Tag Archives: Jerry Lewis

The Next Domino: Jerry Lewis To Retire

Rep. Lewis building a house during the House that Congress built.New District Would Have Been a Toss-up

by Brian Leubitz

As I mentioned earlier this week, Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) was mulling retirement. That announcement came today, just hours after the young Mayor of Redlands, Pete Aguilar, announced he was tossing his hat in the ring.

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands), dean of California’s GOP congressional delegation and a fixture in Golden State politics since Ronald Reagan’s governorship, on Thursday announced he would  retire when his term expires, further shaking up the state’s Washington representation.

“After months of consultation with loved ones and family, my wife Arlene and I have decided to retire from public life,” he said in a statement. Lewis becomes the sixth member of the state’s 53-member House delegation who will be retiring or running for another office. (LA Times)

The district has a 4 point Democratic registration advantage, and Latinos make up 35% of the district. But, this is still a swing district if the Republicans can come up with a strong candidate.  Some of the neighboring incumbents, Gary Miller chief among them, have been considering this district as well.  With Lewis out of the picture, there could be a number of possible scenarios arising in the next few days.

Whose corruption?

I read Bill Hedricks post on Calvert being cited by CREW as being one of the most corrupt congressmen in Washington… again.  On that basis alone, I would wish Bill luck.  But, we should not get too cocky about this.  Remember,  Maxine Waters made the same list for the 3rd time and Laura Richardson has quickly gotten into a position be be recognized.

No party has a lock on corruption and you don’t excuse it for the good deeds done otherwise. Case in point, check the AntiCorruption Republican. Some are still trying to purge the part of the stench of Abramoff.  I would be just like their Washington correspondent probably left the courtroom to go join CREW and watch Tom DeLay on Dancin’ with the Stars.  

I remember Pete McCloskey warning us that politicians are like diapers.  They need to be changed frequently… and for the same reason.  

The Backstop Is Not A Bailout

I heard a bunch of California Republicans yesterday talking about the effort to get the US Treasury to backstop state borrowing as a “bailout,” and the media has fallen for it, using phrases like “California is too big to fail” and other snickering.

This is ridiculous.

Let me explain this fairly clearly.  California will need to borrow billions of dollars to cover their cash flow issues, the same way they do every year.  Traditionally, the money comes in at different times then the money goes out, necessitating short-term borrowing.  Because of the state’s miserable credit rating, the interest rates that investors charge for this borrowing are ridiculously high.  Usually, banks guarantee those loans, but this year they are balking because of the severity of the state’s fiscal picture.  So the state has asked the Treasury to step in and guarantee the loans instead.

This would cost the Treasury Department approximately $0.00 dollars to perform.  Providing loan guarantees simply means that you are insuring against default, which has never happened in the history of California.  Not through the Depression or at any other time.  What this would do is stop Wall Street from gouging the state with abnormally high interest rates, pure and simple.

Here are the words of an idiot:

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) predicted little sympathy for the Golden State on Capitol Hill. “I have the feeling that it’s going to be a long time before Washington decides that they’re going to ask Kansas or Wisconsin to help with California’s funding problem,” he said.

Nobody would be helping anybody.  The federal government would guarantee loans that California would pay back.  This is about lowering interest rates to make the price of short-term borrowing lower.

I understand that President Ford rejected these types of loan guarantees for New York City in the 1970s.  But later he approved them.  By the way, after that so-called “bailout,” every single dollar was repaid by the city of New York.  How on earth could this be characterized as a bailout?  

The Ford Administration, under the direction of Treasury Secretary William Simon, imposed certain conditions on the loan guarantees (which will actually delivered directly by Treasury, so this is somewhat different).  That could also happen here, and the Shock Doctrine possibilities are not pleasing.  Still and all, this savings (which would only represent about $1 billion dollars in all, 1/20 of the current deficit) would not cost the federal government one red cent and thus shouldn’t be used to cram down California in a punitive way.  The possibility exists, but it’s worth the risk.

UPDATE: Presumably because reporters still don’t understand this, Tim Geithner gave an answer today to a question no state was really asking which is being spun as the end of this option, when he plainly states its possibility.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the U.S.’s $700 billion financial rescue package can’t be used to aid cities and states facing budget crises.

The law “does not appear to us to provide a viable way of responding to that challenge,” Geithner told a House Appropriations subcommittee in Washington today. Among the hurdles: Money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program is reserved for financial companies, he said.

The Treasury chief said he will work with Congress to help states such as California that have been battered by the credit crunch and are struggling to arrange backing for municipal bonds and short-term debt.

He added that cities and states need to “get deficits down” to aid their credit worthiness, but absolutely did not take the option off the table.

Something I really don’t freakin’ understand: Jerry Lewis edition

The Los Angeles Times is reporting (I know, that phrase sounds inherently contradictory these days) that California stands to receive $26 billion from the jobs bill being shepherded through the Congress.

In other news, Rep. Jerry Lewis is insane.  And by that, I mean certifiably guano-crazy.  Delusional.  Unstable, even.

But first, the money.  Yes, our state should be getting $26 billion very soon:

Reporting from Sacramento and Washington — The $789-billion economic stimulus bill headed toward congressional approval is expected to pour $26 billion into California — building roads, upgrading schools and launching other projects intended to create or save jobs.

