Friday, May 30, 2014

Primary Questions: SD-10 Preview

Clockwise from left: Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski, Mary Hayashi, Audie Bock, Peter Kuo and Roman Reed.
THE CANDIDATES We all know about Mary Hayashi’s past, but what is missing from this campaign is just how progressive a record she had in the Assembly. During her six years in the lower house, Hayashi was a strong advocate for mental health issues and health care, in general. She did, however, have a reputation for not playing well with others in the Legislature. The residual animosity is one reason why many in government at all levels in East Bay have found it hard to forgive her. But, money talks and her $800,000 war chest to start the campaign is a major hammer, which she has plowed through in recent months. Hayashi’s last campaign finance report two weeks ago showed her with $176,000 in the bank…Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski has burnished an image as an elected official who is quite friendly to labor unions. Nothing wrong with that, but Wieckowski is also a former bankruptcy attorney and his support from trial lawyers got him in trouble during this race after he registered the only vote for an heartbreaking domestic violence bill that ultimately became law in 2012. Wieckowski has also led the way in urging Congress to overturn Citizens United, which U.S. Supreme Court ruled corporations have the same rights as people and the recent decision removing federal limits for campaign donations. Wieckowski made news last year with a bill that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to serve on juries that Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed…Never heard of Peter Kuo? After Tuesday you might hear a lot about him. The lone Republican in the race nearly quit late last year, but a State Senate bill looking to reinstate affirmative action for university applications and state contracts lit a fire in him and an upset the growing Asian American community in the 10th District and beyond. He emigrated from Taiwan as a teenager and the issue of SCA-5 dovetails nicely with his description of the American Dream. Republican Party leaders see potential for Kuo and the district’s large chunk of non-partisan voters…The third Democrat in this race is Roman Reed, a former Chabot College football player who was paralyzed during a game almost 20 years ago. Reed, now a Fremont Planning Commissioner, went on to graduate from Cal and has worked to fund various stem cell research programs around the country, including his own, the Roman Reed Foundation…In a 1999 special election, Audie Bock pulled off one of the biggest shockers in recent East Bay history when she won a seat in State Assembly as a member of the Green Party. Today she is an independent. In recent years, she has run for various seats in the Hayward area and is currently an elected member of the Fairview Fire Protection District. During this race, Bock has been highly-critical of the Russell City Energy Center on the Hayward Shoreline after the power plant was found to be emitting water particulate 10 times higher than allowed.

MAIN BEEF Mug Shot Mary vs Bob the Bully. Sort of sounds like a character-driven public service announcement against bad behavior, doesn’t it? This race never got past Hayashi’s 2011 arrest for shoplifting and it only got worse when her campaign fired back. The campaign never came close to a discussion of the issues and that’s a shame since outside of the Fremont portion of the 10th District, much of this area is smarting from ineffective local government and challenged school districts.

QUOTABLE Bob Wieckowski says he's a supporter of consumer rights, said Hayashi's campaign consultant Josh Pulliam, in response to the surveillance video from 2011 of Hayashi at Neiman Marcus. "Instead, he is clearly getting his jollies with this video peeping on Mary Hayashi."

BY THE NUMBERS Voter Registration: Democratic 50.3%; No Party Preference 24.9%; Republican 16.9%.

Campaign Finance: Hayashi $176,062; Wieckowski $70,881; Kuo $50,356; Reed, no report filed; Bock, no report filed.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH 1. Wieckowski 2. Kuo 3. Hayashi 4. Reed 5. Bock.

ON TO NOVEMBER If Wieckowski can avoid another costly round against Hayashi in November, he will likely walk into the State Senate. Barring a Starkian meltdown of epic proportions it is extremely difficult to envision this district electing a Republican. However, if Kuo, an uber nice guy can contrast himself with Wieckowski in the line of Hayashi’s “Bob the Bully” moniker, he could force Wieckowski to play ball all the way to the finish line. Another question: can the cash-strapped state GOP afford to fund two East Bay upstarts in Kuo and the 16th Assembly District’s Catharine Baker? If they had to choose one or the others, the best bet for winning rests with Baker. However, if Hayashi can live another day, things could get interesting. Does Wieckowski continue to trot out the infamous mug shot and Neiman Marcus surveillance video or change course? Good money says he continues to go negative since his record in the Assembly is without distinction. If I’m Hayashi, I do what I should have done six months ago and bare my soul on television like Nadia Lockyer. Barbara Walters retired, but someone at KGO-TV will do the trick and by all means, cry!

Primary Question: Hayward Mayor

Clockwise from the top: Councilmembers Barbara Halliday, Mark Salinas, Francisco Zermeno and Hayward businessman Rakesh Kumar Christian.
THE CANDIDATES All three major candidates are also sitting members of the Hayward City Council hoping to replace three-time Mayor Michael Sweeney, who is retiring this summer. Barbara Halliday is the longest-tenured member of the City Council. In previous races, she has proven to be a candidate who consistently finishes at the top of the pack. In the 2012 council race featuring four open seats, Halliday won the top spot. Most describe Halliday as a steady presence on the council. She consistently supported the Downtown Hayward Loop and has held steadfast on her vote earlier this year imposing a five percent wage cut on city workers…Councilmember Mark Salinas’s run for mayor constitutes one of the most ballsiest political moves in the East Bay. If he does not win this race, he’s out of office after choosing not to run for likely re-election this year on the City Council. Salinas, too, voted for the wage imposition, but does not support the Loop, disliked by many Hayward residents…Just two years ago, Councilmember Francisco Zermeno barely snagged the last open seat on the City Council at the expense of long-time member Olden Henson. Zermeno’s political career has had serious ups and downs, but he’s hoping this year he can parlay his support for Hayward businesses and the growing Latino vote into a win on June 3. He was the first candidate to enter the race a year ago and like his council colleagues, voted for the wage cut imposition. However, unlike Halliday and Salinas, Zermeno has tried to temper his rhetoric toward city workers, but still stands by the vote that raised significant ire from the Service Employees International Union Local 1021…Rakesh Kumar Christian is Hayward businessmen who ran for governor in 2010. He did not win. Incidentally, in addition to running mayor of Hayward, Christian is also running another challenge to Gov. Jerry Brown this June concurrent to this race.

MAIN BEEF Curiously, the main issue in this race is not between the candidates, but the group of three who voted for a contract imposition against city workers. Although, SEIU Local 1021 failed to find a union-friendly challenger in this race, they effectively shut off any support from others to Halliday, Salinas and Zermeno. Vote “None of the above” has been the mantra for mayor. But, obviously, one of them will become mayor next week. Hayward residents care about four things: attracting new business downtown, the Loop, crime and schools. The last issue has little relation to what a mayor can accomplish. Salinas opposes the Loop, while the others offer tacit support for the unpopular issue. However, an interesting predicament confronts each candidate. If Hayward is in such bad shape, why hasn’t one of the candidates done something tangible to fix it as a sitting council members? As the candidate with the least experience on the council, Salinas has tried to use this logic to make a case for himself, but it remains to be seen how voters will react to a Hobson's Choice of three candidates, all with a hand in furthering an unappealing status quo in Hayward.

QUOTABLE "Let’s face it, we probably never will in our lifetimes be a very wealthy city like, I don’t know, Piedmont, Palo Alto," said Halliday during a forum in April.

BY THE NUMBERS Voter Registration: Democratic 59.0%; No Party Preference 19.2%; Republicans 12.2%.

