Tag Archives: Ron Nehring

Campaign Update: CA-03, CA-04, CA-46, Assembly & Senate

Here’s some tidbits from the campaign trail with 12 days out:

• CA-03: Bill Durston and Dan Lungren debated last night, and it was a predictable affair, says Randy Bayne:

Nothing new, no fireworks, no knockout punch, no excitement of any kind was reported by either MyMotherLode.com or the Stockton Record. Just what we already know – Durston wants us out of Iraq, doesn’t like No Child Left Behind, and thinks the bailout is the wrong solution. Lungren supports the occupation, favors No Child Left Behind, and voted for the bailout.

If you’re looking for change from eight years of down the toilet policy, and you don’t want to continue flushing our future down the crapper – vote for Bill Durston.

If the registration stats cited by anecdotal reports are at all accurate, we’re going to be very close to registration parity in this seat by Election Day.  Lungren may be acting positive in public, but inside the campaign they must be terrified.  They probably didn’t expect Durston to run a credible campaign.

• CA-04: Tom McClintock has caught a bit of trouble for relating gay people to dogs in a roundabout way.

“Lincoln asked, ‘If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? The answer is four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one,'” McClintock said in a statement. “And calling a homosexual partnership a marriage doesn’t make it one.”

I’m pretty sure that means nothing at all, but California’s Alan Keyes has had to distance himself from the comment.  Meanwhile his much bigger problem is lacking the funds to run a proper campaign.  He’s now taken to relying on cheap robocalls, and Charlie Brown has immediately called on him to stop.  Dirty trick robocalls that appeared to be coming from the Brown campaign were a major factor in John Doolittle’s narrow re-election in 2006.

• CA-46: I didn’t get a chance to post Debbie Cook’s amazing closing statement at Tuesday’s debate.  Here it is.

The OC Register has a story on this race today.  These “Challenger hopes to upset incumbent” stories have a familiar feel to them – the pose of surprise that the race is competitive, the quote from the shallow CW fountain like Allen Hoffenblum explaining why the incumbent is probably still safe, and the overall sense of shock, which would be natural if you weren’t paying attention for the last 18 months, like, um, us.

• Assembly & Senate: Art Torres and Ron Nehring had a debate yesterday, and I think Torres needed to be prepped a little better.  He claimed that Democrats could grab a 2/3 majority in the legislature but then couldn’t come up with a simple list of what seats are in play.  He should be reading more Calitics.  Nehring replied with a lot of bunk and a little truth.

None of that adds up to 54 and 27, of course, and Nehring said Torres’ boast “just doesn’t pencil out.”

He noted that Democratic efforts to oust Sen. Jeff Denham via recall failed miserably this year and the party ended up with no opponent to challenge Sen. Abel Maldonado in Santa Maria, a district believed to be winnable by a Democrat.

On the Assembly side, Nehring said, Republicans “have a great shot at holding on to” the 15th and “have a number of strategic advantages in the 78th (because) the Democrats have nominated the most liberal candidate (Marty Block) they possibly could.”

In the 80th, the Democratic candidate (Manuel Perez) “is getting hammered on … social issues which are important to many people in the Latino community,” Nehring said.

“I don’t know how can you be serious about trying to have a two-thirds vote in the Legislature,” Nehring told Torres, “when you blow so many of these opportunities.”

I’ll go bottom to top on this.  Manuel Perez is going to CRUSH Gary Jeandron, and if anyone’s being hammered, it’s the Republicans.  The IE money is pretty one-sided in the state.  Between that and the registration gains, it’ll take more than just spin to dig your party out of its self-created hole, Mr. Nehring.

However, on one point I will agree with you.  The Denham recall and Maldonado disaster have indeed stopped the potential forward momentum in the Senate.  Of course, Torres couldn’t say the plain truth – that Don Perata is among the worst leaders in recent Democratic Party history, and has completely set back the state in major ways by his blunders.  He is an embarrassment.

What the Hell Happened in San Diego?

At Voice of San Diego today, David Washburn asks Where are the Democrats?

