California Republican Assembly ousts leader after rape comments
Celeste Greig's odd remarks as president of the California Republican Assembly dismissing pregnancy as a risk from rape earlier this year -- in a national story our Capitol correspondent broke -- proved too much even for that highly conservative group to bear.
The CRA, which Ronald Reagan once called the "conscience of the Republican Party," ousted Greig as president last weekend in an 84-78 vote at its convention, replacing her with John Briscoe, a 63-year-old accountant from Fountain Valley.
Briscoe's campaign manager, Aaron Park, a conservative blogger from the Sacramento area, said Greig's comment that pregnancy by rape is rare "because the body is traumatized" was "embarrassing" and led to a collapse of her support among CRA members. He added that her failure to address the blowback compounded the problem.
Leading up to the election, Park wrote in his blog, RightOnDaily.com: "If for some strange reason Celeste Greig gets re-elected, the future of the CRA is in extreme peril because no one running for office will want a CRA endorsement."
Greig was unavailable for comment.
Statewide, GOP registration has fallen from about 36 percent in 1996 to 29 percent this past fall. Among the anti-abortion activists in the GOP base, many oppose abortion even if the pregnancy resulted from rape on grounds that the unborn child shouldn't pay with its life for the father's crime. But polls suggest most voters believe the woman still should make that choice. That's made it tough for Republican politicians.
Republican Missouri congressional candidate Todd Akin found out the hard way last year. Many said his remark that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down" sank his campaign.
Ironically, Greig was criticizing Akin's "insensitive" comment when she effectively made it her own during an interview with our statehouse correspondent before the California GOP convention in March. "Granted," Greig added, "the percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small because it's an act of violence."
Though CRA members are strongly anti-abortion, Park said, "you cannot put faith in someone who's talking about the virtue of saving babies but looks like they don't care about women who are sexually assaulted."
Chavez receives backing of S.J. budget director
If you were checking labor leader Cindy Chavez' list of folks endorsing her Santa Clara County District 2 Supervisor campaign, you might have stumbled on the name of San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's budget director, Armando Gomez.
Reed, Gomez' boss, trounced Chavez in the 2006 mayoral race and has since endorsed Chavez rival Teresa Alvarado for the District 2 supervisor's seat. It would be fair to say Reed and Chavez aren't chummy.
But neither are Gomez and Reed's political consultant, Vic Ajlouny, who is working on a political committee opposing Chavez's supervisorial bid. Gomez, a longtime Milpitas city councilman, had accused Ajlouny a year ago of working on an effort to recall him.
Gomez has reason to court Chavez, a top Democratic Party official in the county who for years has sat at the helm of labor's potent political machine. Gomez is thinking of running for the 25th Assembly seat of Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, who is expected to run for the state Senate. But Gomez said he isn't seeking political backing from Chavez, with whom he has worked to promote the BART extension to Milpitas, or to settle a score with Ajlouny, whom he says he's getting along just fine with these days.
Officials join ceremony to mark fall of Saigon
In the Kremlinology of Silicon Valley politics, it's interesting to see who shows up at public events -- and who doesn't.
Consider last week's "Black April" ceremony at San Jose City Hall to commemorate the anniversary of the fall of Saigon. Among the many politicos in the crowd were Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, widely presumed to be running for San Jose mayor, and Councilman Kansen Chu, who's seeking an Assembly seat. Both were prominent backers of the "Little Saigon" movement during San Jose's brouhaha over commemorating a strip of Vietnamese businesses. Also there was Ly Tong, the South Vietnam Air Force veteran turned provocateur whose hunger strike finally forced the city to compromise on Little Saigon.
San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen also attended. The council's first and only Vietnamese-American member, her resistance to Little Saigon led to a 2009 recall effort, which she handily beat.
"Many of the youth who helped organized the event are supporters of mine," she said, adding that San Jose Deputy Police Chief Phan Ngo, who spoke at the ceremony, thanked her later for helping represent the Vietnamese-American community.
Mayor Chuck Reed, Nguyen's ally during the Little Saigon controversy, "just couldn't fit it in his calendar," his spokesman said.
Two Santa Clara County Supervisorial rivals were pressing the flesh: Labor organizer Cindy Chavez and Teresa Alvarado, a water district official whose mother served on the county board. Chavez and Alvarado exchanged warm smiles and an embrace. On a night dedicated to reconciling the wounds of a war, both seemed to sense it was not a time for partisanship.
NAACP chief voices anger over delay of 'curb-sitting' policy
The controversy over San Jose's acting police chief suspending a new "curb-sitting" policy gained a higher profile when the NAACP's national president chided him during a gala last week.
Attendees said Benjamin Todd Jealous mentioned "outrage" over Larry Esquivel's decision to halt the new regs, signed by outgoing Chief Chris Moore in January. Jealous spoke about the importance of the policy that would compel officers to document their most common "stop and frisk"-style searches and detentions. It was spurred by long-held concerns by community groups and Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell that minorities were disproportionately ordered to sit on street curbs during patrol stops.
Esquivel has said the suspension is only temporary, pending a computer system upgrade. Cordell said she believes him and that Jealous might not have understood the technical issues involved when he laid into Esquivel.
Famous World Cup goal still surprises Chastain
The San Jose Sports Authority's annual REACH Youth Scholarship breakfast drew some influential locals last week, including downtown Councilman Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone and Sharks' top business executive Malcolm Bordelon.
But the biggest stars were REACH chairman and 49ers Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott and co-chairwoman Brandi Chastain, the San Jose soccer great. A short video sequence of each was shown, and Chastain seemed transfixed at the podium by her montage. It concluded, of course, with her famous game-winning, bra-baring penalty shootout kick that won the 1999 World Cup for the U.S.
Chastain told the audience that there's a reason why she watched the clip so closely.
"Every time I see that penalty kick, I don't think it's going in," admitted Chastain, 44, who still looks like she could play for the national team. "I get so nervous. I'm just so happy to see it hit the back of the net."
Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by Steven Harmon, Tracy Seipel, Peter Delevett, Robert Salonga, Mark Emmons and Paul Rogers. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 408-975-9346.
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