The expectation is that the federal government will funnel at least $9.2 billion directly to the state treasury, mostly for education and healthcare, in the next 18 months. Millions of Californians will get a tax cut aimed at promoting consumer spending.

That all sounds really good.  But keep in mind that the budget “compromise” that’s being worked out in Sacramento already takes these funds into account.  And if, for some reason, California doesn’t see the federal help that the budget is taking for granted, god help us all:

The austere budget package in the works in Sacramento already assumes that the federal assistance will wipe out nearly a quarter of California’s deficit. If it falls short of that, Californians are in for even more financial carnage; about $1 billion in extra program cuts and tax hikes would be triggered under the budget plan.

The extra cuts would apply to welfare grants, aid to the elderly and disabled, and Medi-Cal. State colleges and universities would also lose money, as would the court system.

It’ll come out of you one way or another, don’t worry.  For all the Republicans like to chirp on about not raising taxes, it just means that if you try to send your kids to a good state school or community college, it’ll be even more expensive for you.  But don’t worry, you got to keep your marginal rate low. Or something.

I would have you keep in mind, though, just how far $26 billion really goes in the State of California.  I was just on a conference call with Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti a couple of days ago wherein he mentioned that the City of Los Angeles alone has $13 billion worth of shovel-ready public works projects–especially school construction and renovation, as well as transportation projects–and that the city only expects to see $500 million in federal stimulus–or, less than 4% of what they could use.  Bottom line: this is a mere down payment.  Maybe not even that.

But back to the deranged affliction of Jerry Lewis.  See, this is what Jerry Lewis had to say about the possibility of California being dropped a federal lifeline:

The measure has its critics. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands), who is expected to be joined by most if not all of his fellow California Republicans in Congress in opposing the measure, said it would “spur permanent growth in government programs and spending that will hamstring future budgets and plunge our nation further into debt every year.”

Apparently, the hamstringing of future budgets and the sewer-pipe-deep plunge our nation has already taken into debt aren’t enough to want Representative Lewis to want to just possibly try out something different.  No, his main concern, ladies and gentlemen?  Limiting the growth of government programs!  It doesn’t matter that people are jobless.  It doesn’t matter that private employers don’t have the wherewithal to pick up the slack, nor does it matter that we’re in desperate need of infrastructure improvement.  No, what matters, simply put, is that government not grow any bigger.

And this is the key element here: Jerry Lewis and his fellow Republicans in both Washington and Sacramento are like little children walking on the sidewalk trying to make sure that they don’t step on any cracks.  They’re paying such good attention to making sure they don’t step on any of the “government growth” cracks that they’ve forgotten where they’re going or why.  All they know is that they don’t want to step on a crack, because if they do, they’ll lose the imaginary game they came up with in their own heads within the last 5 minutes.

Welcome to today’s Republican Party: where actual results come a distant second to commitment to principle.

California’s Corrupt Congressional Members

The Center for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) does an annual Most Corrupt Members of Congress List. It's usually chock full of California's Republican Delegation.  Of the 19 California Republicans in Congress, 4 of them are on the list. For those of you keeping score at home, that's 21%. Ouch. The 4 Congressmen?

Ken Calvert
John Doolittle
Jerry Lewis
Gary Miller

That's a motley crew now isn't it? It's the same crew that we've seen on that list for quite a few years.  And, after Doolittle is replaced (hopefully by the always friendly Charlie Brown), we'll see one of the most corrupt, Doolittle, drop off the list.  It's probably for the best, as he's getting a little too close to the indictments for comfort.

Unfortunately, a California Democrat joins the list, which I'm pretty sure is a first. (UPDATE: Apparently Maxine Waters has been on the list in the past) Rep. Laura Richardson has joined the list as a “dishonorable mention.” CREW points to Ms. Richardson's very bizarre, and embarassing, real estate transactions:

 Because it is unusual for someone with such a deplorable credit history to be repeatedly approved for mortgages, the House ethics committee should investigate whether: (1) Rep. Richardson received a preferential loan in violation of House rules; (2) whether she had received other favorable treatment from lenders in the past; and (3) what, if any, official actions she may have traded to acquire these preferential terms. The House ethics committee should also consider whether Rep. Richardson’s failure to include her mortgages on her financial disclosure forms violates House rules.
In addition, the committee should examine the timing of Rep. Richardson’s most recent default and the $77,500 she loaned her congressional campaign committee.  By funneling money that should have gone to pay her mortgage and property taxes to her congressional campaign, Rep. Richardson engaged in conduct that does not reflect creditably on the House.

Well, here's hoping that this can be resolved in a way that lifts the cloud over the California Democratic delegation.

Friday Linky Open Thread

I think these open threads are working out.  Hope you enjoy them.  Here are a few thoughts.

• This is a week old, but Nick Kristof’s column about Prop. 2 (the farm animal safety measure) is well worth your time.

• It’s still up in the air whether or not we’re going to have Alan Keyes on the California Presidential ballot in November.  There’s a lawsuit between two members of the American Independent Party over who should be their nominee.  It seems to me the very definition of “frivolous,” but as someone who deeply enjoys mocking Alan Keyes I have a dog in this fight, so do the right thing, Sacramento Superior Court!

