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Posts Tagged ‘Dan Lungren’



How eMeg Should Play Gender; Rove Boosts Lungren

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

LONG BEACH — When Gov. Schwarzenegger, Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown join Matt Lauer, host of the “Today Show,”  for a four-way here today at Maria Shriver’s star-studded Women’s Conference, it’s supposed to be a civil, genteel, collegial discussion of the problems facing the Great State of California titled “Who We Are, Where We Are Going.” Isn’t that nice?

But for eMeg — who is trailing in all the public polls just one week before the election — it’s a last chance to squeeze off a big, fat, juicy sound bite that gets played all over the state and the country. And maybe — if Krusty sticks his smug, condescending foot in his mouth — she could put Brown on the defensive.

Jerry will be in protect-the-ball mode and Schwarzmuscle will probably be cruising on automatic statesman (unless he gets asked why he hasn’t endorsed fellow Republican Meg). So the big question is whether Whitman will break the rules and attack or challenge Brown.

Now, Team Whitman hasn’t listened to anything Calbuzz has ever suggested and they pretty much regard us as bad cheese (NB: we asked her to dinner and for an interview but never got either). But still we humbly offer this suggestion: Meg should say something like, “So, Jerry Brown has a long, long career working in the public sector, but you know what — it’s time for a woman to be governor. And I’m ready to do the job.” Or some such.

What’s Gandalf going to say? “No it’s not time for a woman. It’s time for a 72-year-old white guy.”

We kinda doubt eMeg will play the gender card. If she had wanted to, she could have put a gazillion dollars behind it in a TV ad. Feminism isn’t really in her wheelhouse. And as we wrote back in June, party is a much stronger motivator of the vote than is gender. But these are desperate times. She’s way behind among women voters and a rank appeal to sisterhood just might help — especially if she’s actually as close as her advisers have been furiously spinning in the past few days.

Whatever happens, the entire National Affairs Desk of Calbuzz — sparing no cost or effort — is here in Long Beach to capture the flavor and texture of the moment. If there is one. Otherwise, we’re just going to lunch.

How Rove Is Helping Lungren: Here’s a Special to Calbuzz from Mackenzie Weinger,  one of our vast array of political writers in Washington.

The number one target among House races for American Crossroads, Karl Rove’s so-called “Super PAC, is California’s 3rd congressional district.

American Crossroads recently made a $682,323 ad buy against physician Ami Bera (D), who is challenging Rep. Dan Lungren (R) in one of the state’s few close races. While the group has dumped millions into several Senate races across the country, this buy marks its biggest investment in any House campaign.

“It’s the biggest House buy, but it’s also the single most expensive media market we’ve purchased time in for the House,” American Crossroads spokesperson Jonathan Collegio told Calbuzz. “In terms of voter impression, it’s equal to most of our other efforts.”

Lucinda Guinn, Bera’s campaign manager, said the IE buy, although not coordinated with the Lungren campaign, should give residents an insight into the incumbent Republican’s priorities.

“We’ve mounted a very serious challenge to a career politician who didn’t see it coming, and now his big oil buddies and special interest friends are coming to bail him out because he’s nervous,” Guinn told us.

Attack ads from the rival’s campaigns have been hitting TV screens for weeks now, but American Crossroads’ is the biggest independent spending in the district’s media market.

Lungren released an ad this week, “Who is Ami Bera?”, calling Bera Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “handpicked candidate”— an attack that Republicans across the country are using. As for Bera, he made a splash earlier this month with “Shirts,” an ad that criticized Lungren for attending a 2008 conference in Hawaii with campaign funds. Although the trip was cleared by the House Ethics Committee, Bera’s campaign alleges Lungren exploited a loophole for a free vacation.

That’s just part of the Bera campaign’s focus on Lungren and campaign finance. The real concern, Guinn says, is what would happen if Republicans take the House on Nov. 2 and Lungren wins the Third District: as the ranking GOPer on the Committee on House Administration, Lungren is in line to become its chair.

“He would have jurisdiction over campaign finance regulation,” she noted. “He’s been looking out for his own folks for a long time – for big oil, Wall Street and his special interest friends.”

With his vote against the DISCLOSE Act and the recent influx of outside spending, Guinn said that “Lungren claims he supports campaign finance transparency, but he’s not saying anything about Karl Rove coming in” to the district.

