Saturday, February 18, 2006

At the Lamorinda Club (Part 2)

Update 2: Welcome Kossacks. Join the fight against Pombo by making a small donation to the cause. It is more important that you give than the amount you give. Each person doing his or her own part really adds up. Also, if you live in Northern California and you want to fight Pombo, sign-up for our Say No to Pombo DFA-Link group. It's an online tool that we will use to organize offline action. There are already two events planned in the next month, and more are in the works.

Update 1: Don't overlook this take on the event, which was posted in the comment section.

In my last piece I discussed some peripheral things about the Lamorinda Democratic Club meeting last night. In this piece I’m going to discuss how the candidates did.
I’ll start by giving a brief description of what I took away from the event. Then I’ll copy two responses I’ve received from others who attended the event. Then I’ll respond to some of what was said in the two responses.

So to begin, I think it’s clear that the performances of Jerry McNerney and Steve Thomas were the most surprising for those of us who have been following the race closely. Incidentally, Steve Filson very well might have come across the best, so “surprising” is not a code-word for success.

So why were McNerney’s and Thomas’ performances surprising?

Well McNerney’s was surprising because he seriously under-performed. I’ve never seen him so stilted, so boring, or so disconnected from the audience. This ought to have been a friendly crowd and he really managed to underwhelm people. Furthermore, since McNerney has been regularly criticized for his very real lack of speaking ability, his poor performance will be taken as emblematic of what he can do. I have seen him do much better, although he has never been stupendous. But the people who saw him for the first time last night will probably assume (reasonably) that he is consistently that bad. McNerney is not. And in addition, I think he’s better with question and answer sessions and one on one. But he is still going to have problems if he cannot pick up his game. And he probably created some problems by doing so poorly in front of such a large, and important, audience.

I mean, I think some people who might forgive poor speaking ability per se are going to come out of last night convinced that McNerney is not up to snuff. They are going to take his performance as emblematic of his competence. McNerney simply cannot allow people in the grassroots to write him off.

Thomas was surprising for almost the opposite reason. I think he gave the best speech at the event, although it was also pretty clear to me that he’s running in the wrong district. Frankly, I do think he is too far on the left for CD-11. That said, I told him that I’d be very happy to work with him after this election. He’d be a welcome addition to any Democratic club and he certainly has a lot of potential. I’m sure there is a lot of potential for him to take on more overt political roles in his union, and if he wanted to I’m sure he could build a base of support within a couple of years. But right now it’s unclear how he can mount a credible candidacy.

I have to say that I was impressed with the progress Filson has made. I mean, he began his speech with a comment about how important Democratic clubs are. It was light-years beyond his “Democratic clubs are not stakeholders in the Democratic Party” line. So he’s learning, which is good. His delivery was also pretty good, and I noticed that he brought all of his responses to the questions back to what he’d do in Congress. Still, I think there were two issues about Filson that prevented his performance from being a home run.

First, Filson really did not have strong responses to questions about Iraq or universal healthcare. He faced a dilemma in which he was to the right of his audience. But he responded by repeating rhetoric that was little more than political code words. If he could articulate a reason why he was opposed to universal healthcare, I think people might disagree but understand his position. Or if he has a better response on Iraq, I think people would disagree but understand. Instead, I found his responses to these particular issues fairly devoid of substance.

Second, Filson’s Mr. Hyde persona came out in two places during his performance. At one point McNerney had accidentally referred to the “War in Iran” instead of Iraq. It was not the only gaffe made, but it was pretty clear that he misspoke. Instead of staying silent on McNerney’s mistake, Filson used his intonation to emphasize the word “Iraq” and left a pause afterwards, thereby drawing further attention to McNerney’s mistake. I think it demonstrated a lack of graciousness that was beneath him. And then in his closing statement, Filson repeated some of the bad parts of the speech he gave to the South County Democratic Club. One of the two responses below goes into that in more detail, but I noticed this at the time and thought it came off badly.

So that has been my somewhat initial take on the race. Here are two responses I received from people who attended the meeting last night. I’m going to present them here and then respond to them somewhat obliquely afterwards.

Response One was published in the comment section here.

Jerry McNerney: I supported him last time and really appreciate his willingness to put his own $ into what most see as a lost cause. But here is something really grating about his presentation. He needs to lighten up a little work on his modulation. I just really wonder how he plays in Lodi or in the Tracy suburbs. Steve Thomas: I agree with most of what he said (he follows dkos and other blogs clearly) BUT I don't think he has much a chance in getting elected in rural San Joaquin County. He comes across as the 'smartest kid in the class' which people don't like. Steve Filson: I was prepared to not like him given the DCCC heavy handedness but he won me over. I like Steve a lot, he has a good plan for winning the district (note This is not Barbara Lee's district). So I switched sides from McNerney to Filson. Just my opinion, whatever we do we really need to WIN this district in Nov. I will support whoever the Democrats of the district select.


Response Two was posted as a comment here by Rick.
There were approximately 100 people at the Lamorinda Democratic Club event on Friday, February 17. The candidate forum went for about a hour a fifteen minutes. Each candidate got a 10 minute or so opening statement. Then the moderator read questions from the audience and each candidate had about a minute to respond. The forum then concluded with a two-minute closing statement from each candidate. My general observations of the forum are as follows:

Jerry McNerny: He looked tired and came across as lethargic. Got flustered at various points and made some obvious gaffes (e.g., saying that the U.S. invaded Iran instead of Iraq). His opening statement and responses to questions came across as disjointed and lacking a coherent message. McNerny also didn't inspire a lot of confidence in his motives when he stated that he jumped into the 2004 race because no one else was running against Pombo. Somewhat related, his campaign "scented" the room with dozens of McNerny signs and flyers posted on the walls. This looked tacky and amateurish and gave the appearance that the forum was rigged in his favor.

