On politics in the Golden State

Category: Tea Party

Texas Gov. Rick Perry launches ads to lure California businesses

APphoto_Texas State of the State

“Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible.”

So says Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a new advertising campaign targeted at California companies.

The Lone Star governor plans to broadcast the radio ads throughout the Golden State in an effort to lure companies here to move east. Such poaching is familiar to Californians.

The economy here dwarfs that of any state, but its tax rates are higher and regulations more onerous. Other states are constantly sending their economic development teams to California to try to lure firms away.

Perry likes to joke that he goes on “hunting trips” here, in which the game he is after is dissatisfied California firms. His latest move may be as much political as it is economic. The 2012 presidential campaign was not kind to the Texas governor’s image. He entered the GOP primaries a clear favorite, with a high approval rating and an impressive fundraising operation. He exited after a series of gaffes and missteps and has had a limited national profile since.

Taking aim at California has always been a favorite sport of Republicans seeking to bolster their national standing. On the website that Perry launched to accompany Texas' advertising campaign, the he goes after the latest round of tax hikes passed in California, which increased the marginal rates on the income of the superwealthy to more than 13%, among the highest in the nation. “Now with the passage of Prop. 30, which increases California’s already excessive income and sales tax … businesses are moving to Texas,” Perry writes in an open letter posted on the website.

Experts differ on how successful these campaigns are. Corporate executives are constantly grumbling about conditions here. Some have, indeed, left. More could go now that taxes have been hiked. But the collapse of the state economy that antitax advocates and others have warned about for decades has yet to take shape. Despite a badly battered budget exacerbated by years of political dysfunction, the state’s economy is showing strong signs of growth, with some California sectors helping lead the national recovery.


California escapes the ratings cellar

California taxes surge in January, report says

Jerry Brown, lawmakers get higher marks in new poll

-- Evan Halper in Sacramento


Photo: Gov. Rick Perry delivers his state of the state address to lawmakers in the Capitol in Austin, Texas, last week. Credit: Eric Gay / Associated Press


Victorville Democrat sues over California's 'top two' primary

A Victorville Democrat has filed a federal lawsuit (PDF) alleging that California’s new “top-two” primary system is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday by Elise Brown, an African American and Democratic Party leader in San Bernardino County, said the two Republican candidates selected in the primary in her congressional district, which includes the San Bernardino County deserts and Inyo and Mono counties, “present race-hostile policy positions” and do not recognize the “right of women to control their reproductive health decisions.’’

The federal lawsuit alleges that the top-two primary system violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because the only two candidates she can vote for in the November election for the 8th Congressional District are Republicans. The two candidates who emerged from the June 5 primary were Republican Gregg Imus, a Lake Arrowhead home builder and anti-illegal immigration activist, and Republican Assemblyman Paul Cook of Yucca Valley.

The new primary system also violates constitutional rights that protect freedom of association and equal protection, as well as the protections against having a citizen’s voting rights denied on “account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” the lawsuit alleged.

“Democrats have had the right to have a party representative in the general election for Congress since California joined the Union over 160 years ago,’’ the lawsuit stated.

Brown’s attorney in the lawsuit is Robert D. Conaway, the husband of Jackie Conaway -– one of the two Democrats in the race for the 8th Congressional District. Jackie Conaway finished fourth in the field of 13 candidates, which was the largest number of congressional hopefuls in any race in California.

Chad Hanely, the campaign manager for the Imus campaign, said scrapping the state's top-two primary system would benefit Republicans across California, since there are many more contests with two Democrats facing off in the November election.

He also dismissed the lawsuit's allegation of racism, saying that allegation is trotted out all the time because of Imus' association with the Minuteman movement that patrols the Mexican border.

"When people want to go against us, all they want to do is play the race card,'' he said.

The lawsuit asks the federal court to issue a temporary restraining order that prohibits California Secretary of State Debra Bowen from certifying the election, and to restore the traditional primary system that allows the top vote-getter from each party to be on the November ballot.

The secretary of state's spokeswoman, Shannan Velayas, on Wednesday night said she had not seen the lawsuit and was not aware of its allegations.

"The secretary of state's office follows the law until a court orders otherwise,'' she said.

California voters in 2010 approved the new top-two primary system which, in races for the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and state Legislature, sends the two candidates who collect the most votes to the November election, regardless of party affiliation.

The Cook campaign could not be reached for comment.