Campaign Finance, cash on hand through May: Zermeno $21,834; Salinas $17,046; Halliday $12,132; Christian, no report filed.

2010 Mayoral Election: Michael Sweeney 97.3%; Write-In 2.7%.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH 1. Barbara Halliday 2. Mark Salinas 3. Francisco Zermeno 4. Rakesh Kumar Christian.

AFTERMATH The first order of business for whoever becomes mayor is reconciliation. A near majority of the City Council running hard-fought campaigns certainly fosters animosity. Furthermore, the loss of Mayor Sweeney in this area could be impactful. Sweeney was often the guiding hand for goodwill and unity on this council. That’s gone and the new paradigm in Hayward will be tested early. First, the new mayor desperately needs to mend the situation with its public employees. Second, if either Halliday or Zermeno become mayor, there is the question of who is appointed to fill out the remaining two years of their council term? Could it be Salinas? After all, he decided to not seek re-election to council this year for a run at the mayor’s office. It’s unclear how well such a scenario would go over with the public.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Primary Questions: Hayward City Council

Hayward City Council chambers. Which two of the seven candidates will take a seat at the dais this summer?
THE CANDIDATES Councilmember Marvin Peixoto is seeking re-election to the City Council. Hayward holds at-large June elections with the top two vote-getters winning seats on the council. Four years ago, Peixoto received the most votes following a stint on the Hayward Planning Commission. His strong opposition to the Hayward Loop and the Russell City Energy Center from his days as a commissioner to today appears to be a stroke of genius in this race. Both issues are of great concern to Hayward voters. Peixoto, though, also voted for the controversial five percent wage cut imposition on city employees and has remained resolute in his belief the move was necessary for the city’s financial stability…The controversial vote against workers attracted pro-union candidates Rocky Fernandez and Sara Lamnin into the race. SEIU Local 1021 has poured resources into getting each elected. Fernandez is the only candidate other than Peixoto to hold elected office. He previously served on the AC Transit Board of Directors and currently runs Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski’s district office. In addition to supporting workers, Fernandez said he will seek changes to the Loop and make the downtown area more walkable. Lamnin has faced a series of near misses in recent years. First, for her bid for the City Council two years ago and the city’s school board. She has long been a well-known advocate for the poor and minorities in Hayward…Restaurateur Julie McKillop has also worked with the Hayward Chamber of Commerce and has advocated for changes to the Loop, but as a downtown business owner, she also says the Loop has positively affected her business and that of her neighbors….Rodney Loche has the backing of Mayor Michael Sweeney and is a member of the Hayward Planning Commission. He also an author of children’s books…Ralph Farias, Jr. is the raconteur of Hayward politics, who often stuffs sturdy conservative ideas into a package wrapped in a persona often seen in professional wrestling. Philip Gallegos is a first-time candidate with a belief system in line with Fernandez and Lamnin.

MAIN BEEF The main objects of contention in this race mimics the mayoral race. In fact, absolutely no distinction can be draw between the two other than the appearance of two union candidates in this council race, whereas, none exist in the mayoral campaign. Billboards and mailers sent by SEIU Local 1021 ask voters to help “Heal the Heart of Hayward.” The choice here is whether traditionally labor-friendly Hayward voters were significantly embarrassed by the City Council’s swift anti-worker move to warrant the addition of two union-backed members to the council of seven or not

QUOTABLE “I’ve come from the freeway to get to D Street and taken my life into my hand,” Lamnin said of the Hayward Loop.

BY THE NUMBERS Voter Registration: Democratic 59.0%; No Party Preference 19.2%; Republicans 12.2%.

2010 Election Results: *Peixoto 29.5%; *Mark Salinas 25.6%; Sara Lamnin 20.6%; Ralph Farias, Jr. 9.7%; Steve Oiwa 7.3%; Lawrence Fitzpatrick 6.8%.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH 1. Fernandez 2. Peixoto 3. Lamnin 4. McKillop 5. Loche 6. Farias 7. Gallegos.

AFTERMATH Labor and management will need to pause and reexamine the new political landscape when it comes to the composition of the new Hayward City Council. Even if Fernandez and Lamnin win seats, the anti-worker bloc will still hold a comfortable 5-2 majority. However, the message will have been sent to incumbents in the future that a similar stance against public employees will result in you being run out of office. Rhetoric between the union and the city needs to be quelled, so here’s a proposal: If Halliday or Zermeno becomes mayor and either Fernandez or Lamnin fail to win a seat on the council, how about appointing one of them to fill out the remaining two years of the mayor-elect’s term? The council’s new math will not change the city’s stance against workers and it’s an olive branch to labor that says, “How about we start working together?”

Primary Questions: AD-16 Preview

Clockwise from the left: Steve Glazer, Tim Sbranti, Catharine Baker and Newell Arnerich.
THE CANDIDATES Before Steve Glazer was the “Ban BART Strikes” guy, he was the mayor of Orinda and Gov. Jerry Brown’s best bud. Now, Glazer is attempting to parlay his early opposition to the BART strikes that roiled the Bay Area during the last half of 2013 into a seat in the State Assembly. Running boldly on a single issue is not easy feat, but Glazer has done a masterful job of stoking the anger, especially in this truly moderate district, that many felt toward public employees last year. Nevermind, a deal to end the strikes was made six months ago, all four candidates in this race are still talking about it everyday…For Glazer’s manipulation of the BART issue to work, he needed a foil and that person became Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, also a moderate Democrat like Glazer, but one who is backed by labor unions. Sbranti is a high school teacher who counts Rep. Eric Swalwell as a former pupil. In fact, Sbranti differs with Glazer on few issues, but that doesn’t matter because the most contentious point is BART and on that count they diverge greatly…Republican Catharine Baker is a first time candidate from the Tri Valley who is the race’s genuine conservative. She believes in small government, opposes high-speed rail and water tunnels under the San Joaquin Delta. Baker says it was her, not Glazer, who first took on the issue of public employee transportation strikes…Newell Arnerich is the mayor of Danville, who like Glazer and Baker, opposes BART strikes. However, in public forums and an endorsement meeting with the Bay Area News Group, Arnerich often jousts with Glazer, more than Sbranti or Baker.

MAIN BEEF BART, BART, BART. This race is all about BART, which would seem to favor Glazer, the candidate who has made it his signature issue, but not necessarily. In fact, Baker may be the unintended benefactor of the Glazer/Sbranti war that has attracted closed to $3 million in independent expenditure committee money to the race. It remains to be seen whether a flurry of mailers from pro-Sbranti labor IEs saying Glazer is a flip-flopper who claims to be an independent Democrat at the same time he is a fiscal conservative might induce right-of-center voters to the genuine Republican in Baker. Pundits says yes and have recently vaulted Baker to the top of the pack. However, there is absolutely no consensus over who finishes second. The group of six East Bay Citizen political experts used to determine the predicted order of finish in all races wouldn’t even venture a guess.

QUOTABLE "Republicans, put an effective fiscal conservative in the State Assembly. Vote for Steve Glazer," said a recent mailer sent by Glazer's campaign to AD16 conservatives.

BY THE NUMBERS Voter Registration: Democratic 39.7%; Republican 32.4%; No Party Preference 21.5%.

Campaign Finance, cash on hand through May 17: Glazer $354,057; Baker $192,381; Sbranti $64,833; Arnerich $20,692.

