Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

September 20, 2012
Poll: Should the national political conventions get tax dollars?

Rep. Dan Lungren wasn't in Tampa as other members of the GOP gathered for the Republican National Convention last month.

Now, the Gold River Republican is part of a bipartisan push to ensure taxpayer cash skips out on the quadrennial political conventions, too.

Lungren voted aye this week on federal legislation to prohibit the use of public funds for the national nominating conventions, which are currently partially subsidized by taxpayers who elect to send some of their own tax dollars to a public campaign financing fund.

The Associated Press quoted Lungren as calling the events ""weeklong televised movie sets and almost entirely symbolic."

"American taxpayers should not be subsidizing political party conventions," he said.

September 7, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Villaraigosa's convention sours

VIDEO: Dan says things didn't work out at the Democratic National Convention exactly how Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would have liked.

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

September 6, 2012
Hundreds stranded outside Democratic National Convention

lockout 006.jpg

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Hundreds of ticketholders were stranded outside the Democratic National Convention ahead of President Barack Obama's acceptance speech here tonight, after officials said the arena reached capacity and closed the doors.

The lockout came after forecast storms forced organizers to move the final night of the convention from Bank of America Stadium to the smaller Time Warner Cable Arena, where the first two nights of the convention were held.

An official told a crowd outside the arena gate that the local fire marshal apologized and called the situation "embarrassing." The official said the gate would not re-open and that no ticketholders - even delegates and special guests - would be admitted.

September 6, 2012
Villaraigosa's handling of platform gets mixed reviews from CA

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Los Angeles Mayor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa is still facing questions about his handling of late changes to the Democratic party platform made this week, including from some delegates hailing from his own state.

Villaraigosa presided Wednesday over a vote to restore in the platform references to God and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The chair declared the amendments adopted after three voice votes from a divided Time Warner Cable Arena audience, drawing objections and boos from some in the crowd who felt the ayes had not hit the two-thirds margin needed for passage.

Dr. Sota Omoigai, a delegate from the San Fernando Valley, was among those dissenting.

"(Former President Bill Clinton) later came out and said one word the Republicans don't understand is arithmetic. There was no arithmetic done when Villaraigosa declared it was two-thirds that had given the voice vote," he said. "...I believe that democracy needs to be practiced in all aspects of the platform. This position cannot be shoved down the party."

September 6, 2012
VIDEO: Could canceling the DNC balloon drop save lives?

By Torey Van Oot and David Siders

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tiburon Democrat Elizabeth Moffet could barely believe the news when she learned last-minute change of venue for the final night of the Democratic National Convention means there will be no balloon drop after President Barack Obama accepts his party's nomination for re-election.

But after thinking about it for a minute, the three-time convention-goer said she didn't think the lack of balloons will affect the vibe in the hall tonight.

"There will be so much excitement after his speech," she said. "We'll survive. I'll be sad, but we'll be fine."

September 6, 2012
DNC chair admires California's 'oasis of Democratic politics'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman and congresswoman from Florida, was at ease this morning among a group of Democrats from deep-blue California.

"Let me just tell you how much I appreciate the oasis of Democratic politics that California is," she said at a delegation breakfast on the final day of the Democratic National Convention. "I know that you all feel like you live in heaven."

A man in the audience yelled, "We do!" and Wasserman Schultz said, "Understandably so."

California is so heavily Democratic that President Barack Obama is almost certain to carry the state, but several congressional seats are in play. Wasserman Schultz encouraged the California Democrats "to work harder than you ever have before" to win those elections.

Wasserman Schultz is from a swing state, in a southern Florida district that includes Miami Beach. For any Floridians watching, she suggested she's not so fond of California politics to be unhappy in the Sunshine State.

"I like to say that I'm Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Paradise," she said.

September 6, 2012
John Chiang: Democrats 'want this hotel to work'

chiang 003.jpg

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The scalding showers, stuck elevators and crumbling stucco at The Blake Hotel have been a source of frustration - and more than a few jokes - for California Democrats in town for the Democratic National Convention.

