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She's in, and by the looks of things, she's playing to win. According to Roll Call, she's putting together a strong team to help her beat Tom Lantos in the June primary.

Former state Sen. Jackie Speier (D) has hired Alex Tourk to manage her likely primary challenge of Rep. Tom Lantos (D) in the San Francisco-area 12th district.

Tourk previously managed San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s mayoral campaign.

Also likely to be a part of any Speier Congressional campaign are Democratic pollster Jim Moore and Democratic consultant Bill Cavala, whose specialties include general and direct-mail consulting. Cavala and Moore are both based in Sacramento.

Some of you may know Alex Tourk as the husband of Ruby Rippey-Tourk, the woman with whom Gavin Newsom admitted to an affair early this year. Lost in the news is the fact that Tourk is a talneted operative who well connected and respected in San Francisco political circles. Having Tourk on her team will give Jackie access to talent and fundraising assets throughout the Bay Area. Looks like California will be a fun place to be this spring.

Originally posted to RandySF on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 10:02 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I love Speier (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mber, kurt, renogal, slksfca, Rex Manning

    and will happily support her.  Furthermore, this district is weary of Lantos and wants change.
    You would be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated public servant than Jackie Speier.

    I hope Tourk's past "issues" won't be a distraction, however.  

    My new mantra: "Don't buy shit from China."

    by Radiowalla on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 10:16:32 PM PST

  •  Sweet! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mber

    I'd love to see Speier kick Lantos out of office and take that seat.

    Are there rules against someone from a district north of that one working for her to help her in that district?

    "Things are more like they are today than they have ever been before."--Dwight Eisenhower

    by Rex Manning on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 10:19:53 PM PST

  •  Welcome back, RandySF, and go CA progressives! nt (4+ / 0-)

    The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit. Somerset Maugham

    by verasoie on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 10:28:43 PM PST

  •  YAY!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    homoaffectional

    This is great news! Thanks for the scoop.

    I donated to ePluribus Media. Support citizen journalism!

    by Mber on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 10:39:28 PM PST

  •  Ironic (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, slksfca, homoaffectional

    This year I was going to give Lantos a pass, because he did stand up for the constitution a few times. But having such a great challenger means I'll have to get involved supporting Speier. It would be wonderful to have a dozen successful primary challenges to punish the collaborators!

    My last sig was forced into retirement. The position is open.

    by MakeChessNotWar on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 10:40:42 PM PST

    •  "Punish the Collaborators????" (2+ / 0-)

      What in God's name are you talking about?

      Last I checked, Tom Lantos was:

      * A leading member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus

      * The founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus -- holding hearings during the past few months on Darfur, Burma, Pakistan, etc. (http://www.lantos.house.gov/chrc/)

      * Kicking David Petreus' ass all over Capitol Hill

      We should be rewarding this behavior -- it reflects the ideals of our ideals and our party.

    •  That's where I got the first tip (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      opendna, tmo, ortcutt

      But Roll Call indicated how much she's beefing up the campaign. Do you know anything about Cavala?

      •  "Willie Brown's right hand man" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ortcutt, kurt, RandySF

        Bill Cavala is a longtime Democratic strategist who ran much of former California Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown's political operation for many years.
        ...
        Cavala left teaching at UC Berkeley and went to work for Assembly Speaker Willie Brown in 1981 until his tenure as Speaker ended in 1995, and he has worked for his five successors as Speaker up to and including Speaker Fabian Nunez.
        cite & more

        qui pro domina reductio ad absurdum

        by opendna on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 12:05:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Speier Campaign is like a Freight Train... (0+ / 0-)

    or maybe at least a Passenger Train.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/...

  •  Spier is making no friends with this move (2+ / 0-)
    1. Lantos is the chairman of the House International Affairs committee.
    1. Lantos is ranked 136th out of 535 in the House power rankings.

    Spier, if she wins, will have run against the House leadership - all of whom are pledged to support Lantos. She will rank 535 out of 535 in seniority. The bad feelings this race will cause are going to be legion.

    I like Jackie. She was one of my Assembly reps and I voted for her last year when she ran statewide. But I have to question why she's running against Lantos when he's very progressive and has a lot of influence.

    He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing - Mua'dib

    by Shane Hensinger on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 04:37:33 AM PST

    •  Why is she running? (0+ / 0-)

      Why does anyone run?  Because she thinks that she can be elected and that she will do a better job than Lantos.  I'm sure that some House members will close ranks to support Lantos, but if she wins that won't make a lot of difference.  A 435th ranked member still ranks higher than someone who lost.  (BTW, there are only 435 House members, not 535.)  Ultimately, this race will come down to turnout and base enthusiasm in a very low turnout June primary.

  •  I have an honest question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ortcutt

    What has Lantos' seniority meant to the district in recent years? How visible is he? How responsive is his staff? How valuable is it to have the Foreign Affairs Chairman represent you?

    A primary challenger does not leave the incumbent vulnerable to Republicans in this district. We have the luxery of deciding which is the better Democrat. Consituents can also decide which Democrat would do the better job reprensenting their interests. I think 2008 has the potential of copying 1992, when a lot of longtime incubements were beaten by reform-minded challengers.

