Minor Scandal Overshadows Major Problems with AG Harris’ U.S. Senate Bid

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris urges funds for tracking prescription drugsA strange story has emerged from the California Department of Justice. An aide to Attorney General Kamala Harris named Brandon Kiel wasbusted along with two friends for operating a bogus police force. The scandal hasn’t touched Harris, though she is running to replace Barbara Boxer in the Senate next year. But the story does raise some questions about politics in a one-party state.

On its website, the Masonic Fraternal Police Order compares itself with other police departments: “We are born into this Organization our bloodlines go deeper then (sic) an application. . . . Our mission is to preserve the integrity, honor and legacy of our Founding Fathers, Masonic Organizations, all Grand Masters and their Constitution/By Laws.” Kiel was charged with impersonating a police officer after he reportedly began contacting legitimate police departments to alert them that the MFPO—with connections that its members claim go back to the Knights Templar and ancient Mexico—would be launching operations in their jurisdictions.

Harris can’t be blamed for the bizarre MFPO episode, but the incident could foreshadow more trying times ahead for the senate hopeful. Until recently, she hadn’t been running so much as strolling toward the nomination, with the blessing of the Bay Area Democratic Party machine. That began to change last week when Loretta Sanchez, a nine-term congresswoman from Santa Ana in Southern California, announced that she would challenge Harris for the nomination. Things quickly turned ugly, as Harris blasted Sanchez for allegedly insulting Native Americans. It remains to be seen if Sanchez can capitalize on Harris’s problematic tenure as attorney general.

The real problem with Harris is her blind loyalty to her political allies, exemplified by her habit of assigning skewed titles and summaries to proposed statewide voter initiatives. These short descriptions—placed on measures before supporters gather signatures to qualify them for the ballot—make or break the initiatives, because they are usually the only things that voters read. When supporters of a pension-reform initiative submitted it to the attorney general in 2013, Harris attached an adverse description designed to kill it. As the Sacramento Bee put it, gently: “The wording is supposed to be neutral. But recent attorneys general, who are responsible for titles and summaries, have meddled, knowing many voters make up their minds based on the 100-word summations. Attorney General Kamala Harris has been especially freewheeling. That needs to stop.”

Another part of the attorney general’s job is to approve sales of any nonprofit hospital to a for-profit operation. When the nonprofit Daughters of Charity wanted to sell six hospitals to a for-profit operator that would keep them open, Harris approved—but imposed so many costly and difficult conditions that the transaction fell through. Critics accused Harris of acting like an advocate for the SEIU, the massive union representing health-care workers that opposed the deal, rather than as an impartial representative of the people.

Like many San Francisco politicians, Harris is no friend of the Second Amendment, but even some liberals were surprised when she championed an arcane state law banning gun shops from displaying ads of handguns outside their stores. The law, passed decades ago to discourage gun ownership by Chinese and Mexican immigrants, isarguably a violation of the First Amendment. Yet Harris defended the statute as necessary to halt “impulse” gun purchases—never mind the state’s longstanding 10-day waiting period.

In 2013, Harris helped secure a record $1 million fine against two conservative groups that had improperly reported the source of the funding they used to oppose one initiative proposing a tax increase and to support another limiting the ability of unions to use member dues for political purposes. Would she have been so zealous against liberal political funders? Then, as I reported in December, Harris demanded that the conservative Americans for Prosperity Foundation turn over its donor lists in order to be cleared for operation in California. Harris claimed that she would keep the information confidential. But in an early ruling in favor of AFP’s First Amendment challenge to Harris’s demands, U.S. District Judge Manuel Reed noted that such a promise is “entirely discretionary and could change at any moment.” Harris’s office was trying to grab the names of conservative donors in a move reminiscent of the IRS’s attempts to extract information from conservative nonprofits. The courts have since backed her position, but the episode reinforced one of the key allegations against Harris: that she is first and foremost a partisan.

In a one-party state such as California, these policy concerns get a shrug—and even a weird scandal involving the Knights Templar prompts little more than a chuckle. Perhaps a serious primary fight will bring more of these strange tales to light.

