Gary Jeandron launches Assembly campaign

Palm Springs Unified school board member Gary Jeandron today officially kicked off his bid for the 42nd Assembly seat.

“I have dedicated my life to the safety and education of our residents,” the Republican said in a news release today.

“In the Assembly, I will continue to work toward improving the business climate in California while ensuring the safety and education of our residents.”

Jeandron, who is Palm Springs’ former police chief, has been laying the groundwork for a campaign for some time.

He already started to create campaign website and had filed initial paperwork with the California Secretary of State.

The 42nd Assembly District — one of two that cover the Coachella Valley — favors Republicans in terms of voter registration.

Two other candidates are also vying for the post: Chris Mann, a Banning Republican who operates a public relations and communications firm, and Chad Mayes, a Yucca Valley Republican who works for San Bernardino County government.

Both of them have previously been elected to municipal government posts.

This will be Jeandron’s third run at a higher office.

In 2008, after Republicans ensured he would have no primary election challengers, Jeandron lost the 80th Assembly race to Democrat V. Manuel Perez. And in 2010, Jeandron unsuccessfully tried to unseat Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit, a fellow Republican.

Manuel Perez endorses colleague for Juan Vargas’ seat

Democrat Juan Vargas hasn’t vacated his state Senate seat yet, but that isn’t stopping some of his Capitol colleagues from lining up early endorsements.

The California Latino Legislative Caucus this week endorsed Assemblyman Ben Hueso, a San Diego Democrat, in the soon-to-be called special election for the 40th Senate District.

The caucus also endorsed Assemblywoman Norma Torres, a Pomona Democrat, for the Senate seat being vacated by Gloria Negrete McLeod.

“During their tenures in the state Assembly, Assemblymembers Hueso and Torres have been effective advocates for working families,” Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, a Coachella Democrat who is vice-chair of the caucus, said in a statement.

“While it will be hard to fill the shoes of Senators Negrete McLeod and Vargas, I believe Hueso and Torres are up to the challenge and will serve our state well in the Senate.”

Vargas represents a district that spans San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties, including parts of the Coachella Valley. Last month, he was elected to a San Diego-based congressional seat.

Vargas will have to vacate his current Senate seat before he is sworn into his new office, a ceremony that is scheduled for early January in Washington.

After that, Gov. Jerry Brown will set the schedule for a special election so someone can finish Vargas’ term, which runs through 2014.

Dems, GOP hold get-out-the-vote rallies

Both the Republicans and the Democrats are holding rallies this week as part of the bipartisan effort to get voters to the polls.

Republcians, who held a rally Tuesday night for Rep. Mary Bono Mack, will hold a similar celebration this Thursday. This one is done in conjunction with Indio Mayor Glenn Miller’s campaign. It starts at 6 p.m. at a private home in Indio’s Country Estates. Information: (760) 899-2772

Democrats have three get-out-the-vote rallies planned in partnership with congressional challenger Raul Ruiz’s campaign:

– Saturday: Supporters will meet at 1 p.m. at El Mexicali Cafe in Indio, 82720 Indio Blvd.

– Monday: Democrats will gather at at noon at Frances Stevens Park in Palm Springs. They’ll also meet at 6 p.m. in Coachella at 49-305 Grapefruit Blvd.

Information: (760) 969-8459

In addition, Democratic Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez is holding a get-out the-vote effort Saturday that’s focused on Latino voters. It starts at 3 p.m. at 1494 Sixth Street in Coachella. Actress Rosario Dawson, who co-founded Voto Latino, will be featured.

The event was announced through Perez’s legislative office, indicating it will not be focused on just one candidate’s campaign.

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters expects about 75 percent of all registered voters will cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election. The county is already counting the vote-by-mail ballots that have been cast.

Although Latino voters are traditionally harder to get to the polls, a national survey released this week indicates 87 percent of Latino voters will participate this year.

Updated as of 2 p.m. Nov. 1:

Bono Mack’s campaign has just announced that supporters will rally in San Jacinto on Saturday. Rep. Jerry Lewis, a Redlands Republican who represents many of the western areas in the new 36th, will be among the speakers. The rally starts at 11 a.m. at Estudillo Mansion, 150 S. Dillon Ave.

Ballotpedia: California has country’s most competitive state races

California has the most competitive state races in the country, according to an analysis released by Ballotpedia today.

The third annual State Legislative Electoral Competiveness Index looks at whether an incumbent is running for re-election; whether that incumbent had a primary election challenge; and whether there are two major party candidates in the general election showdown.

