This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.

July 29

California Republicans are trying to build some momentum headed into November's elections, scheduling the state's most powerful Republican as a convention keynote and putting a former state chairman in charge of fundraising for one of their statewide candidates.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, who takes over later this week as House majority leader, will speak at the state GOP's 2014 Fall Convention on Sept. 20 in Los Angeles.

"Majority Leader-Elect McCarthy personally understands the importance of California in protecting the Congressional majority," California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte said in a news release. "He is an innovative thinker whose policies are making life better for Americans each day, and he fights for California each and every day."

Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon said McCarthy "supports policies that encourage job growth by freeing the private sector to do its job. Those policies are exactly what we need here in California, and I am excited that our delegates will get to hear this message from him."

The party in May announced Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will speak at the convention as well.


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Meanwhile, Pete Peterson -- the Republican candidate for secretary of state -- announced today that former state GOP chairman Duf Sundheim, of Los Altos Hills, will serve as his campaign's finance chairman.

"Whether you have known Pete Peterson for years as I have, or you have recently met him, as the San Jose Mercury News Editorial Board has, you reach the same conclusion: Pete Peterson is the superior candidate for Secretary of State," Sundheim said in a news release. "Peterson has the fresh ideas and experience to make a real difference."

Peterson said he shares Sundheim's "focus on government reform and increased citizen participation in the political process. With rampant corruption in Sacramento, one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country, and businesses fleeing the state, it's clear that we need to change the way things are being done."

Sundheim will need to shake the money trees vigorously. Peterson's campaign had only about $12,000 cash on hand as of mid-May and has reported raising only about $25,000 in major donations since then. His opponent, state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, had about $340,000 banked for the campaign as of mid-May and has reported raising about $40,000 in major donations since.

July 29

As strife continues in the Gaza Strip, Sen. Barbara Boxer has introduced a beefed-up version of her bill to strengthen U.S. economic and security ties with Israel.

Boxer, D-Calif., and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., on Tuesday introduced S.2673, the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014, an updated version of a bill they first offered in March 2013. It is co-sponsored by 77 Senators.

The bill would, among other things, spend $200 million more (to a new total of $1.8 billion) to stockpile U.S. weapons in Israel intended for use by U.S. forces in a crisis, but available to Israeli forces in emergencies.

It also requires the administration to take steps toward allowing Israel to be included in the top-tier category for license-free exports of certain U.S. technologies and products; authorizes the president to cooperate with Israel in policy areas including energy, water, homeland security, and alternative fuel technologies; and requires the president to study the feasibility of expanding U.S.-Israel cooperation on cybersecurity.

The bill encourages the administration to work with Israel to help the country gain entry into the Visa Waiver Program, which would make it easier for Israeli citizens to travel to the United States without first having to obtain a visa. And it requires the administration to provide more frequent and more detailed assessments on the status of Israel's qualitative military edge over its neighbors.

"While we work toward a just peace in the Middle East and an end to the tragedy of war, it is critical that we reaffirm our enduring commitment to Israel's security and the historic ties between our two nations," Boxer said in a news release. "This legislation sends a clear message that America's bond with Israel remains unbreakable, and I am proud that it has the support of more than three-quarters of the Senate."