CARTOON: The Clinton Zapper

Clinton scandal

Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

Loretta Sanchez apologizes for mocking American Indians

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez, addressing Democratic activists Sunday, apologized for a gesture mocking American Indians, offering that candidates “who don’t hide behind the handlers” sometimes misstep.

Sanchez, a 10-term congresswoman, said the Native American “war cry,” made while speaking to an American Indian group in Anaheim on Saturday, came amid a “crazy and exciting rush of meetings.” In a video posted on social media, Sanchez holds her hand in front of her mouth and makes a whooping sound. “I said something offensive, and for that I sincerely apologize.”

Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, speaking at the California Democratic Party convention, said her free-flowing approach has long connected with voters.

Loretta Sanchez Will Challenge Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate Seat

Loretta Sanchez1Flanked by a group of supporters at the Santa Ana train station, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, officially launched her campaign to succeed retiring U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.

Thursday’s announcement, one day before the California Democratic Party’s spring convention, sets up a Democratic women showdown between Sanchez and Attorney General Kamala Harris. Under California’s Top 2 Primary, both Democrats could make it past the June primary and into a November 2016 general election run-off.

“I’m running to give a voice to every Californian,” said Sanchez, a moderate Democrat from Orange County. “I’m running for Senate because I bring national security and military experience in these critical times.”

Sanchez’s record in Congress

Sanchez brings to the race an impressive campaign resume that began with an improbable upset of six-term GOP Rep. Bob Dornan in 1996, an election she won by fewer than 1,000 votes. During her 10 terms in Washington, D.C., Sanchez has served on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee as well as been an influential member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

“There are two kinds of candidates,” Sanchez said at her campaign kick-off. “Those who want to be something and those who want to do something. I am running for Senate because I am a doer.”

If Sanchez prevails in her first statewide campaign, she’ll become the the first Latina ever elected to the U.S. Senate. Before she can make history, she’ll need to overcome demographic challenges with her key voting blocs: Southern Californians and Latinos. Both groups represent a large number of raw voters, who traditionally turn out in lower numbers than the statewide average.

No coronation for Kamala Harris

In January, Boxer announced that she would retire after four terms in the U.S. Senate. Although Harris quickly entered the race, other big-name Democrats seemed uninterested in challenging the state’s top law enforcement officer.

For months, it looked like Harris might simply take over the seat without a challenge from any of the next generation of Democratic leaders. In quick succession, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Treasurer John Chiang, billionaire climate-change activist Tom Steyer and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa each announced that they would forgo the race.

Kamala HarrisEarlier this week, Sanchez appeared to be latest Democrat to pass on the race. Sanchez’s team released a draft email announcing her campaign kick-off, but then quickly retracted the announcement, saying that she was still undecided.

That indecision caused the Los Angeles Times to complain that Harris’ coronation was bad for the democratic process.

“An unopposed candidacy is great for political parties, not for voters or democracy,” the Times wrote in its May 14 editorial. “A strong field of Democratic candidates is more likely to ensure that campaign debates cover topics Democrats care about, and elicit authentic answers instead of canned responses. Without such a vigorous vetting, Harris would be able to script her communication so carefully as to be meaningless.”

Harris campaign jabs “culture of dysfunction”

Harris’ campaign wasted no time in welcoming Sanchez to the race with a subtle jab at Washington’s “culture of dysfunction.”

“The attorney general looks forward to a lively discussion about who is best equipped to help change the culture of dysfunction in Washington, D.C. and make a difference in the lives of Californians,” said Nathan Click, spokesman for the Harris campaign.

In addition to hailing from opposite ends of the state, the two Democratic women bring remarkably different styles, backgrounds and personalities to the campaign. The differences were evidenced in their campaign kick-offs: Sanchez with a traditional campaign rally, Harris an email announcement.

They’ve also risen through the political ranks in different ways. Sanchez fought her way into elected office after losing a 1994 campaign for Anaheim City Council. Harris benefited from an early political appointment by her longtime benefactor, former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.

