<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Political News, Bay Area Politics]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Mon, 01 Sep 2014 05:05:50 -0700 Mon, 01 Sep 2014 05:05:50 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Congress Returns Tuesday After Five-Week Recess]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 19:33:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000008071662_1200x675_323894851677.jpg This Tuesday, Congress will return after a five-week recess. For what to expect in the weeks between now and the November election, NBC Area Political Analyst Larry Gerston reports from Washington, DC.]]> <![CDATA["Gun Violence Restraining Order" Bill Approved]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:17:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/UCSD-Vigil-Isla-Vista-05262.jpg

The California Senate has passed AB 1014, which would allow law enforcement or family members of a person who is displaying signs of violence to petition a court for a restraining order.

That order would allow law enforcement officials to take away the person’s guns temporarily. The bill comes as a response to the Isla Vista shooting spree that left six UC Santa Barbara students dead.

“It's just another tool in law enforcement's tool box to help mitigate or deal with situations that can potentially turn violence," said Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson.

Christianson is also the president of the California State Sheriff’s Association.

“It's no different from what we're doing with domestic violence restraining orders. It just expands our abilities to look for those danger signs,” he told NBC 7.

In February 2013, two deputies were shot during a SWAT standoff in Encinitas with a 22-year-old man.

His family says he struggled with anxiety and depression.

His mother filed for a restraining order just days before the shooting. During the standoff, the young man killed himself. His family told NBC 7 they tried their hardest to get him help.

Gun rights advocate and CEO of Ares Armor Dimitri Karras says although the bill was created with the best of intentions, he believes it’s unconstitutional.

“Having law enforcement show up and strip you of your rights simply because of an allegation is a huge violation of the second amendment,” he said. “It will be challenged, it will be struck down it is unconstitutional and that's going to be the end of it.”

The bill now heads back to the Assembly for further action.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[The "New" Jerry Brown Cooperative Legislature]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:49:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_jerry_brown_california.jpg Four years ago when Democrat Jerry Brown was elected with a lop-sided Democratic State Legislature, many political observers expected California to turn to the far left. But that hasn't happened. NBC Bay Area political analys Larry Gerston explains why.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Khanna Holds Rally at Honda's Office, Demands Debate]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:09:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0827-2014-RoKhanna.jpg

The battle for California's 17th congressional district is heating up after challenger Ro Khanna rallied at longtime South Bay incumbent Mike Honda's office.

Khanna at Wednesday's rally demanded a debate with Honda, who he accuses of ducking repeated calls for the challenge.

"The voters in this district deserve debates," Khanna said at the rally. "You're supposed to answer the questions and give answers . . . but don't duck from the debate that is the hallmark of democracy."

The rally comes after Honda beat Khanna in the open primary by 20 points.

Larry Gerston, a political science professor at San Jose State University, said Khanna needs the attention -- to a point.

"It's not so much a Hail Mary as an attempt to get attention," Gerston said. "It's a good time to make news. That said, when you go to your opponent's headquarters, some would look at that as rather sophomoric."

The latest polls show Khanna, once considered a front-runner, is now trailing significantly.

A spokesperson for Honda's campaign said they plan to have a debate with Khanna in early October.

Photo Credit: Scott Budman]]>
<![CDATA[California Senate Has Arrest Rate Twice the State Average]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:08:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP588054204940.jpg

To find the most-arrested populace in California, look no further than the state capitol.

The state Senate has what could be the highest arrest rate in the state, according to the Sacramento Bee. With three of its 40 members arrested this year, the Senate's arrest rate is twice the state average and higher than any major California city.

The newspaper lays out the roll call of shame: Ron Calderon and bribes. Leland Yee and his bizarre litany of alleged crimes (bribes, and weapons trafficking). Add in state Sen. Ben Hueso's bust Friday on suspicion of drunk driving, and that's three senators scandalized.

Statewide arrest figures are 1.3 busts per 40 people, according to the newspaper. Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose all average less than one arrest per 40 people, or well below the Senate average.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Perry in NH: Charges All Politics]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 20:03:05 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/edtAP259994489655.jpg

New Hampshire wasn't kind to Texas Governor Rick Perry back in 2012. He's hoping voters in the granite state will give him a fresh start as he considers another presidential bid in 2016.

