Category: Dianne Feinstein

Flap’s California Morning Collection: June 4, 2012


Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

Good Monday morning.

The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

Tomorrow is California’s Presidential Primary election where state legislative, and congressional races will be decided. There will be also local measures and two state-wide propositions.

I will be covering tomorrow’s elections on my Twitter Feed @Flap, Facebook and Google Plus.

On to today’s California headlines:

CA primary could pick ‘birther’ to face Feinstein

A novel California primary that premieres Tuesday was intended to produce moderates, but in California’s U.S. Senate race, it could yield a challenger who claims President Obama was born in Kenya.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 78, running for a fourth full term, faces 23 challengers, including 14 Republicans, the best known of whom is litigious Orange County “birther” Orly Taitz, a Russian Israeli emigre who has appeared on national television with her claims that Obama faked his birth certificate.

Polls taken by robocalls, including those commissioned by Taitz, show Feinstein with a wide lead, trailed by a strange assortment of single-digit rivals, in some cases led by Taitz.

Voter registration up for Tuesday’s primary

Nearly three out of four eligible voters in California have registered to cast ballots in Tuesday’s election, and fully a fifth of the electorate has declined to state a party preference, according to the state’s elections officer. About 1.4 million more Californians are registered now than in February 2008, the year of the last presidential primary election.

Of California’s 23,713,027 eligible voters, some 17,153,699 are registered to vote, or about 72.34 percent of those eligible, the secretary of state’s office reported. The numbers cover registration through the May 21 deadline.

Of those registered, 43.4 percent identified themselves as Democrats, 30.2 percent said they were Republicans and 5.1 percent listed an affiliation with a minor party.

Some 21.3 percent registered without listing a party preference, continuing the trend of a steadily expanding proportion of decline-to-state, or independent, voters. The percentage of decline-to-state registration has doubled in California since the mid-1990s.

The current level of 17.15 million registered voters is about a million more than the 16.12 million voters who registered for the June 2008 state primary election and about 1.4 million more than those registered for the Feb. 5, 2008 presidential primary. According to the secretary of state, those are the largest primary-to-primary registration increases since at least 1996.

Los Angeles County, which has the state’s largest electorate, reported 4.46 million registered voters. Just over half, 50.68 percent, identified themselves as Democrats. With the exception of Los Angeles and Imperial counties, the rest of the top 10 counties with Democratic registration all were in northern California – Alameda, San Francisco, Marin, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Sonoma, San Mateo and Contra Costa.

San Francisco also reported the highest level of independent voters – 30.6 percent.

Republican registration was highest in rural or suburban counties in central and northern California, led by Modoc at 50.05 percent, Lassen at 48.39 percent and Placer at 48.17 percent.

State’s top 100 political donors contribute $1.25 billion

In a state with nearly 38 million people, few have more influence than the top 100 donors to California campaigns – a powerful club that has donated overwhelmingly to Democrats and spent $1.25 billion to influence voters over the past dozen years.

These big spenders represent a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of individuals and groups that donated to California campaigns from 2001 through 2011. But they supplied about a third of the $3.67 billion lavished on state campaigns during that time, campaign records show.

With a few exceptions, these campaign elites have gotten their money’s worth, according to an analysis by California Watch of data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics and state finance records.

The state’s top 100 donors gave nearly five times as much to winning candidates as they did to losers. And they helped steer initiative campaigns to success as well – about 55 percent of every dollar they contributed to propositions aided a winning campaign, the analysis shows.

Some of these top 100 donors are continuing to donate heavily in the 2012 election cycle. For their part, tobacco companies Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds have spent more than $30 million since January to defeat an initiative on tomorrow’s ballot that would increase the cigarette tax.

“Major players with major stakes in statewide issues are going to make sure their opinions are heard,” said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College who focuses on California issues.

Nonpartisan Primaries Face Test in California

When new redistricting maps changed the boundaries of this Congressional district to give Democrats a slight edge for the first time in decades, party loyalists were elated.

