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Yesterday was a pretty good day for Howard Berman, a little more than a month away from primary day. In the morning, the LA Times endorsed Berman in the hotly contested incumbent on incumbent battle for California's 30th Congressional district seat.
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-ed-congress30-endorsement-20120430,0,4409301.story Later in the day, seizing upon the buzz generated by he Times endorsement, Berman's team released an ad featuring Betty White and Wendie Malick. http://youtu.be/ueusOdK97_I
As did the three ads previously released by the Berman campaign, the White/Malick spot pushes three messages; that Berman is effective, has long been an advocate for the San Fernando Valley and is warm and approachable. The White/Malick ad specifically touts Berman's support of humane treatment of animals and his effectiveness at getting more police on the San Fernando Valley's streets.
White, who has a stratospheric "Q score" urges viewers to "Re-elect Congressman Howard Berman. The former Golden Girl also notes Berman's long ties to the San Fernando Valley. Malick, who once worked for Republican Congressman Jack Kemp, stresses Berman's effectiveness and again notes his work for the Valley. Berman enters the set, carrying a small white dog, and utters the required disclosures, while White rhapsodizes about Berman's "very nice blue eyes."While many question the impact of celebrity endorsements, this one carries quite a bit of punch. It enabled Berman to build on the Times endorsement, leaving his principle opponent, Congressman Brad Sherman, with little to do but complain about ad buys purportedly made by a Berman-affiliated super pac. http://atr.rollcall.com/california-super-pac-drops-500000-on-tv-for-berman/ And, Malick and White are not just dilettantes. They both are very active in community and non-profit groups where their say so can persuade voters aligned with these organizations -- especially if this ad is followed up by mail targeted to members
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The hopes that California would make an impact on the Presidential nominating process were once again dashed. But, for those relishing local combat, California will be a major battleground in the war for control of the House of Representatives
Wait, what's that? Control of the House is at stake? Yup. And, if you don't believe my powers of prognostication, get a load of what Speaker Boehner had to say about the topic:
"We have fifty of our members in tough races, eighty-nine freshmen running for their first reelections and we have thirty-two districts that are in states where there is no Presidential campaign going to be run, no big Senate race -- and we call these 'orphan districts,'" Boehner said.
"You take eighteen of them -- California, Illinois and New York, where you know we're not likely to do well at the top of the ticket -- and those districts are frankly pretty vulnerable,"
"I would say that there is a two-in-three chance that we win control of the House again, but there's a one-in-three chance that we could lose... We've got a big challenge, and we've got work to do." http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2012/04/john-boehner-new-york-house-seats-in-play
The DCCC had quite a bit of fun with Boehner's statement, today releasing this video http://youtu.be/-xW5mv71aP4, which shows him and various talking heads, including former RNC Chair Michael Steele, discussing the prospects for continued Republican control of the House.
Although a touch more sanguine, as is his nature, noted Congressional prognosticator Charlie Cook today noted: "The odds are very high, actually higher. . . that they [Republicans] will lose a few seats, probably in the five to 10, maybe in the 15, range." http://www.nationaljournal.com/columns/off-to-the-races/tipping-point--20120501
Democrats need to win 25 seats to retake control of the House.
In a statement about post-redistricting prospects, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) said today that, " In California we have an opportunity to pick up three (3) to six (6) seats." http://dccc.org/blog/entry/10589/
Six seats is almost a quarter of the total number of seats the Democrats need to place the Speaker's gavel back in the hands of Nancy Pelosi.
The DCCC has signaled that thirteen of California's House seats are "in play" to some degree. Five are challenges, with strong DCCC-supported candidates. One is a new, open seat with high Democratic performance. One is a race with a newly competitive Democratic candidate. Two are Republican open seats. Another is a GOP-held seat that is seen as vulnerable to a flip, but without an as yet identified DCCC-supported candidate. Three are Democratic-held seats, wherein the incumbent is facing a strong GOP challenge. These seats are identified below, as categorized by the DCCC.