• The Log Cabin Republicans, who I also like to call “gluttons for punishment,” rolled out their No on 8 campaign last week.  The website is Republicans Against 8.  It’s the libertarian thing to do to get government out of the bedroom, so hopefully they’ll sway some folks.

• This is absolutely revolting and someone needs to go to jail:

For hundreds of homeless people, posing as phony hospital patients provided them a clean bed and cash. For the hospitals that processed them, it meant a full patient-load and a paycheck from the government.

Now some of those allegedly involved in what authorities say was a massive scheme have been charged with billing government programs for millions of dollars in unnecessary health services.

A hospital CEO was arrested Wednesday after federal agents raided three medical centers. City attorney Rocky Delgadillo’s office has also sued the hospitals, saying they used homeless people as “human pawns.”

It’s kind of the flip side of homeless dumping, or who knows, it was run in concert.  Either way, sickening.

• Jerry Lewis is trying to get a bunch of lobbyists to fund his Congressional portrait.  The worst part about this deal is that Jerry Lewis will have a Congressional portrait hanging in our nation’s capital.

Add whatever you wish in the comments.

CA House Races Roundup – July Edition

Greetings and welcome to the latest installment of the California House races roundup.  We’re just around 100 days to go until the election, and things are starting to take focus.  There are about a half-dozen seats where Democratic challengers have an outside shot at dumping the incumbent, and another six on the watch list in case something spectacular occurs.  One thing to note is that the Cook numbers are tied to the 2004 election, and given the demographic changes and cratering of the Republican brand I think they mean significantly less now – it’ll be interesting to see how all these districts change in November.

We have plenty of new information to judge these races, including 2nd quarter fundraising reports, national ratings from Charlie Cook and Swing State Project, additional DCCC targets, and the appearance of many challengers at Netroots Nation.  So this list is really about who I think has the best chance to retain or take over a seat, not necessarily who should (though that may come through in the writing).  Here are some helpful bits of information that I used to help judge.

FEC disclosures (you can search by candidate name)

Voter registration by Congressional district.

Swing State Project fundraising roundup

On to the report…


1. CA-11. Incumbent: Jerry McNerney.  Challenger: Dean Andal.  Cook number: R+3.  % Dem turnout in the Presidential primary: 53.7%.  DCCC defended.  This remains the only opportunity for Republicans in the state, and it is starting to slip away.  Dean Andal is proving to be incredibly weak at fundraising, having raised under $200,000 for FOUR STRAIGHT QUARTERS.  He’s not going to be able to get up on TV, and his opponent has not only outraised him but will get about a million dollars in ad help from the DCCC.  Freedom’s Watch threw in a few anti-McNerney robocalls, but that’s really no match for the political muscle of the D-Trip.  Plus, there’s a brewing Andal scandal over his participation in passing privileged information and securing developer contracts for a San Joaquin Delta College contractor.  As for McNerney, his vote for the FISA bill has caused outcry in the district, and national groups like Blue America won’t be lending a hand.  He has changed his position on medical marijuana in response to constituents, a symbolic piece of support with activists.  But I think he’s largely on his own in this race.

McNerney: raised $416K in the second quarter, $1.37m cash on hand

Andal: raised $174K Q2, $663K CoH


I’m going to do four tiers in setting apart the top seats where we have challenges to Republican incumbents.

First Tier

1. CA-04.  Last month: 1.  Open seat.  Dem. challenger: Charlie Brown.  Repub. challenger: Tom McClintock.  PVI #: R+11.  % Dem turnout in Feb. primary: 44.7.  DCCC targeted.  Tom McClintock actually raised quite a bit of money in the second quarter, but it all got plowed into the divisive primary with Doug Ose.  Plus, he was able to go above individual spending caps because of the “Millionaire’s Amendment,” which was recently ruled unconstitutional, putting constitutional literalist McClintock in a bind over what to do with that money.  We’ve seen real awkwardness from McClintock over how to handle disgraced incumbent John Doolittle, with shows of support and rejections happening on alternate days.  Meanwhile, Charlie Brown is humming along.  He has a 6-1 cash on hand advantage, and he’ll also be the recipient of some ad love from the DCCC.  His courageous stand against the FISA bill, outreach to parts of the district harmed by wildfires, and the release of a good energy plan which stresses tax credits for alternative energy and government fleets going renewable (and opposing opening up new lands for offshore drilling, in line with the “Use It Or Lose It” plan from Speaker Pelosi).  Brown was beloved at Netroots Nation and looks good in polling.  This is obviously our biggest-priority pickup.

Brown: raised $355K, $675K CoH

McClintock: raised $1.27m, $117 CoH

Second Tier

2. CA-46.  Last month: 4.  Incumbent: Dana Rohrabacher.  Challenger: Debbie Cook (Responsible Plan endorser). PVI #: R+6.  % Dem. turnout: 47.2.  I’m still concerned that the numbers aren’t quite there in the district, but I’m upping Cook this high because I have to acknowledge her achievements.  First, she’s outraised Rohrabacher two quarters in a row, and from what I’m being told, this has a lot to do with Dana and his wife (also his fundraiser) calling Republican backers and getting the phone slammed in their ears.  The Cook Political Report moved the race to Likely Republican, the only such move among competitive California races.  And there are indications that the D-Trip is at least taking a look at this race.  Most of this is happening because Cook is a compelling candidate.  Read her interview with Open Left or watch her interview with Talking Points Memo and you can see why.  Her environmental activism, competent fiscal management in Huntington Beach, and the fact that she’s not a ridiculously corrupt nutjob like Dana Rohrabacher makes for a fantastic profile.  This is probably too high, but there are some great signs here.

