Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

May 21, 2014
Boxer: 'Stop the denial' on climate change

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and more than 40 of her colleagues Wednesday urged a crowd of environmental activists to push lawmakers to address the threat of climate change.

Boxer was flanked by other leading California Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Rep. Henry Waxman of Los Angeles during the 75-minute event at the Dirksen Senate office building in Washington.

Boxer identified the worsening droughts and fires in California and storms and floods in other parts of the country as evidence of a crisis.

"Climate change is happening all around us and we need to take action now," she said.
"The first thing we need to do is stop the denial."

But underscoring the partisan divide over the issue, no Republicans were present. Democrats from states that produce coal, oil and natural gas were also absent.

Other California Democrats who spoke at the rally included Reps. Lois Capps of Santa Barbara, Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach, Scott Peters of San Diego, Barbara Lee of Oakland, Mike Honda of San Jose and Jerry McNerney of Antioch.

Boxer repeated her call for a tax on carbon emissions. Virtually all climate scientists agree that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels is contributing to the warming of the planet.

"The scientists tell us it's unequivocal that climate change is taking place," said Waxman, who's retiring from Congress this year after four decades.

But most Republicans and some Democrats oppose taxes or caps on carbon emissions because they worry about the economic impacts. Others have gone further, calling climate change a "hoax."

Waxman accused skeptics of putting their heads in the sand. "They have nothing to propose, because they don't want to deal with this issue," he said.

Feinstein said that failure to limit global warming would be "catastrophic" for future generations.

"It's going to come much sooner than we think," she said.

Pelosi called climate change a threat to national security and the economy, but also noted that leading evangelical Christians have taken up the cause.

"It is a moral issue," she said.

PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., addresses reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 14, 2012. Associated Press Photo/ Manuel Balce Ceneta.

January 14, 2014
Extension of benefits for long-term jobless collapses in Senate

Thumbnail image for Barbara_Boxer_Senate_Races_US_Chamber.jpg

A Senate deal to extend unemployment benefits that expired last month fell apart Tuesday, leaving more than 1.4 million jobless Americans without aid, including 220,000 Californians.

The chamber failed to advance an unemployment extension measure on a largely party-line vote of 55-45. Though some lawmakers said they'd try again, it's unlikely to be soon. The Senate will pivot Wednesday to a $1.1 trillion spending bill agreed to by House and Senate leaders.

In the end, Democrats and most Republicans simply couldn't agree on how to pay for the proposed three-month extension in unemployment aid.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said no concessions were enough to satisfy Republicans, who demanded the measure be offset by spending cuts.

"I have to say what I think is going on," she said in a statement. "They don't want to extend unemployment compensation for the long-term unemployed."

That wasn't true in the case of Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who co-sponsored the bill. Nevada, like California, has suffered from high unemployment since 2008 after the recession and housing crash.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., warned that with long-term unemployment at its highest since World War II, the failure to agree on an extension could put more Californians at risk.

"It is incredibly disappointing that this all-important extension has been derailed by more partisan squabbling," she said in a statement.

PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., addresses reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 14, 2012. Associated Press/ Manuel Balce Ceneta.

October 8, 2013
Boxer: Shutdown stalling House vote on Sacramento levee bill

Barbara_Boxer_Senate_Races_US_Chamber.jpgSen. Barbara Boxer said Tuesday that the week-long federal government shutdown has delayed a vote in the House of Representatives on legislation that would help finish improvements to Sacramento's levee system.

The completion of the Natomas levee improvement project is one of the California Democrat's top priorities, but she said the legislation that authorizes it, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, has become "another casualty" of the shutdown.

"It was supposed to be on the floor this week," Boxer said. "Now, it's stalled."

Rep. Doris Matsui, a Sacramento Democrat who's long pushed for the Natomas project in Congress, expressed frustration at the delay.

September 23, 2013
Boxer gives climate award to George W. Bush library

Boxer-Bush.jpgIn the eyes of Sen. Barbara Boxer, former president George W. Bush has gone from an environmental villain to a hero - at his presidential library, at least.

The California Democrat, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committtee, presented a "Climate Hero" award Monday to the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

The building achieved the coveted LEED, or Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design, Platinum certification for its sustainable design, construction and operation.

August 9, 2013
Boxer asks San Diego Mayor Filner to step down 'immediately'

APTOPIX_San_Diego_Mayor_Bob_Filner.jpgSen. Barbara Boxer asked embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to step down "immediately" Friday, after at least 12 women came forward in recent weeks to accuse him of sexual harassment, including two veterans.

Boxer had already joined a growing chorus of California officeholders to publicly call for Filner to quit, but in Friday's letter, she asked him directly.

"Bob, you must resign because you have betrayed the trust of the women you have victimized, the San Diegans you represent and the people you have worked with throughout your decades in public life," Boxer wrote.

Filner, a 70-year-old Democrat, represented the San Diego area in Congress for 20 years before he was elected mayor in November.

Filner had served as chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives and had even introduced legislation to protect women in the military from sexual harassment. But this week, two female veterans accused him of the very behavior he'd spoken out against.

A series of shocking sexual assault and harassment cases in the armed forces recently moved Boxer and several of her colleagues to introduce legislation to make it easier for victims to come forward and for their attackers to be prosecuted.

Last month, Filner apologized for his behavior, saying he'd "diminished" his office and said he'd seek therapy.

"You have every right to be disappointed in me," he said in a statement. "I only ask that you give me an opportunity to prove I am capable of change, so that the vision I have for our city's future can be realized."

But Boxer said that wasn't good enough.

July 17, 2013
Boxer, Feinstein: Immigration bill 'the right thing for California'

Capitol_Building_Washington_Congress.jpgCalifornia Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein wrote to their House of Representatives colleagues Wednesday, pleading for a vote on an immigration bill as a matter of economic and moral imperative for a state that's home to nearly a quarter of the country's undocumented immigrants.

House Republicans have been reluctant to consider a bipartisan bill the Senate approved last month, which would increase spending on border security, create a guest-worker visa program and establish a path to citizenship for the 11 million people living illegally in the U.S.

The letter from Boxer and Feinstein to the 53 House members from California echoed a video last week from the California Chamber of Commerce in making a case that the immigration bill would give the state, and the country, a crucial economic boost.

February 22, 2012
California's Barbara Boxer tied for 5th most liberal U.S. senator

California Democrat Barbara Boxer has long been considered one of the U.S. Senate's most liberal members, but according to the National Journal, she's in a five-way tie for being the 5th most liberal senator.

The Journal's ranking, based on voting records, has Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley and New York's Kirsten Hillibrand tied as the Senate's most liberal members, followed by a two-way tie between Hawaii's Daniel Akaka and Dick Durbin of Illinois for third and then five-senator tie for fifth.

Boxer is tied with Sherrrod Brown of Ohio, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Tom Udall of New Mexico. Maryland's Ben Cardin came in 10th.

September 21, 2011
Californians worried, but Jerry Brown does well in PPIC poll

Californians are worried about the stagnant economy and are generally sour on the direction the state is headed, but Gov. Jerry Brown gets relatively high marks for his performance to date, according to a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

PPIC found that 41 percent of Californians and 45 percent of likely voters approve of Brown's efforts to balance the state budget and otherwise govern -- not an overwhelming endorsement but, compared to most other politicians, relatively strong.

Just a few days earlier, the Field Poll came up with similar results, a 49 percent approval rating for Brown.

"Most Californians -- regardless of political party -- say things are going in the wrong direction in the state and the nation," Mark Baldassare, PPIC's president, says in a statement accompanying release of the poll results.

"Most don't see evidence that the president's attempts to stimulate the economy have had a positive impact -- although when asked to choose, they side with him over the Republicans in Congress," Baldassare added. "And for most Californians, the impact of the state's budget problems have hit home. In every region of the state, majorities say that state budget cuts have affected their local government services a lot."

Here are other findings in the PPIC poll:

March 16, 2011
Feinstein, Boxer want safety review of California nuke plants

As Japan struggles with nuclear reactors crippled by the earthquake and tsunami, California's two U.S. senators called on federal regulators today to make sure the state's two commercial nuclear power plants are safe.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer pointed out that about 7.4 million people live within 50 miles of the San Onofre plant in San Diego County and about 424,000 live within 50 miles of the Diablo Canyon plant near San Luis Obispo.

As the Bee's editorial board also pointed out today, the two plants sit near faults and a 2008 study cited newly discovered and larger seismic threats.

In their joint letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the two senators said they want to know if the agency "will address all of the threats, including seismic threats, described in the 2008 report at these facilities." They asked the commission to "perform a thorough inspection at these two plants to evaluate their safety and emergency preparedness plans."

They list a series of questions on plant design and operations; type of reactor; and preparedness to withstand an earthquake or tsunami and other potential threats.

The two senators are likely to get rather prompt responses. Boxer is chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over the NRC. And Feinstein is chairwoman of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees NRC's budget.

But Boxer was not satisfied by the testimony before her committee today by NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko.

She said on MSNBC that she wants greater reassurances about the two California plants, as well as older reactors across the United States.

"We need to look at plants like ours," she told Lawrence O'Donnell.

February 1, 2011
Barbara Boxer overseeing investigation of Sen. Ensign

JV_BOXER 017.JPGThe long-simmering Senate Ethics Committee investigation of Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada may be heating up, and this puts Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in an intriguing position.

Boxer chairs the ethics panel, which announced Tuesday the hiring of respected attorney Carol Elder Bruce as Special Counsel to handle the Ensign affair. A former federal prosecutor, Bruce also served as an Independent Counsel to investigate former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

Bruce's hiring suggests the Ensign case will be moving forward, potentially toward the kind of public hearings that will put a spotlight on both Ensign and Boxer. Ensign had an affair with a former campaign treasurer named Cindy Hampton, who was married to one of his aides. Ensign's family subsequently gave some $96,000 to the Hampton family; they said it was a legitimate gift.

PHOTO CREDIT: California Senator Barbara Boxer meets with the Sacramento Bee's editorial board on Thursday morning in Sacramento. September 02, 2010. Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee

December 1, 2010
Californians agree on their disapproval of Schwarzenegger

California is a very diverse state, but members of every demographic, geographic and ideological subgroup in the state agree on one thing: They don't approve of outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's performance.