Steve Thomas: A natural public speaker (his voice has an uncanny resemblance to Harry Reid) who came across as sincere and genuine in his beliefs, but utterly unelectable. Some of his most pointed statements came awfully close to sounding like far-left conspiracy theories (i.e., at one pointed he stated that the neo-cons have drawn plans to invade all of the countries in the Middle East). Overall, he came across as an idealist who was out his element.

Steve Filson: It's apparent he’s been to candidate school. His statements were short, punchy, and easy to understand (i.e., sound bites), he made repeated use of personal stories of both himself and people he's met, and his stage presence was superior to the other three candidates. It was also apparent that he is more centrist than McNerny and Thomas, a fact he played down in response to several questions, most notably Iraq. His closing statement was terrible—he recycled that awful bit from the Morgan Hill Democratic Club speech that has been previously posted here about how he knows the district (e.g., "Do you know who the million dollar man is? [Explains Neil Diamond's appearance in Stockton]...You have to know the local issues if you're going run for Congress") For a guy who has the resources he has access to, surely someone must have told him that a). he is pointing out the obvious, and b). it comes across as condescending.

However, closing statement aside, Filson came across as the only one of the three who was ready for "prime time." He was the only candidate who avoided the self-deceiving trap of proposing to impeach the president (As an aside, it's ironic to see how many Democrats forget how wildly unpopular the Republican impeachment of Clinton was) and it's clear that his views are more in line with the mainstream of CA-11 than McNerny or Thomas. I went into the forum with an open mind and I am now squarely in the Filson camp now.

First all, I want to thank the authors of these responses. I welcome their reports back because they provide some way of knowing how others perceived the event. That said, neither of these responses came from people I had already knew were members of the Say No to Pombo community. So, unless I am mistaken, this is the first we’ve heard from them. I hope that they will continue to provide feedback, especially on Filson since they are both supporting him. I think a continued conversation with them would be beneficial to the Say No to Pombo community, so I hope that they continue to comment.

But I do have to say that I do not agree with some of their observations, or some of what I take to be the premises behind their conclusions. For example, let’s suppose that Steve Filson is really in a position to do better in the district than Jerry McNerney. What kind of evidence would you expect to see now that would show that Filson is destined to do better? You might think that Steve Filson would be raising more money than McNerney from within the district. But Filson is not. And Filson is not even raising more money in the conservative San Joaquin County. Filson is also not raising money from more donors in the district. And Filson has only now received his first endorsement from any organization in the district (the CCC-CLC), while McNerney has the endorsement of more Labor organizations than Filson and the formal endorsement of a Democratic club in the district, something Filson lacks.

Now my point is not that Filson is necessarily in a worse position than McNerney. Filson has more money, which will allow him to do more. And Filson is becoming a better speaker and communicator while McNerney is struggling to achieve sufficiency in those areas. But I still think it’s important to ask in pragmatic terms what it means that Filson is in a better position to win in the district.

One thing I think some people might not be appreciating to the same degree I do (for good or ill) is that personality only goes so far. One of McNerney’s advantages over Filson is that McNerney has surrogates who are well-established in their respective communities. Jerry McNerney does not convince everyone to vote for him. He can have his supporters work to convince members of their communities on his behalf.

So for example, in isolation I’m sure that McNerney did come across badly to some people last night. But in the context of the club, I doubt that any of the organizers who were there changed their mind about Filson or McNerney. And there is still a lot of time for people who are loyal to McNerney to essentially ride herd and bring people back into the fold so to speak. I don’t mean that in any coercive way mind you. I just mean that the social context is such that people who liked what Filson said last night and disliked what McNerney said are not lost causes for McNerney or definite votes for Filson. And so people should not underestimate the power of these informal structures of respect and friendship.

Now you take that one step further and you realize that there is tremendous power in a good ground game that relies on person-to-person interactions. A neighborhood has the same type of informal social networks that a club has. And they can be exploited through precinct captain programs and other similar activities.

Jerry McNerney’s supporters have always said that he will win the primary by out-organizing Filson. If McNerney does not sufficiently improve his public speeches, maybe he will not be able to recruit enough people to his cause, or motivate them to do what they need to do. But between today and a week from today, there are going to be dozens of people working for Jerry McNerney in one community or another. And collectively, what they do will have more impact and reach more people than last night’s speech.

I know a lot of people may disagree with me. That’s fine. But I really want to make clear that I view this race from an organizational and functional level. It’s how I approach politics and why I am so involved with the grassroots. And so although I think McNerney performed very far below what he both could and should have done, I also think that it counts more as a missed opportunity than an absolute setback.

Obviously, enough of these missed opportunities will really stall McNerney’s campaign. The next chance to change this dynamic is the Hayward Demos meeting next Friday. McNerney, Filson, and Charlie Brown (who is running against John Doolittle in CA-04) will be speaking.

Anyhow, others should feel free to post their perceptions of the Lamorinda event in the comments section. I’m packing for LA and flying down there tonight, so I most likely won’t be able to respond until late this evening.


Anonymous Anontoo said...

Matt, today there is a story on the Lamorinda Democratic Club Forum by Lisa Verderbrueggen online at the Contra Costa Times website.

3:00 PM, February 18, 2006  
Anonymous Rick said...

Thanks for re-posting my observations on the forum.