Finish line in sight for California budget 

California Legislature passes $92.1-billion budget

Gov. Jerry Brown, Democratic legislative leaders reach budget deal

 -- Phil Willon in Riverside

Surprises shake up congressional races in the Inland Empire

Click for interactive primary results mapOne of the biggest upsets in Tuesday’s “top two” primary came in a San Bernardino County congressional race where the top Democratic candidate, Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, appears to have failed to collect enough votes to make it to the November runoff election, according to the preliminary ballot count.

The top two finishers were Republicans -- Rep. Gary Miller of Diamond Bar and state Sen. Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga.  What makes it so surprising is that Democrats have a five-percentage-point edge in registered voters in the district, which spans from Redlands to Upland.

Democratic leaders in Washington were hoping to pick up the seat, one of a handful in California they consider critical to the party’s effort to recapture control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

INTERACTIVE MAP: California primary results

The race in the 31st Congressional District was tight: Miller nabbed 26.7% of the vote, compared to 24.9% for Dutton and 22.8% for Aguilar.

The remaining votes went to a trio of other Democrats on the ballot: Justin Kim, Rita-Ramirez-Dean and Renea Wickman. Combined, they received a quarter of the votes, siphoning support away from Aguilar, who was backed by the Democratic Party.

The Redlands mayor missed making it to November by slightly more 1,000 votes, according to the state’s preliminary election results. Some votes still need to be counted, however, including provisional and late-arriving mail-in ballots.

That congressional race was among the top targets of "super PACs" and other independent expenditure committees, which spent more than $1 million. The vast majority came from the National Realtors Assn., which backed Miller.

Continue reading »

The political sands are shifting in California

Click for live coverage of the California primaryVoters are still trickling into polling places throughout California, but already there are a few safe bets on how the state’s new “top-two” primary system and political boundaries are changing the political landscape.

“There will be incumbents who lose tonight," said Republican consultant Rob Stutzman.

It’s a culling of the field that happens, to varying degrees every 10 years after a new U.S. Census count, when political districts are redrawn and incumbents find themselves in unfamiliar territory or pitted against fellow lawmakers. That’s especially true this year, when the new boundaries were drawn by a panel of citizens instead of politicians prone to gerrymandering districts to protect those already in office.

LIVE RESULTS: California primary

Don’t expect to see a ton of independent or centrist candidates in the November runoff election.  California primaries have traditionally attracted a low turnout, meaning that many of the voters who take the time to cast ballots will be pretty partisan.

“There’s one group of people who may be disappointed, and that’s the political observers who believe these reforms will automatically lead to the election of more moderate candidates,"  said Dan Schnur,  director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.

The vast majority of candidates who survive the primary still will be loyal Democrats or Republicans, but there may be enough reaching out to independents or voters in the rival party to have a pretty big impact.  “We are going to see a greater number of competitive elections, and that’ll lead to the election of more responsive candidates, he said. “That’s going to lead to a fundamental change in the dynamic in the capital this year."

The most powerful political players in California, including labor and business groups, already have caught on.  “Any time you change the rules, smart people adapt and figure out how to get in on it," said Raphael J. Sonenshein, executive director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles.

Case in point: a Service Employees International Union California political action committee spent more than $60,000 opposing tea party Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks. The independent campaign has boosted the prospects of the other GOP candidate in the race, Big Bear Lake Mayor Bill Jahn.

“If you want someone who is going to be friendly to labor, you’re better off not getting a Democrat into the run off. They’ll get crushed in a district like that," Sonenshein said. “It’s better to have a moderate Republican.


A statistical snapshot of California's primary

Economy top priority for many Westwood voters

New rules, low turnout mark state's primary election

--Phil Willon in Los Angeles

Photo: Tracy Bree looks over her ballot while voting in Sacramento. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

California lawmaker seeks plea deal on gun charges

Tim Donnelly
A California lawmaker who was detained and cited for bringing a loaded gun to an airport earlier this year is seeking a plea deal with prosecutors.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a self-described "tea party" Republican from San Bernardino, was charged last month with two misdemeanors after an incident at Ontario International Airport in which security screeners discovered a loaded .45-caliber Colt Mark IV pistol and an ammunition magazine with an additional five rounds in his carry-on luggage.

The lawmaker has characterized the incident as an "honest mistake," saying he had forgotten to remove the gun from his briefcase after placing it there while working in his home garage, and has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His lawyer, Rod Pacheco, told the Sacramento Bee on Thursday that he was working to reach a plea deal with San Bernardino County prosecutors.