“Outside groups and Karl Rove showing up in your living room is not what Californians care about,” she said.

Bera has written a blog post about Lungren and campaign finances that’s been making the rounds on the Internet. He writes that “Rove’s shadowy slush fund” is “hoping to hijack our election through false and misleading advertising.” Bera, who reported $448,859 cash on hand for the most recent filing period, is set to debut a new ad sometime this week, Guinn said.

But America Crossroads operative Collegio said that Lungren is the one under attack by special interests in the toss-up race.

“Lungren is heavily targeted by a well-funded opponent and a number of labor groups who wanted to defeat him in the general, and we believe our efforts serve a good balancing effect in the dynamics of the race,” he said.

He said the district is a critical one for Republicans, and added that the organization may release a new ad there this week.

“Every competitive race for control of the house is important, and while most of the focus has been on Republican pickups, it’s equally important to protect incumbents, especially when they’ve come under attack by outside organizations,” he said.

Check out the American Crossroads ad attacking Bera on health care reform:

Announcer: Not only does Ami Bera support Obamacare, he says it doesn’t go far enough. Obamacare’s $525B in job killing taxes isn’t far enough? The higher insurance premiums aren’t far enough? How about the $500B cut from Medicare? And reduced benefits for over 1.5 million California seniors? Ami Bera and Obamacare – They’re bad medicine for California. American Crossroads is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Speaking of ads: Here at Calbuzz we’re big fans of spots where the candidate contradicts him or herself or where a candidate is caught saying nice things about his or her opponent, to wit, this tasty morsel slapped together by Team Krusty with eMeg opening by saying , “You know, 30 years ago anything was possible in this state.” Followed by a black screen question and answer:  Who was governor 30 years ago? Jerry Brown.” Followed by the Peter Coyote voice-over recounting Brown’s accomplishments, followed in turn by a news station’s raw footage of Whitman saying, “I mean it’s why I came to California so many years ago.” Not sure how much dough Brown’s campaign will put behind it, but it’s a nice touch.

Meanwhile, Team eMeg unleashed yet another attack ad, this one accusing Brown of being a dishonest failure and a “job killer,” whose only plan for California is “more taxes, more spending and more lost jobs.” And he’s a tool of the unions and a liar, to boot. In case you were wondering.

What Tsunami? Only 3 House Districts in Play

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

By Mackenzie Weinger
Special to Calbuzz

Beltway prognosticators sound ever more certain about Republicans seizing control of the House in a national electoral tsunami, but in California, only three of 53 congressional districts feature competitive races.

While today’s conventional wisdom suggests a GOP pick up of perhaps 50 seats nationally, which would end the reign of Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, California Democrats are not expected to lose more than a seat or two, if that, from their current 34-to-19 majority in the state’s House delegation.

National attention remains focused on the close race between incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, of course, but the House partisan breakdown is unlikely to change much, because of a combination of California’s Democrat-trending demographics and the incumbent-friendly reapportionment that followed the 2000 census.

“We’re a Dem-leaning state and President Obama’s approval ratings are a bit higher here than they are elsewhere, and in some ways that insulates us from that backlash,” said UC San Diego political science professor Thad Kousser. “And secondly, the post-2000 redistricting means there are a lot less competitive seats.”

The races in play: Perhaps the most surprising race, given the national political atmosphere is the Third Congressional District in Northern California. It’s here that the Democrats may be able to snatch a seat from a Republican incumbent.

As one of the few races going against the Republican trend this year, the contest  between Rep. Dan Lungren (R) and physician Ami Bera (D) is one of the Democrats’ few pickup opportunities of this cycle.

Bera — who has consistently outraised Lungren, raked in $550,000 in the third quarter, giving him $2.1 million this cycle, while Lungren brought in $480,000, for a total of $1.7 million. Pres. Obama eked out a win here in 2008, giving Democrats hope for a potential midterm success.

Even as it goes against this year’s pro-Republican tide, this campaign shares the same overall narrative of many GOP-leaning races around the country: a political newbie taking on an entrenched career politician.

“Lungren has been around politics his whole life,” Bera said. “He’s certainly not from this district. It’s a clear contrast. Lungren is representing corporate America… And our narrative has always been on rebuilding the middle class.”

Bera traced his campaign’s ability to buck the anti-Democratic trend to his ground-up organization and his background as a physician.