On Friday, Governor Perry returned to New Hampshire for a series of GOP sponsored events.

He met with business leaders in Portsmouth and focused many of his remarks on border concerns and the growing threat of ISIS, even connecting the two by speculating members of ISIS could enter the U.S. through unsecured borders.

"ISIS has said we are coming to America and they are going to attack us, I take them at their word," said Gov. Rick Perry.

Governor Perry also addressed his recent indictment on coercion charges by a Texas grand jury. He called the charges politically motivated and said he will fight them with every fiber of his being.

He also acknowledged making mistakes in New Hampshire back in 2012, saying he didn't spend enough time in the state and wasn't as prepared as he would have liked.

Governor Perry will make several more stops in New Hampshire through Saturday.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[GOP Staffer in Chicken Suit Faces Charges After Clucking at NH Governor, Senator]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 08:25:01 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/zona+chicken+suit.jpg

A GOP state committee staff member has been charged with disorderly conduct after heckling New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Governor Maggie Hassan at this past Saturday's Old Home Day parade.

Michael Zona, of Manchester, was dressed in a chicken suit when he began to interfere with the parade, reports The Eagle-Tribune.

The 23-year-old allegedly ran out into the parade route toward Shaheen and Hassan, clucking at them.
"I believe Senator Jeanne Shaheen should be holding town halls and I have a First Amendment right to express that point of view. I wasn't bothering anyone. I wasn't disturbing anyone. In fact, I got a good deal of encouragement from people along the parade route," said Zona in response to the incident.
Zona was escorted from the parade after failing to comply with numerous requests to stop. 
“At one point, the governor had to take a few steps back toward her security staff,” Detective Christopher Olson told The Eagle-Tribune.
Julia McClain of the New Hampshire Democratic Party used the incident to blast the state Republicans, saying the party "wastes taxpayer resources and local law enforcement time with these juvenile antics when we should be discussing critical issues that matter--like raising the minimum wage, creating good paying jobs, and protecting social security and Medicare for our state's seniors."

Photo Credit: Twitter: John DiStaso]]>
<![CDATA[Campaign Snag for Gov. Jerry Brown?]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:18:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000007916937_1200x675_319215171594.jpg It was once thought to be an insurmountable lead. But now Jerry Brown's campaign to keep the governor's office has hit a snag. NBC Bay Area political analyst Larry Gerston explains why re-election may not be a sure thing.]]> <![CDATA[NYC Council Speaker Tweets About HPV Diagnosis, Urges Annual Check-Ups]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 10:34:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/MarkViverito.jpg

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced via Twitter Sunday that she had "high-risk HPV" in an effort to boost awareness about the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the country and encourage women to have regular gynecological exams.

In a series of tweets, Mark-Viverito divulged that she learned Friday she had the infection, and that she hadn't been to a gynecologist in two years prior to her most recent visit.

"At recent #GYN visit alarmed to find out last one, 2yrs ago. Friday got call re: results. Told have "high risk HPV". #Biopsy needed #ASAP," she tweeted.

"Tuesday I'm there. To say I'm not wee bit worried = lie. "High risk HPV" can POTENTIALLY but NOT definitively lead to cervical #cancer."

Mark-Viverito, 45, tweeted that she is "an extremely private person," but that her position has given her a platform -- and a responsibility to use it.

"Our health should never be compromised," she tweeted. "Annual physicals have to be sacred. Yet our health care system doesn't lend itself to this for many."

Mayor de Blasio called Mark-Viverito's decision to share her experience "brave" and "exemplary."

About 79 million people in the United States have HPV, and another 14 million contract it each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone can get it once they become sexually active, and nearly half of the new infections each year occur among people ages 15 to 24, according to the New York City Health Department.

Most people who get HPV have no symptoms of infection. Each year, about 12,000 women diagnosed with HPV nationwide develop cervical cancer, the most common cancer associated with the infection, and about 4,000 of them die from it.