To address your points, the wariness I have about McNerny is that he lacks a compelling message that can convince voters who are not Democrats or not appalled by Pombo to vote for him. This is a problem for McNerny because if you look at how the votes breakdown, the Democratic candidate will need approximately 30,000 voters who voted for Pombo in 2004 to switch their votes in order to get a bare majority. Calling for the impeachment of Bush, denouncing the various free trade agreements, or offering only knee-jerk anti-Pombo positions will come across as radical to the portion of the electorate he needs to win over.

In contrast, Filson has a very centrist message that can appeal to moderate Republicans and independents who trend Republican. Pombo, and incumbents in general, have decisive advantage from the outset. The reality is that in order for a Democrat to win, Pombo will have to self-destruct much like Tom DeLay has done. All of the unseemly stories that keep coming out about him make this seem much more likely. Thus, the central issue is having a Democratic nominee who is positioned to take full advantage of a Pombo downfall.

8:01 PM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

(Not to be petty, but Lisa does read this blog -- her last name is Vorderbrueggen.)

I was not at the Lamorinda event, but I gather that Filson got his message across, and has this as a theme, as stated in Lisa's article:

"I believe in a strong defense, a balanced budget and getting government out of our personal lives. Republicans will like that message."

Maybe that will go over well with Republicans, as it sounds an awful lot like Pombo's message. Here are blurbs from Pombo's site and other places:

STRONG DEFENSE (from Pombo's website): "Congressman Pombo Protects Americans

Vigilance in the War on Terror:
Congress must take great strides to ensure our military and homeland forces have the necessary tools to protect our people.

Protecting the homeland and making the world a safer place require more than hunting down terrorists abroad. The United States must confront threats at home and abroad and be vigilant in dealing with the threat of weapons of mass destruction."

BALANCED BUDGET (from House archives): "Balanced Budget Amendment: Passage of H.J. Res. 1

Roll No. 51: January 26, 1995
Balanced Budget Amendment: By a recorded vote 300 ayes to 132 noes, the House passed H.J. Res. 1, proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Pombo, Republican, CA, Dist. 11, Y"

GOVERNMENT OUT OF PEOPLE'S LIVES (from his book, This Land is Our Land): "My property is inviolate as long as my actions do not violate the rights of others. Notice we did not say 'violate the sensibilities of others' or 'violate the enjoyment of others', or even 'violate the interests of American society.' This is a crucial point. Governments are justified in taking away or severely restricting property rights only if the exercise of those rights violates the rights of someone else."

Funny, from this perspective, Filson's platform does not sound all that different than Pombo's.

9:44 PM, February 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point - if that is what people are going to vote on they probably will stick with the incumbent.

11:15 AM, February 19, 2006  
Anonymous anontoo said...

VPO, Steve Filson is quoted in a newspaper article as making a statement. You then run over to Pombo's website and other sources of what Pombo thinks on issues?

What kind of reasoning or logic is that? All that time you spent typing what Pombo thinks.

I would have gone to Steve Filson's website for details on Steve Filson's thoughts?

Let's be fair.

4:23 PM, February 19, 2006  
Anonymous Hilary said...

I was at the Lamorinda event, and I consider McNerny the grass-roots candidate for CD 11. I agree with everyone who thinks his presentation is not as good as either Steve, and I worry about that - less for the primary than for November. I liked Thomas' politics, and I'm glad he's on our team. However, I think that McNerny has the bona fides as the grass roots candidate in this race, and I am kind of annoyed that he's being challenged by someone who's politics are so similar. I don't think Thomas is giving us a different political choice, just a different style choice.

To me, Jerry McNerny was the most compelling of all three candidates. I agree with Matt that Filsson brought every question back to what he would do in Congress. That is a technique, and I think McNerny should try and cultivate it.

McNerny's grasp of the relationship between Federal trade policy, the economics of farming, and sprawl was great - that is the kind of complex analysis I want in Congress. And his reference to Murtha when he answered the question about his position on the Iraq war showed that he knows that Congress is a coalition, and that he will work with others.

As a "reluctant" Democrat, I really look for candidates who support progressive policies, but I want to win seats in 2006. I have no idea what it's like to live and make voting choices in a more rural district. I try to avoid romanticizing the valley, but I hope that devoted grass roots supporters, sincerity, and intelligence will mean more than good speaking skills. I have seen a lot of electeds speak, and I have seen several who are not great speakers but have good politics and got elected. I hope Jerry McNerny will be one of them.

4:52 PM, February 19, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

Anontoo, I quoted what Steve Filson said at the Lamorinda debate. I assume if he said it, he also thinks it. He was declaring in a public form that that was the platform that he is running on, and that he thinks it will win Republicans over to his side.

I merely pointed out that yes, that platform probably is attractive to Republicans -- because it is in many ways the same platform as Pombo's!

I put in the evidence in my post to back up what I said. It clearly shows that Pombo and Filson are in complete agreement on: Strong Defense, Balanced Budget, and Government out of People's Lives.

So of course it will appeal to Republicans -- but the problem with that is obvious. Why would a Republican vote for Filson if he or she can get much the same platform with Pombo?

Obviously, Dems are going to vote for whoever wins the Dem primary. Filson's contention is that he is moderate/centrist and can attract Republican and independent voters with this stance.

But how does running on a platform with many of the same planks as your opponent make you an appealing enough choice for voters to jump party affiliation or go against an incumbent?

The only possible way that strategy can work is for Pombo to utterly implode due to ethic charges or alleged criminal activity or other similar mishap on his part.

Are we all supposed to keep our fingers crossed for this? Well, here goes, I will try that -- I may get cramps in my fingers, but I only have to do it until Nov. 7th.

