Thursday, May 22, 2014

Race For The Inland Empire Congressional Seat Heats Up


The Republican wing of the Democratic Party, the New Dems, has endorsed their perfect little corporate stooge-- empty suit and Chamber of Commerce front man Pete Aguilar. Aguilar ran all over the California state Democratic Party convention with shameless corporate whores Gavin Newsom and Eric Bauman assuring all the delegates he's a progressive. He isn't and he laughed all the way from their pathetic, debased endorsement to the New Dems where he solicited and received an endorsement. The Congressional Progressive Caucus wasn't taken in as easily as the party-going conventioneers in L.A. Today, they endorsed the actual proven progressive in the race, Eloise Gomez Reyes-- as Blue America and the PCCC already have.

But Aguilar's totally predictable-- and natural-- migration from crooked bank lobbyist to Chamber of Commerce front on a small town City Council to the corrupt and contemptible New Dems, wasn't the only big news from the two vile Democrats running against Eloise in CA-31. The other one, ex-Congressman Joe Baca (a Blue Dog and NRA shill who is reviled by women in Congress for a pattern of piggish, disrespectful behavior), suddenly has billboards up all over the county. That's odd because he's been unable to raise any money. He's reporting only $28,622 cash on hand, while Aguilar, with all his DCCC inspired institutional Establishment support, has $683,236 and Eloise's grassroots campaign has $534,824. (As I mentioned earlier in the week, Aguilar's message is being enhanced by an I.E. from a bunch of criminal banisters who are supporting exactly two corrupt candidates: Aguilar and Mitch McConnell. I'm sure Eric Bauman and Gavin Newsom are very proud of themselves.) This is how Jean Merl at the L.A. Times reported Baca's shady-- in all likelihood criminal, expenditures:
Secretive group spending money on former Rep. Joe Baca's campaign

A secretive group is spending money on mail ads, phone calls and possibly billboards in support of former Democratic Rep. Joe Baca as he tries to make a comeback in a heated Inland Empire congressional race.

Baca says he knows nothing about the organization, Cal Voters for Honest Government.

"I have an angel out there," Baca said. "I don't know who it is."

The group has not reported its activity to the Federal Election Commission, as the law requires. The commission earlier sent the organization a letter saying it needed to disclose its spending.

But its name is on three mailers touting Baca in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Gary Miller (R-Rancho Cucamonga).

Johnny Diaz Jr., who is listed on government documents as treasurer of the Pico Rivera-based Cal Voters, did not return repeated phone calls.

Several billboards urging a vote for Baca have sprung up along major highways throughout the district. Baca, who has lagged well behind his main competitors in fundraising, said the signs are not his.

At least one of the billboards lacks the required disclosure of who is paying for it. A spokesman for the company that owns that billboard said the space was purchased by Golden State Consultants in Santa Fe Springs. The consulting firm did not return repeated phone calls.

…The mysterious spending for Baca illustrates the concerns of critics of so-called independent expenditure campaigns, which are not subject to limits on what they can lay out to support or oppose candidates.

"You don't know who's doing this and, in this case, not even what they are spending," Bowler said.

Campaign officials for Aguilar and Reyes denounced the secret spending. Mark Warren, campaign manager for Reyes, called it "appalling" and a "shadow campaign trying to buy a congressional seat." Boris Medzhibovsky of the Aguilar campaign said the group "doesn't appear to be playing by the rules, and Joe Baca is benefiting from their failure to disclose who they are and where they got this money."

Baca has been a controversial figure. In 2007, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) quit the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which he then chaired, saying he called her a "whore." Baca denied it. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's heavy spending over Baca's opposition to gun control helped lead to his 2012 defeat.

Baca said his views are in line with those of district voters.

This week, Gabriel Thompson, writing for The Nation took a little look at the CA-31 race. "Today," wrote Thompson, "it is Aguilar-- who once favored cuts to Social Security-- who is Reyes’s main rival. At a time when Democrats are striving to elect more Latinos to office, the contest is likely to do just that. But it also raises a pivotal question-- what kind of Latino candidate?-- as it pits an establishment Democrat against an outsider with an activist background who has mounted an unlikely challenge to his left.