That's one of the results of an extensive post-election survey of voters by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The PPIC survey found that overall, Schwarzenegger leaves office with a 32 percent approval rating among November's voters, and results were remarkably consistent among all subgroups. For instance, 68 percent of Democrats disapproved of Schwarzenegger's performance, along with 55 percent of the governor's fellow Republicans and 55 percent of independents. His approval didn't hit 40 percent in any subgroup.

Among other results of PPIC's survey, which involved 2,003 voters:

--Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana, drew the most voter interest. The measure lost narrowly and PPIC found that Republicans, Latinos, whites, women and older voters were most opposed.

--The second most-important ballot measure to voters was Proposition 23, which would have suspended the state's anti-greenhouse gas program - a major Schwarzenegger initiative - until unemployment dropped sharply and lost by a landslide vote. PPIC found a sharp partisan divide with more than half of Republicans supporting the measure but huge majorities of Democrats and independents opposing it.

--The nine measures on the November ballot continued a decades-long trend of placing major issues before voters and while past surveys have indicated voters like having that power, the new PPIC poll found that two-thirds of them say the 2010 initiatives were too confusing. And for the first time in the history of the organization's polling, fewer than half of those polled said they had confidence in the ability of voters to make public policy decisions on the ballot.

--Schwarzenegger is not the only political figure to get low marks from voters. Just 13 percent of those polled approve of how he and the Legislature have dealt with issues and just 12 percent approve of the Legislature. Even President Barack Obama, who won by a large margin in California two years ago, is feeling the heat with just a 53 percent approval rating. Congress, like the Legislature, is less popular at 21 percent. And despite the state's Democratic bent, 43 percent of California voters say it's a good thing that Republicans have recaptured control of the House.

--Strong margins among independent voters helped Democrat Jerry Brown win the governorship and Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer win re-election against well-financed Republican rivals, along with big margins among Latinos and women.

The full PPIC poll results can be found here.

November 3, 2010
Fiorina concedes to Boxer

Saying "the outcome is clear," GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina conceded defeat this morning to Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Election Results

Addressing reporters, Fiorina said she had called Boxer to express her congratulations. And she said it was time for Democrats and Republicans to set aside partisanship.

"I hope all will come together," she said, adding that members of Congress should "redouble their efforts" to make sure that all people have a chance to live the American Dream.

Fiorina, 56, the former head of Hewlett-Packard, said she could not overcome the registration advantage that Democrats have in California.

But she said: "This has been a great ride. ... I would not trade a single moment."

October 25, 2010
Fiorina releases fifth TV ad

Republican Senate nominee Carly Fiorina released her fifth 30-second television ad today, accusing Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of supporting policies in Congress that have "crushed" the hopes of Californians.

Marty Wilson, her campaign manager, said Boxer's legacy "is bleak, as Californians across the state have watched their livelihoods be crushed, with more than 2.25 million people out of work, losing income and facing the very real possibility of losing their homes."

To watch the ad, click here.

October 22, 2010
Obama-Brown-Boxer rally hits early snags

Obama rally.jpgThe biggest California event of the campaign season is getting off to a bumpy start as security has slowed the entry of an estimated 30,000 people into the University of Southern California's Alumni Park to hear President Barack Obama, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and others.

One metal detector was employed for hundreds of media and invited guests, while the line for the general public snakes through the campus.

At least, there's one bright spot, literally - this morning's rain in Southern California has given way to partly cloudy skies and some sun.

The presidential helicopter has just passed by overhead. The show must be getting under way soon. It was supposed to start at 11 a.m. Actor Jamie Foxx and the band Ozomatli are supposed to perform as well.

Obama will leave from USC to do the Spanish-language Piolin show afterward.

Photo: People wait at the University of Southern California Oct. 22 for a rally with President Barack Obama, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown and others. (Jack Chang/Sacramento Bee)

October 18, 2010
Obama hits airwaves with radio spot for Boxer

ObamaBoxer.JPGPresident Barack Obama is giving Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer a boost on the airwaves in advance of a California campaign stop scheduled for later this week.

Obama has recorded a 60-second radio spot praising the three-term senator's work to create jobs and improve the economy.

"I've stood shoulder to shoulder with Barbara Boxer through the tough fights. I believe California needs her and I know I need her," he says in the ad, which you can listen to here.

Obama is scheduled to campaign with Boxer, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown and other Democrats on the ticket in Los Angeles on Friday.

This week's visit marks the third time Obama has traveled to the Golden State to aid Boxer, who is locked in a tough race with Republican businesswoman Carly Fiorina.

Fiorina's campaign countered by pointing to California's high unemployment rate as evidence that Boxer is not a job creator.

"Barbara Boxer should be ashamed of herself for putting the President of the United States up to participating in this latest installment of her desperate and deceptive advertising campaign to save her political career," Spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote in an e-mail.

This post was updated at 6 p.m. with a statement from the Fiorina campaign.

PHOTO CREDIT: President Barack Obama hugs Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Monday, April 19, 2010.(AP Photo/ Alex Brandon).

October 11, 2010
Obama to campaign with Barbara Boxer again this month

ObamaBoxer.JPGPresident Barack Obama will make his third trip to California to campaign for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer later this month, Boxer's campaign announced today.

Obama will appear with the three-term senator in Los Angeles on Oct. 22.

Earlier this year, he traveled to Los Angeles and San Francisco on separate occasions to raise cash for Boxer's re-election bid.

Boxer faces Republican Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett Packard, in the November election.

"It's terrific that President Obama will be coming to California to campaign with us as we enter the home stretch," Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski said in a statement.

Fiorina spokeswoman Andrea Saul called the trip Obama's "third attempted rescue mission to save the political life of a hyper partisan rubber stamp for the failed policies that are not bringing the 'help' and 'hope' they promised."

"Instead of working to stop the largest tax increase in U.S. history and to get more than 2. 2 million Californians back to work, President Obama and Barbara Boxer are working to save only one job - hers," Saul wrote in an e-mail.

Post updated at 10:51 p.m. with Fiorina campaign comment.

PHOTO CREDIT: President Barack Obama hugs Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Monday, April 19, 2010.(AP Photo/ Alex Brandon)

October 4, 2010
NRSC teams up with Fiorina for new TV spot attacking Boxer

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is ramping up its aid to Republican Senate nominee Carly Fiorina in the wake of recent polls showing the former Hewlett-Packard nominee trailing Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

The Fiorina campaign today announced that it has teamed up with the committee to launch a new statewide television spot attacking Boxer.

Set over a dramatic score and black-and-white images of cropless fields, tent encampments, struggling businesses and a foreclosed home, the narrator alleges that Boxer's time in Washington has been spent increasing spending, stunting job growth and "crushing hopes."

An e-mail sent by the committee said it has poured "$2 million in coordinated funding" into the Senate contest. The message to supporters praises Fiorina, saying she "withstood the initial attacks by Senator Boxer and is still within striking distance."

A Field Poll released Sept. 24 showed Boxer leading Fiorina by six points, 47 percent to 41 percent.

Watch the 30-second spot below.

October 1, 2010
Barbara Boxer releases new TV ad

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer released her third television advertisement today, a 30-second spot that criticizes her GOP rival Carly Fiorina for outsourcing jobs while she headed Hewlett-Packard.

The ad will air in the Los Angeles and San Francisco media markets, the campaign said.

September 29, 2010
LISTEN: Boxer and Fiorina square off in second Senate debate

The second debate between Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and Republican nominee Carly Fiorina. will begin at 1 p.m.

Click here to tune in to the hourlong debate, sponsored by KPCC public radio and La Opinión.

September 23, 2010
Fiorina releases first general election TV ad

Republican Senate nominee Carly Fiorina today released her first television ad of the general election, a 30-second spot that criticizes Democrat Barbara Boxer for asking a brigadier general to call her "senator" instead of "ma'am" at a Senate hearing last year.

The ad, called "Sir," shows Boxer at a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in June of 2008, telling Gen. Michael Walsh: "You know, do me a favor. Could you say 'senator' instead of 'ma'am?' It's just a thing, I worked so hard to get that title, so I'd appreciate it, yes, thank you.' "

After that, Fiorina is shown, saying: "Twenty eight years in Washington, and Barbara Boxer works hard for a title? I'll really go to work to end the arrogance in Washington."

Marty Wilson, Fiorina's campaign manager, said Boxer's treatment of Walsh "is seared into the minds of Californians, and this is the beginning of our campaign's fact-based approach to exposing the lowlights of Barbara Boxer's career dedicated to raising taxes, increasing the size of government and promoting policies that strangle the private sector's ability to create jobs. "

The Boxer campaign noted that the ad is silent on Fiorina's record.

"We're happy to compare Barbara Boxer's record of delivering for Californians with Carly Fiorina's record of layoffs and shipping jobs overseas," said Rose Kapolczynski, Boxer's campaign manager. "Californians are fed up with the arrogance of CEOs who take multi-million dollar bonuses and golden parachutes while the middle class suffers. No wonder Fiorina doesn't say one word about her own record in this ad."

Watch the ad below:

September 16, 2010
Boxer slams Fiorina's HP record in new television ad

Days after releasing a positive spot as her first television buy, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer has launched an ad attacking Republican rival Carly Fiorina.

The 30-second spot, which you can view below, slams Fiorina's tenure as chief executive officer at Hewlett-Packard, saying she laid off 30,000 workers and shipped jobs overseas as her personal fortunes grew.

"Carly Fiorina.Outsourcing jobs. Out for herself," the announcer says.

The ad will air in media markets in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego, according to the Boxer campaign.

Fiorina spokeswoman Andrea Saul called the attack "baseless, personal and deceptive" in a statement. The campaign released a new website and a lengthy press release detailing job and revenue growth at HP under Fiorina's watch, but did not directly dispute the numbers used in the Boxer ad.

Fiorina's campaign also sought to capitalize on the ad, sending out an e-mail to supporters last night asking for "urgent" contributions to fight back. "I need your help to set the record straight. Your immediate donation will help our campaign get up on the airwaves to hold Boxer accountable for her abysmal record," the e-mail reads.

September 13, 2010
Barbara Boxer releases first TV ad

WASHINGTON --- Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer today released her first television advertisement, a 30-second spot that will run in the Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego media markets.

The ad is called "Made in America." It features Boxer, saying she's "working to make California the leader in clean energy... to jump-start our small businesses with tax credits and loans to create thousands more California jobs."