8:48 PM, February 19, 2006  
Anonymous rick said...

A strong defense, balanced budget and getting government out of our personal lives is classic motherhood and apple pie politics. After all, who opposes national defense, fiscal responsibility or individual liberties? Filson, like Pombo, is merely claiming that his views are consistent with the mainstream of the American public

As for the grassroots, keep in mind that there will be approximately 250,000 (+ or - 10,000) votes cast in this election. Grassroots can help, but it won't swing a congressional election the same it way it can swing a city council election. At the congressional level, the formula is pretty simple: mail + TV + free media. Even the traditional GOTV efforts will likely have only marginal influence over the outcome.

9:22 PM, February 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rick, unless Pombo is indicted with your ABC plan we are doomed.

As Pombo will outspend us on TV, mail, etc. And will probably be up earlier.

The war starts now. Not 4 weeks before the election.

9:34 PM, February 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anontoo said...

VPO, let me try again. Steve Filson is quoted as saying in part that he "believes in a strong defense." You conclude that he means exactly the same thing that Pombo means when Pombo uses the term "strong defense." My point, which applies equally to the terms "balanced budget" and "getting government out of our lives," is that you need to enquire what Steve Filson means by those terms and not simply conclude that he means exactly the same thing that Pombo does when he uses those terms. Only then can you compare the views of the two, and draw any conclusions about the similarity of their positions.

Your discussion and suggestions about the willingness of the voters to opt for Filson over Pombo is a broad one which necessarily involves many factors, and not just the three terms in the Filson quote. I don't really care to get into a general discussion at this point tonight. But I believe the difference between Filson and Pombo will be clear when the voters go to choose between Filson or Pombo.

Please don't take my comment as being overly critical.

10:12 PM, February 19, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

Look at it this way -- I am Joe or Jane Average Voter. I hear Pombo say "Strong Defense". I hear Filson say "Strong Defense". It sounds the same to me. Same for the other issues. I don't have time to parse out the nuances. I am not going to bother to read their web sites. Too busy. Don't even like computers that much anyway. Conclusion -- since they are saying the same thing, they probably mean the same thing. So nothing new or exciting or interesting there with Filson. I barely even know who Filson is. Never heard of him until a few days ago. This Pombo guy, he's been in a long time, a committee chairman, must be doing something right to get elected. He just sent me this flyer with a picture of him in a forest and something about green. Sounds good. Guess I'll stick with Pombo.

10:44 PM, February 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anontoo said...

VPO, of course, we are at the primary stage. Your comments above and my replies assume that Filson has won the primary.

Your last comment IMHO is different from your earlier comment. My point was that VPO should enquire rather that simply assume that Filson means the same thing as Pombo. What something "seems" to be is not necessarily the same as what something is in reality.

Your point that some voters may not enquire as I invited you to do is well-taken. But, as I said in my earlier reply above, I believe (and now I add hope) that Filson will have clearly differentiated himself from Pombo by the time voters cast their ballots in the general election.

7:42 AM, February 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the need to change 30,000 votes: I don't disagree that it is important to switch votes. However, I think another effort should be on getting out the vote, including a large absentee ballot effort.

I was in Reno prior to the 2004 election, along with many California dems, and though it didn't quite switch NV to the blue, it did make a difference in many local races. I would like to see the activists in safe dem Norcal districts working for the dem candidate against Pombo. I think it could make a difference, along with the scandal swirling around Pombo now.

12:18 PM, February 20, 2006  
Anonymous nicholas said...

in order to do that your going to need a candidate that the grassroots wants to get behind...

thats why its important to keep the negativity at bay...across the board.

12:51 PM, February 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. 2% of a buck again, with some good news and some bad news:

The good news first: we now know which political consulting firm Pombo & Co. have picked to help them to a eighth straight term.

The bad news: It's JohnsonClark Associates, the folks who helped Dan Lungren beat two more heavily funded opponents in his 2004 primary battle, despite being down significantly in the polls with just a few weeks left in that primary.

Read more about them here -- -- they are VERY good at what they do, so the bar just got raised a WHOLE lot higher.

$.02 out.

2:49 PM, February 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. 2% of a buck one more time (trying not to be a pest...) -- this is an example of what you can expect to see blanketing the CD 11 airwaves this fall instead of "Desperate Housewives" -- Annette Speaks to Soccer Moms -- and this is just the beginning. The game is ON.

$.02 out.

3:07 PM, February 20, 2006  
Anonymous Rick said...

First off, one would expect an incumbent congressman to have a political consultant on retainer. That he has gone out of his way to land JohnsonClark Associates (gasp!) would seem to indicate that he is expecting a much closer contest than in previous years.

Regardless, it's pretty obvious what his re-election strategy will be: appeal to the 53% of the district that lives in San Joaquin County. With the exception of die-hard conservatives, he has no appeal west of the Altamont Pass.

3:57 PM, February 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anontoo said...

Rick, I think Pombo is worried about San Joaquin County too. The Republican registration advantage in San Joaquin County is less than the total number of Decline to State registered voters in the County. Discontent with Pombo has been growing over the years. In 2002, when Pombo faced Tom Benigno in the Republican primary election, Benigno received 12.9% of the votes cast districtwide and 11% of the votes cast in San Joaquin County.

Benigno is back again this year. And, of course, we have heard about Pete McCloskey.

6:09 PM, February 20, 2006  
Anonymous rick said...

If you look around the state, primary challengers to incumbents typically receive up to 15% of the vote. Still, even if the bulk of Benigno's votes came from San Joaquin County, he still won the county 66% to 33% in the General Election, whereas he won the district 58% to 42%.