Cook: raised $110K, $97K CoH

Rohrabacher: raised $86K, $388 CoH

3. CA-50.  Last month: 5.  Incumbent: Brian Bilbray.  Challenger: Nick Leibham.  PVI #: R+5.  % Dem. turnout: 50.8.  DCCC targeted.  Nick Leibham outraised Brian Bilbray in the second quarter, and took in a nice haul of $245K in his own right.  He’s been gaining some attack points for criticizing Bilbray on wanting to debate on the radio and not in the district, and calling on other states to drill offshore but not California, an incoherent position.  The D-Trip put Leibham on their Red to Blue emerging races list, and dropped radio ads in the district tying him to Bush (MP3 here).  Leibham needs to articulate an agenda rather than just slam Bilbray forever, and that agenda needs to be a true contrast, but there is some movement here.

Leibham: raised $245K, $267K CoH

Bilbrary: raised $210K, $528K CoH

4. CA-26.  Last month: 2.  Incumbent: David Dreier.  Challenger: Russ Warner.  PVI #: R+4.  % Dem. turnout: 50.2.  DCCC targeted.  Warner was very focused on fundraising in June and yet came up short of beating David Dreier in the second quarter.  The problem is that Dreier has nearly two million dollars in the bank, so there’s a nearly 40-1 cash disadvantage, including campaign debts.  And despite the positive signs in the district, that’s tough to overcome.  Warner is going to need outside help, and the Bush Rubber Stamp project is a step in the right direction, but I don’t know if they’ll have the kind of money needed to meet the challenge.  There’s not much here to get me excited at this point.

Warner: raised $161K, $125K CoH

Dreier: raised $247K, $1.9m CoH

5. CA-45.  Last month: 3.  Incumbent: Mary Bono Mack.  Challenger: Julie Bornstein.  PVI #: R+3.  % Dem. turnout: 51.3.  The district is ready for a Democrat, and the symbiosis between Manuel Perez’ hotly contested Assembly campaign and Bornstein’s is going to help her in ways that aren’t being respected by the experts.  I still think this race is being undervalued.  However, Bornstein has been fairly invisible, from what I can tell, since the June primary.  And Bornstein got significantly outraised in Q2 as Mary Bono recognized the challenge she is facing can only be overcome with money.  In cash on hand she’s not far out of sight, however, and if Bornstein proves to be a solid and aggressive campaigner and benefits from increased Latino turnout in the Eastern Coachella Valley, there’s still a shot here.

Bornstein: raised $125K, $121K CoH

Bono: raised $336K, $421K CoH

Third Tier

6. CA-03.  Last month: 6.  Incumbent: Dan Lungren.  Challenger: Bill Durston. PVI #: R+7. % Dem turnout: 51.8.  This remains my sleeper pick in California.  The fundraising numbers were close, with Dan Lungren raising $173K to Durston’s $125K.  Lungren is trying to pivot to the center, coming out for nuclear warhead reduction with Russia, and the “X Prize” for battery technology promoted by John McCain.  But he’s firmly in the drill now, do nothing camp (despite voting against the “Use It Or Lose It” plan), and he’s lying about Democratic plans for tax increases.  Then there’s this bit of hilarity:

At a town hall meeting a few months ago Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Gold River) was adamant about denying citizenship to babies born in the United States to non-citizens. He lumped the infants into the same category as immigrants who cross the border illegally. He went so far as to sponsor a bill to deny citizenship to babies born to non-citizens.

In a classic flip-flop, Congo Dan “is backing the bill giving the Department of Homeland Security 30 days to process visas for entertainers,” says the Los Angeles Times.

Durston has publicly challenged Lungren to debates, and has a nifty comparison chart on his website that shows he’s truly running a campaign of contrast.  Keep an eye on this one.

Durston raised $125K, $189K CoH

Lungren raised $173K, $615K CoH

7. CA-52.  Last month: 7.  Open seat.  Dem. challenger: Mike Lumpkin.  Repub. challenger: Duncan D. Hunter.  PVI #: R+9.  % Dem. turnout: 47.2.  Calitics got to chat with Mike Lumpkin at Netroots Nation, and we were fairly impressed.  He talked up all the “Conservative Republicans for Lumpkin” signs he’s seeing in the district.  One thing he mentioned worried me, however: well over half of the voters in the primary thought they were voting for Duncan Hunter’s father, the incumbent.  That makes this almost not an open seat, and with Hunter’s fundraising advantage, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

Lumpkin raised $129K, $54K CoH

Hunter raised $338K, $198K CoH

Also Noted

8. CA-44.  Last month: 8.  Incumbent: Ken Calvert.  Challenger: Bill Hedrick (Responsible Plan endorser).  PVI #: R+6.  % Dem. turnout: 49.3.  Bill Hedrick tried to hit Ken Calvert over earmarks, and certainly there’s still a lot of smoke surrounding Calvert’s dirty dealings.  But in a low information district, Hedrick needs a lot of money for name ID, moeny he doesn’t have.