Aguilar’s reputation as a rising star in the party took something of a hit after the 2012 defeat. “It was just a math problem,” he told NBC Latino. “There were too many Democrats in the race.” Hoping to avoid another crowded primary, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee closed ranks early around Aguilar. Two days after his campaign was launched, DCCC chair Steve Israel of New York spoke at an Aguilar fundraiser in Los Angeles; hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations followed. Aguilar lined up the backing of big-name politicians like Dianne Feinstein, and he has also received the support of the state Democratic Party.

But this quick coronation left some progressives feeling slighted, and EMILY’S List took the unusual step of supporting a challenge to the Democratic establishment’s pick. “They’re an equalizer,” says Reyes about EMILY’S List, “because it does take a lot of money to run for office.” The powerful group, with 3 million members, has allowed Reyes to keep pace with Aguilar’s fundraising. Meanwhile, several progressive House leaders have peeled off to support Reyes, including Arizona’s Raúl Grijalva and California’s Lucille Roybal-Allard and Xavier Becerra, chair of the House Democratic Caucus. Other notable supporters include former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta. What the DCCC feared most-- a divisive primary on June 3-- is being realized.
In talking about Aguilar, Thompson says "he became the youngest City Council member in Redlands history," not bothering to mention he was appointed-- not elected-- to that position by the Chamber of Commerce Republicans looking for a easily corruptable empty suit with a Hispanic surname who would act as their front man. And instead of pointing out that he's a long-time sleazy lobbyist, Thompson just points out he "runs a government-affairs consulting firm."
He seems to be responding to the pressure from his left: although he was once identified by a local paper as a self-described moderate, his campaign literature now tags him as a progressive. In 2012, he told the editorial board of the San Bernardino Sun that he supported the Simpson-Bowles plan, which included deep benefit cuts to Social Security-- but his first television commercial featured Aguilar reassuring his grandmothers that he would protect the program.

As the campaign becomes more contentious, the DCCC has subtly downplayed its support of Aguilar, who was the first candidate that the group recruited for this cycle and who featured prominently in its “Jumpstart” program last year. In March, when the DCCC released its list of the top races in 2014, it failed to mention Aguilar, instead simply naming the 31st District as a prime “red to blue” opportunity. But while it seeks to avoid highlighting what has become an intra-party battle, the DCCC is still fully behind Aguilar, coordinating with the campaign and fundraising on his behalf.

…Although Reyes and Aguilar have similar platforms, Reyes tends to paint a broader picture of the problems facing the country-- and their solutions. Aguilar says that the “primary piece” to ending inequality is raising the minimum wage to $10.10; Reyes argues that a minimum wage hike is “the least we can do,” mentioning the need for pay equity and more fairly taxing corporations. She notes the need for reform on immigration, but also criticizes the ongoing deportations of people who haven’t committed a crime. “Separating families is not humane,” she tells the audience. “I don’t care how you paint it.”

The biggest difference, of course, is their backgrounds. Aguilar got involved in government affairs immediately after graduating from college and was tapped early by the Democratic Party. Reyes is a first-time candidate, an outsider in her late 50s with a powerful advocacy group behind her. “She spent her life doing something else,” Pitney says, “which is kind of what the framers had in mind when they invented the House of Representatives.”
Nothing about the Progressive Caucus just having endorsed Eloise or the corrupt conservative New Dems backing Aguilar. If The Nation doesn't get it, how will voters?

Especially sleazy touch one has come to expect from characters like Aguilar and Baca-- naming the criminal enterprise you have trying to buy you a congressional seat the "Cal Voters for Honest Government." Priceless! And Aguilar, who blamed his defeat on the death of his father, Herman, in 2012-- a father who is very much alive-- is also not above dragging his Republican wife into the mud with him.

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At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former constituent of Baca, I find it especially interesting that he has more advertising in his former district than he does in the one he's allegedly running in. I suspect he's hoping for a large write-in vote to reclaim his former seat while not worrying too much about winning the new one.


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