To learn more about HPV treatment and prevention, including a vaccine, click here.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: McMullan/Sipa USA]]>
<![CDATA[Former Vt. U.S. Sen. Jeffords Dead at 80]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:57:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/James+Jeffords.jpg

Former Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., died Monday at Knollwood, a military retirement home in Washington, D.C., a former aide said. He was 80.

A navy veteran, Jeffords made a name in politics as a state senator and attorney general before he was elected to seven terms in the U.S. House, once splitting with his fellow Republicans in opposing a President Reagan tax cut plan. Vermonters voted him into the Senate in 1988, where he was a champion for environmental causes.

The moderate, even liberal, Republican shocked Washington in 2001 when he said the GOP had drifted too far to the right for him. He quit the party, became an independent, and caucused with democrats.

“I am confident it is the right decision,” Jeffords said upon making his famous “jump.” “I hope that the people of Vermont will understand it.”

Jeffords announced in 2005 he would not seek re-election the next year, citing declining health.

"I think we have to bring back people like Jim Jeffords, who say running for office is really a form of public service," former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin said Monday.

Kunin remembered Jeffords as a good-hearted guy who just wanted to do what he thought was right; not tow some party line. "The comparison is rather painful, where we now have a Congress that prides itself on doing nothing, where in those days, people really went there to get things done and to improve the lives of the public," Kunin said.

"He's going to be very sorely missed," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who was in the U.S. House when Jeffords was in the Senate. "He was a guy who, I think, much preferred to be around Vermonters here in Vermont than among the big shots in Washington. It wasn't who he was."

Tom Vogelmann, the University of Vermont's agriculture and life sciences dean, told New England Cable News he thinks of Jeffords as "one of the giants." The University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is housed in the building that bears Jeffords' name.

"He was a very strong supporter of education, a very strong supporter of environmental legislation, and that's the curriculum that's basically taught in this building," Vogelmann told NECN. "So we have thousands of young people who are training here and that's all adding to his legacy."

Reflections on the life and legacy of Jim Jeffords poured in Monday. Here are several of those:

President Barack Obama:

Michelle and I send our deepest sympathies to the family of Senator James M. Jeffords on his passing. Jim devoted his life to service - as a Naval officer, a local leader in his hometown of Shrewsbury, and eventually as a U.S. Senator representing his beloved Vermont. During his more than 30 years in Washington, Jim never lost the fiercely independent spirit that made Vermonters, and people across America, trust and respect him. Whatever the issue - whether it was protecting the environment, supporting Americans with disabilities, or whether to authorize the war in Iraq - Jim voted his principles, even if it sometimes meant taking a lonely or unpopular stance. Vermonters sent him to Washington to follow his conscience, and he did them proud.

Our prayers are with the Jeffords family, including his son Leonard and daughter Laura. And we're grateful to Jim for his legacy of service to Vermont and the United States of America.

Vice President Joe Biden:

Jim Jeffords was a personal friend, a great senator, and a good man. He was not only beloved by the people of Vermont, but by anyone who ever worked with him. For the nearly four decades I served in the United States Senate, nearly half were spent with Jim as a colleague. Jim knew that with a country as diverse as ours, there is a need for consensus to move the country forward. He was a man who dealt with his colleagues without pretext and with complete honesty. And he always knew what he was talking about—and his colleagues and constituents always knew where he stood on an issue. Jim was a reflection of Vermont—independent and non-ideological and always about solving problems. Jill and I are saddened by his passing and join his family, friends, and his former staff in remembering all that he stood for: basic fairness and principled independence.

Former President Bill Clinton:

Hillary and I are saddened by the passing of our friend Senator Jim Jeffords, who served the people of Vermont and the United States for more than 30 years. Jim was one of our strongest advocates for better health and education, a cleaner environment, and increased opportunities for people with disabilities. I will always be especially grateful for his support of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Brady Bill, and our 1993 health care reform effort. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his many friends across the country.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.:

He was a partner in our work for Vermont, and he was a friend. He was a Vermonter through and through, drawn to political life to make a difference for our state and nation. Part of his legacy will also stand as an enduring chapter of the Senate's history.

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.:

I know I share the view of all Vermonters today in expressing condolences to the family of Senator Jim Jeffords on his passing, and our gratitude to him for his life of service.