9. CA-42.  Last month: 11.  Incumbent: Gary Miller.  Challenger: Ed Chau.  PVI #: R+10.  % Dem. turnout: 44.0. Ed Chau has only $12,000 in the bank compared to Gary Miller’s $950,000.  That’s game, set and match, but questions have been raised once again about Miller’s potentially criminal actions (like his financial stake in getting an OC tollway built), so indictment is still on the fringes of possibility here.

10. CA-48.  Last month: 12.  Incumbent: John Campbell.  Challenger: Steve Young.  PVI #: R+8.  % Dem. turnout: 45.1.  Young is touting a poll (and I like that he’s touting it on ActBlue) showing that he’s up six points after biographical and issue information is distributed.  The problem is he has no money and lots of campaign debt, so how will that information get out there?  

11. CA-24.  Last month: 9.  Incumbent: Elton Gallegly.  Challenger: Marta Jorgensen.  PVI #: R+5.  % Dem. turnout: 50.6. Marta Jorgensen has a fairly nice website, but the money isn’t there to make this all that competitive, and she’ll need an Elton Gallegly slip-up. (Of course, she spent $1,375 on the primary and won, so ya never know…)

12. CA-41.  Last month: 10.  Incumbent: Jerry Lewis.  Challenger: Tim Prince.  PVI #: R+9.  % Dem. turnout: 46.3.  Tim Prince is also challenging Jerry Lewis on earmark requests, but Lewis has been pretty adept at escaping scrutiny in the district.

Let’s keep the Democratic steamroller going! Help me elect Dr. Rita to CA-41!

(cross posted at dailykos.com and downwithtyranny.blogspot.com)

Man, what a time to be a Democrat! After years of rebuilding our party through the netroots, we’re poised to make MAJOR gains this November in what will probably be an even more historic election than 2006. We have an amazingly strong (presumptive) nominee here in CA-41 and nationally, more Senate seats up for grabs than you can count on two hands, three special election victories in deep red territory, and probably tens of new House seats that will flip our way.

But I’m not here to gloat about our election successes so far or prematurely celebrate our prospects in November. I’m writing to you today to introduce you to a woman who has the best chance of unseating the Tom Delay of 2008: Jerry Lewis (R), CA-41. This amazing woman is Dr. Rita Ramirez-Dean. (Follow me after the jump…)

Dr. Rita is a true, lifelong Democrat, unafraid of talking about the progressive values we admire and seek out in a real Democratic candidate. An extremely strong extemporaneous speaker, able to talk from the heart without notes or prepared speeches, Dr. Rita is exactly what this district needs. Dr. Rita doesn’t need to be a Blue Dog Dem in order to win this seat; as a minority woman, she speaks directly to the disenfranchised and encourages them to participate in the democratic process.

There’s a strong desire amongst the voters in the district for someone like her to energize them and bring out the vote, especially in this “red” district where the usual Dems running here are afraid to say what they believe in for fear of being branded a liberal (gasp!). But we need your help to make the voters’ dreams a reality.

Rep Lewis’ name is synonymous with Republican corruption. As the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, he was responsible for directing BILLIONS of dollars to his fellow cronies; anyone who reads this site regularly is aware of his shady dealings. Yet despite a million dollars in his campaign account, and his Teflon coating when faced with investigation after investigation, I have a huge smile on my face today. Why? Because a strong, grassroots supported candidate just won a major seat in a similar district this past Tuesday night. I’m talking about Congressman-elect Childers in Mississippi.

Just like MS-01, CA-41 is heavily red (R+9). But the demographics on the ground show a different picture. There is a large African-American community in the eastern parts of San Bernardino (which will be highly energized in November by Sen. Obama’s campaign), a huge contingent of Latinos (who will rally behind a Latina candidate), and a strong base of Democrats who are more excited than ever to win this seat. Add that to the high numbers of Republicans defecting from their party and Democrats moving east from L.A., and the demographics point to a solid pick up opportunity.

Dr. Rita is the strongest candidate in the Democratic race to capitalize on the shifting demographics and desire for change. But we need your help to make it happen!

This primary election is all about turnout. With most Californians unaware of an election this June (especially after the presidential primary in February), the person who wins will be the person who turns out their base. It won’t take much, but we need about 50 people to help phone bank, and about $5,000 to run radio ads. You’re probably thinking, “$5,000?? That’s not going to do anything!” Well that where Rita’s demographics help her the most. $5,000 is all we need to run two weeks of ads on Latino stations, reminding a core constituency of the election and urging them to get out and vote. Add in some money for targeted ads in print media the week of the election, and our plans for victory will come to fruition.

This isn’t an expensive district. Though Lewis will have millions of dollars to burn, as Mississippi taught us, money doesn’t necessarily buy elections anymore. And Dr. Rita has been touring this HUGE district for well over a year already, laying the groundwork. When she wins the primary, she will already have the infrastructure in place to pose a major threat to Lewis.

Please visit Dr. Rita’s website, www.ritaforcongress.com, to learn more about her. Be sure to listen to the radio interview with Dr. Rita to hear her thoughts on the issues if you have a few minutes. If you believe in her message and want to help, please donate via Act Blue (link on website), or email volunteer (at)ritaforcongress (dot) com to help phone banking.

Thank you all for your support!