Red to Blue Races: Ami Bera (CA-07), Jose Hernandez (CA-10), Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Raul Ruiz (CA-36) and Mark Takano (CA-41). The DCCC's Red to Blue program highlights top Democratic campaigns across the country, and offers them financial, communications, grassroots, and strategic support. The program will introduce Democratic supporters to new, competitive candidates in order to help expand the fundraising base for these campaigns.
Majority Makers: Tony Cardenas (CA-29). Majority Makers highlights Democratic candidates in strong Democratic districts.
Emerging Races: Blong Xiong (CA-21). Emerging Races highlights candidates and districts that are making themselves competitive by running smart campaigns.
Certainly some of these seats will drop from the national radar as the campaign season progresses. But, there is no doubt that some of the identified races will remain highly competitive right up until election day. And, with a Californian hoping to reclaim her Speakership, expect a lot of money pouring into races in Nancy Pelosi's backyard.
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Mary is a real person who lives in Southern California. Mary supports herself via odd jobs. Until recently, she was uninsured. Mary was just diagnosed with cancer. She received her diagnosis and has a chance to survive because she is now covered by Medicare. If Mary were slightly younger, and thus ineligible for Medicare, she would be in extremis or dead If the recently passed House Republican budget, which radically alters Medicare, were in effect, Mary would also likely be doomed. All of California's Republican House members voted for the House Republican budget. Mary's story could be the story of many women of a "certain" age. The Republican war on health care is just another front of their war on women.
Mary is like many women who were born in the 1940s and 1950s. Females of that generation often married early, prior to completing their education or establishing careers. Their husband was the bread winner. They were insured on their husband's health care policy as a dependant. If, as many did, they got divorced, their insurance may have continued for a brief time pursuant to the terms of their dissolution decree. Some who got divorced more recently were afforded COBRA coverage that insured them for a maximum of three years. But, COBRA payments can be steep and many such women could not afford the premiums. Because these women had either never been in the workforce or were long out of it, finding stable employment with benefits was difficult or impossible. The jobs many of these women were able to secure were low-paying, but they made too much to qualify for MediCal. Thus, many women of this generation went without health care coverage and hoped for the best.
By cobbling together a patchwork of odd jobs, Mary has been able to pay rent on a modest apartment, feed herself and maintain utilities. But, there has been little left for "luxuries," such as health care premiums or repairing her ancient and dilapidated vehicle. For a while, Mary has had digestive issues and hoarseness. Always slim, Mary's weight dropped below 100 lbs. A few times, Mary contacted the Social Security Administration to see if she might be eligible for Medicare benefits. She reports that she was always told she was ineligible. Finally, frightened by Mary's condition, a friend insisted that Mary visit the Free Clinic.
The clerk at the Free Clinic took Mary's information and told her they could not treat her because she should be covered by Medicare. Mary broke down. The clerk was warm and efficient, providing Mary with information to help her secure her Medicare coverage. With this assistance, Mary finally received her Medicare card and was thus able to secure an appointment with a doctor at a well-respected teaching hospital. After testing, Mary was scheduled for surgery. Needless to say, a large tumor was found -- a condition that may have been caught much earlier and treated at far less cost if Mary had health insurance.
Mary is now undergoing extensive testing and soon will commence the indicated regime of radiation and chemotherapy. She is weak and frightened, but still has to work to support herself. But at least she now has coverage and can be treated thanks to Medicare.
The House Republican budget would radically alter Medicare, thus possibly depriving someone like Mary of this vital lifeline. Americans United for Change cites the following changes to Medicare contained in the House Republican budget:
I. "Slashes Medicare Benefits by Raising Eligibility Age to 67: "The plan would gradually raise Medicare's eligibility age from 65 to 67 for people turning 65 in 2023 and thereafter, even as it repeals health reform's coverage expansions. This could leave 65 and 66 year olds who can't get employer-based coverage out in the cold. People with modest incomes generally wouldn't be able to afford the prices that private insurance companies would charge to cover people in this age bracket."
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 21, 2012]
III. CBO: Policies Would Cut Medicare Benefits: "CBO said it's possible that seniors would face higher costs under the Ryan plan, and said other possible side effects include "reduced access to health care; diminished quality of care; increased efficiency of health care delivery;less investment in new, high-cost technologies; or some combination of those outcomes." [The Hill, 3/20/12]
IV. "GRADUAL DEMISE OF MEDICARE": "The plan also would likely lead to the gradual demise of traditional Medicare by making the pool of Medicare beneficiaries smaller, older, and sicker - and increasingly costly to cover."