The bigger problem for Pombo may be the Bay Area/Central Valley divide. In 2004, he won Contra Costa County 57% to 43%, Santa Clara County 53% to 47%, and Alameda County 50.2% to 49.8%. Collectively, these areas make up 47% of the votes in CA-11. As more attention is drawn to his RV trips, proposals to sell of the national parks, and relationships with indicted GOP lobbyists, the more likely the Bay Area portions of his district go Democratic.

7:19 PM, February 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anontoo said...

Rick, I think your 2004 General Election districtwide results are off a bit as Pombo received 61.3% while McNerney received 38.7%. I didn't crunch the other numbers.

I agree with your comments about the other Counties in CA-11.

8:51 PM, February 20, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

Basically, it works out like this:

For 40% of the vote outside SJ, McNerney and Pombo split essentially 50/50. That means each got 20% of all the votes cast in the district. In other words, for every 100 voters in the whole district, these other counties have 40 of them, and 20 went for Pombo, and the other 20 went for McNerney.

Inside SJ, Pombo won 66/33, mean for that 60% of the vote, Pombo got 40% and McNerney got 20%. In other words, of the same 100 voters, 60 are in SJ, and 40 went for Pombo, 20 for McNerney (a very poor showing on McNerney's part).

Put it all together and you get:

Pombo 60% overall (40% in SJ, 20% in the other counties)

McNerney 40% overall (20% in SJ, 20% in other counties).

In other words, SJ is absolutely critical. The Dems East Bay showing would have to top 75% to even have a close race, if Pombo sustains the 66/33 split in SJ.

(75% in the other counties gives the Dem 30 of the 40 votes cast there of the 100 voters. That means, if Pombo agains wins SJ 66/33, Pombo and the Dem tie -- and that is with the Dem winning 75% of the outside SJ vote).

But it is quite unrealistic to expect a Dem to get those high percentages in the East Bay. Make no mistake, San Joaquin is critical to this race and where the vast majority of effort should be placed.

9:38 PM, February 20, 2006  
Anonymous jbmendel said...

I don't have a lot to add to the discussion except a comment with a silent question mark at the end.

Turnout is higher in 0 mod 4 years, but Republicans have a higher turnout in CA* than we do. What I wonder is which side's turnout got a bigger boost in 2004. We need to know that so we can scale 2004's statistics to have a better baseline for 2006.

To state the obvious, we're going to need a combination of huge turnout and media blitz. If the ad $.02 linked to is the only thing Independents and moderate Republicans see, we're broasted**.

*I think I heard Duf Sundheim quote their turnout advantage at 3%, but I wasn't taking notes at the time.

**It may not be a word... it may just be something Josh Lyman's mother used to say.

11:02 PM, February 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People - there is nothing new about Pombo's firm. Been the same one he's always had. Considering the gerrymandered districts up and down the ballot here in CA, a 78% win ratio is somewhat misleading.

12:07 AM, February 21, 2006  
Blogger Whig said...

Okay, so I just checked out some of the numbers from 2004. It seems worth pointing out that John Kerry received 127,000 votes in the 11th District to George Bush's 151,000. Pombo received 163,500 and McNerney received 103,500. Notice that 23,500 people who voted for John Kerry did not vote for Jerry McNerney. Indeed, 12,000 of them voted for Pombo. The other 11,500 couldn't be bothered. So it looks like McNerney lost a lot of gimme votes in 2004. I honestly don't see how he could ever appeal to moderate Republicans in San Joaquin if he can't even win the full support of Kerry voters.

2:03 AM, February 21, 2006  
Anonymous nicholas said...

hey whig,

you have to keep in mind:

1) mcnerney did not run a full time, no organization and no suppport from the party.

2) you have to be a known commodity in the valley to garner support and anywhere for that matter...and as for him being too liberal? people didn't even know who Jerry was, kinda hard to form an opinion.
By your methods then, Sen. Barbara Boxer is too liberal. Somehow she managed to win CD11 even though her opponent hailed from the Valley.

3) since nobody knew who the heck this guy was (with no ads, no bio info, no campaign statement) its obvious that they didnt vote for him based on his politics...its called an undervote, the voters didn't know much about the opposition so they left the ballot blank

now, the guy has been spending the last two years becoming a part of the community...folks know him...and he is the only candidate that has that type of name and face recognition.

(ps...each candidate seems to have had a ruff time with speeches of late..the good news is that each of them will learn and improve...but in the end, only one of the candidates has become a part of the central valley community...vpo said it in his post about Spanos, you have to be a part of the community. McNerney has...)

8:36 AM, February 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anontoo said...

Nicholas, your spin is too obvious. I give you credit for loyalty. It was an "undervote" alright.

Steve Filson is the Democratic candidate with the beliefs and background which are closest to the views of the majority of voters in San Joaquin County and CA-11. I believe this will become clear to all Democratic voters as the primary campaign progresses. But I know it. I believe the many Congressmen and Congresswomen supporting Steve Filson know it. I believe Senator Machado and other Senators supporting Steve Filson know it. I believe many people in San Joaquin County supporting Steve Filson know it.

Oh, interesting how Pombo is now beginning to pay attention to traffic congestion. I believe Decline to State registered voters are informed and politically sophisticated enough to judge this type of political ad. Pombo has got alot of explaining to do. The longer he waits, the better for Democrats.

9:50 AM, February 21, 2006  
Anonymous nicholas said...

Unless Machado starts making efforts on Filson's behalf then he is simply one voter who supports Filson..Unless he starts to campaign for Filson he is just one vote.