-David Corbell

Volunteer Campaign Manager

California House Races Roundup – April 2008

Getting this one in under the wire.  On the last day of April, with just over a month to go until the June primaries, and six months to go until Election Day, there’s a lot going on all over the state in the Congressional races.  Of the 19 seats in California currently held by Republicans, 17 will be contested in the fall, and some strongly so.  And we now have a full 34 Democrats with the election of Jackie Speier early in the month, and only one of them is a serious challenge.  We also have the first quarter of 2008 fundraising numbers, which will raise some eyebrows.  You can track these races yourself with the 2008 Race Tracker wiki.

A note: I’m mainly getting my numbers on cash-on-hand competitiveness from the Swing State Project.  Fundraising information comes from the FEC.

Here we go…


1. CA-11. Incumbent: Jerry McNerney.  Main challenger: Dean Andal.  Cook number: R+3.  % Dem turnout in the Presidential primary: 53.7%.  DCCC defended.  Well, we’re seeing today the San Jose Mercury News reporting that this race is a “pure tossup.”  I don’t know where they’re getting that from.  There’s no question it’ll be competitive, but I look at the metric of fundraising in the first quarter, and I see that Andal, who is supposed to be the number one challenger for Republicans this cycle, couldn’t manage to raise more than $90,000.  That’s not really the numbers of a formidable opponent.  He trails McNerney in cash-on-hand by a 2-1 margin and will need significant outside expenditure support to win.  He’s getting some of that, but the DCCC isn’t abandoning McNerney either, already putting together their Radical Andal site, designed to paint the challenger as an extremist in the pocket of corporate lobbyists.  I’m sure they’ll bring up these ties to Don Young’s PAC, arguably the most corrupt member of Congress there is.  Both sides are headed door to door in the district, and McNerney is picking up a nice issue with the “Helping Our Veterans Keep Their Homes Act of 2008.”  The district is turning quite blue, and I like McNerney’s chances to hold the seat.


I’m going to do three tiers in setting apart the top seats where we have challenges to Republican incumbents.

First Tier

1. CA-04.  Last month: 1.  Open seat.  Dem. challenger: Charlie Brown.  Repub. challengers: Doug Ose, Tom McClintock.  PVI #: R+11.  % Dem turnout in primary: 44.7.  DCCC targeted.  Charlie Brown is the John McCain of this Congressional cycle.  He’s sitting back and reaching voters while his opponents bruise and batter each other.  The differences are that Brown is a better candidate and he has a bigger money advantage.  But he must be sitting back and laughing right now.  Doug Ose has gone after Tom McClintock drawing welfare from the state of California in the form of per diem payments.  McClintock called Ose a liberal Democrat.  Most of the headlines in the race have headlines like McClintock, Ose Attack Each Other.  Neither of them are from the district – McClintock won’t even be able to vote for himself in the primary – and in the meantime, lifelong resident Charlie Brown is making things happen.  He’s mobilizing volunteers in district offices.  He’s continuing to donate campaign funds to groups that provide support from veterans.  And he’s drawing on important support, like this message from area veterans.

Last week, something unprecedented in our country’s history happened here in Roseville. While politicians in both parties used the Iraq War Anniversary for pontificating and armchair quarterbacking, a local candidate for office (himself a 26-year vet with a son going back for his fifth rotation in Iraq) made good on a pledge to donate 5% of money raised in his congressional campaign to non profit organizations helping veterans and families in need. He gave away $17,500 last Thursday – just a down payment […]

As veterans, we would hope that the voters of District Four understand that tough talk by career politicians usually masks the coward within. Ose and McClintock are birds of a feather, flocking together.

We are soldiers. We believe in keeping promises. We believe in leading by example. We believe that patriotism trumps partisanship, action speaks louder than words, and we know, first hand what it takes to defend America. And for all of these reasons and more, we are proudly supporting Retired Lt. Col. Charlie Brown for Congress.

Powerful stuff.  And another reason you shouldn’t believe the hype that this district is hopeless – Charlie Brown is ready to win.

2. CA-26.  Last month: 2.  Incumbent: David Dreier.  Challenger: Russ Warner.  PVI #: R+4.  % Dem. turnout: 50.2.  DCCC targeted.  On the financial front, Warner came close to raising as much as Dreier in the 1st quarter ($136,000 to $110,000), but Dreier still has a big well of cash to draw from.  So the key for Warner is to find and exploit areas of weakness.  One of them is health care.  Warner vowed to forego the Congressional health care package until his constituents are fully covered – a very smart tactic that forces Dreier to confront the issue.  He also used the anxiety around the housing crisis to note that Dreier took $12,000 in contributions from members of Countrywide Financial while voting against aid for homeowners.  This is particularly salient given that Countrywide was basically looking past lying on applications in order to drive people who couldn’t afford it into risky loans.  For his part, Dreier is trying to pin high gas prices on Democrats, when he’s voted time and again against reining in record oil company profits and removing their subsidies.  Warner is running a pretty smart campaign thus far, and clearly Dreier knows he’s in for a fight.