While Jim would certainly wave away the notion, he was indeed a legend in Vermont and the nation. With characteristic decency, humility and civility, and a dogged persistence, he made his mark in Congress. Millions of children with disabilities are better off today because he lead the charge for their equal access to education. Americans are breathing cleaner air and drinking cleaner water because of his fierce advocacy for the environment and clean energy. And budding artists across the nation receive the boost of his encouragement every year thanks to his legacy as the founder of the annual Congressional Arts Competition.

And, in 2001, the world saw what his fellow Vermonters already knew: Jim Jeffords, above all, had the courage of his convictions.

Jim and his wife, Liz Daley Jeffords, were mentors to me in my early days in the House of Representatives. I am deeply grateful to them both for their friendship, their support and their contributions to Vermont and our country.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt.:

I join Vermonters and citizens nationwide today in celebrating the life of Jim Jeffords, a true gentleman and an independent-minded maverick in the best tradition of our state. Jim followed in the footsteps of Senators Bob Stafford and George Aiken, always putting the interests of Vermonters and the nation ahead of partisan politics. He followed his sense of right in all that he did, and was never afraid to seek compromise by reaching across the aisle for the good of our country. Jim’s contribution to Vermont spanned his service in the Vermont House, as Attorney General, and as Vermont’s Representative in the U.S. House, where he developed his passion for high quality public education that forged his policy work on behalf of our kids and continued throughout his career. The passing of Senator Jim Jeffords will be felt throughout Vermont and our country. We need more like Senator Jeffords. My heart goes out to his children and extended family.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vt.:

The story of Vermont politics cannot be told without Jim Jeffords. He served in the most honorable way a person can serve: Selflessly, and always with the best interests of others at heart. He did what he felt was right, not what he felt would make him popular. Whether it was during his time in the Vermont Senate, or as Attorney General, or in the United States House of Representatives, or in the United States Senate, Jim valued the voices of Vermonters and leaves a legacy we can all learn from: Respect over rhetoric, pragmatism over pandering, and love for Vermonters overall.

In our large, and largely faceless, system of government, he demonstrated the power that one person speaking for their constituents can have. His example of moderation and independence is what I’ve tried to model my own career off of. My sincere condolences go out to Laura, Leonard, and the entire Jeffords family.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Florida Ad Tries to Connect Pot With Date Rape]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 05:56:27 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/potdaterapead.jpg

The campaign against medical marijuana in Florida is in high gear as it tries to link easier access to pot to date rape in a new online ad campaign.

The website, "Vote no on 2," claims that if the medical marijuana bill is passed, teenagers will have easier access to pot. A Twitter picture then asks if the new face of date rape will look like a marijuana cookie.

“These are products that are very dangerous,” said Javi Correoso of Vote No on 2. “They are a lot more powerful than smoking a joint and they can lead to various serious situations and circumstances.”

Correoso said that “potentially” includes date rape. But Dr. Jorge Bordenave of Larkin Community Hospital insisted that Correoso is wrong.

"Right now, as we know, you can get pot anywhere, on the corners, kids get pot,” said Dr. Bordenave, who supports legalizing medical marijuana. "There has been no incidents of date rape with the pot they are smoking currently. So what they are saying is trying to scare the people; trying to lie to the people."

Other organizations like United for Care said there are plenty of benefits for patients with cancers, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other ailments. Dr. Bordenave also pointed out that other legal vices are doing major damage.

“We have more people dying of alcohol, tobacco smoke than marijuana,” Bordenave said. “I did research recently; out of the 25 FDA approved drugs most commonly sold in the United States, in one year there were 10,000 deaths. There were no deaths from marijuana.”

Still, opponents say that the medical marijuana oil recently approved by the legislature is enough and there should be no smoking of marijuana allowed, despite any medical benefits.

“What Amendment 2 is is an amendment that has so many loopholes that it allows for marijuana to be used for non-medical reasons such as pot cookies and pot smoking,” Correoso said.

Voters will have the final say in November when the state constitutional amendment is on the ballot.