But perhaps no one tried harder to make a policy point about it than the state controller, John Chiang.

"We've made fun of this hotel," he said at a delegation breakfast this morning, on the final day of the convention. "Obviously it's been a little bit stressful, it's been a little bit challenging."

However, Chiang said, beyond "the safety issues, which are serious," are dozens of hardworking hotel staffers - and beyond that, apparently, is a reflection of the nation's needs.

"This country, as reflected in this hotel, requires three things," Chiang said.

He listed education, access to capital and infrastructure.

When infrastructure and leadership fail, he said, "you get The Blake Hotel."

September 6, 2012
VIDEO: Boxer, Pelosi, Feinstein deliver CA votes for Obama

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Democrats formally ordained President Barack Obama as their presidential nominee for the November election last night.

U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi were given the honor of announcing California's 609 delegate votes for Obama at the end of the Democratic National Convention session. A video of the three women delivering the vote is posted below.

Obama will deliver his acceptance speech tonight at the Time Warner Cable Arena.

September 5, 2012
Democratic delegates' view of California: Big, broke, baked

delegate.JPGCHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The opinion that Californians are a little off is apparently bipartisan.

The Golden State's blue politics didn't stop Democrats from across the country gathered here for the Democratic National Convention from developing views of the state similar to their GOP counterparts in Tampa, whose thoughts on the state included "weird" and "scary."

"I love California's weather, but the people -- I think some of them, the sun has affected their brains," said Marcia Hazelton, a Maryland delegate who spends several months a year in the state. The retiree cited onerous business licensing requirements faced by some friends selling goods in Venice Beach as one issue with her part-time home.

September 5, 2012
'Knife Fight' draws Californians at Democratic National Convention

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It usually isn't advisable to head to a knife fight at a national political convention.

But a small but star-studded crowd of Democratic National Convention attendees did just that this afternoon as they filed into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

No one got hurt.

The group was gathered to view a screening of "Knife Fight," a new movie co-written and co-produced by veteran Democratic strategist Chris Lehane. The film, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival, is about a California political consultant and the dirty tactics it can take to win.

September 5, 2012
Speaker John Pérez makes 'opportunity' theme of DNC speech

PerezConvention.jpgCHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez today called on Democrats to focus on the fight for opportunity as they head into the final months of the 2012 campaign.

"That is the spirit of our party and the guiding principle of President Obama. This election is our opportunity to rededicate ourselves to that commitment," the Los Angeles Democrat told the Democratic National Convention, calling the focus the "pathway to victory" for Democrats.

Pérez, a second-term legislator who was elected speaker in 2010, highlighted the need to ensure Americans have access to jobs, higher education and protections in the workplace regardless of their sexual orientation. His entrance was greeted with a standing ovation and cheers from the California delegation seated in the stands of the Times Warner Cable Arena.

Pérez is one of seven Californians scheduled to speak at the convention tonight.

PHOTO CREDIT: John A. Pérez, Speaker of the California State Assembly addresses the delegates. Harry E. Walker/ MCT

September 5, 2012
A big night for Californians at the Democratic National Convention

timeswarner.JPGCHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There will be no shortage of familiar Golden State faces on the stage during the second night of the Democratic National Convention.

The final schedule for tonight's program at the Times Warner Cable Arena includes no fewer than seven Californians.

Attorney General Kamala Harris is scheduled to speak close to prime time, taking the stage just before the network coverage begins at 10 p.m. eastern (7 p.m. pacific standard time). Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, former state Controller Steve Westly and investor Tom Steyer, who is backing Proposition 39 this November, and Reps. Karen Bass and Judy Chu are all on the speaker list.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the chairman of the convention, will address delegates just before former President Bill Clinton speaks.

PHOTO CREDIT: Delegates fill the Times Warner Cable Arena on Tuesday, the first night of the Democratic National Convention. The Sacramento Bee/Torey Van Oot

September 5, 2012
Dianne Feinstein lays out plans for another U.S. Senate term

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In the middle of a speech focused largely on the presidential race, Republican policies and propositions back home, U.S. Sen Dianne Feinstein took a few minutes to talk about her own bid on the ballot this year.

