Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 16, 2014
VIDEO: Boisterous GOP activists cheer Tim Donnelly

donnellycheered.jpgBURLINGAME - Boisterous party activists cheered Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly as he addressed the California Republican Party's biannual convention here Sunday, a demonstration of Donnelly's continued appeal to the party's conservative base.

"We can win in 2014," Donnelly said. "I need your help to retire Jerry Brown and replace him with Tim Donnelly for governor."

The crowd erupted in applause, with supporters yelling, "Tim! Tim! Tim!"

Donnelly's speech comes after a difficult week for his campaign. The Twin Peaks assemblyman remains severely underfunded, and his campaign manager, Jennifer Kerns, left in recent days.

But conservative activists play a vocal role at GOP conventions, and the weekend gathering appeared to give Donnelly a lift.

Neel Kashkari, a better-funded, more moderate candidate, spoke before Donnelly and garnered more reserved applause. Two lesser known candidates, Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount and Glenn Champ, who described himself as a "new breed of Christian soldier," also addressed the convention.

That the candidates would be allowed to speak at all was only determined last week. The party dismissed a proposal by Donnelly to debate Kashkari but offered speaking spots. They were invited to the podium moments after the gathering was officially adjourned, a measure that prevented any effort to endorse either candidate from the floor.

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly is cheered at the California Republican Party's biannual convention in Burlingame on March 16, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

California Republican Party convention coverage:

Kashkari is trying to build a bigger GOP tent

VIDEO: Donnelly told supporters the party needs to "reconnect with the church"

VIDEO: Both candidates addressed the Republican National Hispanic Assembly

Prominent actress helping Donnelly said she has concerns about campaign

March 16, 2014
Key House races for GOP take shape as California convention closes

OSE.jpgBURLINGAME - Major California Republican congressional challengers steered clear of the state party convention, but the weekend of activism helped bring early definition to some of the state's most contested House races.

Republicans Doug Ose of Sacramento, Brian Nestande of Palm Desert, Jeff Gorell of Camarillo and Carl DeMaio of San Diego stuck to the campaign trail rather than rubbing elbows with the hundreds of delegates gathering here.

Their absence underscored a dynamic taking place through the races: The four contenders each have more conservative challengers running to their right -- in addition to the freshmen Democrats they hope to unseat in November.

Ose, the moderate former congressman, has focused much of his public attention on Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove. Yet the 7th district primary also features a pair of conservative GOP candidates -- Elizabeth Emken and Igor Birman, who both attended this weekend.

"This is far from the district, but it's important to inspire activists and volunteers to assist in what is shaping up to be one of the most contested races in the state," Birman said after to a liberty forum Saturday.

Ose's spokesman said he chose to remain in the district to attend an event honoring American veterans and to visit with voters. He's familiar with conservative challenges having lost the primary to GOP Rep. Tom McClintock in 2008.

In the Palm Springs-area 36th district held by Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz, Nestande is being opposed by former state lawmaker Ray Haynes. Haynes is more conservative, and in a recent interview said he wasn't confident in Nestande's ability to raise the kind of money needed to knockout an incumbent.

Gorell's conservative Republican challenger in Democrat Julia Brownley's Ventura County-centered 26th district is Rafael Dagnesses, who has tea party backing and reportedly signed a pledge to serve no more than eight years.

And the San Diego-area 52nd district controlled by Democrat Scott Peters features a political skirmish between the party's standard-bearer DeMaio and Kirk Jorgensen and Fred Simon. Jorgensen, a marine veteran, is backed by former Rep. Duncan Hunter and the conservative California Republican Assembly.

Photo: Former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose when he announced his candidacy for the 4th Congressional District seat on Feb. 1, 2008. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

March 16, 2014
California energy officials missed oil train facility identified in Bee story

oiltrain.JPGA California Energy Commission official Friday said the agency wasn't aware that the state had become a destination for crude oil shipments by rail, even though Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal made note of it two months ago.

The Bee reported in January that the state was already receiving the shipments and expecting more. According to the energy commission's own numbers, California received nearly 1.2 million barrels of crude oil by rail in December, up from fewer than 100,000 a year earlier.

The Bee identified at least two locations where crude oil was being unloaded from trains, including Richmond and Bakersfield, with several more terminals under development.

But Gordon Schremp, senior fuels specialist at the commission, told CBS San Francisco Friday that "we don't have any of those facilities operating in California."

When the TV station showed him video of rail cars of crude oil at the Kinder Morgan facility in Richmond, Schremp modified his statement.

"It's certainly a recent change that you know, we haven't been made aware of that," he told the TV station.

State and local officials across the country have become concerned about the safety of crude shipments by train since a derailment killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in July, and leveled the center of the town with explosive force.

Many communities, from Washington state to New York state, have voted to bar the expansion of such operations until their safety is improved. But it's not clear that those measures have any legal authority, because the job of regulating rail shipments falls to the federal government.

Railroads and the Department of Transportation last month agreed to a series of voluntary safety improvements, but many state and local officials would like to see more swift, decisive actions from the federal government to protect their communities.

Lori Sinsley, a spokeswoman for the California Energy Commission, said her agency has been tracking crude by rail developments since 2009 and did know the state had become a destination for the shipments. However, she added that the agency was not aware of the Richmond operation identified in last week's CBS San Francisco report and in a Bee story in January.

Here is the CBS San Francisco report:

Editor's note: This post was updated at 3 p.m. March 17 to include comments from Sinsley.

PHOTO: In this July 6, 2013 file photo, emergency workers examine the aftermath of a train derailment and fire in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada. Forty-seven people were killed. U.S. federal regulators are further tightening testing requirements for companies that transport oil by rail after a spate of explosions caused by crude train derailments in the U.S. and Canada. Associated Press/Ryan Remiorz)

March 16, 2014
VIDEO: Neel Kashkari, Tim Donnelly host convention parties

gopconvention.jpgBURLINGAME - Parties hosted by Neel Kashkari and Tim Donnelly spilled over into early Sunday at the California Republican Party's biannual convention, and as the booze flowed and music played, one more difference between the two candidates for governor emerged.

While Donnelly and his wife, Rowena, danced at the tea party favorite's "Liberty Extravaganza," Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, resisted.

"I love to dance," he said, "but my campaign team has forbidden me from dancing."

There were video cameras in the room, after all. Still, Kashkari said "the point of tonight is to have fun."

Down the hall, Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, was still pushing for volunteer sign-ups and donations.

"I know this is a party," he said. "But I want it to be a working party. And then we can dance, and then we can sing, and then we can celebrate a victory in 2014."

Christopher Cadelago of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.

PHOTO: Delegates file into the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame on March 16, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders


Capitol Alert Staff

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. Twitter: @jimmiller2

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @akoseff

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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