It’s a question that I’ve been contemplating and broaching in conversations since June 3 which was, to put it mildly, a disaster for Democrats of San Diego. In a Democratic majority city, the official mayoral nominee of the Democratic Party received 6.3% of the vote. The contested Democratic primary in the 50th Congressional District received in total just 70% of the votes that incumbent Rep. Brian Bilbray received running unopposed. In the 52rd district, Democratic candidates combined for 81% of the total received by Duncan Hunter Jr. himself in a four-way primary.

Not a single Democratic challenger to the Board of Supervisors reached 30% of the vote. One fresh face was added to the Unified School Board- running unopposed. Democrats could not force a runoff in all four City Council races or reach 50% in any, leaving a very real possibility that Dems will lose control of the nominally non-partisan Council in November. Dems in the race for City Attorney split the vote three ways, allowing Republican Jan Goldsmith to slide into pole position for the November runoff against incumbent Mike Aguirre who clocked in at under 29%. Heck, the Chair of the San Diego Democratic Party came in 7th in a vote-for-six race for Central Committee (and then won a DNC spot over the weekend). I could go on.

Each of these races on their own might be justified. But when it represents the entire strength that the San Diego Democratic Party can muster in the midst of a pro-Democratic tide across the country larger than anyone has seen in decades, it’s cause for concern. So what happened? Washburn offers a few thoughts as do I:

One of the most glaring issues is money. As Washburn notes,

In the just-finished primary, the Democratic Party spent $35,000 on direct mail and other support of Stephen Whitburn. His chief competition for the District 3 seat came from two other Democrats — Todd Gloria and John Hartley. Gloria and Whitburn made the runoff.

“Why would you spend a penny on that race?” asked Andy Berg, the director of government relations for the National Electrical Contractors Association and a Democrat. “Gloria and Whitburn would likely vote the same (on council) 100 out of 100 times.”

Meanwhile, Berg noted, Democrats are in dogfights against well-funded Republicans in Districts 1 and 7. The party spent nearly $70,000 in the primary to support Marti Emerald and oppose Boling in District 7. The GOP spent more than $200,000 in that race.

In District 1, the funding disparity is starker. The Democratic Party spent just more than $5,000 supporting Sherri Lightner in a race against Thalheimer and Marshall Merrifield, Republicans who combined raised more than $700,000, most of it coming out of their own pockets.

In the mayoral race, the GOP spent $230,000 on Sanders while the Democrats spent $1,869 on [Democratic nominee Floyd] Morrow.

I should note that District 1 is current represented by Democrat and City Council President Scott Peters, so losing that seat could mean losing control of the Council.

Current state GOP Chair Ron Nehring came up in San Diego, where with unlimited national-level resources he rebuilt the SD GOP with a focus on infrastructure and electoral victory, leaving ideology as incidental. As designed, it has almost completely eliminated the ability of local Democrats to win or often contest elections- which makes the ideological debate moot since…well…there isn’t one.

One wonders what exactly the point is of even nominating someone for Mayor if there will be no support at all. The most prominent Democrats in San Diego looked past Morrow, with former state Sen. Dede Alpert, former Assemblywoman Lucy Killea and former Rep. Lynn Schenk endorsing Jerry Sanders and Councilmember Donna Frye doing everything but endorsing GOP challenger Steve Francis. There’s a time and a place for pragmatism, but completely giving up on even having a debate of the issues that ranges outside the far right-to-center right continuum should be embarrassing. If we can’t even talk about these issues in an election, when are we gonna do it?

Washburn goes on to touch on another issue that I’ve discussed many times with local Democrats: Where the hell are the candidates and the infrastructure? Lorena Gonzalez lost an exceptionally tight race for City Council in 2006 in a district that covers beach communities and downtown urbanites that should be favorable for a Democrat:

“Here we have a Stanford-educated woman with brilliant ideas and Democratic ideals — she epitomized what the party is about,” Berg said. “And [the party] couldn’t muster the support to win a City Council race.”

Gonzalez, who is now the secretary-treasurer of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, said she felt, to a degree, like she was on her own during the race.