2012 Primary Result: Joan Buchanan (D) 56.7%; Al Phillips (R) 43.3%.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH 1. Baker 2. Sbranti 3. Glazer 4. Arnerich

ON TO NOVEMBER Catherine Baker is a real find for the local Republican Party. No matter who Baker faces in November, its going to be a very difficult race for any of the competitors, but Baker has shown to be a confident and thoughtful candidate. Which special interests-backed opponent poses the greatest threat to her candidacy is unclear. Judging by the sheer amount money and desperation shown by labor unions, you can venture to guess it would be Sbranti. In addition, the State Democratic Party simply cannot afford to lose another winnable seat in the Legislature. Conversely, Baker vs. Glazer in November is favorable to the Republican, assuming moderate primary voters who might lead her to the top spot on June 3 already made their choice based up the very same matchup.

Primary Questions: CA-15 Preview

Rep. Eric Swalwell, State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett and Hugh Bussell.
THE CANDIDATES All you really know about Rep. Eric Swalwell’s first 18 months in Congress is he has compiled 350,000 frequent flier miles traveling from the East Bay to Washington, D.C. The slow pace of plate tectonics on Earth assures us long-distance travel for any congress member from the 15th District will continue to be the norm. In the meantime, Swalwell has passed one bill while office, a piece of legislation allowing charitable contributions to the Filipino typhoon disaster to be included on last year tax returns..This year, though, Swalwell is no longer the hunter, but the hunted. State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett is one of the East Bay’s most experienced legislators and not prone to the same carelessness that seemed to shadow Pete Stark two years ago. While in the Assembly and State Senate, Corbett has been a strong backer of labor and can be credited as being on the short list of public officials who saved San Leandro Hospital from closure last year…Hugh Bussell, the co-chair of the Alameda County Republican Party is a first-time candidate from Livermore, who was a high school teacher before his current occupation as a software consultant. The lone Republican candidate won almost 22 percent of the vote in this race last time around and played a large role in shrinking Stark’s primary numbers and eventually allowing Swalwell to overtake him in the November election.

MAIN BEEF Before a pair of controversial mailers hit mail boxes recently, this race was actually all about Swalwell’s short record in Congress. Corbett has hit Swalwell on his vote last year allowing the government to spy on personal web histories, along with attacks on his vote last December that failed to extend unemployment benefits to over 1.3 million Americans. In both cases, Swalwell reversed course. Both examples intend to label Swalwell as not progressive enough for the district. Swalwell, meanwhile, appears to be using the same playbook that allowed him to upset Stark in 2012. A widely-seen television commercial and mailer using a game board motif attempts to paint Corbett as a politician living well on the taxpayers’ dime and without doing the requisite work. Swalwell used the same strategy against the 80-year-old Stark. The television spot though features a host of insinuations with footnotes leading to nothing. Similarly, Corbett’s mailer last week features a check box suggesting Swalwell voted for the conservative Rep. Paul Ryan budget deal last year.

QUOTABLE "Does Washington really need more lawyers?" said Hugh Bussell in April about the occupations of both his primary opponents.

BY THE NUMBERS Voter Registration: Democratic 48.2%; No Party Preference 20.9%; Republican 21.8%

Campaign Finance, thorough May 17: Swalwell $696,000; Corbett $116,000; Bussell $3,200.

2012 Primary Result: Pete Stark (D) 42.1%; Eric Swalwell (D) 36.2%; Chris Pareja (R) 21.7%.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH 1. Swalwell 2. Corbett 3. Bussell.

ON TO NOVEMBER Despite the misleading mailers, this congressional race has the potential to be all about the issues, a potential breath of fresh air following the vicious 10th State Senate race being fought in relatively the same area. Focusing on Swalwell’s thin legislative record through the lens of the most derelict Congress in American history is a positive for Corbett. Moreover, she has a 14-year career in Sacramento that can be mined for good use by the Swalwell campaign. They already attempting to link her to the three members of the State Senate involved in criminal action. Nevertheless, Corbett is going to need a big break to pull off the upset in November. The big legislative fumble on Swalwell’s record involves NSA spying. If Edward Snowden has another shoe to drop on the subject, it could reflect badly on Swalwell. Government overreach when it comes to privacy is an issue passionately followed by all segments of the political spectrum and Swalwell doesn’t have a good answer for that vote on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) in April 2013.

A New Website in SD-10: Down Ballot, 5 Days to Election Day

STATE SENATE DISTRICT 10 The pantheon of negative campaign websites grows. Mary Hayashi’s campaign released FrackBob.com today. The latest entry follows MugShotMary and BobProtectedRapists. The site, however, is solely issue based (other than the web address) on Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski’s opposition to a state moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking. The issue is very timely. Just yesterday, the State Senate failed to muster enough votes to pass a moratorium. Hayashi has registered support for the moratorium during the campaign, along with Roman Reed, while Wieckowski, Republican Peter Kuo and Audie Bock, a non-partisan, oppose it. The site includes video of Wieckowski laying out his stance to the Bay Area News Group and and a .PDF of Hayashi’s mailer on the subject. Included at the bottom of the mailer is this line, “Don’t let Bob Wieckowski frack us in the State Senate.”…Meanwhle, Kuo is again utilizing his violin for good measure. A day after he played for South Bay residents mourning the shooting of one of their own in Isla Vista, Kuo entertained supporters of Republican lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Ron Nehring.

CONGRESS DISTRICT 17 Ro Khanna’s campaign is trying to make hay out of a trio of mailers sent by independent expenditure committees connected to Big Labor. They contend the IEs are trying to help Republican Vanila Singh. In a roundabout way, the IE is trying to help the likely Democratic front runner in the June primary, Rep. Mike Honda. The strategy is counter intuitive and certainly not illegal and a bit risky for Honda, who is counting on strong support from progressives. IEs are forbidden from coordinating their support or attacks with campaigns and there’s no allegation of this occurring here. Therefore, no story, just hard, somewhat shady politics being played…KGO Radio’s Ronn Owens endorsed Khanna. Didn’t know that was allowed…Honda’s campaign will hold a GOTV rally Saturday at its headquarters in Cupertino starting at 10:30 a.m. Khanna will hold a series of rallies on Saturday starting at its Milpitas office at 9 a.m. It’s on to Santa Clara at noon; Fremont, 3 p.m.; Cupertino, 4 p.m….Singh will host the entire Bay Area Republican slate of candidates at her Milpitas campaign headquarters on Saturday, starting at 11 a.m.

OTHER Political Data, Inc. reports, statewide, just 8.2 percent of vote-by-mail ballots have been received by county registrars. So, basically nobody cares. :(

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Down Ballot, May 28, 2014; 6 Days to Election Day

Kamala Harris attended a fundraiser
Tuesday for Rep. Mike Honda.
PHOTO/Shane Bond
STATE SENATE DISTRICT 10 As Democrats Bob Wieckowski and Mary Hayashi continue sniping at each other, Republican Peter Kuo attended a memorial Tuesday for one of the South Bay victims of the Isla Vista shootings. Kuo even brought his violin for the solemn occasion.