"As an aside," she said at breakfast for members of California's Democratic National Convention delegation. "I'm also running for re-election."

"I didn't know if I would do that or not, but I did," the 79-year-old Democrat added over the applause. "I believe my work as a United States senator is not yet complete."

Feinstein, who is seeking a fourth full term in the Senate, pledged to continue to protect abortion rights, fight for new legislation to renew the federal assault weapons ban and pursue an overhaul of immigration laws. She also spoke of continuing her work as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In an interview with reporters after the talk, the senator dismissed the notion that she considered not running again this year. She said she always intended to be a candidate and will "absolutely" fill out her six-year term if elected again.

September 4, 2012
Kevin Johnson talks to 'The O'Reilly Factor' makes rounds at DNC

kevinjohnson 013.jpg

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, judging by his Twitter feed, has been in some demand since arriving here for the Democratic National Convention, speaking at state delegation breakfasts and other functions.
"Good morning Sac!" he wrote this morning. "It's before 530am your time and already I spoke to 2 delegation bfast, Hawaii and Utah."

In a week made for partisan politics, Johnson said at a press conference this afternoon that his busy schedule is a chance to "take off my nonpartisan hat, or bipartisan hat. I'm a moderate Democrat from California, the mayor of Sacramento."

Leaving the press conference, Johnson was stopped by a crew from "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News, and Johnson's interviewer told him Bill O'Reilly sends his "warmest regards."

"I'm sure he does," Johnson said. "Bill and I shared a flight from the West Coast to the East Coast a couple years back, and I picked his brain and I tried to convince him to shift a little more to the left."

Said Johnson: "I wasn't very successful."

Johnson did "The O'Reilly Factor" interview, talked to a student journalist, then headed for the door.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson addresses a U.S. Conference of Mayors luncheon at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

September 3, 2012
John Burton compares Republicans to Nazi propagandist

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton, whose habit of making outrageous, often vulgar remarks is well known in California - but not, apparently, out of state - likened Republicans this morning to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

"They lie and they don't care if people think they lie," Burton told the San Francisco Chronicle and CBS News before a breakfast for California delegates to the Democratic National Convention. "Joseph Goebbels - it's the big lie, you keep repeating it."

Burton said Paul Ryan, the Republican Party's nominee for vice president, told "a bold-faced lie and he doesn't care that it was a lie. That was Goebbels, the big lie."

The remark was reminiscent of the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, when now-Gov. Jerry Brown compared Meg Whitman's media apparatus to Goebbels.

Burton is a special case, though. He said last year that major donors "can take a dump in my salad for $78-grand." This year, he said the party had its limits - it couldn't "get a hit squad" to threaten to burn down lawyer Molly Munger's house if she refused to pull out of a November tax battle with Brown.

Burton's statement today has caused a stir at the convention and has received national attention. The Republican Jewish Coalition, among other groups, condemned his remark.

September 3, 2012
Rep. John Lewis urges California to take campaign outside state

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rep. John Lewis urged California delegates today to take their campaign message outside their home state to help send President Barack Obama back to the White House this November.

"You know when to get involved. We need you," the Georgia Democrat said at a breakfast at the Blake Hotel housing the California delegation. "California's going to be all right. But we need you to travel to other parts of America and re-elect Barack Obama."

California, a blue state, isn't expected to be play in the presidential race this November. While Obama's approval ratings have dipped, the Democratic president led Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney 55 percent to 37 percent in a Field Poll of California voters released in July.

September 3, 2012
VIDEO: John Burton says N.C. makes no sense for DNC

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Labor leaders have been grumbling for months about the selection of North Carolina to host the Democratic National Convention, and California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton said this morning - on Labor Day - it "doesn't make any sense" to hold the convention in the right-to-work state.

"I didn't pick it," Burton told reporters at the state delegation hotel. "It doesn't make any sense to me, but that's me."

Burton was preparing to address delegates at a breakfast at the hotel.