“Speaking as a candidate, we don’t have the same infrastructure that the GOP has,” said Gonzalez, who estimates she was outspent 7-to-1 in the race. “And there have been no real attempts to create an infrastructure and professionalize the party.”

Gonzalez might be going a bit further than I would there, because the SD Dems and Chair Jess Durfee have in fact been making tremendous strides recently. Indeed, Washburn notes “Since taking over as chairman four years ago, Durfee said he has increased the organization’s budget from $60,000 to $300,000. Also, he said, and the party has gone from having no field operations at all, to more than 700 trained precinct leaders in the county.”

That’s a darn good start, and one that should be commended. But when the money is being misallocated, when candidates don’t feel like they’ll be supported by a vigorous infrastructure, and when leading figures in the party check out and throw their lot in with the GOP under the guise of some cop-out notion of pragmatism that simply justifies the opposing point of view, there’s been a fundamental and catastrophic breakdown.

The infrastructure that is beginning to take root here is encouraging, but remain small steps in the right direction. These few encouraging steps are more than outweighed by the colossal “DNP” on the coaches’ scorecard for prominent Democrats throughout the County. If they weren’t busy with in-fighting, they flat did not show up. And with that kind of leadership, building from the ground up- even in times as conducive as these- becomes a herculean task. If June 3rd’s results are any indication, local Democrats won’t be done wandering in the wilderness any time soon.

A CRP-tacular Organization

This is what conservative fiscal leadership looks like: a broke Republican state party.  Grover Norquist’s right hand man, Ron Nehring has been running the CRP into debt and the proverbial ground.  Because he has been unsuccessful at fundraising a moderate with a big check book is trying to control the direction of the party.  This is what happens when you rely on big donors and not an army of small contributors.  They pwn you.  SacBee:

The California Republican Party once again faces an identity crisis heading into its annual spring convention, and this time a major donor is calling on the party to become more inclusive.

Businessman Lawrence K. Dodge delayed writing a check to help the party pay off $3 million in debt and wrote a scathing analysis of the party in a private letter, raising concerns similar to those cited by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger when he said Republicans were “dying at the box office” last year.

The internal strife comes as state records show the party continues to suffer a decline in registration and carry a debt incurred to help Schwarzenegger win re-election in 2006.

Their governor created a “scheduling conflict” and will not be attending the convention.  That is how highly he thinks of the direction of the organization.  He took them to the cleaners actually.  I am quite amused at the fact that he managed to convince them to dump a bunch of money into his race and then never actually helped them erase that debt.  That must rub them something wicked.

The conservatives are not pleased with Dodge and give his platform the worst insult a Republican can throw at a fellow Republican.

Mike Spence, head of the conservative California Republican Assembly, said of the moderate proposal that “Hillary Clinton could say every word in it and agree with 80 percent of it.” He also called Dodge’s letter, particularly his call for a toned-down platform, a “blackmail threat.”

Oh my this is fun to watch.

I do love the twisted logic Jon Fleischman uses to defend the exclusion of Decline-to-State voters from their presidential primary.

Jon Fleischman, a party vice chairman, said the party is stronger for having a closed primary. He is proposing a rule change that also would block independents from state primary contests, though GOP sources said the proposal is unlikely to pass.

Fleischman said the closed presidential primary will help the party unify, because GOP voters can be assured that only Republicans chose McCain. “I think John McCain is a stronger, more legitimate Republican nominee because he showed he could win votes from Republicans in California,” he said. “I know a lot of Republicans would be less excited about backing him if he had won because of crossover votes from decline-to-state voters.”

AKA McCain has serious problems within the Republican party and they were willing to deal with the long-term impact of snubbing these voters because McCain has issues this year.

I hope that works out for them.

Meanwhile, an old scandal reared it’s head again.  Did you know that the staffer who resigned last year over his immigration status was here illegally while he was working for Norqist’s Americans for Tax Reform?  Yes, the California Republican Party employed an undocumented worker.  It’s hard to know what pieces of this Chronicle story to grab.  It is all so delicious.