Rose Kapolczynski
, Boxer campaign manager, said it's also an attempt to highlight the senator's efforts to improve health care for veterans and support for after-school programs.

The campaign said the ad highlights two of the more than 1,000 Boxer provisions that have been enacted.

The first is the creation of a comprehensive combat casualty care center at the San Diego Naval Hospital. The second is a law Boxer wrote with Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada that authorized funding for after-school programs.

Polls show Boxer in a tight race with her opponent, Republican Carly Fiorina.

The Fiorina campaign was quick to criticize the ad.

"The truth is that there is only one job Barbara Boxer is interested in saving and that's her own," said Julie Soderlund, deputy campaign manager for communications for the Fiorina campaign.

September 9, 2010
Boxer, Fiorina agree to second debate on radio

99983138JS008_SEN_BOXER_VIS.jpgRB Fiorina 4.JPGDemocratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina will spar in a second debate before voters hit the polls Nov. 2.

The candidates have agreed to participate in a debate Sept. 29 sponsored by KPCC Public Radio and La Opinión Spanish-language newspaper.

While the first debate between the two rivals was a "face off" aired on television stations across the state, this round will be limited to candidates "sounding off" on the issues.

The 1 p.m. debate will air on the radio station as well as It will be broadcast live from KPCC's Pasadena studios.

See The Bee's coverage of the first debate here.

September 8, 2010
Boxer aide arrested on marijuana charge in Senate building

It's probably not a good idea to bring cannabis to work, especially if you work in a congressional building patrolled by Capitol police.

An aide to Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer was arrested yesterday on charges of marijuana possession as he entered a Senate office building in Washington, D.C.

POLITICO reports:

Marcus Stanley, who served as a senior economic adviser and at one time worked on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee -- chaired by Boxer -- was stopped by a police officer Tuesday morning when he allegedly tried to "remove and conceal" a leafy green substance from his pocket during a security screening at the Constitution Avenue door of the Hart building around noon, according to a Capitol Police report.

Police confiscated the substance, which later tested positive for marijuana, and Stanley quickly resigned.

Click here for the full story.

September 3, 2010
Rex Babin: Talking points from the Senate debate


Rex Babin is the political cartoonist for The Bee. Click here to see a collection of his work.

September 2, 2010
POLL: Who won the U.S. Senate debate?

The pundits have had their say. Now it's your turn. Who won Wednesday night's debate between Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and her Republican challenger Carly Fiorina?

September 2, 2010
Whitman primary spending No. 2 in dollar-per-vote breakdown

ha_MWHITMAN38719.JPGThe nearly $100 million price tag on Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman's primary win breaks down as the second-highest spending per primary vote by a largely self-funded gubernatorial candidate, according to an analysis released today by The Fair Political Practices Commission.

Whitman, who faced a tough primary challenge from Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner , spent $65 for each vote she won in the June 8 primary. That figure is about $5 less per vote than Al Checchi spent on his failed 1998 Democratic gubernatorial primary run.

Poizner spent $43.64 per vote to come up short while Democratic nominee Jerry Brown, who did not face a serious challenger, spent just 38 cents for each vote he bagged.

Brown, Poizner and Whitman spent a combined $128 million on the June primary. That's six times the inflation-adjusted total from 1978 when five candidates, including Brown, dropped a total of $23 million on their bids. (Brown, who was running unopposed for re-election, spent $576,000 more in 2010 dollars in 1978 than he did this time around).

The high spending doesn't mean more voters are coming out to the polls -- the report also found that voter participation has declined during the period that spending has increased.

Here are the self-funded candidates who spent the most per vote. Just Whitman and Bill Simon won their primary contests:

1. Al Checchi $70.21 (1998 Democratic gubernatorial primary)
2. Meg Whitman $65.29 (2010 Republican gubernatorial primary)
3. Steve Westly $45.29 (2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary)
4. Steve Poizner $43.64 (2010 Republican gubernatorial primary)
5. Jane Harman $29.59 (1998 Democratic gubernatorial primary)
6. Bill Simon $17.31 (2002 Republican gubernatorial primary)

Click here to read the full report.

This post was updated with more information from the report.

PHOTO CREDIT: Meg Whitman at her June 8 primary victory party. Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee.

September 2, 2010
Boxer continues criticism of GOP challenger Fiorina

JV_BOXER 017.JPGFresh off Wednesday's combative debate, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer continued her criticism of Republican challenger Carly Fiorina in a meeting Thursday with The Bee's editorial board, taking aim at Fiorina's environmental positions and her record as a Hewlett-Packard CEO.

The Democratic incumbent pointed out that Fiorina would not take a stand during last night's debate on Proposition 23, which would suspend California's law requiring a reduction of greenhouse gases. Boxer said the state and nation need to make a stronger push for alternative energy and not let China dominate the green technology industry.

"Her position will result in jobs created in China, in jobs created in India, in jobs created in Europe, because they get it and they're moving to produce these clean energy technologies that we should be producing," Boxer said. "But the venture capitalists are sitting off to the side. They want to make sure we're serious about it."

September 1, 2010
Boxer finishes stronger in debate

The Boxer-Fiorina debate tonight was pretty much a draw until the closing statements when Carly Fiorina went a bit flat and Barbara Boxer hit her stride with an emotional declaration of the differences between the two.

Republican Fiorina had been aggressive in attacking Boxer's senatorial record during the debate but chose to close with a description of Californians as being full of "anger, frustration and even fear" and saying, "We can turn this nation around." But she didn't directly attack Boxer.

The senator, however, talked about "a very clear choice" and slammed Fiorina on her actions as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, saying she "laid off 30,000 workers and shipped jobs to China," her opposition to abortion and what Boxer described as Fiorina's ties to "a wealthy, wealthy few" and "big oil and big coal."

September 1, 2010
Boxer, Fiorina clash sharply on global warming

The sharpest exchange so far in the Boxer-Fiorina debate is over global warming, California's anti-global warming law (AB 32) and Proposition 23, which would suspending the law until unemployment drops sharply.

Carly Fiorina refused to take a position on Proposition 23 but described AB 32 as a "job killer" and said a national energy policy is needed that includes nuclear, solar, wind and other non-carbon sources.

Barbara Boxer replied sharply that "If you can't take a stand on Proposition 23, I don't know what you will take a stand on."

September 1, 2010
Boxer now distributing fact sheets

Barbara Boxer's staff, responding to a Capitol Alert item about Carly Fiorina's distribution of backup data sheets during debate, has started doing the same after doing it via the Internet.

September 1, 2010
As expected, Senate debate full of attacks

As expected, the Barbara Boxer-Carly Fiorina debate has been largely an exchange of charges and counter-charges, with only brief positive comments about themselves.

Boxer has been attacking Fiorina on her record as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, especially cuts in jobs and outsourcing to other states, while Fiorina has described Boxer as an "extreme" liberal.

Fiorina reaffirmed her personal opposition to abortion but said the issue should be decided by the states while Boxer said if Fiorina's views prevailed "doctors would go to jail and women would die."

September 1, 2010
Fiorina issues factoid barrage during debate

As Carly Fiorina fires her rhetorical bullets at Barbara Boxer during their debate, a young Fiorina aide circulates among the reporters, handing out "debate fact sheets" that magnify her points with press clippings and quotes.

Nobody on the Boxer side is matching the Fiorina outpouring of backup data.

September 1, 2010
Fiorina's height advantage vanishes

When Sen. Barbara Boxer and challenger Carly Fiorina walked onto the stage at St. Mary's College to shake hands before their debate, the height differential was immediately evident.

Republican Fiorina is at least a half-foot taller than Boxer, but when the two stood behind their podiums, the height differential vanished because Boxer, as usual, was standing on a box.

The two lost no time going on the attack. Fiorina, going first, slapped at Boxer's performance in Washington, saying, "the results of her policies have been devastating." Boxer immediately hit Fiorina on her tenure at Hewlett-Packard, especially exporting jobs to overseas plants.

September 1, 2010
Protest standoff at U.S. Senate debate in Moraga

"Vote Boxer Out!" faced off with "Carly Carly Shame on You!" outside St. Mary's College in Moraga tonight, where Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer will debate Republican rival Carly Fiorina, beginning shortly.

The "'Vote Boxer Out!" side was represented by about 20 people, many with loose affiliations to the conservative tea party movements. They held up signs reading "K.O. Boxer" and "Vote Out Socialist Democrats."

The other side was backed largely by union power -- the California Nurses Association and the Service Employees International Union's janitors wing. Their message: pointing out that Fiorina was ousted as CEO of Hewlett-Packard and "Escucha! Escucha! Estamos en la lucha!"

September 1, 2010
U.S. Senate rivals Boxer, Fiorina ready for debate showdown

Barbara Boxer.JPGCarly Fiorina California Senate Race(2).JPGSt. Mary's College, in the bucolic suburbs of Contra Costa County, is the site of tonight's debate between Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina - a duel that could conceivably help determine control of the U.S. Senate.

Demonstrators for and against the two women are parading outside the campus as guards carefully screen who is admitted. And the debate, possibly the only face-to-face clash between the two, is getting a lot of media attention -- but not nearly as much as the college apparently thought it would.

St. Mary's created a media center in a campus auditorium and set up chairs for more than a hundred journalists, with Wi-Fi Internet service and even, quaintly, 10 landline phones. But in this era of diminished news resources, only about a dozen print journalists, plus a phalanx of TV crews, are covering the debate.

While they wait for the debate to begin, the newsies are renewing acquaintanceships, munching on fruit and oatmeal cookies, kibitzing with the campaign types who are poised to spin the story and hoping, perhaps against hope, that the debate will generate some real news, not merely recitations of pre-digested slogans.

August 31, 2010
First U.S. Senate debate scheduled for Wednesday night

FIORINA California Senate Race.JPGBarbara Boxer.JPGThe first and only U.S. Senate debate scheduled so far between Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and her Republican challenger Carly Fiorina is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday night at St. Mary's College in Moraga.

Bay Area-based TV station KTVU is co-hosting the debate along with the San Francisco Chronicle and public radio and TV station KQED. KCRA Channel 3 in Sacramento and KQED radio, 89.3 FM in Sacramento, will broadcast the one-hour debate live, and the event will also be streamed on Other public radio stations and their partner TV outlets will broadcast the debate live as well.

KTVU political editor Randy Shandobil will moderate the debate, with a media panelist featuring Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci, La Opinion senior political writer Pilar Marrero and KQED radio host Scott Shafer.