    •  Foreign Affairs isn't a porky Chairmanship (0+ / 0-)

      It's hard to bring home the bacon from Foreign Affairs, short of getting a Passport processing site or something.

    •  Legitimate Questions: Here Are My Answers (4+ / 0-)

      Agreed that no Republican will ever take CA-12, and that voters should be able to decide who represents their interests in a primary.  One point, though: I don't understand why Tom Lantos doesn't reflect "reform" values.  Is that because he's old, or because he's a longtime incumbent?  When has he been opposed to reform?

      Here's my take on your other questions.  I don't have perfect info -- don't work for the government, and have limited time to web search -- but my thoughts are as follows:

      * Transportation projects are very big, and Lantos delivered on two huge ones:  BART to the airport and Devil's Slide.  Those were big ticket items.  

      * I don't have a lot of constituent service needs.  Have heard from others that Tom's team is good, but can't validate that based on personal experience.  

      * As for the importance of having the Foreign Affairs Chairman represent you:  I'm sure that his position gives Lantos the ear of the Dem leadership (Pelosi, Hoyer, etc.).  This can't hurt.

      But the real value of Lantos' committee service can't be felt by mere pork.  He is Congress' foremost fighter on global human rights issues, from religious persecution to genocide to press freedom and a zillion other issues that matter.  His leadership of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus has allowed him not only to defend our interests, but our progressive values as well.  And he has done this with determination and excellence. . . . That's why I follow his career, and, in my opinion, what separates him from competent public servants like Jackie Speier.

      There are very few Members of Congress whose presence would be missed.  Most vote, obtain pork, and move on to a nice lobbying gig after a few terms.  But Lantos has a different calling, and its one that, personally, I applaud.

      •  His chairmanship and his (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Christopher Walker

        standing as a Holocaust survivor are very important in bringing moral weight to bear against the world's tyrannies.

        It's sad that someone would point out that his chair isn't worth much because he can't ladle out more pork because of it. As if all our congresspeople are worth is slinging pork back to their districts.

        Using that logic Spiers isn't going to be worth anything.

        He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing - Mua'dib

        by Shane Hensinger on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 01:21:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's also sad (0+ / 0-)

          That he won't take a stand against Gitmo.

          •  Guess Again, Randy (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Shane Hensinger

            On May 17, Congressman Lantos voted for H Amdt 197 to HR 1585.  This amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the Congress  detailing a plan for the transfer of prisoners out of the Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

            This amendment - sponsored by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) - passed by a 220-208 margin.  The Project Vote Smart summary is below.

            http://www.votesmart.org/...

            •  Wow, he voted for an amendment... (0+ / 0-)

              requiring a report.  And your description of the report requested isn't accurate.

              H Amdt 197 to HR 1585: An amendement numbered 15 printed in House Report 110-151 to require the Office of the Secretary of Defense to submit a report identifying the current capacity at Department of Defense facilities in the United States to securely hold and try before a military commission the detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The report shall include the Department's estimated number of detainees that will be 1) charged with a crime, 2) subject to a release or transfer, or 3) held without being charged with a crime, but whom the Department wishes to detain. The report shall also describe actions required by the Secretary and Congress to ensure that detainees who are scheduled for release are released no later than December 31, 2007.

              It doesn't require a plan to transfer detainees from Guantanamo at all.  It only requires that the report describe actions to ensure that detainees who are scheduled for release are released.

              Color me underwhelmed.  If this is what counts as bold leadership on human rights, I think we'll get along fine without Tom Lantos.

        •  I'm looking at it from a political standpoint (0+ / 0-)

          Whenever there is a primary race between a long-time incumbent and a challenger, seniority always gets brought up.  Usually, it comes in the form of "my seniority allows me to bring home the bacon for you my beloved constituents."  If Lantos' chairmanship isn't one that is porky though, then that's a bit hard to claim.  It's certainly harder than if he were a member of Appropriations.  I'm only looking at how the race might play out.

          •  Read His Record (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Shane Hensinger

            Or, you could just look at his record of delivering -- not on pork, but on meeting the needs of his District.

            I don't think there were many budget line items as expensive as BART and Devil's Slide.  The latter cost nearly $300 million, and the former was in the billions. . . . Lantos secured every scintilla of needed funding for both, getting them through Democratic-controlled and Republican-controlled Congresses.

            I don't think that Jackie can -- or will -- argue that Tom did not deliver for the District.  It's a losing proposition for her.

            Personally, though, I would never vote for a candidate because of his/her ability to "bring home the bacon."  I look at principles and values -- and the candidate's commitment to them.  And no one could measure higher on this scale than Tom Lantos.

            •  OK (0+ / 0-)

              Lantos (and Speier) will certainly trumpet their past pork accomplishment.  The question will come down to who will be able to do better in the future if he/she wins.  Normally a senior incumbent has a significant advantage over a challenger in that regard.  Lantos chairs Foreign Affairs and sits on Oversight and Government Reform.  Those are tough committees to trumpet the value of your seniority to your district.  That's all I'm saying.

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