Photo Credit: Vote No on 2]]>
<![CDATA["Six Californias" Wouldn't Help Republicans: Study]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 10:16:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/193*120/0623-SixCalifornias1.jpg

Dividing blue California into six states wouldn't do much to improve the lots of Republicans hoping to gain more sway and political seats under a new proposal to split up the state, according to a new study,

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper is the one pushing the idea that 38 million people is many for a single state. He's vying to get his "Six Californias" proposal on the 2016 ballot, where voters would decide whether to back his idea that splitting the state could be a solution to California's governing woes.

But even a state with a capital in San Diego or Fresno -- as "South California" and "Central California" might have, respectively -- would send mostly Democrats to Washington, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times about a study from a pair of UC Berkeley researchers. 

Of the six Californians, only "South California," which could include Orange County as well as San Diego and San Bernandino, would be "highly competitive" between the two parties. Central California would be a tossup -- as would "Jefferson," the land of Humboldt County marijuana growers as well as small-government activists.

The researchers, Jack Citrin and Ethan Rarick, based their guess on election returns from those areas.

All that said, the likelihood of Draper's measure passing is near-zero, the newspaper reported.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco Voters "Most Liberal": Report]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 20:58:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/sfcityhall2.JPG

There are liberal voters -- and then there are San Francisco voters.

It may come to no surprise to the general public, but a research paper produced by political scientists at UCLA and MIT spells it out: San Francisco's voters are the most-liberal in the country, according to reports.

The researchers, Chris Warshaw and Chris Tausanovitch, studied eleven years' worth of surveys that -- according to San Francisco magazine -- judged the values of 275,000 voters.

San Francisco was the most-far left, with Washington, D.C., Seattle, and Oakland not far behind, the magazine reported.

The researchers judged data including taxation and spending. So despite struggles over land use between big business and renters, it's all about where the money goes. And it's going left, where the voters want it, the magazine reported.

Photo Credit: Cheryl Hurd]]>
<![CDATA[Examining the Latest Proposal to Ban Plastic Bags in CA]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 18:52:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/212*120/Plastic+Bag+Ban+Store+Counter+copy.jpg NBC Bay Area political analyst Larry Gerston tells us whether the current effort to ban plastic bags in California will succeed or fail like so many others in the past.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cap and Trade Will Hit Californians January]]> Sun, 10 Aug 2014 23:44:06 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000007825059_1200x675_317066308002.jpg For most Californians, cap and trade refers to a vague method that businesses deal with pollution. But cap and trade will hit most Californians directly next January. NBC Bay Area Political Analyst Larry Gerston explains.]]> <![CDATA[Jean Quan to Leave Driving to Staffers: Report]]> Sat, 09 Aug 2014 17:06:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/jean_quan_fender_bender.jpg

It appears Oakland Mayor Jean Quan will not be behind the wheel this election season.

According to the Oakland Tribune, a spokesman said going forward, Quan will leave the driving to staffers or volunteers.

Quan's driving suddenly became a red flag back in June when she damaged her city-issued car in a fender bender.

Before the accident, she was also seen using her phone behind the wheel.

As for that June car crash, police never did determine which driver was at fault.

<![CDATA[New Revelation: Undercover FBI Agent Removed from Yee Probe]]> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:40:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/N5P-LELAND-YEE-TRIAL-LATEST-PKG---00000116.jpg

A new revelation in the corruption case involving suspended state Sen. Leland Yee: One of the FBI’s undercover agents was removed from the case for alleged financial misconduct.

All 29 defendants were in court for Thursday morning’s status conference. These pre-trial conferences can be dry, housekeeping procedures – or they can reveal pieces of a case that have been hidden. Thursday, we got the latter. The defense raised questions about an undercover agent used early on in the corruption investigation of state Sen. Yee.

Yee left the courthouse without talking without talking to reporters, but inside U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer’s courtroom, defense attorneys wanted the government to reveal information about undercover “Agent 4773, an agent who posed as a businessman from Atlanta interested in buying political favors from Yee.

Court documents claim his first payment of $500 came in September 2011; a month later $5,000; another $5,000 in April 2012; and then after an October phone call, a $10,000 cash payment to support Yee, but delivered by another undercover agent.

After that Agent 4773 disappears from the indictment.