CONGRESS DISTRICT 15 Rep. Eric Swalwell cried foul over a mailer from Ellen Corbett's campaign claiming he voted for a controversial Rep. Paul Ryan budget last year. Although a check mark on the mailer suggests Swalwell voted for the Ryan budget so reviled by seniors, the corresponding text clearly asserts Swalwell, along with Ryan, voted against amendments brought forth by members of the progressive caucus and another by the Congressional Black Caucus. In other words, the mailer simply furthers a theme utilized recently by Corbett to paint Swalwell as a moderate, or, more specifically, not progressive enough. Recall, primary voters are usually very partisan...Swalwell also dropped his own mailer hoping to cajole some moderate Republican votes from Hugh Bussell. The mailer contrasts Bussell's far right views on immigration and Obamacare with his own.

CONGRESS DISTRICT 17 California Attorney General Kamala Harris was the special guest at a fundraiser for Rep. Mike Honda on Tuesday night in San Francisco. Harris previously endorsed Honda and like the long-time congressman, she is expected to win her primary for re-election...Ro Khanna released a new television commercial titled, "Politics as Usual." In the spot, Khanna says, "Congressman Honda and his allies are stuck in the past. Trying to scare people with phony attacks against me. It's the oldest play in the book, and it's everything that's wrong with Washington."

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 15 Attorney Pamela Price, a Democrat, touted the endorsement of Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover. Price could be making a run for the top two, according to some politicos. Earlier this month, she won the surprise endorsement of the Bay Area News Group. Democrats Elizabeth Echols and Tony Thurmond, though, are viewed as the front runners on June 3.

Primary Questions: CA-17 Preview

Clockwise from top: Rep. Mike Honda, Ro Khanna, Joel Vanlandingham and Vanila Singh
THE CANDIDATES Ask around you will likely hear one of two things when talking about Rep. Mike Honda: he’s a “nice guy” or “he hasn’t done anything wrong to deserve such a challenge to his seat.” A former teacher, Honda has long focused on education and his progressive voting record is one of the best in Congress. Annual rankings from the National Journal found Honda in an eight-way tie as the most liberal member of Congress last year. However, his far left stances have not been an issue during this primary campaign. Honda was first elected to Congress in 2001, but never has he faced a primary challenger more organized or fully-funded like his opponent this year...Ro Khanna was appointed to the U.S. Department of Commerce by President Obama, wrote a book on attracting and keeping manufacturing in American, flirted with running two years ago against Pete Stark and, in the meantime, amassed one the largest campaign war chest ever in the East Bay. Khanna’s focus on the district’s powerful tech industry is reflected in much of his campaign fundraising. Through mid-May, Khanna raised over $3.8 million and spent about one-third of his stash one month before Election Day…Vanila Singh is a medical doctor from Stanford who never appeared on the local political radar before jumping in the race last December. What she lacks in experience is more than made up with intangibles such as being a Republican female candidate who also happens to be Indian American (a fast-rising segment of the district’s composition.) Indeed, she may be the face of the new state GOP that has often looked old, white and out-of-touch…Joel Vanlandingham is a tech executive running as the “real” Republican in the race. The Alameda County Republican Party, though, has shunned him in favor of Singh.

MAIN BEEF There appeared to be no perceptible uprising among voters in the 17th District calling for Honda’s ouster, in contrast to the situation two years ago with Pete Stark. Khanna, however brings youth and an extensive resume to the race. The main argument being made by Khanna is Silicon Valley deserves its rightful place at the top of the heap in Washington and Honda isn't doing it. Khanna says Honda is not extending the district’s influence to Congress, while Honda refutes that he has been lax, citing federal funding he helped steer to San Jose for BART’s further expansion to the South Bay…Singh, however, believes there is another argument to be made against Khanna. She has consistently raised questions whether Khanna’s campaign recruited Vanlandingham and another Republican Vinesh Rathore Singh to confuse and dilute the pool of conservatives. Vanlandingham disputes this claim and says the Republican Party essentially “went shopping” for Vanila Singh, citing the fact she only registered with the GOP last December. The other Singh was throw off the ballot by a Sacramento Superior Court judge for lack of acceptable signatures on his nominating petition.

QUOTABLE “The fact remains I’ve done something. That created hard jobs for everybody, from blue collar workers to white collar workers and engineers to professionals. That is what people want, they want results and that’s what I’ve done. It’s not theory." said Honda, May 3, in response to Khanna asserting congressional earmarks no longer exist.

BY THE NUMBERS Voter Registration: Democratic 44.2%; No Party Preference 31.6%; Republican 19%

Campaign Finance: Cash on hand through May 14: Honda $1,038,360; Khanna $1, 009,673; Singh $211,799; Vanlandingham, no report filed.

2012 Primary Result: Mike Honda (D) 66.7%; Evelyn Li (R) 27.6%; Charles Richardson (NPP) 5.7%

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH 1. Honda 2. Khanna 3. Singh 4. Vanlandingham

ON TO NOVEMBER Honda vs Khanna will continue to be a national political story. Will a long-time progressive in the Bay Area be dethroned by a fellow Democrat for the second straight election cycle? If Honda fails to garner at least 50 percent of the June vote, alarms will be raised, but his victory in the primary is not disputed by many. The better barometer is how close a second is Khanna. If he is as close as Eric Swalwell was two years ago, the echo chamber predicting Honda’s demise will be deafening. Conversely, a spread of more than 10 points may only slow down Khanna’s momentum. In addition, it remains to be seen whether the accusations against Khanna manipulating the composition of the primary ballot has legs later in the fall.

Primary Questions: AD-18 Preview

Assemblymember Rob Bonta and David Erlich.
THE CANDIDATES Two years ago, Democrat Rob Bonta participated in one of the most grueling races in the East Bay. He fought off two strong opponents to win the primary and then continued the hard-fought race into the fall before finally beating Abel Guillen. Bonta appeared battle-tested when he arrived in the Assembly and was the only freshman to snag a committee chairmanship. In the 18 months since, Bonta has proven to be a strong defender of labor and has taken a lead in the state for reducing gun violence…Republican David Erlich says part of his reason for running is merely to deny Bonta the chance to run unopposed. The San Leandro resident often combined rock-ribbed conservatism with a dash of Tea Party-laced conspiracy. Earlier this month, he warned of the United Nation’s Agenda 21 as it pertained to Plan Bay Area, the grossly unpopular 30-year regional transportation and housing plan approved last year.

MAIN BEEF There’s no defining disagreement in this race, at least, not yet. In fact, Bonta and Erlich have only met in public once, two weeks ago at a forum in Alameda. Neither challenged each other and the main beef revolves solely around deep differences in their political ideology. Imagine the most liberal talking head on MSNBC facing off against the most conservative guest on Fox News and that’s the race for the 18th Assembly District

QUOTABLE “If we say we have a budget surplus of $2 billion, we’re lying to ourselves when our local municipalities are going to go broke unless we fix this problem,” Erlich said at a candidate's forum in May.

BY THE NUMBERS Voter Registration: Democratic 63.2%; No Party Preference 18.2%; Republican 8.4%.

Campaign Finance: cash on hand thru May 17: Bonta $418,719; Erlich, no report filed.

2012 Primary Result: Rob Bonta (D) 36.9%; Abel Guillen (D) 29.7%; Joel Young (D) 18.8%; Rhonda Weber (R) 14.6%.


ON TO NOVEMBER Most East Bay experts believe Bonta will win anywhere between 75-80 percent of the vote. Either way, since there are only two candidates in this race, a replay in November is assured. Bonta isn’t sweating. In fact, the most intriguing number from primary day is which Oakland official will win a higher percentage—Bonta or Rep. Barbara Lee in the 13th Congressional District?