Just like former Stockton Chief of Police Lou Neely (who has endorsed McNereny) is one vote. The difference is that Neely is introducing Jerry to his circle of influence and the community.

And you mention various congress persons who have endorsed Filson, well....unless they are campaigning for Filson they arent even a vote. Endorsements arent going to get you anywhere unless there is substance behind them.

Now, I am from the Valley. And Filson does not represent our values or our ideals...But thats just my are free to yours and im am free to mine...and im not going to call your statements "spin' because i have respect for those that i disagree with.

And yes, im loyal to McNerney's campaign and to my democratic party...Loyalty is a treasured commodity. Its not just a word that can be thrown out...

either your loyal to your political party or your not...either your loyal to labor's values...or your not.

"sometimes you've got to be selfish" is contradictory to the nature of loyalty. wouldnt you agree?

10:39 AM, February 21, 2006  
Anonymous some guy said...

Mr. 2%, do you know if that ad is running yet? If so, where? I hate to say it, but it's not a bad ad at all.

11:03 AM, February 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anontoo said...

Nicholas, the "spin" label was directed to your take on the election results of 2004. I did not make myself clear on that point. You are certainly entitled to your opinion as to how you view McNerney and as to whether Filson represents your values or ideals.

12:56 PM, February 21, 2006  
Anonymous nicholas said...

well, its still my opinion and i still have the right to it...

disagree with it all you want...however, if your going to pontificate reasons for the votes you have to put things into context. McNereny did not run a full campaign. He got into it at the last minute. He didnt have time to raise money. He didnt have a qualified campaign team. And he didnt buy any media. Lessons learned.

This race is much different..Money is being raised. He has a seasoned campaign team who have proven successes in red districts. Im jazzed..

And im jazzed that Filson has passionate supporters too....aint no thang like a chicken wang...



2:10 PM, February 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. 2% of a buck once again (and I have to say, I am really amused that NO one seems to have grasped the joke about my name -- it's TWO CENTS, people!) with a comment or two:

1) You're right, "some guy" -- it's a helluva an ad and will really appeal to all those stay-at-home, "Dr. Laura-listener" soccer moms in Diablo, Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, (not) Livermore, Morgan Hill, and (mostly) Gilroy that are "west of the Altamont pass" in addition to the entire SJC part of the 11th CD
2) Those of you who, like "some guy", get it -- good for you; now get out there and start raising "mucho dinero" for a series of counter-attack ads
3) Those of you, like "rick" and "anontoo" who keep obsessing on crunching and re-hashing old news like the 2004 results, while whistling past the graveyard on how effective Pombo is likely to be -- well, the only numbers you need to focus on in a race like this, with an incumbent going for his eighth term, and the crack political consulting firm he just hired, and the persuasive political power of the mass media to sway the sheep to pull the lever whichever way the TV says, are THESE NUMBERS!

$.02 out.

8:03 PM, February 21, 2006  
Blogger Matt said...

Mr 2 cents,

For the record, I got the joke. I was just following your lead. Your pseudonym after all.

8:28 PM, February 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anontoo said...

two cents, hey, I'm just one of those sheep. What do I know? Welcome back.

8:40 PM, February 21, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:44 PM, February 21, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

Just wondering -- did anyone ever figure out Filson's marital status? I heard he was divorced and have not heard it mentioned as to what the situation is. I don't think there is an "Annette" waiting in the wings to star in Filson's ads.

8:45 PM, February 21, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

Babaloo brought this up earlier about Filson's marriage or divorce or whatever, at

It certainly seems innocent enough on his website, but it seems some people are implying it is not so simple: "Steve Filson and his wife Mary live in Danville. They have four children and one grandchild."

I hope he can clarify his marital situation, because I know sure as hell Wayne Johnson will clarify it for the voters if Filson does not.

9:35 PM, February 21, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:49 PM, February 21, 2006  
Anonymous anonymous said...

I met Steve Filson's wife at an event a few months ago. Or at least it appeared to be his wife as they came there together and seemed close. Characteristics: A little younger than Filson and attractive is about all I can remember...

Meanwhile, Filson's web site includes a very old picture of the couple:

Filson's biography

I could care less what goes on in Filson or McNerney's (or Pombo's) personal life, as long as it doesn't affect me as a voter. That said, perhaps someone from the Filson campaign can confirm the status of their relationship so we can put this idle speculation to rest?

1:02 AM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

Two Points:

1. I was just informed that the Annettee ad is old and just there as an example of Johnson Clark work. It is not a current ad, but obviously an example of what we should expect.

2. I don't care about Filson's marital status either, but things like that, where a candidate fudges a bit, tend to come back to bite him. Our concern here is Filson's ability to beat Pombo, and it seems to be it would be smart to eliminate any vulnerability. This would not even be a concern for me except for Babaloo's post. I just wonder, would having an unmentioned divorce and stating that "they have four children", when those four children are two each from previous marriages be something the other side would jump on? It seems so ridiculously petty, but weirder things have happened. The whole problem is his not clarifying that they are not children of Steve and Mary's union, but from earlier marriages. Better maybe would be to say something like this:

"Steve Filson and his wife Mary live in Danville. They have been married for XX years. Both brought children from previous marriages. Their family has four children and one grandchild."

But frankly, I will leave it up to others to determine if it makes any difference or if the other side would be so petty and disgraceful as to make anything out of this. I don't see any issue here myself. Still, Filson should cover his ass and write that part of his biography to be a little clearer.

7:06 AM, February 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Matt et al. -

As you know (and have mentioned on the blog), I check in with your blog. I respect what you are doing and for the most part, I think it is a great forum for discussion online for this upcoming primary and general election.