Boxer and Fiorina are locked in one of the country's most-watched U.S. Senate races, with public opinion polls showing the two women in a tight contest.

PHOTO CREDITS: Left, California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina campaigns at a roundtable of business women at a cafe in Los Altos on July 20 (AP Photo/ Paul Sakuma). Right, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sacramento Bee file photo.

August 25, 2010
Karl Rove-backed group launches ad attacking Boxer

A group backed by GOP strategist Karl Rove is wading into the California Senate contest, launching a new TV spot blasting Sen. Barbara Boxer for voting for Medicare cuts included in the federal health care legislation.

Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit group spending millions to back conservative candidates across the country, reportedly spent $1 million on the week-long ad buy. The group is part of a larger nonprofit political operation created by Rove, the former top aide to President George W. Bush.

Kam Kuwata, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Democratic Party's CEO Watch campaign, slammed the ad buy, saying Fiorina is "getting rewarded by Karl Rove and Texas oil billionaires for supporting tax breaks for companies that ship American jobs overseas."

Watch the ad below:

August 17, 2010
Boxer, Fiorina agree that mosque is local issue for New Yorkers

Ground Zero Mosque Obama.JPGSurprise, surprise.

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina, her Republican challenger, agree on something: Both say the controversial mosque proposed to be built near Ground Zero is a local issue best left to New Yorkers.

"As a former local government official, Senator Boxer believes the city of New York has the right to make this decision," Zachary Coile, Boxer's spokesman, said Monday.

On Sunday in Los Angeles, Fiorina called the mosque plan an "intensely personal and local issue" and said she didn't think it was helpful that President Barack Obama had waded into the controversy.

Obama made news over the weekend by defending construction of the mosque, saying it was consistent with religious freedom.

"I think it's now about the sensitivities of people who lost loved ones and honestly I think we ought to leave it up to the community of New York to work this through," Fiorina said.

PHOTO CREDIT: Pedestrians walk past the 19th century building on Park Place in Manhattan where Muslims plan to build a mosque and cultural center on Saturday. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)

August 10, 2010
Business groups back Fiorina; Magic Johnson backs Boxer

PK_FIORINA 0310.JPGRepublican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina received big-league backing Tuesday morning from some of the country's top business groups -- the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association.

Fiorina, the former CEO of tech giant Hewlett-Packard, introduced her business friends at a brief event held at the Blue Diamond Growers facility in Sacramento where she spoke amid towering walls of boxes containing the company's Nut Thins snacks.

Fiorina's rival, Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, announced her own endorsement today from Los Angeles Lakers legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

Fiorina was scheduled to take her tour later today to Bakersfield and San Jose, bringing with her U.S. chamber Vice President for Political Affairs Bill Miller, the California chamber's President and CEO Allan Zaremberg and the California manufacturers association's President Jack Stewart.

In Sacramento, Miller wasted no time attacking Boxer.

August 9, 2010
U.S. Chamber backs Fiorina's Senate bid

bp carly glass serious.JPGThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce today endorsed Republican Carly Fiorina's bid to oust Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, raising the possibility of giving the challenger substantial campaign funds.

Boxer and Fiorina are virtually tied in recent polls and national political handicappers now believe it's a tossup whose outcome could determine whether Republicans take control of the Senate this year.

In years past, national political organizations have shied away from committing large sums to California's Republican Senate hopefuls due to the state's high campaign costs but that may change if Boxer looks vulnerable and if the California Senate race could have national impact.

"We're endorsing Carly because she understands the challenges businesses are facing and will stand up for the people of California during these tough economic times," said Bill Miller, the U.S. Chamber's senior vice president and national political director.

Miller is joining Fiorina on a two-way swing through the state today to highlight economic issues. The chamber has pleged to spend $75 million this year to support congressional and senatorial candidates.

August 6, 2010
Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina to debate on Sept. 1

The details of the first debate of the U.S. Senate race -- which we wrote about a bit prematurely last week -- have been finalized.

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and Republican Carly Fiorina will go head to head at a debate Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. sponsored by KQED Public Radio, KTVU Channel 2 News and the San Francisco Chronicle. The hour-long debate will be held at Saint Mary's College in Moraga and broadcast on television and radio.

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci, one of three journalists who will ask questions during the debate, has posted the details of the event here.

August 5, 2010
Rasmussen poll finds Cal Senate race tightening

bp carly glass serious.JPGRasmussen Reports, a national polling organization, says that the contest between Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina appears to be tightening.

Rasmussen's latest telephonic poll of likely California voters shows Boxer leading Fiorina 45 percent to 40 percent with 10 percent undecided and 5 percent favoring a third-party candidate. Less than a month earlier, a previous Rasmussen poll Boxer leading 49 percent to 42 percent.

Rasmussen said, "Most voters in the state see the contest as an ideological clash. Sixty-one percent view Boxer as a liberal politically, while just as many (63 percent) regard Fiorina as a conservative. This includes 36 percent who say Boxer is very liberal and 31 percent who view Fiorina as very conservative.

"Forty-two percent of California voters think Boxer's views are mainstream, but 41 percent see them as extreme. Similarly, 40 percent label Fiorina's views as mainstream, but just 32 percent believe they are extreme."

Boxer, first elected to the Senate in 1992, has said she believes Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, represents her toughest re-election challenge to date. The full Rasmussen report is available here.

PHOTO CREDIT: GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina at the California Republican party on election night for the June 8 primary. Bryan Patrick/Sacramento Bee.

August 2, 2010
Barney Frank plans fundrasing trip for Boxer

Democratic Rep. Barney Frank is coming to California to raise cash for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer's re-election bid.

The Massachusetts representative, who chairs the powerful House Financial Services Committee, shared the news in a Q-and-A in the New York Times Magazine:

Any plans for a summer vacation?

Well, we do have a campaign, and everyone should be campaigning. My partner, Jim, and I are going to California this month. I'm going to do a fund-raiser for Senator Boxer, speak to the Orange County Democrats and also just hang out.

Frank also talked about Boxer challenger Carly Fiorina's coiffure commentary and legislation to reshape the financial regulatory system in the interview.

Read the entire Q-and-A here.

July 30, 2010
Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina set first debate for Sept. 1

UPDATED at 4:55 p.m.: The debate's media partners have just told The Bee that the earlier news release they sent out was premature and the debate has not been finalized. In other words, please ignore the rest of this post. Thank you.

The first debate between Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and her Republican rival Carly Fiorina has been set for 7 p.m. on Sept. 1 at a yet-to-be-announced location.

The one-hour debate will be broadcast live throughout Northern California on public radio station KQED and other public radio stations and on television station KTVU 2. People can also watch a live stream of the debate at

KQED radio will broadcast the debate at 11 p.m. Sept. 1, and KQED's TV station will rebroadcast it at 8 p.m. that same night. KTEH Public Television 54 will show the debate at 7 p.m. Sept. 2.

The San Francisco Chronicle, KQED and KTVU are sponsoring the event.

KTVU political editor Randy Shandobil will moderate the debate, with questions coming from media panelists Carla Marinucci of the Chronicle, Pilar Marrero of La Opinión and Scott Shafer of KQED's California Report program.

July 28, 2010
PPIC poll finds close duels for governor, senator

Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer hold narrow leads over their Republican challengers with more than three months of campaigning to come before the November election, a new Public Policy Institute of California poll has found.

The poll, conducted during the first weeks of July, found that Attorney General Brown, the Democratic candidate for governor, is virtually tied with Republican Meg Whitman, leading 37 percent to 34 percent among likely voters with 23 percent still undecided.

PPIC also found Boxer, a three-term U.S. senator, leading Republican Carly Fiorina 39 percent to 34 percent with 22 percent undecided.

The margins are similar to those in other recent polls, but PPIC's survey found substantially more undecided voters than the others.

The PPIC poll was geared to environmental concerns and found that Brown and Boxer both hold large leads among voters who consider environmental issues "very important."

July 28, 2010
Washington Post sees Boxer as vulnerable

99983138JS008_SEN_BOXER_VIS.jpgCalifornia's U.S. Senate race is beginning to get national attention as political oddsmakers see Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer as potentially vulnerable to Republican Carly Fiorina's challenge.

The latest move in that direction came in the Washington Post, whose political prognosticator, Chris Cillizza, declares that Fiorina's primary win "makes this race one to watch. California is still Democratic country but (Boxer's) numbers have never been all that strong and with the public angry at incumbents this is the sort of year Republicans might be able to pull an upset in the Golden State."

Last week, Roll Call's Stuart Rothenberg said much the same thing in his survey of mid-term election prospects and their appraisals could help Fiorina convince national Republican organizations to do what they've been unwilling to do in past California Senate elections - pump in money.

Boxer's camp, meanwhile, is touting a new poll, done by an outfit that works mostly for Democrats, that shows her with a widening lead over Fiorina, the former boss at Hewlett-Packard. The Public Policy Polling survey found that independent voters have turned against Fiorina during the last two months, giving Boxer a 49 percent to 40 percent lead, up from just three points in May.

The full Washington Post revisions of senatorial and gubernatorial races can be found here.

IMAGE: Sen. Barbara Boxer. Capitol Alert file photo.

July 27, 2010
Host of Fiorina event in Sacramento endorses Boxer

MAJ GRISELDA BARAJAS.JPGRepublican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina might have picked the wrong restaurant to announce her Latino outreach effort.

Fiorina said at a campaign stop at Texas Mexican Restaurant in Sacramento last month that she was pleased to be supported by people like Griselda Barajas, a member of the Sacramento Metro Chamber's board and owner of Griselda's Catering, which hosted the event.

Barajas, a Democrat, was undecided at the time.

Not anymore. Barajas is endorsing incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, Boxer's campaign said Monday.

PHOTO CREDIT: Griselda Barajas, July 2, 2001. (Sacramento Bee file photo/ Michael A. Jones)

July 26, 2010
Boxer campaign criticizes Fiorina for opposing consumer bureau

WASHINGTON -- The campaign of Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer today criticized Republican Senate GOP candidate Carly Fiorina for opposing the creation of a new consumer finance protection bureau.

The bureau is part of a financial reform bill backed by Boxer and signed into law by President Barack Obama last week.