Michael Kamburowski, an Australian citizen who served briefly as chief operating officer of the state GOP, worked from 1995 to 2000 as a vice president of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington, D.C., an organization headed by Norquist – an architect of modern conservatism who has advised President Bush and top GOP political leaders.

For Norquist, Kamburowski lobbied Congress on dozens of issues, including immigration reform, according to his resume. He also directed the Norquist organization’s Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, an effort to rename public buildings to honor the former president.

But when he went to work for Norquist, Kamburowski had no legal right to live or work in the U.S., according to documents filed recently in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., in connection with a wrongful-arrest lawsuit he filed against U.S. immigration officials.

This guy was working on immigration legislation while he was violating current U.S. law.

Kamburowski quit his post with the state GOP in June after The Chronicle disclosed that he had sued the federal officials who jailed him in 2004 in an attempt to deport him.

At the time, he said he had a valid work permit when he was hired by state party Chairman Ron Nehring, who has done consulting work with Norquist. Kamburowski refused to discuss his immigration status when he first came to the United States in 1995 and was hired by the Norquist organization.

But documents filed late last year in the lawsuit – including portions of Kamburowski’s pre-trial testimony – show that he remained in the United States illegally to work for Norquist after he came to this country on a tourist visa.

There is absolutely no way that this guy was legally allowed to be in this country and it appears that he committed fraud while filling out his I-9 and that Americans for Tax Reform did not verify his legal status.

On the form, Norquist’s group was required to verify that Kamburowski possessed documents proving both his identity and his right to work in the United States – a passport, a permanent residence or “green” card and a Social Security card.

Because Kamburowski had no green card, the I-9 submitted by Americans for Tax Reform must have contained false information, said the experts who reviewed the case. Under federal law, employers who hire undocumented workers can be fined, and if they knowingly make false statements about an employee on an I-9 form they can be prosecuted, immigration experts said.

With staffers like this guy, it is no wonder why the CRP is doing so well.

We gripe a lot here about the state of the Democratic Party, but it is pretty clear that the CRP is a heck of a lot worse.

Nehring vs. Incompetence

In October I wrote an article for San Diego CityBeat called Down PERA-Scope which discussed the bumpy road being encountered by state GOP Chair Ron Nehring relative to the Dirty Tricks Initiative.  In part, the article said

…many GOP activists, strategists and observers expressed concern over the impact of Nehring’s two high-profile personnel problems on party fundraising. Later in the summer, these concerns were seemingly validated when Schwarzenegger was forced to help retire the state party’s debt after rumors surfaced that it could barely cover operating costs.

Well, PERA is super-duper dead now and it looks like Nehring’s tenure is continuing to be a problem for the donor base.  Big time GOP donor Larry Dodge has called out Nehring

Among his complaints, Dodge says the party has not had an effective finance chairman-the key fundraiser-in place for more than a year. He suggests that party officers are squandering money without accountability. Major donors, he said, were promised a hand in the party’s operations committee but “nothing has happened.”

“The party needs professional management,” he writes.

The whole article is like that, and it’s pretty neat.  Dodge is aligned with the Schwarzenegger/McCain outlook on things more than he gets down with the theocon vibe, but nevertheless it’s time to bust out the popcorn if the donor base is rebelling against Nehring’s stewardship of the state party.  Nehring of course goes back like crack to to the 80s with Grover Norquist and used San Diego as the launching pad to his current state-level exploits.  He literally administered the GOP playbook on how to turn an urban area Republican, so with any luck his failures mirror the fundamental failing of GOP urban strategy (such as it is).

Is it just me, or does “Nehring Republican” sound like an enticing electoral slur? Maybe it’s just me. Unless McCain is the GOP nominee. Oh wait…

The Coming Republican Platform Battle

Among other sources, the AP reported yesterday on the many issues up for debate as Republicans consider overhauling their current platform.  Schwarzenneger has lined up support from GOPers in the legislature to move away from divisive (and presumably NOT post-partisan) “values” issues like gun control, abortion and gay rights.  Arnold is pushing for a more practical, Reagan-worship focus, hoping to distill things down to just low taxes, strong defense, and small government.  And if you think those three items were intentionally ordered to contradict themselves, you’re quite right.