But now it seems possible that come November there will not even be a Democrat on the ballot. On Tuesday, for the first time, California voters will participate in a nonpartisan primary. Instead of the top candidate from each party advancing to the general election, the two candidates with the most votes will be placed on the November ballot, regardless of party affiliation.

This year will be the first test of a new kind of election aimed at breaking the partisan gridlock that has seized Congress and state legislatures all over the country. When the change was presented to California voters by a ballot initiative in 2010, advocates said it would usher in a new era that embraced politicians who would be more pragmatic than ideological.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters Daily video: California rebel judges catch a ‘big break’


Flap’s California Morning Collection: April 11, 2012


Santa Monica, California

Good Wednesday morning!The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.
The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

On to today’s California headlines:

California controller outlines shortfall, says key months ahead

As state leaders hope for a surprise uptick in revenue this spring, state Controller John Chiang reported Tuesday that California lagged last month by $233.5 million, or 4.2 percent.

The state missed its target most in corporate income taxes, which were $125.8 million (8.2 percent) off the mark. Income taxes and sales taxes were each less than 2 percent behind Gov. Jerry Brown’s revenue forecast. For the fiscal year that ends in June, the state is now trailing Brown’s expectations by nearly $1.1 billion, or 1.9 percent.

Community college board cuts more jobs

The district that oversees Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura colleges is eliminating 60 more jobs as it continues to cut classes, trim programs and restructure departments.

The Ventura County Community College District board voted to cut the jobs Tuesday night on a 4-0 vote. Trustee Bernardo Perez was absent.

In addition, the board voted to reduce hours for about two dozen workers. The vote is expected to save $2.6 million.

“This is one of the hardest things I think any of us will ever do,” said Trustee Dianne McKay. “We want to be good employers. We want to do what’s best for students. But the money flowing from Sacramento is making that harder and harder to do.”

Feinstein calls treasurer’s actions ‘big betrayal’

Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Tuesday there was never any indication that her former campaign treasurer was mismanaging her re-election account before the treasurer’s arrest last year in a widespread embezzlement case.

“It was a big betrayal,” Feinstein told reporters after addressing Sacramento area government officials. “Oh yeah, you can imagine how you’d feel.”

Feinstein made her first public remarks on the topic after her former campaign treasurer, Kinde Durkee, entered guilty pleas March 30 to five counts of mail fraud in a case that prosecutors said involved looting at least $7 million from about 50 clients.

It is believed to be the largest embezzlement case involving political campaign funds in the nation’s history.

Feinstein lost an estimated $4.5 million from her re-election account, while other Democratic members of Congress, the state Legislature and political organizations lost millions more. Durkee could face as long as 14 years in prison when she is sentenced in June.

Dan Walters: Politicians should act instead of expecting budget miracle

The Capitol is preoccupied with Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to persuade voters to raise taxes and the complicating effects of a rival tax measure sponsored by civil rights attorney Molly Munger.

With deadlines looming, will Brown and his union allies collect enough signatures to place their measure on the June ballot? Will Munger cave in to pressure from Brown, et al., to back off? If both are on the ballot, would it doom both?

The uncertainty is paralyzing the Capitol as legislative leaders refuse to mop up the red ink that’s already leaking from the current year’s budget.

The 2011-12 budget was “balanced” – quotation marks denoting its flimsy use – last year on a last-minute, miraculous assumption that the state would receive an extra $4 billion in revenue, despite the lack of any credible evidence, thereby allowing legislators to be paid.

A few months later, the administration downgraded its income forecast but, as a new report from Controller John Chiang shows, revenue is running below even those lower numbers.

Nevertheless Capitol politicians are still crossing their fingers, hoping that a surge in income taxes in April will shield them from cutting more spending.

In other words, they’re hoping for another miracle whose chances are somewhere between minuscule and none.

Enjoy your morning!

And, Dan Walters reminds California Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, just returning from his year long deployment to Afghanistan, that he did not really miss too much in the year that he missed in the California Legislature:


CA-Sen: Santa Monica Republican Businessman Al Ramirez to Challenge Senator Dianne Feinstein


Another challenger, Santa Monica businessman Al Ramirez, has emerged to challenge long time incumbent California U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Another  Republican has joined the short list of mostly little-known people willing to take on Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) this  year.