"While Barbara Boxer was standing with consumers and consumer advocates on Main Street, ex-corporate CEO Carly Fiorina was with big Wall Street institutions whose risky gambling led to the financial mess," said Rose Kapolczynski, Boxer's campaign manager. "That's not the kind of leadership that Californians need in the U.S. Senate."

Under the new law, the bureau will set guidelines for credit cards, loans and other financial instruments.

Kapolczynski noted that the law has the backing of consumer groups across the country, including the AARP, Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union.

Andrea Saul, Fiorina's press secretary, accused Boxer of "election-year politicking."

"This legislation will do nothing to fix the problems that got us in to the financial crisis in the first place, which proves, yet again, that Barbara Boxer doesn't understand how the economy works and the only job she's interested in saving is her own," she said. "Carly supports true reform to the financial markets, which will not be created by adding another layer of government bureaucracy, non-sensible rules and ignoring the problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

July 15, 2010
Boxer has huge cash advantage over Fiorina

99983138JS008_SEN_BOXER_VIS.jpg Carly Fiorina has almost $953,000 in the bank. Barbara Boxer has more than 11 times as much, or $11.3 million.

That's the financial state of California's Senate race, according to fundraising reports released today.

Fiorina, the GOP Senate nominee, raised nearly $1.4 million during the latest reporting period, from May 20 to June 30, the campaign said. Since announcing her candidacy last year, Fiorina has raised $5.1 million for her campaign, and she has made loans to her campaign totaling $5.5 million.

Boxer, the three-term Democratic incumbent, raised $2.6 million during the latest reporting period, according to her campaign. Her campaign has now raised a total of $19 million.

Appearing at a campaign stop in Sacramento, Fiorina said the money raised in the most recent reporting period was "an extremely impressive figure."

"Remember that Barbara Boxer has been raising money for two years, hasn't had to spend a dime of it because she hasn't been through a primary," she said.

Fiorina declined to answer a reporter's questions about whether she plans to put any of her own money into her general election bid, or whether she will repay the loan she made to her campaign in the primary.

In a statement accompanying its report, Fiorina's campaign said "there's no denying that we're starting ... at a significant cash disadvantage to Boxer." But the statement said the campaign expects to have enough money "to compete and win this race in November."

Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski said that Boxer "is facing a tough campaign against a wealthy opponent who is self-funding" her campaign.

Nevertheless, she said, "the response from our supporters has been overwhelming."

Staff writer David Siders contributed to this report.

CORRECTION 4:08 p.m.: An earlier version of this post relied on the wrong figure furnished by the Fiorina campaign for the Republican candidate's cash on hand. The campaign has furnished a corrected figure.

PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer speaks during a press conference after she toured the Caldecott Tunnel fourth bore project June 3, 2010, in Orinda. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images)

July 8, 2010
AM Alert: Boxer, Fiorina locked in close race, poll says

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer holds a narrow three-point lead over Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, according to a Field Poll released today.

The poll found that 47 percent of likely voters support Boxer, with 44 percent saying they prefer Fiorina and 9 percent either undecided or supporting other candidates. The telephone survey, conducted June 22 to July 5, polled 1,005 likely voters. The margin of error for the matchup is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

Boxer's lead has widened since March, when Fiorina, locked in a three-way primary, trailed by just one point. But the three-term senator's edge over the former Hewlett-Packard executive has fallen 30 points since Field first polled registered voters on hypothetical match-ups in March 2009.

As Boxer's lead has shrunk, the percentage of voters who view her negatively has grown. Fifty-two percent of current respondents have a negative view of the three-term senator, with 41 percent giving her a positive rating. Just 7 percent of respondents had no opinion.

July 7, 2010
In the heat, Barbara Boxer keeps remarks brief

ha_boxer46916.JPGDemocratic Sen. Barbara Boxer spoke briefly at a campaign stop at Sacramento International Airport this afternoon.

Briefly, because it was hot, and because Boxer could use the votes of the supporters who came.

"I'm not going to talk a long time because it's warm, and I don't want anyone to ... I don't want to lose anyone here to the heat, because I need to keep you all on your feet so you can vote in November," she said.

People laughed and cheered.

Boxer is in the second day of a two-day, nine-city tour in which she is touting her support for an $862 billion federal stimulus package that she said has led to job creation in California, including an expansion at the Sacramento airport. She spoke to about 75 people in a lot on the airport grounds.

Across the street, a group of supporters of Republican rival Carly Fiorina protested, chanting and holding signs.

Airport officials were briefly concerned about the eight-foot blimp "Stop the hot air" that Fiorina staffers brought along, worried what might happen if it floated into the air above an airport. They allowed it, and Fiorina's backers kept it in control.

PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer makes her way to the podium after a tour of the new terminal construction at the Sacramento International Airport today. Hector Amezcua /

July 6, 2010
Boxer kicks off two-day tour talking about jobs, Fiorina

AP Barbara Boxer.JPGUPDATED 3:29 p.m. with comment from Carly Fiorina's campaign.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ordinarily, a Democrat might kick off a campaign tour in the idyllic Presidio park using eucalyptus and pine trees as an environmental backdrop, away from the bustling freeway.

But in the midst of high unemployment, Sen. Barbara Boxer chose the Doyle Drive roadway as the visual to launch her two-day "Jobs for California" tour. "Jobs" is the buzzword of the 2010 election cycle, and politicians from the State Capitol to Capitol Hill have used it incessantly.

The road, part of the Highway 101 approach from the Golden Gate Bridge, is undergoing a massive $1 billion seismic retrofitting project, with $100 million in federal stimulus funds. Boxer was joined by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and stood in front of cranes and more than two dozen construction workers wearing fluorescent construction vests and hard hats.

Boxer is in the toughest re-election fight of her Senate career, facing GOP challenger Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO who loaned her primary campaign $5.5 million and is campaigning on an anti-incumbent message. Boxer, who reported having $9.6 million in cash on hand in May, has enjoyed fundraising help from President Barack Obama and will host Vice President Joe Biden later this week for fundraising and campaigning in California.

Boxer spent most of her San Francisco stop highlighting her support of the 2009 federal stimulus package, which she said helped produce jobs for workers at sites such as Doyle Drive. She was introduced by a grading superintendent, one of the many union workers at the press conference.

June 17, 2010
Fiorina: Obama should clean up oil, not push cap-and-trade

RB Fiorina 2.JPGRepublican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina admonished President Barack Obama Thursday for advocating legislation to wean Americans off fossil fuels before the energy company BP cleans up the massive oil spill devastating the Gulf Coast region.

Fiorina was speaking at a news conference held at the electrical contracting and engineering firm Rex Moore in Sacramento, where she lambasted her Democratic rival Sen. Barbara Boxer for failing to stimulate job growth in California.

When asked by a reporter about Obama's response to the oil spill, Fiorina answered, "His emphasis needs to be on cleaning up the spill. Instead, he seems to be ready to move on, castigate BP, which clearly deserves opprobrium, but he is moving along rapidly along with Barbara Boxer with whom he will be meeting apparently today or later this week to talk about cap-and-trade legislation."

Fiorina added, "I find it fascinating that while Barbara Boxer is focused on a new piece of cap-and-trade legislation that will most definitely destroy even more jobs in this country that the residents of the Gulf Coast are crying out for the opportunity to continue oil drilling because it means jobs for them and a livelihood for their families."

The Republican candidate spoke mostly about the state's unemployment picture, appearing alongside representatives from five area business suffering during the recession - Rex Moore Human Resources Director Greg Anderson, construction company S.D. Deacon's Vice President Paul Cunha, Lithographics owner Judi Bartlett, Sofia Restaurant owner Jeremy Bennett and Alzada Knickerbocker, owner of the Avid Reader bookstore in Davis and co-owner of the Avid Reader store in Sacramento.

June 16, 2010
Joe Biden to campaign for Barbara Boxer

Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to come to California next month to campaign and raise funds for Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who's facing a tough reelection challenge from Republican nominee Carly Fiorina.

Biden is scheduled to appear at Boxer fundraisers on July 8 in the Silicon Valley and July 9 in the city of Los Angeles, according to the Boxer campaign. President Barack Obama has already spoken at two Boxer fundraisers, one in Los Angeles in April and another in San Francisco in June.

June 9, 2010
Kaus gets just 5 percent, but remains defiant

Political blogger Mickey Kaus' upstart challenge to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer got a lot of media attention, including a piece in the august New York Times, but he didn't do particularly well in this week's primary election.

Boxer, of course, was renominated for a fourth term with more than 80 percent of the Democratic vote, and Kaus barely cracked 5 percent. But the news of the day is that Hollywood producer Brian Quintana, who didn't get any publicity, garnered nearly three times as many votes as Kaus.

Kaus, a long-time scribbler for the Slate website, was nonplussed by his third-place finish, posting a lengthy analysis on the Internet this morning that included this passage:

"I'm a blogger. I spent about $40,000. I had one part-time aide, a recent college grad who was prepping for his LSATs. We had no headquarters, no pollsters, no highly paid strategists and consultants. We had a couple of laptops and an old Volvo. And we still ripped off more than 100,000 votes from a three term incumbent because there is a large group of voters who are dissatisfied with the prevailing dogma of the Democratic party.

"I entered the race because I wanted to start up an argument among Democrats about the party's direction - about the need to say 'no' to the unions and to insist on securing the border before we even talk about amnesty."

June 4, 2010
Barbara Boxer punches back at Carly Fiorina

99983138JS008_SEN_BOXER_VIS.jpgU.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer set her targets this afternoon on her potential Republican rival Carly Fiorina after speaking to hundreds of people gathered at a conference of the nonprofit Urban Land Institute in Hollywood.

At a press conference after the speech, Boxer responded to Fiorina's latest TV ad criticizing her for focusing on global warming at the expense of national security.

"She's picked a fight with the entire military establishment," Boxer said of Fiorina. "And the military, the intelligence officials, people like John Warner, a war hero, a Republican, have stated unequivocally that in fact climate change is going to be the cause of wars over the next 20 years if we don't do something about it."

Boxer added that Fiorina was trying to distract attention from her record as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, when the company sold products to Iran despite U.S. laws prohibiting trade with the country.

"What she's doing is the oldest trick in the book," Boxer said. "She's very weak on terrorism because when she was CEO of Hewlett-Packard, they traded with Iran."

June 3, 2010
Campbell goes back on air in pre-primary push

GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Tom Campbell, now trailing opponent Carly Fiorina in some polls, has gone back on the air in the final days of the primary.