Sanchez’s greatest asset might be her blunt, straight-talking demeanor, which could further expose Harris as a controlled and calculating politician. With a more direct style and off-the-cuff remarks that occasionally get her into trouble, Sanchez has managed to create a cult following with her annual Christmas card. In contrast, even Harris’ backers have described her as “too cautious,” a trait that could hamper her in a contested statewide primary.

Possibility of all Democrat run-off

Some political analysts say that there’s a strong chance that both Harris and Sanchez could both make the November run-off. On the Republican side, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Carlsbad has raised just $12,030 – a fundraising haul more befitting of a city council race. The only other announced Republican candidate, former California Republican Party chairman Tom Del Beccaro, has never won elected office.

“Lots of Republicans will end up on the ballot which means that we could see two Dems if it is just the two of them,” said Matt Rexroad, one of the state’s top Republican political consultants and a Yolo County Supervisor.

Rexroad, who does not have a client in the U.S. Senate race, gives the edge to Harris.

“In the end I think Harris has an impressive team that has shown a tremendous amount of discipline while Sanchez has been a side show,” said Rexroad, a partner at Meridian Pacific, a Sacramento-based consulting firm. “Advantage Harris on name ID, resume, and institutional support. The one thing Sanchez has going for her is the Latino surname.”

Other Democratic candidates are still considering the race, including Rep. Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles and former Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Ready for Condi (as VP)

453px-Condoleezza_Rice_croppedI’m not ready for Hillary. I’m not ready for a coronation. I believe — as Barbara Bush is reported to have said at some point — there are more families in this country than the Bushes and Clintons.

Right.

But America has increasingly become a country of brand equity and, rather than winning an election with ideas, parties look to overwhelm with soundbite sloganeering and the power of the brand.

There can be no doubt: for all the pitfalls, the Clinton brand is strong. And it would be made even stronger by the historic notion of electing the first woman president. Indeed, the time has come for a female president.

Just not Hillary…

Some Democratic pols have suggested that efforts to “Romnify” Hillary Clinton would be bound to fail. Mitt Romney was born rich. Hillary wasn’t. But what cost Mitt Romney the 2012 election was the fact that he by nature seemed incapable of understanding the Little Guy/Gal. Comments like “I’ll bet you $10,000…” simply symbolized the distance between him and us, no matter how hard he tried to be relatable.

Hillary’s comments about leaving the White House “dead broke” fall distinctly into this same category. Most Americans simply can’t identify with such statements, which are so foreign to their own lives. The fact that Hillary wasn’t born into wealth hardly mitigates the effect of such an attitude — if anything, quite the opposite. Mitt Romney seemed to be a patrician by nature, even if his father wasn’t. He was “to the manor born.” A genuinely nice guy (or so it seems), but completely out of touch with the average American.

As such, “Romnifying” Hillary should mean trying to portray Hillary Clinton as a well-meaning elitist. Nice, authentic, but simply too distanced from the Little Guy/Gal to really connect. Yet while she is going to great lengths to create the opposite impression, the main difference between Romney and Hillary seems to be one of authenticity. Mitt Romney seems like a genuinely nice, albeit out-of-touch rich dude. You might be able to have a beer with him, but probably wouldn’t have a lot to talk about. Hillary Clinton’s persona seems anything but authentic. The projected veneer of caring about the Little Guy/Gal seems poll-tailored and purely calculated for political gain.

Beyond the obvious other considerations, most Americans would like a president who we could have a beer with, and with whom the conversation wouldn’t feel forced or phony. In many ways, Hillary Clinton no longer seems like a real person; she seems like she has become the prototype of a virtual politician created by focus groups, pollsters and strategic marketing gurus. Her well-polled positions may seem better to many Americans than those which Romney espoused, but they seem almost robotic, lacking heart and authenticity, motivated by what seems to be bottomless ambition.

Beyond the Clinton transparency problems; beyond the sense that Hillary Clinton seems to feel there are two sets of rules: one for the Clintons and one for everybody else; beyond the authenticity issues so brilliantly captured by Kate McKinnon’s SNL portrayal of Clinton, there are voters who simply believe that they are “ready for Hillary” because she’s a woman and it’s time.