It’s hardly news to find the Governor at odds with the socially conservative wing of the Republican Party, but what’s been brewing for a while has the potential to boil over at the Republican Convention as the battle over the state party’s soul comes to a head.  While Schwarzenegger thinks it might be time for the Republican Party to abandon platform points like overturning Roe v. Wade and opposing gun registration, President of the California Republican Assembly Steve Pence laments that “[t]here’s a move afoot to make sure the Republican Party stands for nothing… [it’s]…a direct assault on Republican Party principles.”

State GOP chair Ron Nehring for his part says the party is in the midst of a “healthy discussion” and has a draft platform with fun terms like “one man and one woman and “the unborn.”  Bob brought us Nehring’s excitement over the “significant step” of endorsing the Dirty Tricks maneuver and in the same day, while jockeying for position heading into the debate, Julia noted Schwarzenegger belittling the Dirty Tricks Initiative.  One wonders if there are broader implications as Reagan worship squares off against “values.”  Is this a sign of the unholy Republican alliance finally splintering in the face of reality?

Day 7 of CRP Hiring Scandal: Federal Law Violation? and Hanretty Unleashed

Who knew that Marinucci’s story a week ago on the hiring of Canadian Christopher Matthews to be the California Republican Party’s deputy political director would lead to his colleague resigning and accusations of breaking the federal law?  Here we are with yet another A1 story at the Chron.  Today’s story breaks the news that the CRP may have violated federal law by failing to demand to see Kamburowski’s green card.

Ron Nehring, who heads the California Republican Party, admitted Tuesday that he — and as far as he knows, any party officials — never saw the green card that would prove that Michael Kamburowski, an Australian citizen hired as the state GOP’s chief operations officer, was a legal resident.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division said Tuesday the law is clear that “it is the responsibility of the employers to check and see that someone is legally in the country and eligible to work.”

Whoopsies.  This may lead to a fine or something, but the greater damage is in extending the story in the news.  The Reeps can’t stand the Chronicle, for it’s supposed left-wing bias.  It must be killing them to see their party’s dirty laundry aired, day-after-day, on the front page.

Right now, they are just hoping this goes away, and quickly, if only because it would avoid giving their opponents the opportunity to lob shots at them:

“This is the typical GOP hypocrisy,” said Luis Miranda, spokesman for the Democratic National Committee Tuesday. “They will scapegoat immigrants to try and win elections, but they will look the other way when it comes to rewarding their cronies.”

Nativo Lopez, national president of the Mexican American Political Association, said the GOP case illustrates that on immigration and border security, “it’s good for (Republicans) when it’s convenient for them — and as long as it comes from a country of their choosing.

“But they are perennially focused on the southern border, and it smacks of racism when they posture against immigrants of color from the south.”

It does not look like Nehring is stepping down over this one, though if this keeps up, he may be forced to.  He has accepted responsibility for the scandal and promised to put in place more thorough hiring processes.  Meanwhile, those lower in the food chain are sniping at the Chron for running this story in the first place.

GOP northern region vice chair Jerry Maltby said Californians should “start worrying about the 12 million illegals, not the ones with green cards,” he said. “If you guys take more time and write about the immigration problem, rather than worrying about what one guy did and didn’t do, it would be more relevant.”

Sorry, Maltby, once the media has their claws into a juicy scandal they aren’t about to voluntarily give it up.  This story has legs and they will run it until it collapses.

Actually, what I am most interested in right now is what Karen Hanretty has up her sleeve.  She didn’t take to well to being told to STFU and is now promising a series of expose posts over at the insider Hill newspaper’s blog.  She filmed a video yesterday, promising a series of posts that will:

…provide a timeline that raises a number of questions for the California Republican Party, as well as for Grover Norquist with Americans for Taxpayer Reform, who is also involved in this intriguing and developing story.

She then goes on a little rant about what Republicans need to do and provides a bit of a hit as to what she has in store for her upcoming series:

They are going to have to clear their ranks of incompetent leaders who refuse to follow their law and try and do things behind closed doors. 

That means our Republican party is doomed.