Campbell had pulled his television spots earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times reported. The ad resurgence comes as Fiorina appears to be widening a lead in the final week before the June 8 election. Two recent polls have given her a roughly 15-point edge on Campbell.

Campbell's spot hinges on the results of a recent USC-LA Times poll, which showed Campbell the only candidate beating Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in a hypothetical general election match-up. The poll, which gave Fiorina a 15-point lead, also found that Campbell would beat Boxer, 45-38. Boxer beat Fiorina in the hypothetical match-up 44-38.

The 30-second spot, which you can watch below, will air statewide on cable and in select broadcast markets, including Los Angeles, through Tuesday, a campaign spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, the Fiorina and Boxer camps have been trading blows on Fiorina's new ad attacking the three-term senator. The Mercury News has more on that here.

May 27, 2010
U.S. Senate candidates release campaign finance totals

Former Rep. Tom Campbell outpaced his two main GOP rivals in contributions over the seven-week stretch ending May 19, according to campaign finance reports filed today.

Campbell raised $989,662 in the reporting period between April 1 and May 19 and had $975,271 in cash on hand as of May 19, his campaign announced. He has raised a total of $2.6 million.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina raised $909,833 in contributions over the same period. Fiorina had $620,460 in cash on hand as of May 19. She has raised nearly $3.7 million during her campaign.

Fiorina loaned herself an additional $1.9 million in the last week, bringing her total to $5.5 million over the course of her campaign.

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, raised $514,608 in the reporting period and has $276,614 on hand. He has raised a total of $2.34 million.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who faces no serious competition in the primary, raised $2 million over the same period and has nearly $9.7 million in cash on hand in preparation for the general election.

Boxer has had two fundraisers with President Barack Obama since April 1, one in Los Angeles that generated $500,000 for her campaign and another Tuesday in San Francisco that netted $600,000. The bulk of money from Tuesday's event was not included in the latest filing, according to her campaign.

May 24, 2010
Kaus wants to horn in on Boxer fundraiser

Political blogger and self-proclaimed U.S. Senate candidate Mickey Kaus wants to horn in on Sen. Barbara Boxer's big San Francisco fundraiser Tuesday.

With President Barack Obama as the starring attraction, Boxer hopes to raise $1.5 million for her re-election campaign against whoever emerges from three-way Republican primary contest.

But Kaus, who gave up his nationally distributed blog to run against Boxer in the primary, says he's reserved a room at a Holiday Inn in San Francisco, several notches below the Fairmont Hotel, where the Boxer fundraiser will be held, and invited her to an afternoon debate.

"We know Senator Boxer will be in San Francisco then, because she's having a $35,000-a-couple fundraiser a few blocks away that evening," Kaus said."Surely she can take some time before resuming her frantic hoovering of campaign cash to walk down the street to the Holiday Inn and debate the actual issues she's been avoiding in the primary--like her lockstep loyalty to organized labor, or support for illegal immigrant legalization."

Kaus is still waiting for a response from Boxer. He'll probably still be waiting Tuesday afternoon, but says he'll show up and have a "debate" at 2 p.m. even if she's absent.

May 19, 2010
Poll: GOP Senate race a dead heat for Campbell, Fiorina

GOP Senate hopefuls Tom Campbell and Carly Fiorina remain locked in a statistical dead heat with less than three weeks to go until the June 8 primary, according to a poll released tonight by Public Policy Institute of California.

Fiorina posted a slight lead, with 25 percent support among likely GOP primary voters. Twenty-three percent of respondents said they backed Campbell.

PPIC's March survey found similar results, with 24 percent of respondents backing Fiorina and 23 percent backing Campbell.

May 14, 2010
Fiorina loans campaign $1.1 million

RB Carly Fiorina 2.JPGFormer Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has loaned her campaign another $1.1 million in her Republican bid for the U.S. Senate.

Fiorina previously loaned her campaign $2.5 million, and her personal wealth gives her an advertising advantage heading into the final few weeks before the June 8 primary. Her GOP opponents, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, and former Rep. Tom Campbell have relied far more on fundraising efforts.

Fiorina has been running television and radio ads statewide since Sunday, hoping to cut into Campbell's polling lead in the three-way race.

A Rasmussen Poll released today showed Campbell and incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in a virtual dead heat in a hypothetical November matchup, with Boxer at 42 percent and Campbell at 41 percent. Rasmussen also had Boxer at a 46-40 advantage over DeVore and a 45-38 advantage over Fiorina.

May 13, 2010
Mickey Kaus tries his hand as U.S. Senate candidate

These days Mickey Kaus has eight other things he should be doing at any given moment, like mobilizing volunteers and finding large e-mail lists he could use to hit up people up for money.

He's expected to have positions on issues like partial-birth abortion and the Chinese yuan.

And potential voters who critique the website for his candidacy aren't kind.

""They're not friendly about it," Kaus said. "They say, 'You call yourself a candidate? You don't even have PayPal on your site. That's pathetic.' "

Kaus, the political blogger running as a primary challenger to Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, doesn't even have a particular beef against her. When he crashed an L.A. press conference she held on health care, he thought she was pretty good.

May 7, 2010
Carly Fiorina hits Barbara Boxer in two new ads

GOP Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina is taking aim at her could-be general election opponent Sen. Barbara Boxer in two new television ads.

One 30-second spot, which you can watch below, features close-up shots of people lamenting spending, the deficit and Washington. The second hinges on the question: "Does Barbara Boxer's big government mean more jobs?" (Fiorina's answer to that one, of course, is no.)

But Fiorina has to emerge as the winner of a hotly contested three-way primary before taking on Boxer in the fall. Recent polls have shown a tight race between former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell.

And she's not the only candidate in the three-way race already hitting the airwaves with shots at the three-term senator. Campbell has run a spot blasting Boxer for asking a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers brigadier general to call her "senator" rather than "ma'am" during a Senate hearing.

Watch the two ads below:

April 28, 2010
Mike Huckabee endorses Chuck DeVore in GOP Senate race

Chuck DeVore has joined the club of U.S. Senate candidates with a 2008 presidential candidate in their corner.

The Irvine assemblyman announced today that 2008 GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, has endorsed his campaign for the GOP U.S. Senate primary.

Huckabee said DeVore earned the support of him and his political action committee because he will "work to bring some common sense back to Washington."

"Chuck DeVore has a clear pro-life record, with a 100% pro-life, pro-family rating from the Capitol Resource Institute in Sacramento and a 100% rating from the pro-life, conservative California Republican Assembly," Huckabee, who now has his own show on Fox News, said in a statement.

DeVore's current and could-be opponents also have the backing of 2008 presidential contenders. GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, has hit the campaign trail for Carly Fiorina. President Barack Obama has headlined fundraisers for incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. He plans to return to California for another fundraiser next month.

April 20, 2010
Campbell launches anti-Boxer ad

Get used to seeing a clip of Sen. Barbara Boxer asking an Army Corps of Engineers brigadier general to call her "senator" rather than "ma'am" during a 2009 hearing.

GOP Senate candidate Tom Campbell has just launched a TV ad featuring the clip from last year. His campaign says the new ad is running on cable stations statewide.

"There's an arrogance that I see right now in the federal government," Campbell says, before the ad cuts to the Boxer footage. The ad then has Campbell suggesting that Boxer's vote for a health care overhaul was indicative of the same "arrogance."

The Boxer footage was tailor-made for a GOP campaign, considering it features a terse Boxer interrupting a military man, asking him to call her "senator" because she "worked so hard to get that title." All three Senate Republican candidates have seized upon the clip; Assemblyman Chuck DeVore has referenced it on the campaign trail and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina used it in her splashy state GOP convention video.

April 20, 2010
Obama coming to San Francisco for Boxer

Obama.jpgBy Rob Hotakainen in Washington

It appears that Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer is going to get lots of help from the White House as she seeks a fourth term this year.

Boxer's campaign announced today that President Barack Obama will travel to the Bay Area next month to attend a joint fundraising event for Boxer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Obama attended a fundraiser for Boxer in Los Angeles last night.

"The jet fumes of Air Force One haven't even cleared, and already Barbara Boxer is begging for an encore," Republican National Committee spokesman Jahan Wilcox said via e-mail. "Obviously the internals in the Boxer campaign indicate that she is going to have the fight of her political career."

PHOTO CREDIT: President Barack Obama hugs Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., at a fundraiser for Boxer and the Democratic National Committee at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on Monday. (AP Photo/ Alex Brandon)

April 17, 2010
Barbara Boxer: We have to match Tea Party enthusiasm

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer acknowledged this morning that she will face a tough re-election battle and called on her fellow Democrats to match the enthusiasm she saw in Tea Party activists.

Boxer was speaking before hitting the stage at the California Democratic Party convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

She said she's long been a target of conservatives but said she has been surprised by some of the rhetoric that she's seen from her GOP counterparts in Congress.

"Some people take those words, and it might move them to do things that are dangerous to society," Boxer said. "I'm just going to do what I've always done. ... I'm not afraid of this fearmongering."

Boxer then fired an opening salvo in the brewing battle to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

"Some of my (Republican) colleagues said they're going to filibuster a Supreme Court justice even before they know who it is," Boxer said. "I would say that's just wrong on its face."

Important to winning this year, Democrats have to match the energy of Tea Party activists, who rallied across the nation Thursday, the three-term senator said.

"At this point, I think the polls are showing that there is more enthusiasm with the tea party party," Boxer said, "and I think it is absolutely a fact that we have to match that enthusiasm."

April 16, 2010
Feinstein to chair Boxer's re-election campaign

DianneFeinstein1.jpgDemocratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is stepping up her role in supporting Senate colleague Barbara Boxer's re-election bid.

Feinstein, who is up for re-election in 2012, will chair Boxer's campaign.

A release announcing the leadership role plays up the collaboration between the two Democrats.

"Senator Boxer and I make a great team for California," Feinstein said in a statement. "That's why I'm so proud to chair Senator Boxer's campaign. Barbara is a proven and effective leader for California, and our strong partnership is essential in creating jobs and turning our economy around."

"We've built a strong working partnership, and I want to make sure we continue working side by side as an effective team for California," Boxer added.

Boxer is gearing up for a tough re-election fight, with polls showing all three GOP Senate hopefuls in a close race with the three-term senator.