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 19, 2012]
V. "Fewer Health Services" Thanks to Ever-Shrinking Private Insurance Vouchers: "Once seniors reached the age of eligibility for Medicare, they would receive a premium-support voucher to help them buy coverage... Seniors who couldn't afford to spend more than the voucher amount likely would have to purchase insurance that covered fewer health services as time went by, since the voucher likely would not keep pace with increases in health care costs."
(See What You Need to Know About Premium Support) [Center on
Despite what these changes would do to people like Mary, every single GOP House member from California voted for it. California's Democratic House delegation unanimously rejected these draconian cuts. [Two of California's Democratic members did not vote.] Fortunately, for people like Mary, the Democratically controlled Senate says it will not take up this legislation.
And, who would benefit from the House Republican budget? The top 1%, of course, because people like Mitt Romney need additional tax breaks to help pay for necessities like car elevators in their vacation homes.
Mary knows who is for her and who is against her. And, there are plenty of people like Mary who will and do vote. Mary and people like her will remember in November.
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Close on the heels of Speaker Pelosi's announcement that she plans to continue serving in House Leadership, comes the announcement of House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Xavier Becerra that he too intends to remain in Leadership.
In a letter to colleagues, Becerra said: "Together, we have taken many courageous votes and put our country back on track. Now, together, we must retake the majority in the House by better promoting Democratic core ideas and policies which prevented this “Great Recession” from becoming a depression and helped us tackle the most difficult problems of our generation.”
Becerra went on to make his pitch, noting: "As your Vice Chair in the 111th Congress, I have devoted my energy and resources to pass our Democratic agenda. From playing lead roles in the passage of historic health care reform and aiding members with their minority constituent outreach efforts to being among the Caucus’ leaders in supporting the election and re-election of our talented Democratic membership, I have worked hard to be a leader and team player for House Democrats.
In the coming days, I hope you will give me the opportunity to speak to you personally about my candidacy for Vice Chair. I want to discuss with you how my eighteen years in the House, my service as your Vice Chair and my efforts to help you have a voice will guide me to serve, once again, as your Vice Chairman. I want your support and I want to ask you for your vote. "
Becerra is the youngest member of current House Democratic Leadership -- nearly a full generation younger than Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Democratic Whip James Clyburn. He is a former chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and a senior member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
Becerra worked tirelessly to turn out Latino and progressive voters in key races. In California, Nevada and Colorado the Latino vote was critical to Democratic victories, As we gear up for 2012, Becerra's voice, as a member of the House Democratic leadership team, is crucial to reclaiming the House and re-electing President Obama.
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While the two male Speakers of the House who proceeded her quit Congress after disappointing results for their party in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has decided to not only remain in the House, but to also run for Minority Leader. The 70 year old dynamo first announced her intentions in a most 21st century manner -- via Twitter. Her tweet read: "Driven by the urgency of creating jobs & protecting #hcr, #wsr, Social Security & Medicare, I am running for Dem Leader."
While everyone, from pundits to reporters to the decimated ranks of the Blue Dogs to Republicans, deemed it a foregone conclusion that Pelosi would not only step down from House Democratic leadership, but also leave Congress, Pelosi had other ideas.
In a letter to colleagues announcing her decision, Pelosi said: “Our work is far from finished. As a result of Tuesday's election, the role of Democrats in the 112th Congress will change, but our commitment to serving the American people will not. We have no intention of allowing our great achievements to be rolled back. It is my hope that we can work in a bipartisan way to create jobs and strengthen the middle class
“Many of our colleagues have called with their recommendations on how to continue our fight for the middle class, and have encouraged me to run for House Democratic Leader. Based on those discussions, and driven by the urgency of protecting health care reform, Wall Street reform, and Social Security and Medicare, I have decided to run.”
