – I was on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California” on Friday to discuss the same topic:

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GOP holds its own Silicon Valley town hall

Hours after President Obama held a town hall meeting on job creation Monday morning at the Mountain View headquarters of social networking site LinkedIn, three top House Republicans held a similar forum at the Palo Alto headquarters of Facebook.

The discussion and question-and-answer session with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.; and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield; and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, D-Wisc., was moderated by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who held a $35,800-a-plate fundraising dinner for President Obama on Sunday night at her Atherton home.

Generally, they spoke about the need to reform the tax code to eliminate corporate loopholes so that everyone pays, and so everyone pays less; reforming entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid so that we can afford them; and bringing the kind of innovative interaction to Washington that has made Facebook such a success.

Cantor said Republicans in coming weeks will be looking at rolling back regulations that they believe tie the hands of small businesses. Among those are environmental protection rules, which must be balanced with business’ needs, he said; they’ll also try to roll back some of the recent financial reforms that have made it too hard for small businesses to get credit and capital.

McCarthy said the key to entitlement reform could be a bipartisan agreement that neither side will demonize the other, but instead, everyone will put all options on the table and let the public decide. He exhorted citizens to “join in, engage, do not sit back.”

Ryan said he didn’t want to serve on the new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction – often called the “super committee” – because he believes there’s so much more to do beyond that panel’s appointed task. Achieving $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction would be “a nice step in the right direction,” he said, but he’s contemplating a proposal to enact a whole new budgeting process to control future spending.

In a “lightning round” of mini-questions from Sandberg, Ryan opted for entitlement reform even over tax reform. “Our government, both political parties, has been making promises to people we can’t keep,” he said, so current recipients should be protected but future benefits should be reigned in with higher retirement ages and wage-indexed benefits for Social Security and private insurance options under Medicare.

The nation is at “a very precarious time right now” and must have a safety net for the needy, he said, but not “a hammock that lulls able bodied people into lives of complacency.”

Ryan will speak and answer questions on health care reform tomorrow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

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Emerge Calif. hosts Wisconsin senator

Democratic Wisconsin State Sen. Lena Taylor will be the keynote speaker at the Emerge California fundraiser set for May 9 in San Francisco.

Emerge California trains Democratic women to run for local, state and federal office.

Elected in November, Taylor is the second African-American woman to serve in Wisconsin’s Senate. She is the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Corrections, and is in her second term on the budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance. Wisconsin has been ground zero in the fight between labor groups and conservatives seeking to reduce public employee benefits and pensions.

The Emerge California event begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. followed by Taylor’s speech at 6:35 p.m. It will be held at the Delancey Street Foundation Town Hall Room, 600 Embarcadero St., San Francisco.

Ticket costs start at $100. To RSVP, visit www.emergeca.org.