April 13, 2010
Boxer's re-election rating slips

California Congress in Play.jpgCalifornia Sen. Barbara Boxer's prospects of winning a fourth term this year have dimmed, according to a new appraisal by CQ Politics, an arm of Congressional Quarterly.

The CQ Politics appraisal, changing Boxer's race from "likely Democratic" to "leans Democratic," is based largely on recent polls indicating that Boxer is in a virtual tie with the two top Republican candidates, Carly Fiorina and Tom Campbell.

"And while the three Republican candidates...have benefited from plenty of earned media thanks to their testy primary battle, Boxer's drop in the polls came before any of them were on the air with campaign ads," wrote CQ Politics' Emily Cadei.

The full appraisal can be found here.

April 12, 2010
2010 U.S. Senate fundraising totals so far

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer collected $2.4 million in the first quarter and had $8.7 million in cash on hand as of March 31, her campaign announced Monday.

The Democratic incumbent faces a tough challenge in her re-election bid this year, according to recent polls that show her barely beating, and in some cases trailing, her potential GOP opponents.

In the Republican primary, former Republican congressman Tom Campbell announced last week that he had raised $1.6 million in the first quarter since switching to the Senate race in January. He did not say how much cash he had on hand; full reports are due Thursday.

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, has not formally announced his campaign finance totals, but he suggested in a blog post last week that he had raised $600,000 in the first quarter of 2010. He mentioned that his total fundraising was at $1.8 million, a boost from the $1.2 million he reported at the end of 2009.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has not yet released fundraising totals for the first quarter of 2010. She reported having $2.75 million in cash on hand at the end of 2009 after loaning her campaign $2.5 million. She raised $1.1 million in contributions last year.

April 8, 2010
Group lists Feinstein, Boxer as immigration-reform supporters

California's two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, are rated as "supports immigration reform" in a new scorecard of the Senate's 100 members by a pro-reform group called "Immigrants' List."

The scorecard, based on senators' votes and public statements, lists 34 as supporting reform, 25 opposed and 41 -- fairly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans -- somewhere in the middle.

The same organization did a scorecard on House members recently, showing a sharp partisan split in California's delegation.

The full list can be found here.

April 5, 2010
Obama focus group dishes on Pelosi, Boxer, Brown, Whitman

Over the weekend, The Bee took a look at what a group of 12 Sacramento-area residents who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 had to say about the president's performance after his first 15 months in office.

Participants in the two-hour focus group, conducted for the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, also took a breather from national issues to chat about California's political climate.

Asked in rapid-fire succession how they felt about several big names running for election this year, the voters -- who had no shortage of views on Obama and national woes -- often came up short of opinions. But here are the words they did use to describe some of the leading candidates for office in the Golden State:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Half of the participants identified Pelosi as "the face of Congress." And by their descriptions, it seemed the San Francisco Democrat's leading role in the health care debate gave her strong marks. They called her "strong," "shrewd," "powerful," " persistent" and a "leader."

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer: Very few of the mostly Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents participating in the focus group had a view of the three-term senator who is expected to face one of her toughest re-election battles, though nine out of 12 said they hoped she wins re-election. The two words that came to mind for participants? "Progressive" and "longevity."

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown: Brown's been a longtime figure in state politics, but his experience didn't seem to be much of a positive among these voters. They described the attorney general, who turns 72 on Wednesday, as "outdated," "old" (twice), "unelectable" and, one saving grace, "for the people."

GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman: Whitman's big media buys and high-spending campaign made a mark with these Obama voters. They described the former eBay executive as "rich," "insincere," "big spender" and "scary." One participant quipped: "She thinks the state is eBay."

April 1, 2010
Boxer downplays re-election vulnerability during local stop

California Congress in Play.jpgDemocratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer on Thursday downplayed poll numbers suggesting she faces her most difficult re-election campaign yet this year, saying she has won 10 straight hard-fought races.

"It's tough, a lot of the years were very tough, and a lot of the pundits like you were predicting my losses every single time I've run," Boxer said, responding to a reporter's question at a Port of West Sacramento press conference. "And all I can say is, I take nothing for granted."

The latest Field Poll found last month that Boxer was trailing former GOP Congressman Tom Campbell by 1 percentage point in a hypothetical matchup, while Boxer had a 1-point margin over former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and a 4-point lead over Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine. The margin of error was 3.7 points.

By comparison, Boxer had a 13-point lead over her closest GOP rival in a January 2004 Field Poll. She had a smaller 2-point lead in March 1998 over GOP candidate Matt Fong.

Boxer visited the Port of West Sacramento to promote a recent solar installation and $30 million in federal stimulus funds to launch container barge service between ports in West Sacramento, Oakland and Stockton. She was joined by West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, Sacramento-Yolo Port District Commission Chairman Mike McGowan and other local officials.

She alluded to the fact that more such visits would help her campaign efforts.

"You know, this is a big state," Boxer said. "It's got 38 million people, almost, now. So every six years when you run, they have a lot of other things on their mind. They haven't been following everything I've done for the port. They haven't followed everything I've done for kids and crime, fighting crime, and so on. So I've got to get out there, and I'm not worried. I'm excited."

Boxer defended the health care overhaul passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.

"Overall, I think people will be pleased," Boxer said. "My opponents want to repeal it. So in this election, there's going to be a very clear choice, and the people will decide."

PHOTO CREDIT: Sen. Barbara Boxer discusses the Copenhagen climate talks during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 14, 2009. (AP Photo/ Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

March 24, 2010
Poll: Support for same-sex marriage reaches 50 percent

Support for same-sex marriage appears to be increasing in California and has hit 50 percent for the first time in polling by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The new survey indicates that gay marriage advocates who want to repeal California's Proposition 8 might have a fighting chance of prevailing, if they can qualify their measure for the November ballot.

Proposition 8, passed in 2008, places a prohibition on same-sex marriage in the state constitution and is being litigated in federal court. While one faction of gay marriage supporters is backing the repeal initiative, another group has contended that the climate for repeal must change more before trying to undo Proposition 8.

The PPIC poll found that support for gay marriage has reached 50 percent for the first time since the San Francisco-based think tank began polling on the issue in 2000. A sharp partisan division remains, with 64 percent of Democrats supporting same-sex marriage rights, while 67 percent of Republicans are opposed. However, 55 percent of independents are in favor.

The PPIC poll covered a wide range of political and social topics, and its findings largely mirrored those of a recent series of polls by the Field Research Corp. Among them:

• Businesswoman Meg Whitman has a very wide lead over Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, 61 percent to 11 percent, in their contest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and she's slightly ahead of the sole Democratic candidate, Attorney General Jerry Brown, 44 percent to 39 percent.

• Like the Field Poll, PPIC found that the economy, by a wide margin, is the political policy issue uppermost in the minds of voters.

• Another Republican business executive, Carly Fiorina, and former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell are virtually tied for the U.S. Senate nomination, with Assemblyman Chuck DeVore far behind both. With the leaders in the mid-20 percent range, nearly half of Republicans say they are undecided. Either Campbell or Fiorina is virtually tied with Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

• By a 2-1 margin, California voters are inclined to vote for Proposition 14, which would create a new kind of primary election for political offices in which all candidates, regardless of party, would appear on the same ballot and the top two primary vote-getters would face each other in the November general election.

• Nearly 70 percent of Californians support immigration reform, including creating a pathway to citizenship for those in the country illegally.

• While 77 percent believe that the state budget crisis is a big problem, they divide evenly on whether the deficit should be mostly by spending cuts (39 percent) or a combination of cuts and new taxes (38 percent), but just 6 percent say it should be taxes alone.

• Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's approval rating among voters has plummeted to 25 percent, virtually identical to the Field Poll number, while the Legislature's performance wins approval of just 9 percent, the first time that figure has dropped into the single digits. Field had it at 13 percent.

• President Barack Obama's standing in California also has slipped, with approval now at 52 percent among voters, down 13 percentage points from a year ago. Congressional approval has also declined to 14 percent, half of what it was in January. But, oddly, 44 percent of voters like the job their own congressional members are doing.

Complete poll results on these and other issues may be found here.

March 12, 2010
Blogger Mickey Kaus challenges Boxer in primary

Mickey Kaus, a political blogger on the Slate website, filed papers Friday to challenge U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in June's Democratic primary, saying the three-term senator is too tied to liberal interest groups.

"I have no special beef with the incumbent," Kaus said in his announcement. "She is a state-of-the-art Democrat. But to be state-of-the-art" in our party is not such a good thing anymore. State of the art" means the incumbent has learned to please the party's interest groups, often at the expense of the needs of average individuals and the party's own ideals."

Kaus, who lives in Southern California and is the son of former state Supreme Court Justice Otto Kaus, has been especially critical of illegal immigration in his Slate column. He said his status with Slate remains uncertain with his decision to run against Boxer.

Polls indicate that Boxer's approval rating among California voters is less than 50 percent. Three Republicans are vying to for the GOP senatorial nomination.

March 5, 2010
AM Alert: Senate hopefuls face off; Arnold pumps up expo

The three Republicans seeking to knock Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer out of her seat will trade blows in their first on-air debate today.

The noon debate on KTKZ AM's "The Capitol Hour" marks the first time the three primary candidates -- ex-U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell, former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina and state Assemblyman. Chuck DeVore -- face off on the issues.

The debate, moderated by Capitol Hour host Eric Hogue, will air at

DeVore and Fiorina will have a chance go for round two later in the day, when both appear at the L.A. County Young Republican Federation Candidate Forum.

March 2, 2010
Slate's Mickey Kaus challenges Barbara Boxer in Dem primary

Mickey Kaus, an online political blogger on the Slate Web site, has taken out nomination papers to challenge U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in June's Democratic primary.

Kaus, who lives in Southern California and is the son of former state Supreme Justice Otto Kaus, portrays himself as a centrist Democrat and has been particularly critical of his party's position on illegal immigration.

Kaus explained his embryonic candidacy in his own Slate column, which is dubbed KausFiles, saying, "The basic idea would be to argue, as a Democrat, against the party's dogma on several major issues (you can guess which ones). Like-minded Dem voters who assume they will vote for Sen. Boxer The Incumbent in the fall might value a mechanism that lets them register their dissent in the primary."

Kaus, who often comments on California issues, said it's uncertain how his candidacy would affect his position with Slate.