Despite at least three Blue Dogs announcing that they would not vote for Pelosi for leader, Pelosi is forging ahead. She and her lieutenants burned up phone lines, solidifying support. There can be little doubt that she has the requisite votes in the House Democratic Caucus. She is a master vote counter, who would only announce her intentions, if she knew she had the votes.
This is great news for California. It keeps one of our own in power and likely also means that the California Democratic members of Congress who lost their Committee Chairmanships due to the flip of the House, will stay to fight another day, rather than resign or retire. With Nancy staying to fight, it is hard to imagine George Miller, for example, packing it in. With the passage of Proposition 14 in June and the passage of Proposition 20 on Tuesday, it is vital to California Democrats that we have seasoned veterans fighting for their seats in new districts where the top two advance to the general election. And, thanks to Nancy Pelosi's fighting spirit, it is likely that we will.
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Congratulations Giants! The last time the Giants won a World Series was in 1954. You know what else happened in 1954? Democrats took control of the House and Senate -- picking up a net of 18 seats in the House and two in the Senate. That Democratic control lasted until 1980 in the Senate and 1994 in the House
In order to ensure that Democrats retain control of Congress, remember to cap off your celebration of the Giants' victory by voting on Tuesday
The election is not a lost cause -- especially not in California. Nate Silver at 538 wrote an interesting piece about how the Democrats could keep the House. Read it, while cheering the Giants. http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/01/5-reasons-democrats-could-beat-the-polls-and-hold-the-house/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
Wasn't it delicious for a team from San Francisco to beat Dubya's team?
Won't the Giants' victory parade be that much sweeter with a San Franciscan, Nancy Pelosi, helming Congress?
Let's make this Giants' victory be the harbinger of decades of Democratic control of Congress, just like the last Giants' championship.
Celebrate tonight, but vote on Tuesday.
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Faux News and the right-wing noise machine is ginning up to claim "voter fraud", if Republicans don't run the table on Tuesday. On Mark Levin's right-wing talk radio program, a GOP congressional candidate from Arizona claimed that Democrats are busing "Mexicans" over the border to vote in the Southwest. http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/10/az_house_candidate_dems_are_busing_mexicans_in_to.php On Sunday, Brett Baier said Fox News will cover allegations of "voter fraud" on "every show. Fox even helpfully set-up an email address to report supposed cases of "voter fraud." No doubt the wingers will claim that ACORN perpetrated "voter fraud, " even though that worthwhile community action organiztion is now defunct, due to the Breitbart-perpetrated scam against them.
Make no mistake, if Democrats outperform expectations, the noise machine will do everything it can to call into question and attempt to invalidate elections and interfere with recounts in close races. And, their claims of "voter fraud" will be directed at people of color, the low income, those who lost their homes to foreclosure and young voters.
One of the ways they will attempt to generate their claims of "voter fraud" is by engaging in unlawful and intimidating activities at polling locations. There have already been reports of GOP-operatives videotaping and hovering over voters at early vote locations in Harris County Texas. Illinois GOP senate candidate Mark Kirk plans to have "voter-integrity" squads in African-American neighborhoods. Also in Harris County Texas, flyers were distributed in African American neighborhoods erroneously telling voters that a straight Democratic vote actually is a vote for Republicans and that a vote for Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Bill White is a vote for a straight Democratic ticket . http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=7749845
In California, we have seen GOP voter intimidation/suppression tactics in action. In 1988, a Republican group posted uniformed guards at polling stations in heavily Latino neighborhoods of Santa Ana. http://articles.latimes.com/1988-11-15/news/mn-188_1_polling-places In his 2006 race against Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. Republican Congressional candidate Tan Nguyen's campaign was linked to a letter to Latino voters warning them against voting. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C00E6DA123FF930A35753C1A96E9C8B63
If someone tries to stop you from voting or you witness intimidation, you can take immediate action.
The California Democratic Party has set up at hotline -- 1-877-321-VOTE (8683)-- to report voter intimidation, lack of ballots, refusal of precinct workers to permit a foreclosed homeowner to vote at their former precinct or the like.
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Its that time for my bi-annual call to California Democrats to remember the lesson learned from the needless 1980 defeat of Democratic Congressman Jim Corman -- VOTE, regardless of the early returns from the East, Mid-West and South. The future of California and your future depends on it.