I should note at the outset that this comment is NOT in any way affiliated with the campaign, but since my family has come up I figure it's appropriate to correct the record.

Here's the deal:
My dad and stepmom have been happily married for more than a decade.
She played a large role in my life as I grew up through middle and high school and she pulled if off while putting in long hours at her job. They do have four children (yes, through marriage) - me, my two sisters, and my brother. They have one grandchild - my niece. Yes, technically I have a "stepsister" and a "stepbrother" and a "stepniece", but we grew up as a tight knit family and the siblings all dropped the "step" in referring to each other a long time ago. My dad and Mary have always referred to "our kids" collectively, long before there were any political implications. It would be ludicrous to try and hide or fudge the fact that he is divorced (for one thing, my mom lives in San Ramon).

There is plenty of constructive criticism to be made for both primary candidates and plenty of material ripe for discussion on this website. This, however, is trying to make something out of nothing.

C. Filson

7:52 AM, February 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS - I am Steve Filson's son. Just in case it wasn't clear!


8:00 AM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

Welcome C. Filson! Thanks for your comments, and I am glad to hear you have a happy family. We tend to be merciless here, but it is all in good fun, generally. I think you explained the family situation quite well, and if Pombo makes any issue out of this, he truly is a low-life.

Probably your dad should show up more with Mary and the kids. Makes him more approachable and projects a better "family" image.

Anyway, if you want even more entertainment, join the Yahoo Group -- we just had lots of fun with Bumper Stickers for Pombo:

8:20 AM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

CF --
When I wrote my earlier post, I certainly considered the one-big-happy-family scenario where the designations of "Step" are dropped. What gave me pause was your "brother's" website, where he makes the following Filson endorsement:

"Steve Filson is running to represent the 11th district in California. He is an interesting combination of fiscal responsibility, social conscience, and military experience. I am endorsing his run for office for two primary reasons. Most important is responsible policy making. Second he is my Step-Dad. If you want to see sanity return to the federal government go to and donate to help elect Steve Filson for United States Congress."

It seems to me if your father is going to claim that he has a close-knit blended family where labels have been dropped and relationships blurred, that implies a family-wide reciprocation which doesn't exist in this case.

11:36 AM, February 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To VPO - Thanks for the kind welcome. Regarding family attendance at campaign events, it can be a little tough when three of us "kids" are scattered around the country at various jobs and schools. I am pretty sure that my sister and niece (who are still in the East Bay) have made it to a couple events.

To babaloo - I think you are continuing to look for something that isn't there. My brother referring to my dad as a stepfather or me referring to Mary as a stepmother (which I do) doesn't make our family any weaker. If you read my first post closely, I was only referring the siblings where the "step" was dropped.

My dad's website says that he has four children and a grandchild. This is fact in his eyes, and mine as well. Sorry if my first post did not clarify this for you.

Calls for clarification (such as VPO's) are fine, but I don't like baseless speculation that my family is not close and that respect and love for each other isn't reciprocated.


12:35 PM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

I agree with CF, there is no issue here, and I think he very adequately explained the situation. Babaloo raised questions in a previous (December) post and I had that in the back of my mind, that somehow Filson was not married and claiming he was or something like that. But now, thanks to CF, it is totally clear, and it strikes me that Filson was being honest enough in the his biography, as he is married to Mary, does live in Danville, and they do have 4 children, who, from what CF says, are a family in every way that is important.

I don't see an issue here, and I think it is more than overdue that we focus on Pombo, who, by the way, also has a pretty nice family. What can I say? I may not agree with anything he says or does, and consider him a wretched congressman, but I can still allow that he has a nice family.

Sort of like Michael and Kate Corleone -- we can admire their very nice Italian family, without agreeing with the "family business".

3:35 PM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

VPO --
I think you misunderstood the point of my original post. I never suggested that Mr. Filson wasn't married or that his biographical information was false. But his biography does not paint a true picture. I simply wondered out loud why he felt compelled to present his family life in a false light, whether he felt that it somehow made him more electable.

Look, I'm not out to belabor the point, but I think that words matter and, in a political campaign against the likes of Pombo, veracity and integrity matter. Sure, "Steve Filson lives with his wife in Danville, and they have four children and one grandchild." Nobody is arguing that that is a technically incorrect sentence; but, at least in my opinion, it gives an incorrect impression. I mean, I could say, for example, "I attended Harvard and hold a degree in physics." Now, from that sentence, most people would assume that I hold a Harvard degree in physics. And some people might view me more kindly because they think I hold a degree from a prestigious university. But what if I attended Harvard for one semester, dropped out, and finished my education at Sac State with a degree in physics? My statement is not technically false, and yet it gives a distinctly false impression, one which clearly might be beneficial to me in certain settings. And I think it would be fair game for anyone to question my motives for phrasing my sentence in the way I did.

Now, if technically accurate but clearly misleading is good enough for you and that's a characteristic you want in your political representatives, then knock yourself out. Personally, I think we can and should do better. I think Steve Filson can and should do better. Embrace the truth -- it will set you free.

5:55 PM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger janinsanfran said...

"Jerry McNerney does not convince everyone to vote for him. He can have his supporters work to convince members of their communities on his behalf."

True, but I have to say, some of the worst experiences I've ever had on campaigns came when I'd worked my butt off to get people to pay enough attention to meet a candidate and the damn candidate couldn't sell at least 80 percent of the room. (I'm talking "civilians," not the hacks at a Democratic club.) A candidate has to be able to project enough attractiveness to convince the ones s/he actually meets or you aren't going to win a competitive race. This doesn't sound good.