In fact, the indictment states final payment of $10,000 in cash was delivered to Defendant Keith Jackson at a San Francisco restaurant by another undercover agent posing as a mobster and business associate of Agent 4773.

In court Thursday, the defense attorney’s claim he was pulled from the investigation by the FBI for alleged financial misconduct and they want the details.

Judge Breyer asked prosecutors to work with the defense to provide information on the identity of the agents and informants in the case.

Yee’s attorney said he doesn’t know the why the agent was removed, and Curtis Briggs, the attorney for accused gangster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, said he can’t talk about it.

“There’s been a gag order issued against my team,” Briggs said, “and I cannot discuss that, and I can’t acknowledge that that’s true.”

Judge Breyer is pushing the government to provide the information on the undercover agents and informants as well as wiretap transcripts and any other evidence prosecutors plan to present.

The next date before Judge Breyer will be a motions hearing set for Nov. 12, when we might find out what caused the FBI to pull one of its undercover agents from the investigation, what constituted financial misconduct – and did it have anything to do with the bribery investigation of Leland Yee? If it did, it would add another wrinkle to this already complex case.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Backlog of Bills in Sacramento]]> Mon, 04 Aug 2014 22:13:58 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000007750559_1200x675_315097155648.jpg NBC Bay Area’s political analyst Larry Gerston breaks down the backlog of bills in Sacramento right now and which ones the public should be watching.out for.]]> <![CDATA[5 Things to Know About New House GOP Leader McCarthy]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:14:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/450883992.jpg

House Republicans are getting a new second-in-command this week, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy takes over for outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The California native was selected for the position in June, after Cantor was handed a surprising defeat by a little-known GOP challenger in Virgnia's primary election.

The promotion puts the 49-year-old McCarthy, who has quickly risen through the leadership ranks during his four terms in Congress, next in line to potentially succeed House Speaker John Boehner.

Here are five things you may not know about the new majority leader:

He got his (lucky) start in sandwiches.

A young McCarthy used a $5,000 lottery prize to start his own business, opening a sandwich shop called Kevin O's Deli at age 19. The shop he has descibed as "Subway before there was Subway," offered "fresh Dutch Krunch white rolls every day," and sandwiches "hot upon request," according to The Orange County Register. McCarthy says he used the profits from later selling that deli to finance his college education. The experience of building a business before hitting 21, he says, helped shape his views on limited government regulations and taxes.

He sees (some of) himself in “House of Cards.”

When Netflix’s popular political drama debuted in 2013, a few things felt a little too familiar to McCarthy, who, like the show’s fictional lead, Rep. Francis Underwood, served as majority whip. That framed whip hanging in Underwood’s office? A spitting image of the one McCarthy received as a gift from Cantor. The scene where Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, tells members “Vote your district, vote your conscience, don't surprise me"? Sounds strikingly like what McCarthy says he tells his own conference. The real-life whip believes those nods came out of a meet-and-greet he had with Spacey before the show started filming. He says the similarities between him and Underwood, a Democrat known for his duplicitous and Machiavellian ways, stop at those superficial references, though. "This one is made professionally about Washington, but it's not Washington," he said of the show during an appearance in Sacramento. "Don't believe what you see in there, but it's intriguing."

He co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the California state Capitol, that is. McCarthy, first elected to represent his home district in Kern County in the state Legislature in 2002, rose to leader of the Assembly’s Republican caucus during his first term. That put him at the bargaining table with then-Gov. Schwarzenegger, who entered office via a 2003 recall election, on state budget negotiations and other major issues facing the Golden State. McCarthy left California's Capitol for the halls of Congress after the 2006 election, when he won the House seat vacated by his own political mentor and former boss, former Republican Rep. Bill Thomas.

He’s an all-star Instagrammer.

McCarthy’s filter-laden Instagram account has attracted more than 12,000 followers to date. While cameos from the likes of Beyonce, Ringo Star and cute dogs don’t hurt, the GOP congressman also uses the social platform to post behind-the-scenes photos from his political and personal life (including frequent “Throwback Thursday” pictures). His social media savvy led BuzzFeed to name him the “best Republican congressman on Instagram” in 2013.