Primary Questions: AD-20 Preview

Assemblymember Bill Quirk, Luis Reynoso and Jaime Patino.
THE CANDIDATES Bill Quirk nearly lost two years ago despite strong support from the Democratic Party and labor unions. He beat Jennifer Ong by just over 900 votes, yet the close call failed to attract any Democrats to challenge his re-election. As an assemblyman and former Hayward council member and nuclear scientist, Quirk often labels himself the lower house’s expert on all things scientific. He helped pass fracking regulations and has been one of the most vocal proponents of gun control, which raised the ire of some second amendment advocates…One of Quirk’s primary challengers from 2012 is back again, this time shedding the Republican marker for that of an independent. Hayward school board member Luis Reynoso finished fourth two years ago and he is back again with a focus on state funding for schools…Republican Jaime Patino is a newcomer from the Union City Human Relations Commission who has ingratiated himself with a county party looking to rebuild its image in the East Bay. Patino believes in smaller government, but he, like Reynoso, support gay rights.

MAIN BEEF Quirk can often seem aloof and grumpy at candidate’s forums. His quiet scowl has been seen often in this race following repeated attacks by Reynoso and Patino over Quirk's long-time support for the Calpine Russell City Energy Center on the Hayward shoreline. Earlier this year, a regional air quality agency found the plant released 10 times the amount of approved water particulate into the air. The rhetoric has been filled with hyperbole—Reynoso called it a “smokestack"—while Patino has continually browbeat Quirk for his support of the plant. Quirk has responded to the tag-team strategy with his typical brand of aplomb sprinkled with a dash of exasperation.

QUOTABLE “The plant—it’s quite healthy." Quirk said of the Russell City Energy Center in late March at a candidate's forum in Hayward.

BY THE NUMBERS Voter Registration: Democratic 54.2%; No Party Preference 20.7%; Republican 15.7%.

Campaign Finance: cash on hand through May 17: Quirk $202,218; Patino, no report filed; Reynoso, no report filed.

2012 Primary Result: Bill Quirk (D) 30.3%; Jennifer Ong (D) 25.7%; Mark Green (NPP) 20.3%; Luis Reynoso (R) 17.7%; Sarabjit Cheema (D) 6.0%.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH: 1. Quirk 2. Patino 3. Reynoso.

ON TO NOVEMBER Like the race in the 18th Assembly District, Quirk should have little problem winning re-election. However, Quirk’s opponents in this race have similar, in-your-face personalities and a certain cachet, at least for Republicans in these parts. But, Quirk is like a fighter who can withstand many blows without going down. The question, though, is whether either Patino or Reynoso can soften Quirk up for the next election cycle. The district is being overrun by moderates like Swalwell and the entire Hayward City Council. It’s conceivable, Quirk, who is one of the more progressive members of the Assembly, could be challenged in 2016 by a moderate in the style of Swalwell or Khanna and this pair of moderate conservatives have the ability to highlight his weaknesses.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

SD-10 June Primary Preview: A Battle Royale in the East Bay

STATE SENATE | 10TH DISTRICT | The most important event in one of this year's most vicious primary races in the state did not occur in 2014, but on October 25, 2011. That was the day when then-Assemblymember Mary Hayashi was arrested outside of Neiman Marcus in San Francisco with three pieces of shoplifted clothing worth $2,450. Hayashi eventually pleaded no contest to criminal charges, and her probation is nearing an end, but she's still carrying the baggage of that day, and the incident may ultimately decide whether she will win a spot in the top two among five candidates running for the East Bay's 10th state Senate district in the June 3 primary.

In 2012, Hayashi launched a surprising run for Alameda County supervisor just months after the shoplifting incident, and one of the main questions of that campaign centered on whether Union City Councilmember Richard Valle would use the scandal as a hammer against her. Valle never really did, and then cruised to victory...


Down Ballot, May 27, 2014; 7 days to Election Day

Just so we're completely clear.
HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL If you drive east on A Street in Hayward near Hesperian Boulevard, you will see a billboard paid for by the union-backed political action committee, Healing the Heart of Hayward (ProTip: about a block away is World’s Faire Donuts—best in town). The signage hopes to stoke anger among many Hayward residents over the chaotic Hayward Loop that wraps around its downtown. A mailer sent recently to residents knocking the Loop and offering up union-friendly council candidates Rocky Fernandez and Sara Lamnin as solutions, could also be used by Councilmember Marvin Peixoto, who is up for re-election for one of top at-large seats. There’s irony here since Peixoto voted for the controversial five percent wage imposition on city employees represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) earlier this year, which the union abhors. Peixoto was also a bit more confrontational with the union in public than his council colleagues and once told SEIU rep/former San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly to be quiet during one contentious council meeting. However, Peixoto has probably been the most vocal critic of the Loop since even before it was built as a member of the Hayward Planning Commission. Two months ago, Peixoto even derisively equated the fast-moving traffic on the Loop to the start of the Indianapolis 500.

CONGRESS 15TH DISTRICT From the Bay Area News Group’s preview story for the 15th Congressional District race comes this odd angle: “Swalwell should sweat ‘only if he's jogging,’ quipped Larry Gerston, a San Jose State University professor and political expert who sees little chance for Corbett.” Gerston adds Swalwell’s politics matches the values of the district. No other preview contain such a clear guide post for declaring the result of a race…Meanwhile, over the Memorial Day weekend, the candidates braved the searing heat of the Tri Valley in search of remaining votes.

MEASURE AA Alameda County’s important renewal of the Measure A health care sales tax needs to garner two-thirds of the vote for passage. Over the years, the half-cent sales tax has helped prop up the county health care system during heady times, but it is due to sunset in 2019. Approving Measure AA would only extend the tax to 2034. Proponents of the measure want to make it clear this is not a new tax. Just to remind you, a new mailer sent to voters shouts in large type: “Measure AA does NOT increase taxes!”

Petition Asks Eric Swalwell to Act Like a Progressive

Before Swalwell, there was Ellen Tauscher,
who batted away accusations she was not
liberal enough for the district.
CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT | The unmasking of Rep. Eric Swalwell as a moderate continues. “Stop lying to us. You've said repeatedly that you're a progressive, but your voting record, your actions, and your corporate and 1% donors tell us otherwise,” says a petition posted on MoveOn.org that has already attracted over 520 signatures in the past week.

The petition first posted by Frank Burton, a long-time Hayward Democratic activist, lays out an argument long simmering in the more progressive areas of Swalwell’s 15th Congressional District that he is simply not who he claims to be.

“When he’s with regular voters, he says he’s a progressive. But we know from their editorial that he told the Editorial Board of the Hayward Daily Review he’s a moderate," writes Burton. "And he told still a different story to the conservative group AmeriPAC, otherwise they never would have made those big campaign contributions to him. And he surely didn’t tell the Concord Coalition he’s a progressive, otherwise they never would have had him sponsor their workshop.”

Going back to Swalwell’s run two years ago against Pete Stark, there was already great suspicion whether his rhetoric to Hayward voters espousing an progressive ideology matched his argument offered in the more moderate to conservative areas of the Tri Valley. That same year at an event in Hayward regarding support for undocumented immigrants, Swalwell was pointedly asked whether he said the same thing “over the hill” in the Tri Valley. He sidestepped the question.