January 29, 2010
HP contributions go to Barbara Boxer, not Carly Fiorina

So far, Hewlett-Packard has given the maximum amount to Sen. Barbara Boxer but hasn't contributed toward its own former CEO, Carly Fiorina, campaign finance reports show.

Boxer has received the maximum $10,000 from Hewlett-Packard's political action committee toward her re-election, including $3,000 in the last quarter of 2009, her campaign reported today. HP's PAC gives to congressional candidates "who share HP's public policy views," using donations from employees rather than corporate funds, according to HP's Web site.

Fiorina, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, was president and CEO of HP from 1999 to 2005, when she was fired in a dispute with the company's board of directors. The only HP-related donation she reported was a $250 contribution from a Roseville-based HP manager.

One of Fiorina's GOP rivals, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, benefited more than Fiorina from the HP fortune. DeVore received $2,400 from Arianna Packard, the granddaughter of the founder of Hewlett Packard, according to the Los Angeles Times.

January 27, 2010
Campbell, Whitman fare well in new PPIC poll

Republicans Tom Campbell and Meg Whitman fare well in a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Campbell, a former Silicon Valley congressman who shifted his political ambition this month from governor to U.S. senator, already enjoys a strong lead over GOP rivals Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore, the poll found, and is locked in a near-tie with Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Whitman, former CEO of eBay, has increased her lead over Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner among Republicans with Campbell out of the contest, PPIC's survey found, and trails the sole Democratic candidate, Attorney General Jerry Brown, by only a few points.

PPIC's results generally reflect those of another new statewide poll by the Field Research Corp., but came up with closer results in the theoretical gubernatorial and senatorial matchups.

January 21, 2010
Supreme Court decision could affect Barbara Boxer race

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling today overturning restrictions on independent spending by corporations and labor unions could have an immediate impact this year in California's U.S. Senate race.

California state campaign finance rules already allow corporations and unions to give directly to independent expenditure campaigns without limits, so the court decision will have little impact on state contests.

But the decision overturns federal rules requiring that corporations and unions establish political action committees, or PACs, to spend on elections. Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies and an architect of California campaign finance rules, said the ruling should have a greater impact for corporations, who have access to more money and have been less adept than unions at navigating PAC rules in the past.

As we reported today, Republicans in California believe they have a shot at unseating Sen. Barbara Boxer in November and were emboldened by Scott Brown's victory Tuesday in Massachusetts. Boxer leads all three GOP hopefuls in head-to-head matchups, but she is hovering at or below the 50 percent mark. Conventionally, that's a sign that an incumbent is vulnerable, but Boxer has a history of modest support in early polling.

"It certainly changes the Boxer race," Stern said. "It means corporations, without setting up a PAC, can spend as much as they want opposing Boxer."

January 11, 2010
Schwarzenegger suggests handing illegal prisoners to U.S.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger suggested one more "trigger" alternative Monday if the federal government does not provide California with additional federal funds -- transferring undocumented immigrant prisoners to the federal government.

The Republican governor last week relied on getting $880 million in federal funds for undocumented inmates to help bridge the state's $19.9 billion deficit through June 2011. President Barack Obama proposed eliminating that funding altogether last year, and Congress plans to allocate not even half that amount for all 50 states.

"Why should we pay for it when it is the federal government that is having the lax policies on the borders, and is really in charge of immigration policies?" Schwarzenegger said Monday in Torrance during a press conference to promote his job creation plan. "So why should we pay for it? We just want to hand them over all those prisoners. You take them. If you don't want to pay us, you take the prisoners."

October 9, 2009
AM Alert: Dead heat for DeVore, Fiorina

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer holds a strong edge over possible Republican challengers seeking to unseat her in the 2010 election, according to a new Field Poll of registered voters.

The poll, conducted via telephone between Sept. 18 and Oct. 6, showed Boxer holding a double-digit lead over two GOP hopefuls, declared candidate Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, and former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina, who has not declared her candidacy but has formed an exploratory committee.

Boxer beat Fiorina 49 percent to 35 percent, and DeVore 50 percent to 33 percent.

The poll indicated that much of Boxer's lead could stem from low name recognition for both Fiorina and DeVore.

While 87 percent of those surveyed held an opinion about the Democratic senator (48 percent favorable, 39 percent unfavorable), 72 percent of voters have no opinion of Fiorina and 82 percent have no opinion of DeVore.

With eight months until the GOP primary election, the poll results put DeVore and Fiorina in a dead heat. DeVore, who trailed Fiorina by 12 points in a March Field Poll, came in with 20 percent support among Republican primary voters in the latest poll, just one point behind Fiorina's 21 percent.

Amy Chance has more on the poll and what it means in today's Bee. Click here to check out statistical tabulations prepared exclusively for Capitol Alert.

Legislative leaders met with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last night to continue negotiations on a package of water bills, but no deal was met. They're scheduled to meet again at 10 a.m. today.

The governor, who has until Sunday to act on more than 700 bills sent to his desk, has threatened to veto a large chunk of the legislation unless leaders work out the complicated plan.

Also on the water front, Schwarzenegger is scheduled to attend a 2:30 p.m. rally staged by the Latino Water Coalition. The governor was instrumental in creating the coalition, according to a Capitol Weekly report.

Today's day two of the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee's hearings on the tax commission's proposals for overhauling the state's revenue structure. Click here to see the hearing agenda and a list of speakers.

Democratic Rep. Doris Matsui is holding her first in-person town hall forum on health care this weekend. As Rob Hotakainen reported in August, the lawmaker took heat for failing to talk face-to-face with constituents about the hot-button issue.

The forum is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the multipurpose room of Sutter Middle School in Sacramento.

And, just because it's Friday:

San Francisco Weekly has declared today "Comb Your Hair Like Gavin Newsom Day" in honor of the Democratic guv-hopeful's 42nd birthday (which falls tomorrow). Pics of participants' slick 'do's can be uploaded to the mag's Flickr feed.

August 31, 2009
Boxer, McClintock lead money chase for 2010

From Rob Hotakainen in Washington:

Rep. Tom McClintock has raised $635,914 for the 2010 election cycle, more than any other California Republican on Capitol Hill.

Among Democrats, Sen. Barbara Boxer leads the pack, with $8.3 million.

That's according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which has assembled a list showing how much candidates have raised so far in each of the state's congressional districts and in the Senate race.

Boxer is seeking a fourth term, while McClintock is running for a second term.

Read the breakdown here.

August 11, 2009
Boxer talks new novel on 'Colbert'

"The Colbert Report" host Stephen Colbert doesn't believe that Sen. Barbara Boxer's new novel, "Blind Trust," is fiction, or that the Democratic senator doesn't have a "school-girl crush" on former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Barbara Boxer
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMeryl Streep

Click here to see one reason Colbert is happy about the book.

April 25, 2009
Boxer, Feinstein developing joint positions on ballot measures

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer said today that she and fellow Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein are developing joint positions on the May 19 ballot measures.

The six measures -- placed on the ballot to implement a state budget deal cut by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic leaders in the Legislature -- have divided both political parties. Proposition 1A in particular, extends tax increases decried by Republicans and creates long-term spending restrictions upsetting to Democrats and their core constituency, organized labor.

Sen. Feinstein and I decided we were going to work together on this, and we will have a statement coming on this.," Boxer said at a news conference after he speech at the California Democratic party's annual convention. "You may have noticed we've been a little hectic and very involved in our work in Washington. so we don't know the ramifications yet of all these different propositions -- what it does to education, what it does to mental health, what it does for the future of our state."

Boxer said the choices are "very tough."

"We know this was a grand compromise," Boxer said. "I'm glad that the Legislature got a to point where they at least put something together. But before I tell you how I'm recommending people vote I want to know what I'm talking about."

April 14, 2009
Boxer: $4.6 million in the bank

In preparation for her 2010 reelection campaign, Sen. Barbara Boxer has a $4.6 million warchest, reports Rick Orlov of the Los Angeles Daily News .

March 31, 2009
Ex-HP chief Fiorina 'seriously considering' challenging Boxer

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, said Tuesday that she is "seriously considering" challenging Sen. Barbara Boxer's reelection bid in 2010.

The 54-year-old Republican businesswoman was in Washington D.C. where she told reporters, "I've had the opportunity to be involved in the political community, policy community and business, and that's a great advantage. I understand all those realms."

The San Jose Mercury News reports that Fiorina, who underwent breast cancer surgery earlier this month, will resume a full schedule after chemotherapy, which is set to begin soon.

Fiorina was a keynote speaker at last month's California Republican Party convention, but remained mum about her political plans at the time.

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, a Republican, is already actively seeking the GOP nomination.

In a February Field Poll, Boxer, a Democrat, outpolled Fiorina, 55 percent to 25 percent. But Boxer's support was generally lukewarm, with voters almost evenly divided about whether they were inclined to reelect her (43 percent to 44 percent).

Boxer's campaign immediately turned Fiorina's comments into a fundraising pitch to supporters before tonight's federal fundraising deadline.

Writing that "Fiorina reportedly received more than $150 million during her time at HP," Boxer campaign aide Rose Kapolczynski pleaded that, "We need to make sure that Barbara Boxer has all the resources she needs to compete against Carly Fiorina's deep pockets, while showing the press and pundits that Barbara's campaign is off to a strong, early start."

Boxer has already raised more than $4 million for her reelection.

February 27, 2009
DeVore drills way toward U.S. Senate bid

While former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina dances the will-she or won't-she waltz toward a possible 2010 challenge to Democratic U.S. Sen Barbara Boxer, fellow Republican Chuck DeVore is wasting little time to jump into the fray.

Besides slicing and dicing Boxer during a red-meat speech to the California Republican Party convention last weekend, the assemblyman from Irvine let it be known that he will push a plan to get dollars flowing into California's coffers without soaking average state taxpayers.

His plan: Drill, baby, drill.

DeVore says there are 9 billion barrels of oil waiting to be had beneath California's coastal waters. He calls for an aggressive off-shore oil exploitation program, using slant drilling technology. He says tax revenues produced by increased oil operations may well grease the way to balanced state budgets.

"Those are state waters," he says. "That's our oil."

February 12, 2009
Boxer, Graham slug it out over stimulus plan

The Web site Real Clear Politics has posted a CNN clip showing California's junior senator, Barbara Boxer, in a heated exchange with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina over what the Democrat called the Republicans' "theatrical" opposition to the federal stimulus package.

Watch it here.


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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