Telecommunications professional Al Ramirez of Santa Monica, 43, announced on Tuesday he’s running and wants to be “California’s first Hispanic U.S. senator.”

Ramirez, who said he’s spent some 20 years in sales and network development, ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination in 2010. That was the year that Republican nominee Carly Fiorina lost to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)

This time he believes his prospects are better, in part because he has more political experience and “better relationships” with state Republican Party leaders, Ramirez said.  He also cited Feinstein’s low approval rating in a recent Field Poll.

Another  announced candidate to challenge the 78-year-old Feinstein are autistic children’s advocate Elizabeth Emken of Danville, who ran unsuccessfully for the  GOP’s nomination  in a 2010 congressional race.

This race is a long-shot for Al, but he is a good guy with whom I have talked.

I wish him luck.

Senator Feinstein is very popular and should have any easy time in her re-election bid.


CA-Sen: Elizabeth Emken Won’t Self-Fund Senate Race Against Senator Dianne Feinstein


Republican Elizabeth Emken

This does not bode well for her campaign.

Emken, 48, ran in the June 2010 GOP primary for what was then the 11th Congressional District seat. She came in fourth in a field of four; the nominee was David Harmer, who then lost the general election to incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton.

Campaign finance reports show Emken had loaned her primary campaign $300,000 – 54 percent of her campaign’s $556,000 in total receipts – but only ever got back $100,000 of that. Another $408,000 went to operating expenses, and the final $48,000 – which had been contributed for use in the general election – was refunded to those who gave it. That campaign committee shut down in September 2010.

I do not foresee any political consultants coming on board for a Quixotic run against long-time incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein without some guarantee they will be paid.


CA-Sen: Rep. Devin Nunes Will NOT Run Against Senator Dianne Feinstein


Well, that rumor did not last long.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, is not running for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Dianne Feinstein, Nunes’s chief of staff said Monday.

While falling somewhat short of a flat-out political declaration of permanent disinterest, the statement Monday seemed to step back from the congressman’s earlier suggestions that he might be enticed into the Senate race.

“Devin is running for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives, period,” said the congressman’s chief of staff, Johnny Amaral. “He’s not running for the Senate.”

Pressed as to whether this means Nunes is definitively ruling out a future challenge to Feinstein, Amaral repeated that “the reality is, he’s not running” for the Senate.

The faux run against Senator Dianne Feinstein may be wishful thinking, may help with Rep. Nunes fundraising, but is really a delusion of grandeur. Di Fi will be easily re-elected next year.

Hypocrisy: Help Me Hold Senator Dianne Feinstein Accountable

Running ads against long-time incumbent Democrat U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein is one thing.

Rep. Devin Nunes has never been known for diplomacy when it comes to Democrats in the California congressional delegation, especially Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

It’s time for Sen. Feinstein to get off her butt and do something, the Tulare Republican said regarding the economic problems besetting his San Joaquin Valley.

I have tried to be nice, and I have tried to work with her. She is all talk, and no action.

Nunes has started running television spots in his 21st Congressional District against her, paid for out of his own $1.4 million political war chest. It features her likeness and blames federal policies she either supports –  or fails to fight –   for making things worse for the valley on a wide range of issues, including air pollution

It’s the kind of behavior you would expect of someone preparing to challenge the veteran senator in 2012. And Nunes, after being coy about the question for weeks, says he is now giving it serious thought.

Could it be me? Sure, he says. There would have to be a lot of things to fall in place.

Another thing is raising over $10 million to try to beat Di Fi.

It is unlikely that Rep. Nunes, who would have to give up a California Congressional seat, would run in a very blue state, when President Obama is running for re-election.

But, Nunes is young and if Senator Feinstein who is old has a health problem, Nunes would be ready to run. But, it would still be an uphill battle in Democrat dominated California.