He splits with some GOP conservatives on immigration.

McCarthy hails from one of the nation's bluest states. But the California native hasn’t strayed much from the GOP line in his own time in office, voting with his party 96 percent of the time, according to one Washington Post analysis.  Still, he's split with the more conservative factions of his caucus on at least one key issue seen as a potential factor in Cantor’s primary defeat: immigration reform. Unlike his tea party-aligned colleagues, McCarthy has expressed support for creating a path to legal status for the country’s undocumented immigrants. His campaign for majority leader drew criticism from some conservative commentators, who blasted his backing of immigration reform, Sandy relief funding and a budget compromise. Despite some differences in ideology and style, McCarthy, a skilled networker and social butterfly, has made many friends in Washington, thanks in part to his success in raising cash and building a program to train and support up-and-coming candidates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Noted GOP Crusader to Attend Burning Man]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:57:45 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/BM+People+2013-043.JPG

Grover Norquist is going to Burning Man.

The anti-tax, pro-Republican activist was invited, after all.

Aficionados of the annual free-for-all in the desert were agog this week after hearing the news that Norquist, a hero on the right and a demon to many on the left for his staunch stance against income taxes and the social programs they fund, would be attending Burning Man next month.

He actually had planned to attend in 2012, on Larry Harvey's invitation, but found -- to his chagrin -- that the Republican National Convention was the same day.

Norquist told reporters that he'd "go with the flow" upon arrival in Black Rock City. What that means exactly is unclear -- will he flog low taxes in geodesic domes, inform fairy-winged day-trippers of the meaning of job creation? 

Maybe he just wants to get away from it all.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[CA Has 1st Openly Gay Governor - For Part of Day]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:39:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/toni+atkins+swearing+in.jpg

For eight or nine hours on Wednesday, California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins will be acting as the state's top chief executive— the first openly gay governor in state history.

That's because this week, the three above her on the state org chart are not in town.

Gov. Jerry Brown is on a trade mission in Mexico this week. As the Washington Post noted, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom filled in for a bit, but is on the East Coast for a Special Olympics event. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg then took over for a while, but he had plans to be in Chicago on Wednesday.

"I feel so grateful," Atkins said in an email on Wednesday forwarded by her spokesman. "I wish my parents could see this. Now I know that may sound hokey to many. But honestly, this is what is going through my mind. If Governor Brown wants a few more days away I'm here for him!"

Atkins spokesman Will Shuck confirmed Atkins will "hold the role of acting governor for approximately one business day, ending this evening on the return of governor." 

Atkins, D-San Diego, is the first openly lesbian leader of either California chamber, succeeding the first openly gay Assembly speaker, John Pérez, a Democrat from Los Angeles.

She shared on her Facebook page that filling in is nothing new: during her time on the San Diego city council, the now 51-year-old Atkins served as acting mayor after other city officials stepped down. She was the first lesbian to hold that position, too.

But Atkins was not focusing on making history due to her sexual orientation on Wednesday. She took the opportunity to highlight her roots -- growing up "in poverty in Virginia" -- and her journey to becoming acting governor for a day.

Atkins, who has focused on funding state universities and advocating for victims of violence and abuse during her time at the Capitol, had a full calendar ahead of her.

But the first act, she tweeted out, was to make sure the temporary first dogs of California - Haley and Joey -  got their morning walk. She shares her pooches with wife, Jennifer LeSar, in the South Park/Golden Hill community of San Diego.

Photo Credit: CA State Assembly]]>
<![CDATA[Gov. Brown on Trade Trip to Mexico]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:52:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-29-2014-brown.jpg NBC Bay Area Political Analyst Larry Gerston delves a little deeper into Gov. Brown's trip to Mexico. The governor came to meet with officials and discuss trade, investment and environmental cooperation, but immigration took center stage.]]> <![CDATA[Sen. Leland Yee Facing New Racketeering Charges]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:18:12 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP588054204940.jpg

The government has added new charges in the high-profile corruption case against suspended state Sen. Leland Yee, Chinatown association leader Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow and 27 others.