“There’s a couple reasons why this race is moving against the current,” Bera said. “We built this campaign from the very beginning from the grassroots, holding house parties where neighbors opened up their living rooms. We’ve literally done hundreds of these conversations. We’ve had a lot of individual donors and built on word of mouth. That insulated us a little bit. It’s certainly a perfect year to be a doctor running for Congress.”

Bera, who noted his campaign has over 3,000 volunteers, insisted Democrats could still use the final weeks before the election to make a successful push to hold the House: “The House of Representatives isn’t lost,” Bera said.

Also in Northern California, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D), faces a threat from attorney David Harmer (R) one of the National Republican Campaign Committee’s “Young Guns” in the 11th Congressional District. CQ-Roll Call, RealClearPolitics and Cook Political Report all have this race as a toss-up.

Somewhat less competitive is Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s (D) seat in the 47th Congressional District in Orange County, where a a win by Assemblyman Van Tran, California’s other Republican “Young Gun”, would spell a huge victory for the GOP.

Sanchez’s recent gaffe on Univision’s Sunday show, “Al Punto” — where she accused “the Vietnamese” and Republicans of trying to take her seat in Congress — has added fire to Tran’s campaign in the final month.

“It speaks for itself,” Tran’s campaign manager George Andrews said. “For her to come unglued on that TV show just shows how nervous she is. She knows times are changing in her district, and being a DC insider, she’s lost touch with the reality of the voters in Orange County.”

Andrews said this year’s GOP wave has definitely hit the 47th district: “Absolutely it’s a factor,” he said. “We’re going door-to-door in Loretta’s backyard and people are sick and tired of poor representation. She’s only passed one bill after the past 14 years — and it was to name a post office.”

In the Senate race, polls show Boxer still ahead of ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Fiorina, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Chamber of Commerce and other national GOP groups continue pouring in money, which has kept the challenger financially competitive.

CQ-Roll Call and Rothenberg Political Report rate the race as leaning Dem, but RealClearPolitics, Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball are calling the race a toss-up.

UCSD political scientist Kousser said the Senate race is a “microcosm of the national scene – a liberal Democrat very much tied to President Obama” coupled with a case of the “Republicans nominating someone on the right end of the political spectrum.”

“If it had been Tom Campbell who won the primary, he would have had a chance in this environment,” Kousser said. “But we haven’t seen a pro-lifer win a top of the ticket race here in California for two decades. Carly Fiorina still has a shot, but if she wins this race, that’s going to be the signal that the House and Senate are really turning over.

Washington-based political reporter Mackenzie Weinger is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Nexus at UC Santa Barbara.

God, Man & Jerry Brown’s Ignatian Indifference

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Our friend Dan Balz did a nice job after he scored a sit-down interview with Jerry Brown, in advance of Crusty’s formal annunciation that he’s running for governor. We were especially intrigued when we read this:

If she wins the GOP nomination, Whitman will have a sizable financial advantage over Brown. She has already put $39 million of her money into the race and could spend $150 million or more by the election in November. Brown can’t compete with that kind of money, but he said of Whitman, “Her money is not kryptonite.”

Asked how he will prepare for that, he offered a lesson from St. Ignatius. He would summon all the “Ignatian indifference” that he could. That is, he added, the idea of eschewing attachments to wealth or glory and preparing “to do the will of God, however it manifests.”

“Here we have the will of the people,” Brown said, “and how it turns out will be fine for me.”

Huh? Wussup with that ?

Was Jerry really saying he’s preparing “to do the will of God?” And if so, how come Balz didn’t make that the lede of his piece? Because if that’s what Jerry is saying – that he is bracing for Meg’s onslaught by preparing “to do the will of God” — then by golly, he’s right in there with Pat Robertson and Rick Warren, isn’t he?

So we called Jerry’s office for some clarification. Brown wouldn’t come to the phone for a quick theological discussion, but spokesman, Sterling Clifford (who sat in on the Balz interview but who was raised Mormon, not Catholic and certainly not Jesuit) said Jerry was trying to explain “Ignatian indifference” as an acceptance of God’s will, which he distinguished from the election, which is a matter of the peoples’ will.

We weren’t convinced.

Wasn’t Jerry saying that in preparing to accept eMeg’s multi-million-dollar attacks, he would be doing God’s will? “Jerry was not saying that,” Clifford said. “He was saying he’s making an effort not to take the personal attacks too seriously.”