It’s not an argument as much as a feeling, but it is a very powerful feeling and difficult to counteract with anything but another female candidate. However, the Republican side, unfortunately, seems to be fresh out of viable female presidential candidates. But the Republicans still could — and should — put a woman on the 2016 presidential ticket.

No, not Sarah Palin.

How about Condoleezza Rice?

In a way, Condi is not only the anti-Sarah Palin, she’s also the anti-Hillary. Personally, I think she would make a great presidential candidate, but she has never run for office, and she refused to allow herself to be drafted to run for the U.S. Senate seat which Senator Barbara Boxer is vacating in California, even though polls in blue California put Condi on top. (When urged to run for Senate, she supposedly quipped that she didn’t want to be one of a hundred of anything.)

But Condi Rice could be the perfect Republican VP candidate in 2016.

Condi would be hard-pressed to say no to Jeb Bush, with whom she is close, should he get the Republican nomination. But a Bush-Rice ticket might reinforce the notion that a Bush 3.0 presidency is a blast from the past with the dynastic downside which a lot of Americans (including myself) want to avoid.

Condi would be the perfect VP to a number of other viable Republican candidates. Scott Walker has the executive experience, but lacks active foreign policy chops. Condi Rice, with all of her foreign policy experience, would be a marvelous counterbalance and complement to a governor like Walker or John Kasich from Ohio, whose jobs just don’t naturally involve a lot of international relations.

Emotionally and demographically, Condi as the Republican VP candidate could neutralize the zeal of certain voters to “create history” by voting for a female president. Condi Rice on the ticket allows voters to make another kind of history by electing a minority woman. Strategically, the inclusion of Condi on the ticket would allow the Republicans to contrast her record and persona with that of Hillary. Just look at the email situation when each was Secretary of State. Condi plays by the rules. Hillary plays by her own set of rules. Condi is erudite and seems somewhat shy, but she passes the “beer test” with flying colors.

This isn’t exactly the case with Hillary Clinton. As Jonah Goldberg wrote in 2007: “She may have star power, but you get the sense that most Americans would like to have their picture taken with her and then drink alone.” If anything, this has only gotten more extreme over the past few years, especially against the background of the Clinton Foundation’s squirrelly quest for foreign cash; there is a running SNL skit series yet to be written with Kate McKinnon as Hillary, struggling to have a beer with average Americans.

In short, Condi, brilliant as she is, seems both humble and authentic. Hillary, brilliant as she is, can’t help herself from exuding a thinly-veiled, self-entitled, ambition-fueled phoniness.

Obviously the top name on the ballot is extremely important; but on, say, a Walker-Rice or Kasich-Rice ticket, Condi could not only make the difference in the 2016 election, she could also play a major role in the succeeding Republican administration. She could help redefine the Republican Party as inclusive, tolerant and not just for rich people: a party of freedom, fairness and a force for the Little Guy/Gal.

One of Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogans is “Hillary for America.” It feels like it really should be “Hillary for Hillary.” Sorry, I’m just not ready for that. I’m not ready for a new flood of foundation donations from foreign governments and others anxious to gain access and presumably influence; not ready for a whole new panoply of conflicts of interest and appearances of impropriety; not ready for reasonable criticism to be dismissed with curt, Nixonian waves of the hand; not ready for dynastic politicians being held to lower standards than everyone else. If anything, I’m ready for some more realness in our political system, wherever it may come from. Heck, despite differences on some of the issues, I’d even be readier for Bernie or Elizabeth than I am for Hillary.

But I most certainly am ready for Condi. And for any number of reasons so should the Republican Party, so should the nation be ready for her, too.

John Mirisch is Vice Mayor of Beverly Hills

The Unemployed Overwhelmingly Support Hillary

Hillary Clinton now has an endorsement from a prominent group of unemployed people as she moves to become the Democratic nominee for president.

The announcement came Monday after the Union of Unemployed (UCubed), a nonprofit which represents unemployed Americans, conducted an online poll over Facebook. The poll showed its members overwhelmingly support Hillary compared to other candidates. Rick Sloan, president of UCubed, notes much of the support is a result of Hillary indirectly addressing concerns the group brought up in a letter.