Swalwell’s antecedent, former East Bay Rep. Ellen Tauscher, also endured cries of not being liberal enough. Swalwell should remember because he was an unpaid intern for Tauscher in 2001. A few years later, The Washington Post labelled Tausher as "Joe Lieberman in a pantsuit" and she received enormous flak for a photo, dubbed the "The Caress." The shot, posted above, appeared to show President George W. Bush with his hand on her knee in a moment that epitomized Tauscher's coziness with Republicans.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Why is Bob Wieckowski Talking About His Own Sex Tape?

Free Credit in San Leandro | Who Will Win In Hayward? | Swalwell's First Political Consultant
CHAPTER 17 | Here’s the thing about Bob Wieckowski. He’s not who you think he is and whatever you might think about him is probably based on scant information, notably that he isn’t Mary Hayashi. Apparently, that's good enough for some, but this is what many in Sacramento think they know about Bob Wieckowski: He’s a guy who probably doesn’t have a sex tape floating around the capitol, but nonetheless, openly references the alleged escapade caught on video to anyone who will listen. On his own early this spring, Wieckowski actually mentioned the tape during an endorsement meeting with the California Teachers’ Association, said a source at the meeting. Wieckowski's campaign neither confirmed or denied the statement, but, acknowledged the endorsement meeting, for whatever reason, did not go well for the candidate. In addition, others say, Wieckowski brought up the sex tape with those at the gym. Presumably between reps at the elliptical machine and 15 minutes on the treadmill. 

Will this campaign stain 
Bob Wieckowski forever?
Most would wager there is no sex tape of Wieckowski and whoever. They may even suggest Hayashi or her campaign team long ago floated the wild rumor to undercut Wieckowski in their State Senate race. But, none of these questions matter since it is Wieckowski who is taking the bait and offering portions to anyone who wants a taste. To make matters worse, during the same time Wieckowski was blathering about his sex tape he authored a bill on the subject of revenge porn. Is this bill to protect himself, wondered Sacramento insiders? The bill is likely unconstitutional, but I wrote about it twice since it was offered in the Assembly. Why? Because like most of Sacramento, I too, knew about the sex tape and ridiculous irony is too hard to pass up.

Last Feb. 21, the widely-read capitol tip-sheet, The Nooner, slyly mentioned the rumors of Wieckowski and a sex tape. “On this Friday, there is a #bimbotastic rumor being floated by a certain someone making allegations about someone s/he is running against alleging having a videotape of said person being with another someone who also was with another someone, but you know, I can't ‘print’ just rumors,” wrote the author of the newsletter, Scott Lay. “So, time to play Mad Libs and appreciate how nasty some of the Dem on Dem races have become..”

So, what is a campaign to do with such a candidate widely described as someone who talks first and thinks last? First, you limit how many times Wieckowski is seen by the public. In this case, it means avoiding candidate’s forums and this is what happened. Wieckowski's campaign manager Mark Goodwin, also ran Joel Young's ill-fated Assembly race two years ago and employed a similar strategy after frequent missteps, including allegations of domestic violence by the candidate against a girlfriend. For most of the spring Young never attended a candidate's forum. Second, and most importantly, you change the subject. Of course, this happened the very moment Wieckowski turned this campaign into the most vitriolic contest ever seen in the East Bay. In fact, the level of sheer anger Wieckowski’s campaign has unleashed against Hayashi is commensurate to weakness of Wieckowski as a candidate. Whether Hayashi deserved the attacks she is absorbing is not the point, the real question is what type of state senator will Wieckowski be if this is how treats his opponents? Is this how he treats minorities? Is this how he treats women? In addition, one of the most amazing aspects about the onslaught against Hayashi is the dead quiet from women in the district.

Mary Hayashi
There has to be some sense of shame building up for the legion of women in this highly-progressive region who are allowing this type campaign to be waged against Hayashi. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg only lives a couple of exits away from the 10th State Senate District, but she might as well be a million miles away since so many women in this area have ignored her call to “Lean In” and instead have turned their back on a woman who embodies the same strong personality that is often celebrated if she was a male executive. Instead, it is women who are Hayashi’s worst enemy. In 2010, former state Sen. Liz Figueroa faced similar sexists attacks from her opponent, Nadia Lockyer. They told Figueroa in a mailer to pay the lien on her house before buying a BMW. Lockyer tried to humiliate her and no woman, other than former county supervisor Gail Steele, stood up for Figueroa. Nevertheless, we mistakenly believe our brand of Bay Area liberalism is impervious to the perceived closed mindedness of conservatives, but it’s not.

However, politics is often equated to war, but even on the battlefield, sensible nations long agreed chemical weapons were immoral and banned them. Likewise, denigrating and stomping on your opponent like Wieckowski has done over the past three weeks is the most telling aspect of this entire campaign and the candidate lobbing the mustard gas at Hayashi. Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle did not resort to this type of campaign and he handily defeated Hayashi two years ago. Is Valle that much better of candidate than Wieckowski? Yes, but probably not that much. Then, why the nuclear option? It’s a question we might never know until it’s way too late. But, I’m not telling you to vote for anyone, I’m telling you to start asking questions and you don’t even have to ask about the sex tape, Wieckowski will bring it up on his own.
SUNNY IN SAN LEANDRO As the primary season nears an end, there is a palpable sense some East Bay citywide races set for November are beginning to heat up. Of course, this is excluding Oakland where they have been ready to go since last fall. But, in San Leandro, the typical re-election ploy of an incumbent taking credit for absolutely everything positive that happens in the city will not be a part of this year’s mayoral race after Stephen Cassidy chose his job over another four years in office. It’s a missed opportunity for him, especially after some great news in San Leandro this week. Crime is considerably down, said the city’s police chief, and an article in the San Francisco Business Times touted its red-hot commercial real estate market. The preponderance of good news this year does not match a mayor deciding to leave office after one term, especially when he would have been the overwhelming favorite. In fact, it lends credence to the belief the San Francisco law firm which employs Cassidy applied pressure on him to focus solely on his job. It’s a bit disconcerting that a group of hot-shot lawyers are choosing who will lead San Leandro and not voters. The void will be filled by mayoral candidates who have been part of the establishment. Councilmember Diana Souza has been in office for almost eight years and Councilmember Pauline Cutter has been there half the time and both are early candidates for mayor.
Marvin Peixoto
HERE AND THERE A long-time Hayward politico expects Councilmember Marvin Peixoto to win re-election, but if he does the achievement will come by spending less than a bargain basement price of $10,000…The same source predicts Councilmember Barbara Halliday will win the mayor’s race, followed by Councilmembers Mark Salinas and Francisco Zermeno. There appears to be some consensus on this, but additionally, there is also a good chance all three candidates will garner at least 30 percent of the four-person field. Rakesh Kumar Christian, the other candidate in the race, is also running for governor…Bal Theater owner Dan Dillman announced he will run for mayor of San Leandro this week. On Facebook, he pledged to bring a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market to the city. Don’t laugh, but Trader Joe’s shunning the city about six years ago still stings and it became a minor issue during the 2010 mayoral race.
ONE MORE THING For #ThrowbackThursday, Rep. Eric Swalwell posted a YouTube video recalling the day in 2011 which he announced his candidacy for "the Congress," as he routinely says. It features a familiar refrain vowing to always work hard for the district and not take you for granted. In hindsight, the pledge sounds oddly similar to previously unknown political consultant Rick Astley. His 1987 hit, “Never Gonna Give You Up” delivered the same message. Check the chorus for yourself:

Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

As a whole, Swalwell stayed true on five of the six pledges.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Down Ballot, May 23, 2014; 11 Days to Election Day

HAYWARD MAYOR/COUNCIL Money is being poured into the Hayward City Council race at a greater pace than even its mayoral campaign. Union-backed council candidate Rocky Fernandez lead everyone after quickly raising over $26,000, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. Hayward restaurant owner Julie McKillop has also raised over $25,000 for a chance to win the two open seats on the City Council. None of the three council members running for mayor come close to this figure over the past few months. Barbara Halliday leads with $13,162 in recent fundraising, followed by Francisco Zermeno with $11,137 and Mark Salinas at $10,421. Zermeno, however, reported the largest amount of cash on hand with $21,834; Salinas, $17,046; Halliday, $12,132. Meanwhile, Councilmember Marvin Peixoto maintains the smallest war chest of almost every candidate in either race, except for Rodney Loche, with $2,612 in remaining funds. Similarly, Peixoto raised just $4,492 during the past reporting period, yet he is still viewed as a front runner for re-election.

CONGRESS DISTRICT 17 Republican Vanila Singh trashed her Democratic opponents Rep. Mike Honda and Ro Khanna on Thursday for being unethical. “The residents of District 17 deserve better from their representative and those that aspire to be it,” she said “As a medical doctor, I swore an oath to hold myself to the highest of ethical standards, and I will be bringing that standard with me to D.C.” Singh, a medical doctor, was referring to allegations Khanna’s campaign recruited candidates to undermine the primary race, in addition, to piggy-backing on a claim made by Khanna that Honda used taxpayer-paid franking privileges to send constituents campaign-related mailers. “There are reasons that when asked, people rank doctors as significantly more trustworthy than Congressmen and lawyers, and unfortunately we are seeing those reasons in full effect throughout this campaign,” said Singh. In addition, she threw in another jab asserting Khanna is a candidate simply searching for a soft landing in Congress.

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 18 Republican David Erlich doesn’t have any campaign fundraising to speak of, but that doesn’t mean he will take money from anybody. Earlier this week, Erlich, the only candidate in the race to unseat Assemblymember Rob Bonta, turned down a $500 contribution from the Alameda County Republican Party after learning the source of some of the money came from Charles Munger, Jr. by way of the Santa Clara County GOP. Despite, Munger’s significant role in funding conservative causes in the state, Erlich said he “stands for nothing.” He also believes Munger’s real intention is to destroy the state GOP. There appears to be a conservative groundswell against Munger in other neighboring counties. The San Joaquin County GOP recently passed a resolution forbidding them from accepting Munger’s money. Regardless of the June 3 primary results, Bonta and Erlich will again face each other in November.

Poll Shows Honda Up 19 Points Over Khanna; Republicans Lag Far Behind

Ro Khanna, Rep. Mike Honda
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | As the number of days before the June primary inch closer to single digits a KPIX/SurveyUSA poll shows Rep. Mike Honda with a 19 point advantage over fellow Democrat Ro Khanna in the East Bay’s 17th Congressional District race.

The poll of 825 registered voters from May 20-22 showed Honda with 40 percent support, followed by Khanna at 21 percent. The two Republicans in the race, however, are finding it difficult to attract much support, even among their own party or independents. Singh garnered just eight percent of respondents, followed by Vanlandingham with six percent.

Among those who identify as Republicans, the level of support among the four candidates is relatively even. Support Singh topped 25 percent, followed by Vanlandingham at 22 percent; Honda with 19 percent and Khanna at 18 percent.

The growing subgroup of independent voters, though, are leaning toward Khanna. The poll found Khanna at 29 percent; Honda, 21 percent; Singh, 9 percent; Vanlandingham, 6 percent.

Honda’s strong support rests with registered Democrats, according to the poll. Fifty-seven percent of respondents back Honda’s re-election, while 21 percent support Khanna. Not surprisingly, Singh and Vanlandingham hover at 2 and 1 percent, respectively.

In addition, with less than two weeks before the primary, a majority of the respondents to the phone survey had already mailed in their ballots, according to the poll.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Canvassing with Khanna

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna canvassing a Fremont neighborhood in early May. 
PHOTOS/Steven Tavares
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | The walk started on Bruce Drive in a quiet, suburban tangle of nondescript homes, often dolled up with colorful, blooming yards and well-kept lawns in Fremont’s Irvington District. “It’s a very civil district,” says Ro Khanna, a tall, thin, sometimes gangly former member of President Obama’s Department of Commerce, but now better known as the next Democrat who might slay a fellow, but entrenched congressman in the East Bay. First it was 40-year incumbent Pete Stark and now it could be Rep. Mike Honda. “We’ve met Honda supporters while knocking on doors, but they never disagree. They’re very nice,” Khanna says.

On this late afternoon on a sweltering Friday in early May, Khanna and his press secretary, Tyler Law, are canvassing the neighborhood heavily populated with Indian American voters. They assure me this is a coincidence and I smile. Yet, the confluence of Fremont and members of its large South Asian community is important to Khanna, who is a first-generation Indian American from a city that is fairly new to Honda since redistricting four years ago. Knowing who embodies your civic voice in Congress is sometimes hard to keep track. Often voters in the Alameda County portion of the 17th Congressional District still tell the campaign they believe Stark is their representative even though, he hasn’t been since before 2010, says Khanna “Voters are definitely in the mood to shop. With half this district, you have all these people who have pulled the lever over and over again for Mike.” Educating voters about his campaign and the issues facing the district as grows into one of the richest and most powerful in the entire nation, is the main thrust for Khanna’s campaign. He’s urging voters to do due diligence about his campaign, do the reading and seek online what other people are saying about it, he says, versus blindly casting their vote on the fly. If the latter occurs, voters will likely connect the line on their ballot next to the incumbent and not Khanna or the other two Republican upstarts in the race.

As we wind up a slight incline on Middlefield Avenue, Law, an Oakland native who has previously worked for campaigns in other states, is constantly searching for voter data on his iPhone. Among the top tier of Khanna’s vaunted campaign team, Law is one of the few who is not from the group that famously won re-election for President Obama two years ago on the back of a game-changing reliance on Big Data. Khanna, however, slightly discounts the almost instantaneous input of voter data into the system. “As much as we have this new technology, you have to knock on doors,” says Khanna. “It’s the same basic campaign.” After just a handful of interactions, it's clear Indian Americans have a quiet, but starstruck reaction upon seeing the dark-skinned candidate with close-cropped dark hair and kind eyes suddenly standing on their stoop. The same person they have either read about in local Hindi-language newspapers or seen in 30-second spots on television. A senior citizen who looks to be Vietnamese walks pass us and Khanna chats with him for a moment, hands him some campaign literature and reminds the man to vote. The man responds affectionately and utters a phrase in another language. Khanna smiles and lets out a small hint of laughter. As we walk away, Khanna is shocked the man speaks Hindi. What did he say?" I ask. “Good, good, good,” says Khanna.

Not all interactions are entirely positive. Later, a voter seems confused about who Khanna is and what office he is seeking. The voter seems ambivalent about the encounter or maybe more interested in eating his dinner. Khanna wraps up his spiel and hands the man a brochure as he closes the door. Khanna laughs and says he has a sinking suspicious the voter has him confused with Republican California gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari. “That’s sad that he thinks I’m the guy with 3.5 percent in the polls,” jokes Khanna.