I almost can see shades of what the netroots tries to do in term’s of Hanretty’s plan to take her party back.  In true Republican form, it is someone already within the party structure, and in fact the former spokeswoman for the CRP who is actually challenging the leadership.  And of course she is using the most insider of all insider blogs to make this pronouncement.  She is pissed to be out of power and is willing to tear down the party to build it back up.  Expect to see some serious resistance from the status quo.

Hanretty has a big megaphone, especially with her regular TV appearances and will provoke a strong reaction from those she goes after.  I guarantee she has some dirt on Norquist, Nehring and others.  It may provide some more fodder for a few more A1 stories by Marinucci.

Make sure that you have some popcorn stocked up.  This one is not over folks.

The Great Northern Menace

The California Republican Party, they of the anti-illegal immigration platform, have decided that some immigrants are here to do the jobs that Americans won’t do – like be their deputy political director.

The California Republican Party has decided no American is qualified to take one of its most crucial positions — state deputy political director — and has hired a Canadian for the job through a coveted H-1B visa, a program favored by Silicon Valley tech firms that is under fire for displacing skilled American workers.

Christopher Matthews, 35, a Canadian citizen, has worked for the state GOP as a campaign consultant since 2004. But he recently was hired as full-time deputy political director, with responsibility for handling campaign operations and information technology for the country’s largest state Republican Party operation, California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring confirmed in a telephone interview this week.

That’s not all, look at the guy who hired him:

Matthews was hired by Michael Kamburowski, an Australian citizen who was hired this year as the state GOP’s chief operations officer. But neither new official has experience in managing a political campaign in the nation’s most populous state — and as foreign citizens, neither is eligible to vote.

In fairness to the state GOP, I don’t think any Americans really WANT to work for them.


What’s funny is that this has caused a bit of outrage on the xenophobic right.

“it’s insulting but also embarrassing … to bring people from the outside who don’t know the difference between Lodi and Lancaster … and who can’t even vote,” said Karen Hanretty, a political commentator and former state GOP party spokeswoman […]

“There are talented Republicans in California, and the message that (party chair) Ron Nehring is sending is that there’s no talent pool here,” Hanretty said.

The state party and its 58 county operations face several challenges, Hanretty said, including “redistricting on the ballot, uncertain legislative races ahead of us … and a number of Republican congressmen who are under federal investigation and are going to be challenged by Democrats.”

“Who will help these candidates?” she asked. “A couple of foreign transplants who don’t know the political landscape and don’t know the history of the complicated politics in California?”

Apparently anyone from Australia or Canada isn’t able to, you know, read a map.  Or a book on California politics.

The crackup on the right over immigration is so gratifying, because at every turn they run into contradictions and hypocrisies like this.  I half-expect to see calls to build a fence around Australia in response to this.

You can take the website out of stupid, but you can never take stupid out of the CRP

You know, the Republican Party spiffed up their website, and honestly, it’s a lot bettero. I mean, thank goodness, it doesn’t have flying stars across the top. Good Work, CRP. I guess, but you can take the ugly stupid shit off the site design, but the ugly, stupid shit is still there in the text.

First, I’d point to this press release, entitled “100 Days of a Democrat Congress: 10 Bills Successfully Name Post Offices, Courthouses, Federal Properties.” First, you’d expect somebody who works for the party that advocates English as the official language would, um, know how to use the language itself. “Democratic”, Mr. Nehring.

Now, it seems that Rep. Ken Calvert missed the memo about post offices being such a horrible waste of time.  Why? well, Mr. Calvert put out this press release three days later congratulating himself on, wait for it, yup, naming a post office.  Wow, that timing is a killer.

One more thing, for all Mr. Nehring and his crew complain about the post office namings in the 110th Congress, would you like to take a stab at how many post office naming bills were introduced in the 109th Congress? Do you? Do you? Well, I’ll tell you: 135. Yup. 135, or about one for every day and a half in session. Yup that’s 135 post office bills in 239 days in session (shattering the previous low-water mark of 252 days in session).

So, I guess Mr. Nehring and Rep. Ken Calvert should get their facts straight before they start on the attack.