Polls will begin to close and pundits will begin to prognosticate on Tuesday at 3PM in California. Those first two states -- Kentucky and Indiana -- are likely to be quite favorable for Republicans. I anticipate early calls of GOP pickups of House seats in both states and we are certain to lose the Indiana Senate seat. Rand Paul will very likely be elected to replace Jim Bunning. At 4PM in California, polls will close in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia. Again, there will be many calls of GOP pick ups from these states -- although, if you hear that Gerry Connolly and Tom Perriello in Virginia have held their seats, that is a sign that the night might not be as awful as some fear.
The poll closures and breathless commentary will escalate during the late afternoon in California, as polls close at 4:30PM in North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia. Between 5PM and 6PM, polls will close in: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Do not allow any result or any analysis discourage you from voting. Do not allow voters in far-flung states to essentially decide who will be your governor, senator, congressional representative or state legislator. Do not allow voters in states with combined populations that are less than California's to impact California's green house gas standards, budgetary process or method of redistricting congressional seats. Regardless of what happens elsewhere, protect yourself and your state.
Do not assume that because Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer are leading in recent polling that you can safely drown your sorrows about the East Coast returns. If early returns from points East depress enough California Democrats, Meg Whitman could be governor, Carly Fiorina could be senator, Texas oil companies could determine California's green house gas standards and good House members, such as Loretta Sanchez, Jerry McNerney and Jim Costa could lose their seats.
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In the final days of Campaign 2010, the President of the United States is becoming the closer in chief -- the star of commercials designed to rev up the base, encourage turnout and push specific candidates.
One is called "Don't Sit This One Out." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Le7n3Y7dgxI&feature=player_embedded . In it, President Obama says that "Two years ago you proved that the power of everyday people is stronger than the status quo." A cyron notes that: " If Republicans win" there is "No accountability for Wall Street," "More power for oil and insurance giants" and "Record cuts to education." Its simple and to the point; appealing to two groups who made the 2008 victory possible -- new/infrequent voters and progressives .Talking Points Memo reports that the DNC made a significant six figure ad buy on BET and MSNBC. That is some targeted marketing. Don Draper would be proud.
A second ad features President Obama supporting Barbara Boxer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRzTQoduGpg&feature=player_embedded The cyrons in this ad emphasize "Change this country," "Fight for Jobs" and "Clean energy." Obama, with finger pointing toward the camera, commands, " I expect you to make sure you return Barbara Boxer to the United States Senate." It is a rather powerful order to Democrats to get out and vote.
From the content of these two ads, it appears that polls show that Obama is still popular with Democrats/progressives and that margins are close enough in some races that seats can be maintained with slightly stronger than anticipated Democratic turnout.
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California political activist, actor and director Rob Reiner appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher on October 22nd. What Reiner said on that program has kicked up a storm in the right-wing noise machine. That is no big surprise. Reiner is a favorite target of Breitbart and friends. But, what is somewhat surprising is that Reiner was also denounced by Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League.
Reiner did not call Tea Party enthusiasts Nazis, nor did he say they were Hitler-like. Reiner was expressing an understandable concern that people who are angry and scared can be influenced by leaders to scapegoat groups of people with potentially tragic results. Reiner's concerns embodied the twin admonitions that Jews have been taught since the 1940s -- never forget and never again. And, the way to ensure "never again" is to heed the warning of George Santayana that: "Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it." Reiner has not forgotten the past and his statements were an alert that a malevolent, charismatic leader could latch onto the present fear and anger for some warped purpose.
And, while most Tea Partiers are non-violent and benign, there are disturbing signs that the movement has attracted some people with links to hate groups, white supremacy, so-called citizens' militias and violence. One Tea Party Congressional candidate, Rich Iott's "hobby" is dressing up in Nazi uniforms. A 94 page report from the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights details the racist, anti-Semitic and bigoted backgrounds of a number of Tea Party activists. http://www.teapartynationalism.com/pdf/TeaPartyNationalism.pdf, including those with strong links to the Council of Conservative Citizens and the National Alliance.
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