Repeating a refrain made every four years by activists of both the Republican and Democratic parties, Burton said, "For once, truly, this is the most important election in history."

He added, however, that "probably there's a couple others going back to the 1800s."

September 2, 2012
California Democratic delegation more diverse than GOP

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - One week after California Republicans gathered in Tampa, Fla., for the Republican National Convention, California Democrats arriving here over the weekend composed a strikingly more diverse group.

About 28 percent of the Democratic delegation is Latino, according to a party official, compared to 7 percent of Republican delegates who identified themselves that way.

The rapidly expanding Latino share of the electorate provides the Democratic Party a substantial advantage in California. The Republican Party still struggles to attract those voters.

About 20 percent of the Democratic Party's delegates are African American, according to the party, compared to 3 percent of the Republican Party's delegation.

More than one in 10 Democratic delegates self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, the party said.

September 2, 2012
SWAG bags stuffed with campaign gear for California Democrats

photo (7).JPGCHARLOTTE, N.C. -- California delegates to the Democratic National Convention are getting a SWAG bag that is less glitz than campaign gear this year.

Among the contents of this year's gift bag: a "Wendy Greuel for Mayor of LA" water bottle, a pen and pad promoting state Board of Equalization Member Betty Yee's 2014 state controller bid and a pencil from the California Teachers Association urging the writer to vote No on Proposition 32, a ballot measure on campaign finance rules that unions are opposing.

September 2, 2012
One California Democrat hospitalized, another causes disturbance after night of drinking

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A California delegate to the Democratic National Convention was hospitalized early this morning, after apparently falling unconscious in a hotel lobby following a night of drinking, while another delegate became confrontational with hotel staff and has since left the delegation, a party official said.

The hospitalized man has since been released from the hospital, California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores said.

Flores said two men were involved in an incident early this morning in the lobby of the Blake Hotel, where the California delegation is staying. He declined to identify either man or to say where they are from.

"Oftentimes at conventions, people who have not seen each other for a long time gather and sometimes people have too much to drink," Flores said. "That appears to have been the case here, and we're gathering more information."

Later, in a statement, Flores said the delegate who was not hospitalized became disruptive with hotel staff and emergency responders, prompting hotel staff to call police. He said the delegate was not arrested but was asked by the state party to leave the hotel and to not partake in convention activities. The statement said the delegate apologized to hotel staff and agreed to "forgo official delegation activities."

September 1, 2012
California Democrats arrive in Charlotte to wind-damaged hotel

Thumbnail image for blake.jpg

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Californian Democrats arriving here for the Democratic National Convention found their hotel to be in less than tip-top shape.

Stucco damaged by wind was pulled from the facade of the Blake Hotel on Friday, affecting at least seven rooms at the hotel where California's delegation is staying, The Charlotte Observer reported.

California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores said Saturday night that the hotel appears to have enough capacity to accommodate the delegation without affecting any of its more than 700 delegates, alternates and guests.

"I haven't heard of anybody having to move," Flores said.

Most California delegates were expected to arrive Sunday and Monday for the convention. The hotel has one major perk: It is within walking distance of the convention hall.

PHOTO CREDIT: California delegates to the Democratic National Convention arrive Saturday to find their hotel damaged by wind. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

September 1, 2012
California Democrats get big-name speakers for DNC breakfasts

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- California Democrats traveling to the Democratic National Convention are scheduled to hear from major names in national politics during daily breakfast briefings for the state delegation.

The list of speakers for the breakfasts at the Blake Hotel features some of the state's top elected Democrats, including House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Los Angeles Mayor and convention chair Antonio Villaraigosa and U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. Gov. Jerry Brown decided this week not to attend the convention, citing a need to stay in California to review the hundreds of bills sent to his desk in the last week and the recent death of his father in law.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, senior adviser to President Barack Obama Valerie Jarrett, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, and Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law school student who became a nationally-known women's health advocate after conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a slut on air, will also address California's delegation throughout the week.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

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.

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

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

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

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

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

More Capitol Alert

Capitol Alert on Twitter

Popular Categories

Now on


November 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Monthly Archives

Latest California Clips