3. CA-50.  Last month: 3.  Incumbent: Brian Bilbray.  Challengers: Nick Leibham, Cheryl Ede.  PVI #: R+5.  % Dem. turnout: 50.8.  DCCC targeted.  I like Nick Leibham’s motto at the top of his website: “I am running for Congress because I want to be proud of my government again.”  Local op-ed columnists think he might indeed have reason to be proud come November – Logan Jenkins think the race isn’t separated by more than a few points.  Leibham had decent fundraising in Q1 and is only a couple hundred thousand dollars behind Brian Bilbray in cash-on-hand.  We know that Bilbray will try to make this a single-issue race on immigration and I say let him.  It’s getting him headlines in the district like Bilbray strikes out on the Constitution.  Cheryl Ede is running a strong grassroots campaign and endorsed the Responsible Plan to end the war in Iraq.  If there’s one beef I have with Leibham it’s an unwillingness to be bold and run his campaign on contrasting policies.  Hopefully he’ll learn this lesson.

Second Tier

4. CA-45.  Last month: 4.  Incumbent: Mary Bono Mack.  Challengers: Paul Clay, David Hunsicker, Julie Bornstein.  PVI #: R+3.  % Dem. turnout: 51.3.  Julie Bornstein, former Assemblywoman and affordable housing expert, got into this campaign late but she was still able to raise around $30,000 in a matter of weeks.  Add to that some money from prior election accounts and she’s already within a couple hundred thousand dollars in cash on hand of Mary Bono Mack, whose fundraising has been anemic this year.  I don’t think she’s taking this race seriously, but Bornstein is rounding up all the key endorsements, from the Senators Boxer and Feinstein, the CDP, labor, et al., and she’s going to run a strong race.  She does need a website – if she has one, I can’t find it (UPDATE: via soyinkafan in comments, here it is!).  Paul Clay and David Hunsicker are also running.

5. CA-03.  Last month: 6.  Incumbent: Dan Lungren.  Challenger: Bill Durston. PVI #: R+7. % Dem turnout: 51.8.  It should have raised eyebrows throughout the country when Fourthbranch Dick Cheney came out from his undisclosed location to appear at a fundraiser for Dan Lungren.  Cheney doesn’t visit districts where the Democrat doesn’t have a shot, and this was WAY early for someone in Washington to be sounding the alarm button.  Maybe they noticed that Lungren only raised around $100,000 in the first quarter, nearly matched by Bill Durston’s $75,000.  Durston was quick to respond to the Cheney fundraiser, too.

Dr. Bill Durston, Lungren’s Democratic opponent for House of Representatives in California’s 3rd Congressional District, states, “The fact that Dan Lungren would have Dick Cheney as his special honored guest at a fundraiser is one more demonstration of the fact that Lungren is in virtual lock step with the Bush/Cheney Administration.”

It’s the old Cheney/Bush double bind; they help raise money, but most voters don’t want to see you and Darth Cheney or W. in the same room.  With more favorable numbers headed Durston’s way, this race continues to get more and more competitive.

6. CA-46.  Last month: 5.  Incumbent: Dana Rohrabacher.  Challenger: Debbie Cook (Responsible Plan endorser). PVI #: R+6.  % Dem. turnout: 47.2.  This is amazing.  Debbie Cook outraised Dana Rohrabacher in the first quarter of 2008.  Cook didn’t even enter the race until mid-January, and yet she won the fundraising battle.  Either Rohrabacher isn’t paying attention or people are tired of his act.  And the cash-poor NRCC isn’t going to be able to pull these candidates out of the fire anymore.  Debbie Cook is opening her first campaign office in Huntington Beach this coming weekend, and she’s going to run a strong race about energy, global warming and the environment.  We’ll see if Rohrabacher can keep up.  It was notable that Rohrabacher attacked the cost of the war in Iraq during the Petraeus/Crocker hearings.  He knows he’s vulnerable.

Third Tier

7. CA-42.  Last month: 8.  Incumbent: Gary Miller.  Challengers: Ron Shepston (Responsible Plan Endorser), Ed Chau, Michael Williamson.  PVI #: R+10.  % Dem. turnout: 44.0.  Disclosure: I do some netroots work for Ron Shepston.  Another amazing number – Ed Chau outraised Gary Miller in Q1.  The numbers are paltry – $39,000 to $36,000 – but it suggests that Miller doesn’t care, isn’t paying attention, or can’t find anyone to give his corrupt ass a buck.  Add all the Democratic challengers up together and Democrats outraised Republicans significantly out here.  And the primary should be interesting.  Ed Chau got labor endorsements but most of his work has been fairly under-the-radar.  Ron Shepston’s grassroots efforts may be able to pull the primary out, and he is starting to raise money.  Shepston has Ambassador Joe Wilson coming out for a fundraiser next month.  Michael Williamson has been quiet other than this attack Web ad hitting Ed Chau for not living in the district.    Gary Miller actually backed Barney Frank’s housing bill, which suggests that the mortgage mess is a REAL problem in the district.  Jonathan Weil at Bloomberg attacked Miller for trying to hide the extent of the mess from the public.

8. CA-52.  Last month: 7.  Open seat.  Repub. challengers: several, including Duncan D. Hunter.  Dem. challengers: Mike Lumpkin, Vicki Butcher.  PVI #: R+9.  % Dem. turnout: 47.2.  Mike Lumpkin has Max Cleland coming in for a fundraiser with him this week, and he raised a decent amount of money last quarter.  Here’s an overview of the race; Lumpkin apparently endorsed removing “half the troops” from Iraq, which seems to me to be a silly idea, but his background as a Navy SEAL and liaison between Congress and the Special Ops Command gives him at least some facility with the region.  This is a tough seat, especially going against what amounts to a legacy candidate.  And Hunter has a lot more money.  Vicki Butcher is a grassroots-oriented candidate who will get her share of votes in the primary.  There was actually a candidate forum in this race yesterday.  Any reports out there?