Yee and Chow are both accused of racketeering, or running a continuing criminal enterprise, in the revised grand jury indictment unveiled late Thursday, in two separate counts of the indictment.

Yee, a Democrat who represented parts of San Francisco and San Mateo County, is charged together with former San Francisco school board president Keith Jackson with racketeering by soliciting bribes and campaign contributions in exchange for political favors by Yee.

Chow is accused together with Jackson and 15 other defendants of racketeering by allegedly running drug sales, money laundering, gun sales and schemes to buy stolen property through an alleged criminal faction of the Chee Kung Tong, a fraternal association.

Chow is the dragonhead or leader of the Chee Kung Tong, based in Chinatown in San Francisco.

The racketeering counts carry a possible maximum penalty of 20 years in prison upon conviction.

Legal analyst Dean Johnson says that means everyone in the case is looking at the potential for serious prison time.

“I think some of these people who are currently names as defendants might very well turn up later as government witnesses,” Johnson said.

One who will not be taking a deal is Chow. His attorney Curtis Briggs said Chow is a reformed gangster who has been swept up in the FBI’s three-year undercover investigation.

Briggs said the whole raft of crimes detailed by the feds is a fabrication by FBI agents.

“Anything these informants can say that would actually hurt – there is no evidence to support any statements,” Briggs said.

The new indictment is actually good news for Chow, Briggs said. “For them to come out with a superseding indictment that essentially alleges the same facts as the original indictment is a sign of weakness in their prosecution.”

The 88-page revised indictment, known as a superseding indictment, contains a total of 228 counts against various of the defendants. It repeats a number of charges in an earlier indictment, including a charge that Yee, Jackson and Daly City dentist Wilson Lim conspired in a never-completed international arms deal.

One other interesting detail: Leland Yee is accused of trying to get an NFL owner to pony up $60,000 in exchange for limiting a player’s ability to make a workman’s comp claim in California.

A status conference is scheduled for Aug. 7 in San Francisco before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, the trial judge assigned to the case.


Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Not Everyone in Silicon Valley Happy to See Pres. Obama]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 09:05:11 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-23-2014-obama-protest-michlle-robertsr.jpg

Protesters angered by the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to put an end to net neutrality rallied near the Silicon Valley mansion where President Barack Obama was attending a fundraising event on Wednesday morning.

A handful of people who gathered along the road leading to fundraiser venue, a Los Altos Hills mansion, were upset with the United States’ support of Israeli bombing of Gaza, but the majority of the protesters were motivated by different progressive organizations brought together by MoveOn.org to protest the rule under consideration by the FCC that would allow Internet Service Providers to offer content providers a faster track to deliver content.

The protesters were hoping to pressure the president – and any Silicon Valley execs who may have been driving by on their morning commute – to leave access to the Internet open, unrestricted and equal, something President Obama campaigned on in both runs for the presidency.

“Not only did he make that promise, but he also won elections with the support of the Netroots, the grassroots, using the Internet to engage in politics and connect with people,” MoveOn.org’s Victoria Kaplan said. “And now President Obama has a responsibility to make sure the chairman of the FCC – that he appointed – does not kill the Internet, which is the course that he’s on right now."

Net neutrality advocates have been rallying against FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal to create a two-tiered system that would allow service providers to offer faster connection speeds for fee-paying content providers and a second, slower speed for others.

The president arrived to the Bay Area Tuesday night and spent the night in San Francisco, where he attended a fundraising event at the Four Seasons, before heading south to the private residence of Judy and George Marcus in Los Altos Hills to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

George Marcus is the founder of the real estate brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap.

The president departed from San Francisco International Airport at about 1:47 p.m. on Air Force One. He will continue onto Los Angeles on an early Wednesday afternoon flight from SFO to end a three-day West Coast fundraising trip.


Michelle Roberts contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Michelle Roberts / NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[California's Death Penalty Declared Unconstitutional]]> Sun, 20 Jul 2014 11:14:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000007566976_1200x675_309411907660.jpg Last week, a federal judge declared California’s death penalty unconstitutional because of the Eighth Amendment’s guarantee against “cruel and unusual punishment.” NBC Bay Area Political Analyst Larry Gerston explains the unconstitutional ruling.]]>