9:14 PM, February 22, 2006  
Anonymous Another Anon said...

Diverting here from the Filson marriage/divorce issue/discussion, I wanted to inquire about Ellis Goldberg and her leaving the McNerney campaign. I was rather shocked by her departure as she was so involved in leading the canvass/petition program that McNerney has (or maybe now had?) going. Anyone know what is going on there? Has McNerney moved from volunteer staff to paid staff now or...?

9:20 PM, February 22, 2006  
Anonymous Vicki Lee said...

Another Anon's shock is actually amazing considering he/she is unaware that Ellis is a man and not a woman.

The signature gathering has been in high gear and what Ellis has decided to do with his life is not only his own business, but it really has very little to do with Anon's speculation.

10:47 PM, February 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That may have been a good thing.
Just like it was a good thing Filson hired Robert Keller after he was fired this cycle from the previous congressional campaign he was working on.

5:27 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anontoo said...

Okay, okay. I recently read a blogger's diary from January 8, 2004. The blogger was tired of divisive politics then. I too am tired of divisive politics. This feeling applies especially in the context of a primary election. Can't we make our political points without being divisive.

6:46 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Vicki Lee said...

I really am just as tired of divisive politics as the next person. It very often doesn't feel like the benefit of the doubt is being given by the commentors (especially from anonymous types) and alot of times seem to have this need to speculate and even cast aspersions in the face of not actually KNOWING something for a fact.

I can't help but be annoyed by anonymous commentors, who are bold enough to stir up the shit on a blog, but can't bring themselves to show us who they really are. If you believe in something, why not show your identity, lest is looks like it's YOU that has something to hide, rather than the campaigns you seek to disparage.

But....that's just me.

7:27 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anontoo said...

Vicki Lee, are you just showing up at Saynotopombo, or have you been here all along? I see you link to McNerney's campaign website. If you care to say, please tell us if you are with the McNerney campaign and do you live in the District? Just curious.

9:18 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous vicki Lee said...

I find it increasingly difficult to respond to anonymous posters and from here on, won't do so. I do indeed work with Jerry and have since the beginning of his campaign in 2004. I am a volunteer staff person in his office and I do his scheduling.

I live 5 minutes from his district in the 9th...if that makes any difference at all. I seem to get along quite well with all the 11th district residents who also work on Jerry's campaign.

I've been reading and posting to SNTP since it's inception, altho I read more than I post. I hope that you and everyone will chose a NAME to respond to. It's like talking to a face with no features and it creeps me out. I won't do it again.

9:26 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anontoo said...

Matt, anonymity in commenting is an issue which I've been thinking about for sometime. I've decided that I won't be returning to Saynotopombo unless I'm willing to use my name while blogging. I've got to reflect on it because for me mostly the issue has to do with privacy. I am a very private person and I don't know that I want to give up the privacy. Please keep this in mind if others pick up the handle of "Anontoo" and use it.

10:27 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous still anon said...

"Another Anon's shock is actually amazing considering he/she is unaware that Ellis is a man and not a woman."

That's what happens when communicating only via internet. I have never met Ellis, only ever exchanged emails. I inquired as to the status of the petition/canvass program because ever since Ellis left the campaign, I have not received any updates about the canvassing or new dates when it will take place. ?? I didn't speculate that is was in relation to anything negative. I simply wondered out loud if he was kicking it up and hiring paid staff. However, if you need a negative speculation, I can't help but wonder if Ellis's leaving the campaign has something to do with only about 1,000 of the 3,000 needed signatures being collected. Regardless, as a McNerney volunteer (maybe now former volunteer as I seem to have been forgotten about?), I have started to grow disillusioned with his campaign. It seems more and more to be a complete mess. I support the guy and want to see him elected, but I just don't see how it is going to happen. :(

1:09 AM, February 25, 2006  
Anonymous nicholas said...

thats interesting that you've only communicated via emails..since our phonebank team has called our "walkers" on a couple occassions over the past couple must have been missed.

also, ellis sent a nice email to all the precinct staff saying goodbye...
everybody recieved it (i did)...once again,you must have been missed.

if your seeking guidance how about shooting me an email at

i do hope this isnt a "bait" post...i hope things havent gotten this bad..please email me to prove my concerns wrong..

7:39 AM, February 25, 2006  
Blogger Matt said...

Just an FYI, the petition gathering (I assume for signatures in lieu of a filing fee) are not required. Each valid signature provides a pro-rated discount on the filing fee. Grassroots campaigns typically try to get signatures because a) it makes things cheaper and b) it gives them an excuse to talk to more voters in the district. But from what I hear Barabara Lee only turned in 600 signatures. So it's not the end of the world if McNerney only turned in 1000. And I have heard through the grapevine that he had significantly more, so it is even less problematic.

Also, Still Anon, the signatures were already due in, so you won't hear anything more about them. I assume that Ellis would have added your e-mail to McNerney's e-mail list, but if you're worried about hearing about volunteer opportunities, I'd recommend contacting the campaign directly. Nicholas has provided his e-mail and in my experience he has been very prompt in responding to my inquiries.

Or if you feel uncomforabtle contacting the campaign because you're worried about them tying your name to these comments, you can contact me and I can help maintain your anonymity as "Still Anon" on SNTP.

For me the bottom line is that people need to get active, whether through a campaign (Filson's, McNerney's, Thomas', or McCloskey's), the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, etc. If you need help contacting anyone or any organization, I'll do my best to help you plug in.

11:11 AM, February 25, 2006  

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