When we checked with Balz, he agreed that Brown wasn’t saying he’s preparing to do the will of God but, “That the will of the people is in this case like the will of God — that is, whatever the voters decide he will accept.”

OK, but flashback to 1998. We were there when former Attorney General Dan Lungren got in some trouble talking about the role of God in public life as he launched his campaign for governor.

Is Brown on the verge of doing the same thing? It’s a fair question because Brown’s theology is deeply embedded. He took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience at the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Los Gatos in 1958 where, according to biographer Roger Rapoport, “It seemed to Jerry there was no limit to what you might accomplish if you let go of your personal ambitions and committed your life to the greater glory of God, as his instrument.”

Of course, Brown was released from those vows two years later, when he left the seminary. By then, however, he was ingrained with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, which were designed by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) to help “conquer oneself and regulate one’s life and avoid coming to a determination through any inordinate affection.”

Though not a Jesuit priest, as he might have become, Brown has never cast off the doctrine of contemplatio ad amorem – with its belief that the spirit of God can be found everywhere – in chaos and order, intelligence and ignorance, fame and obscurity — and that contemplation and action go hand in hand because being is active.

The same clash of concepts, unity of opposites, battling dualities (think: against Prop 13 and for it, for example) has been a hallmark of Brown’s theology, ontology – not to mention politics — throughout his life, as suggested in his comment to Balz that he would do the will of God and the will of the people at the same time.

It was no accident that the young Jerry was fascinated by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit paleontologist and phenomenologist. About the time Brown was in the seminary, Teilhard was silenced by the Jesuit hierarchy for his attempts to synthesize theology and evolutionary biology. As Brown biographer Richard Rappoport described Teilhard’s theories, he sought “to reconcile humanism and grace, nature and the Cross, prudence and heroism, freedom and obedience.”

It’s not hard to understand why Brown would – then and now — be attracted to a priest who wrote: “Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.”

In Jerry time, it was a mere nanosecond from the study of Teilhard to the Tassajara Hot Springs, the Carmel Valley Zen retreat that Brown and his one-time aide de camp Jacques Barzaghi used to visit; to E.F. Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful” and onward to C.K. Chesterton, who was labeled “The Apostle of Common Sense,” in a book by Dale Ahlquist, published by (drum roll here) Ignatius Press.

It wasn’t coincidence that in his first interview heading toward this election – with Calbuzz back in April of last year — Brown said he is planning to be an “apostle of common sense.” We saw then, an echo of his 1992 Winter Soldier presidential campaign in which he autographed copies of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”

But the phrase – actually the title of Ahlquist’s 2003 book — pays homage to Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), the 300-pound, cigar-smoking English writer, journalist and Catholic convert who labeled common sense “that extinct branch of psychology” and who wrote: “The Bible tells us to love our neighbors and also to love our enemies, probably because they are generally the same people.”

Chesterton, who attacked both socialism and capitalism, who defended the Catholic faith and the common man is just another in the line of thinkers whose ideas seem woven into Brown’s  rhetoric.

His thinking seems little changed from the window into his psyche he offered in the 1975 commencement at the University of Santa Clara – the Jesuit school he had attended for a year before joining the seminary. In part of that speech, Brown reached back to the Father Teilhard de Chardin who, he said:

“…saw that there was an evolution of the mind as well as the body. The evolution of the spirit was bringing the divergence of this planet together, not only the nuclear problems, the problem of learning to live with people who are very different, the problem of one generation accepting the different lifestyle, of accepting one another. I think we can very well think of the philosophy that all diversity is being converged toward a greater unit. That’s the way I see things and it won’t be done unless each one of us can do this for ourselves so that together we can do what none of us can do separately.”

His spokespeople can deny it, but Jerry Brown has always seemed to see himself as an instrument of God’s will and an instrument of the people’s will, simultaneously. He has never had any interest in imposing his religious beliefs on others but to assert that he is not shaped and driven by his Jesuitical ontology is to deny the obvious.

Brown’s first guru was not Baba Ram Dass, who published “Be Here Now” in 1971, but his forerunner — Ignatius — who told Jerry and all the other would-be keepers of the flame and sword from the 16th Century onward: “Age quod agis” – “Do what you are doing.”