"The justice system needs to mete out justice in a fair manner, taking into consideration various circumstances," Pacheco told the newspaper.

Continue reading »

L.A. congresswoman attacks tea party


Speaking at a jobs forum Saturday in Inglewood, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) came out swinging against Republicans in Congress.

A day after new statistics were released showing a rise in California's jobless rate -- the second-highest in the nation -- Waters vowed to push Congress to focus on creating more jobs. "I'm not afraid of anybody," said Waters. "This is a tough game. You can't be intimidated. You can't be frightened. And as far as I'm concerned, the 'tea party' can go straight to hell."

L.A. Now has the full story: Rep. Maxine Waters: 'The tea party can go straight to hell'

Photo: Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Credit: Harry Hamburg / Associated Press

National narrative begins on Meg Whitman campaign

It seemed a strange choice for a magazine cover. On this week's edition of Time, featured on the cover are three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate who have all become darlings of the national "tea party" movement: Florida's Marco Rubio, Delaware's Christine O'Donnell and Kentucky's Rand Paul. Standing in the back is California's GOP gubernatorial nominee, Meg Whitman.

It's an odd choice, given Whitman's efforts to run to the political center. During her primary campaign, she bested fellow Republican Steve Poizner, who ran to the right of Whitman. When Sarah Palin came to town, Whitman was nowhere to be found. And although she's articulated sympathy for the tea party, it is California's Republican Senate candidate, Carly Fiorina, who seems to have the most support from the political insurgency.

But the article gave the magazine a chance to weigh in on the Whitman campaign -- Whitman has spent more on her race than any individual has ever spent on an American election. And Time says Whitman's stumbles can be attributed to the fall of Wall Street.

Whitman's problem is that the bloom is off the rose of the CEO. If the economic collapse proved anything, it is that having a lot of money doesn't always make a person wise. What's more, recent years have shown us that some of the same tycoons who extol small government when it's time to pay their taxes will dash to Washington on their private jets to beg a bailout the minute things go sour. They admire the creative destruction of the free market only until it's their turn to be destroyed.

You can read the Time article here.

-- Anthony York

Independent group takes on Fiorina's ties to Palin and 'tea party' groups

In 2008, the Culver City-based Brave New Films used viral videos to take on then-presidential candidate John McCain’s health, his numerous homes and his shifting rhetoric. The company’s new target is Republican U.S.  Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who is locked in a tight race with Sen. Barbara Boxer(D-Calif).

In one of the first independent expenditures of the general election campaign, Brave New Films has released a viral video that plays up Fiorina’s association with “tea party” groups in California and shows an image of her face morphing into that of Sarah Palin, who gave Fiorina a boost by endorsing her during the hard-fought Republican primary.

“The Real Carly!” the video’s graphic blares as the ad shows footage of Palin ticking off the reasons she endorsed Fiorina — “She’s pro-life, she’s pro-2 nd amendment, she’s anti-big government, anti-tax, she’s pro-development,” Palin says — as the former Alaska governor’s face dissolves into a head shot of Fiorina.

With dramatic Andrew Lloyd Webber-style music raging in the background, the two-minute video turns to footage of individuals shouting at the camera and describing President Obama as a communist, in what is described onscreen as footage from a tea party rally in March.

Those images are followed by clips described onscreen as Fiorina’s speech at the Pleasanton Tea Party’s tax day rally in April, as well as what appears to be her remarks to reporters at the event, which are provided without context. “These folks are making a huge difference in the political dialogue in this country,” Fiorina is shown telling the press, “and good for them.”

The video then flashes through a series of anti-government, anti-Obama signs at unidentified venues before cutting back to a Pleasanton clip of Fiorina. Though the question posed to the candidate is not included, Fiorina appears to be describing the audience as “hardworking Americans who care enough to come out and get politically active and express their views.” Images of angry fist-shakers are interspersed with her words.

Fiorina’s spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the video was intended to mislead viewers.

“Sadly for Barbara Boxer, her extreme left-wing supporters have nothing positive or worthwhile to promote in her own record, so instead resort to extremely deceitful and misleading clips spliced together from events where Carly was not present and did not even happen in California,” Saul said. “Voters are smart enough to determine the difference between baseless propaganda and real information.”