9. CA-24.  Last month: 9.  Incumbent: Elton Gallegly.  Challengers: Jill Martinez, Mary Pallant (Responsible Plan endorser).  PVI #: R+5.  % Dem. turnout: 50.6.  Marta Jorgensen has quit the race and backed Jill Martinez.  Unfortunately, the primary fight here has turned a little nasty, with Jill Martinez stretching the truth about Mary Pallant’s positions and her own finances.  Neither candidate raised a lot of money last quarter but Martinez claimed she had, despite her bank account being in the red.  Pallant is working the progressive grassroots to win the nomination, winning the endorsements of Democrats.com’s David Swanson and author Norman Solomon.  I’d love to see a true progressive take on Elton Gallegly.  He wants to drill in ANWR.  He’s not that bright.

10. CA-41.  Last month: 11.  Incumbent: Jerry Lewis.  Challengers: Tim Prince, Dr. Rita Ramirez-Dean.  PVI #: R+9.  % Dem. turnout: 46.3.  Jerry Lewis has become the point man on forcing retroactive immunity for the telecom companies back into the House for a vote.  In his speech he assailed trial lawyers for wanting to sue the phone companies, which is funny because at a million dollars his legal defense fund has put several trial lawyers’ kids through college.  Of bigger note here is that Republicans in San Bernardino County now number under 40% and Democrats are within 8,000 voters of retaining the majority.  The district is changing, and we’ll see if Tim Prince or Rita Ramirez-Dean can capitalize.  I do like Rita’s website and use of Web video.

11. CA-44.  Last month: 10.  Incumbent: Ken Calvert.  Challenger: Bill Hedrick (Responsible Plan endorser).  PVI #: R+6.  % Dem. turnout: 49.3.  Bill Hedrick endorsed the Repsonsible Plan this month, which certainly helps raise his profile a bit.  He’s holding fundraisers and trying to make voters aware of his presence headed into the general election.  Ken Calvert is gearing up for re-election by requesting all kinds of porkbarrel projects.

12. CA-25.  Last month: 12.  Incumbent: Buck McKeon.  Challenger: Jacquese Conaway.  PVI #: R+7.  % Dem. turnout: 50.9%.  I threw this in because this is yet another seat where Democratic turnout outpaced Republican turnout in February.  This seat also includes a portion of San Bernardino County (see CA-41).  McKeon has a substantial money advantage.  He, by the way, “wants the victory” in Iraq.  That must be nice, thinking about foreign policy like it’s an NBA playoff game.

13. CA-48.  Last month: 13.  Incumbent: John Campbell.  Challenger: Steve Young.  PVI #: R+8.  % Dem. turnout: 45.1.  I’ll keep including this race because I really like Steve Young.

CA-41: The Latest Tactic to Avoid Putting Jerry Lewis in Jail

As we all remember, the Culture of Corruption meme was devastating during the 2006 elections. Congressman Jerry Lewis somehow managed to avoid being indicted before the election, which surprised a lot of people. What has happened since is the new GOP playbook for how the Bush Justice Department protects a Republican member. And today, the LA Times adds another piece to the puzzle — it isn’t pretty.  

It wasn’t until late August 2007 that we learned the US Attorney investigation of Lewis stalled in December 2006 for lack of resources — just after the Culture of Corruption charge helped Democrats win the House. But stalling wasn’t enough, it needed to be derailed. It was in January 2007 when speculation began that San Diego USA Carol Lam was purged for her investigation of Lewis. A couple of months later, LA USA Debra Wong Yang quit in the middle of her investigation to take a nearly $1.5 million a year job with the law firm defending Jerry Lewis.

Thomas O’Brien, the new USA, disbanded the Public Integrity Unit investigating Republican Lewis for major corruption — the same week that NY USA Public Integrity Unit brought down Elliot Spitzer. Today we learn of yet another move to keep Lewis from being brought to justice, put this in the time-line for March 2007:

U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O’Brien is facing sharp criticism from prosecutors within his office who say he is pressuring them to file relatively insignificant criminal cases to drive up statistics that make the office eligible for increased federal funding.

The prosecutors said O’Brien’s effort to increase filings amounts to a quota system in which lawyers face possible discipline and other career consequences if they fail to achieve their numbers. It also detracts from their traditional mission of prosecuting complex, time-consuming cases that local authorities are unable to pursue, they said.


The disgruntled prosecutors in Los Angeles say they are now spending an exorbitant amount of time working on less significant cases — mail theft, smaller drug offenses and illegal immigration — to reach quotas. They cited the recent disbanding of the office’s public integrity and environmental crimes section, a unit with a history of working on complex police corruption and political corruption cases, as evidence of a shift toward high-volume, low-quality prosecutions.

The Lewis scandal is so damaging because it involves both major corruption and former Republican Congressman Bill Lowery — it really does illustrate that corruption is part of the culture in the GOP.