“We wrote an open letter to Hillary Clinton in late March,” Sloan told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “At the end of the letter we made an appeal to Hillary Clinton to become our champion.”

Sloan said that when her announcement video was released, his members noticed Hillary used language similar to the group’s letter. Though she never directly replied to the group, the members feel the video signaled she had received their letter and that she was listening.

“They knew that she had responded,” Sloan continued. “It’s the language she used during her announcement; it’s a history of fighting for blue collar workers.”

Hillary received 59.4 percent of the votes followed by Bernie Sanders at 32.4 percent and Martin O’Malley at 3.3 percent. The poll surveyed roughly a thousand of the group’s members. No Republican made the top five.

Despite this, some policies Hillary supports may actually contribute to unemployment according to some economists. Specifically, her support for raising the minimum wage which, as Correct the Record noted, has been a hallmark of her career. The National Bureau of Economic Research found in a recent report that, despite popular belief, employment for low skilled workers actually falls as the minimum wage goes up.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

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The California Introduction Machine

Much is made during presidential election periods that the state is merely an ATM machine for candidates. As a solid blue state that has not voted for a Republican for the White House since 1988, California is considered safe for whoever the Democratic nominee will be (we’re talking to you, Hillary Clinton.)

Yet, candidates from both major parties come to the Golden State for the gold – dollars for their campaign accounts.

In this coming election, however, at least on the Republican side, the race is wide open. Before GOP candidates can hit up the California ATM machine, many need to introduce themselves to California voters and donors. And that’s been happening now.

Potential Republican candidates have been making the trek to the Left Coast to meet and greet without necessarily asking for money. There have been, and are scheduled, a number of non-fundraising events.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently made a number of appearances in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. On Monday of next week former Texas Governor Rick Perry will be in Los Angeles and Ventura County for gatherings. Tuesday will find Florida Senator Marco Rubio speaking to Town Hall Los Angeles and a month later at the same venue Ohio Governor John Kasich will make an appearance. Ted Cruz is expected to be back in May and Rand Paul in June.

Carly Fiorina, who should need no introduction to California Republican donors after her U.S. Senate run in 2010, is expected to make the rounds here next month.

With so many potential candidates, California donors want to get to know the candidates before they decide whom to back.

So the mating ritual is in full swing. But let’s not be fooled – in the end its all about the money.

Joel Fox is editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Hillary Clinton buoyed by Bay Area donors, tech talent and goodwill

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

Not many candidates can draw more than 10,000 people into the Bay Area’s streets for a campaign rally, but two did so eight years ago — one of them is now president, and the other is running to succeed him.

As Hillary Clinton officially begins her quest for the White House by courting voters this week in Iowa, her campaign will feel a westward tug toward the money, technology and brainpower in the Bay Area. For months, Clinton supporters have been holding fundraisers and scouting Silicon Valley talent.

Days before Sunday’s announcement that she was running for president, Clinton hired Stephanie Hannon, Google’s director of product management for civic innovation and social impact, as her campaign’s chief technology officer — probably the first of many local hires, if the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns are any measure. …

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Carly Fiorina blames environmentalists for California drought

As reported by Politico:

Carly Fiorina is blaming liberal environmentalists for what she calls a “man-made” drought in California.

“It is a man-made disaster,” Fiorina, who is “seriously considering” a run for president in 2016, told the Blaze Radio on Monday.

“California is a classic case of liberals being willing to sacrifice other people’s lives and livelihoods at the altar of their ideology. It’s a tragedy.”

The former Hewlett-Packard CEO, a Republican, ran for a California Senate seat in 2010 against incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer and lost. Now, the state is facing …

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Rep. Loretta Sanchez on verge of entering California Senate race

As reported by Politico:

Rep. Loretta Sanchez is on the verge of entering the California Senate race to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Multiple congressional sources said Sanchez is laying plans to enter the race after Easter, although it’s still possible that the Orange County Democrat won’t enter the hotly contested fight.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has already declared her intent to run and is considered a strong frontrunner.

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