Brave New Films’ founder and director Robert Greenwald said his researchers gleaned the video footage from what was available online. That makes it virtually impossible to determine the origin of the footage.

While Fiorina made some efforts to woo tea party voters, especially toward the end of the primary campaign, she never went to the same lengths as one of her rivals, Chuck DeVore, who spoke to about 60 tea party groups as he wrestled Fiorina for conservative votes.

Brave New Films’ communications director said the group had raised $20,000 so far for a series of Fiorina Web videos, which it plans to push through YouTube and social networking sites. Although Greenwald has worked with labor unions in the past, he said they have not contributed to the Fiorina effort to date. The group has not identified its contributors.

Greenwald said the video series will focus on Fiorina’s stands on abortion and immigration and her record as chief executive of Hewlett Packard. He said he had dispensed with the conventional wisdom that these campaign broadsides should wait until voters are paying more attention this fall. 

“We actually believe exactly the opposite, that as with our McCain work, it’s important to go out early and educate people about Carly — create the frame, if you will,” Greenwald said, adding that past efforts to get the videos out through social network and other websites has “actually been much more impactful than TV commercials.”

-- Maeve Reston in Los Angeles

Twitter: LATimesReston

Tea party darling Sarah Palin backs Carly Fiorina

Hours before the first face-to-face debate among the three GOP candidates vying to replace California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sarah Palin threw her support behind Carly Fiorina.

She made the announcement through a post on her Facebook page.

Palin, the controversial former running mate of Arizona Sen. John McCain, crossed paths with Fiorina on the campaign trail in 2008, when Fiorina served as an advisor to McCain. Some speculated Palin would endorse one of Fiorina’s rivals, Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who is a favorite of tea party groups and has locked down other conservative endorsements, including that of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

A wave of disappointed Twitter posts from DeVore supporters followed Palin's move. DeVore spokesman Joshua Treviño sent his own series of Twitter missives calling Palin an “establishment figure.” He also wrote: “Stop panicking over Sarah Palin. She is one. You are many. And you will win. Now get to work."

Continue reading »

California Democratic Party convention wrap-up


From endorsements to septuagenarians, a few closing notes from this weekend’s California Democratic Party convention.

The brightest stars of the gathering at the Los Angeles Convention Center illustrated the party’s historical track record, but perhaps not the young voters who weighed in in 2008 and who are critical to the party’s success at the ballot box this year.

Among the party standard-bearers who spoke were Attn. Gen. Jerry Brown, 72, who is seeking another term as governor; Sen. Barbara Boxer, 69, who faces a tough reelection battle, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 70, who on Saturday introduced one of her grandchildren as a first-time conventioneer.

The party’s musical taste at times also tended to older generations: versions of the Mamas & the Papas' “California Dreamin’,” McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up.” One of the more interesting choices occurred as delegates left the convention center on Sunday, Lenny Kravitz’s “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over”:

So many tears I've cried
So much pain inside
But baby it ain't over 'til it's over

That last line may be a message blogger Mickey Kaus is taking to heart. The former Slate contributor is challenging Boxer in the Democratic primary. His prospects are dim, and he was not allowed to speak at the convention. But Kaus was allowed to attend Boxer’s news conference on Saturday morning, as long as he didn’t ask a question.

Boxer acknowledged Kaus, who behaved himself, when asked about the Nazis who were protesting nearby at City Hall.

“I do feel in this great country, where we have so many freedoms, people can say whatever they want. I encourage them to do that, even Mickey,” Boxer said. “But the fact is we really should talk about what our words mean because there are some people who take those words and it might move them to do things that are dangerous for our society. We have to be careful about how we present our views.”

In official party news, Democrats announced the results of endorsement elections in two contested primaries, giving the nod to Assemblyman Dave Jones over Assemblyman Hector De La Torre in the state insurance commissioner race. But in the race for lieutenant governor, despite heavy politicking, neither San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom nor Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn garnered enough votes to reach the 60% threshold required for endorsement.

The party also voted to support Proposition 13, which would not add seismic retrofitting to a property’s taxed value, and Proposition 15, a public campaign-finance effort. It is opposing Proposition 14, an open-primary effort; Proposition 16, which would require a two-thirds vote to allow a public agency to enter the energy business; and Proposition 17, which would allow car insurance companies to penalize drivers who have a lapse in coverage.

-- Seema Mehta

Photo: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at the California Democratic Convention. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press 


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