In fact, one of the first things you notice about Khanna is how self-effacing he can be. At another house, Khanna wonders out loud whether a voter has read his book about bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. “Nobody has read your book,” says Law, like a sharp elbow to the ribs. “That’s not true!” Khanna shoots back. “Tavares has read my book.” Although I have read Khanna’s book and found it be informative and an easy read, especially on a subject most writers normally drown readers in spreadsheets, I admit my main takeaway is not about economics, but food. “Every chapter starts with you eating in some small diner” I tell Khanna. “I kept thinking, if this guy eats some much, where is he putting all the pounds?” Khanna and Law burst into laughter. Khanna suggests placing the book in the diet section of the bookstore might boost sales.

It also becomes clear retail politics can breed moments that force you to question your internal biases about voters. A large, barrel-chested Caucasian male with a messy mop of white hair and a bushy goatee fills the doorway. He gives off an air of being bothered by the person standing on his porch. Everything about the gentlemen screams raging Republican as he listens to Khanna's pitch, while saying nothing. But the man interjects, "Good for you. We need honest, progressive-thinking people out there." Didn't see that one coming is the prevailing wisdom as we walk away. "If we win that vote," Khanna dictates like a professor, "we win this election. They're sick of Congress, but if we don't reach out to them, they will default to the name they know. We can do it, but it's a race against time." If Khanna can place in the top two on June 3, he will have just bought himself another five months for the chance to knock on a few more doors.

Down Ballot, May 22, 2014; 12 Days to Election Day

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 16 A mailer from Steve Glazer this week strongly indicates the moderate Democrat is making a push to the right. “Republicans, put an effective fiscal conservative in the State Assembly. Vote for Steve Glazer,” says the mailer. Included are endorsements from the Republican mayors of Orinda, Lafayette and a council member from Moraga. In other mailers, Glazer has also backed Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-increase measure two years ago. Furthermore the mailer this week gives credence to the belief by some that Republican Catharine Baker is headed for the top two.

CONGRESS DISTRICT 15 State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett is not gaining much traction, at least, among those willing to pony up donations. Corbett, though, did begin to spend some of her limited supply of cash since April 1, according to campaign finance reports released today. Rep. Eric Swalwell still holds a large advantage with over $696,000 in the bank through May 17. Corbett follows with $116,000, while Republican Hugh Bussell reported just $3,200. Although, Corbett has never been known as a very good fundraiser, it’s becoming increasingly clear any chance of her attracting donors this fall will only follow a strong second-place finish on June 3..,Meanwhile, Swalwell appeared with a Sesame Street character on Capitol Hill while helping out veterans.

HAYWARD MAYOR Councilmember Francisco Zermeno has a pretty good grasp of social media, at least, Facebook and Instagram. Over the past few months, Zermeno has posted photos of Hayward streets he canvasses with the comment, “Love my city.” But, on Wednesday, he was upset when he came across one of his yard signs splayed on the street and snapped a photo. “This is NOT right! My lawn sign in the street! Who's doing this?” Zermeno wrote on Instagram. One supporter replied, “Politics has always been and will always be a dirty business. Good luck it takes a special type of person to swim with sharks.”

With Two Weeks to Election Day, Honda Erases Khanna's Cash Advantage

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | The race in the 17th Congressional District has long been about Ro Khanna’s large financial advantage over Rep. Mike Honda. But, as the campaigns head into the final stretch of the June primary season, Honda has overtaken Khanna in the money race, although slightly, according to the campaign finance records.

Two weeks from Election Day, Honda reported $1,038,360 in remaining cash through May 17, according to reports released Thursday by the Federal Elections Commission, while Khanna showed $1,009,672. Both campaign appeared to be in spending mode, rather than collecting fundraising checks. Honda raised $181,944 since April 1. Khanna reported $139,427 during the same period.

Over the past two years, Khanna has proven to be a prodigious fundraiser, but also a candidate who has spent huge sums of money. The strategy is not surprising since his campaign lacked early name-recognition, in addition, to facing a long-time incumbent with significant ties to labor and special interests. Since April 1, Khanna spent $1.07 million, while Honda expended $227,459 of his war chest. Over the course of the campaign, Khanna has received $3.8 million in contributions, while spending $2.7 million through May 17. Honda has raised $2.08 million during the same period while spending $1.2 million.

Nevertheless, Honda’s campaign manager, Doug Greven, highlighted the shrinking money advantage. “The fact that Khanna’s campaign feels the need to spend $3 million just to make it into the general election means that Ro Khanna is still not getting any traction with voters, while he is quickly running out of resources.”

Tyler Law, Khanna’s press secretary, said “I’m sure no one is surprised that we made smart investments with our resources ahead of the primary. It’s what helped us reach out to over 240,000 voters, hold 173 meet-and-greets, and introduce Ro on both TV and mail. Ro has built an unparalleled grassroots organization, received every major newspaper endorsement, and stuck to talking about the issues that really matter. Frankly, the Honda campaign wouldn’t have avoided all debates and wouldn't be paying to spread false attacks about Ro if they were confident in their standing with the voters.

Most expect Honda and Khanna will face a fall rematch in the general election. However, the money issue will likely be greatly affected by the outcome of the June 3 primary. Honda is expected to win the primary, but like the 2012 race between Democrats Eric Swalwell and Pete Stark, the real barometer of the race could be the actually point spread between the candidates and whether Honda can garner a majority of the vote. If he does not clear 50 percent, Honda, like Stark before him, may find his fundraising numbers later this year suffer as a result.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Down Ballot, May 21, 2014; 13 Days to Election Day

CONGRESS DISTRICT 17 Which number will be higher? The number of votes Joel Vanlandingham receives or the number of words allotted to him by the corporate press? On Tuesday, Vanlandingham told the San Jose Mercury News he will move within the current 17th District boundaries, whether he fails to advance to the November election or not. Rep. Mike Honda should do the same, said Vanlandingham…Khanna’s campaign filed a compliant letter with the Office of Congressional Ethics over three mailers sent by Honda’s office using franking privileges. News of the mailers, though, is old. Curiously, a story in San Jose Inside, which tucked the item into the end of an unrelated issue in late March, came days before the last campaign finance filings were released. The same report is due to be released tomorrow…Honda’s campaign says it will have over $1 million in cash on hand when finance reports are released.

STATE SENATE DISTRICT 10 There is a mailer from Mary Hayashi charging Bob Wieckowski with spending $500,000 in negative advertising against her campaign. Ironically, surveillance video of Hayashi’s shoplifting incident from 2011 may be doing far more damage to her campaign and at much less cost.

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 16 Although far less titillating, but labor is also going hard at Orinda Councilmember Steve Glazer. A press release noted Glazer received $4,100 in campaign contributions from some Big Labor’s most bitter enemies, including the Walmart. In a race flooded with special interest money to the tune of over $2.7 million, the irony of a mega-corporation sporting the tag line of the “low price leader” is not lost on many.

ALCO SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS Naomi Eason, a former employee of the Alameda County Board of Education, who left at odds with the current superintendent, Shelia Jordan, received the endorsement of the East Bay Express…Check your caller I.D. San Leandro Councilmember Ursula Reed, one of the five candidates to replace Jordan, is planning robo-calls to Alameda County voters in seven different languages.