The Ballotpedia analysis found California’s incumbents will face a primary opponent in nearly 36 percent of the races.

In the Coachella Valley, voters will weigh in on two state races this year:

– In the new 42nd Assembly District, Republican Assemblyman Brian Nestande faces Democrat Mark Orozco, a Beaumont Unified school board member.

– Democratic Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez faces Republican Corky Reynaga-Emett, an insurance broker from Indio.

Not one of the candidates had a primary election opponent.

Nationwide, Ballotpedia found Michigan, New Hampshire, Idaho and Nebraska round out the top 5 list of competitive state elections. The least competitive races were found in Massachusetts, Georgia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Dem convention: Day 2 update

We got another dispatch today from Greg Rodriguez, who is one of seven Coachella Valley residents in Charlotte this week.

Before the floor session even kicked off, Rodriguez rambled off a list of people who he had the opportunity to hear speak. They include: Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett; California Assembly Speaker John Perez; and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Rancho Mirage Democrat.

A big theme of today has been how Democratic policies would help women, Rodriguez said.

According to Rodriguez, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told the audience that “women have everything to gain if President Obama is reelected and everything to lose if he’s not.”

As noted earlier, The Desert Sun will be printing updates from Rodriguez as part of its convention coverage.

We should also note that the number of local delegates has changed once again.

On Sunday, the Insider reported that there would be six delegates in Charlotte based on information from the local Democratic headquarters. Then Jackie Lopez, a spokeswoman for Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, told us that both she and Perez were delegates too.

Turns out Perez never made it: The Assemblyman’s office today informed us that Perez, a Coachella Democrat, is in the desert for jury duty.

Dispatch from the Dem convention

At least eight Coachella Valley residents are in Charlotte this week as delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

As part of the paper’s coverage, we’ve asked veteran campaigner Greg Rodriguez of Palm Springs to send in regular updates about what he’s experiencing.

Rodriguez, who said there was a “rousing welcome” for California’s delegates this morning at a breakfast that featured House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as well as Reps. John Lewis, Jared Polis and Donna Edwards.

Edwards and Polis highlighted the state’s “Red to Blue” races — which are targeted congressional districts Democrats think they can snag from Republicans — and Rodriguez said they gave “a shout out” to 36th Congressional candidate Raul Ruiz.

The emergency room physician from Palm Desert is challenging Rep. Mary Bono Mack.

Rodriguez said he also spent time at an event that focused on Latino voter outreach efforts.

The speeches, Rodriguez said by email, highlighted “Romney’s stand on self deportation and the devastation the Romney/Ryan budget plan would do to the Latino community.”

With most of the official business done for the day, Rodriguez plans to spend the evening discussing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights at events sponsored by the Victory Fund and the  National Stonewall Democrats.

As noted in Sunday’s Insider, the local Democratic headquarters provided The Desert Sun with a list of  six Coachella Valley residents who are attending the convention.

They are: Rodriguez, Jennifer Fitzgerald Wilson; Vern and Paula Kozlen; Mary Jane Sanchez; Robert Westwood.

After Sunday’s column ran, we got a note from Jackie Lopez, a district spokeswoman for Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez. She said that she and Perez, a Coachella Democrat, also would be attending the convention.

The Democratic National Convention officially kicks off Tuesday. It wraps with President Obama’s speech on Thursday.

Protest planned over Nestande’s budget vote

Assembly members Brian Nestande and V. Manuel Perez are bound to earn some brownie points with locals for their legislative efforts to open the Bump and Grind.

But that hasn’t stopped Nestande, a Palm Desert Republican, from being targeted by a handful of community groups.

The California Partnership, Veterans for Peace, Occupy Coachella Valley will join Colelge of the Desert students and local health advocates to protest outside of Nestande’s Palm Desert office on Wednesday.

They’re upset that Republicans like Nestande refused to back the majority-backed budget plan. A press release announcing the protest also blasted Nestande for sending his constituents a “budget fact sheet” that Republicans were circulating before the June 15 vote.

“This email said that the nearly $8 billion dollars of cuts to core health and human service programs that serve the neediest and most vulnerable in our state were not enough,” the protesters said in a news release.

“Instead, he called for even further systemic and structural cuts that would essentially dismantle the infrastructure of the public safety net. Furthermore, this email directly targets seniors, people with disabilities, poor children and families by saying that the devastating cuts to programs that serve them should be cut even more.”

Wednesday’s protest starts at noon at 73710 Fred Waring Drive in Palm Desert.

In case you missed it, Nestande had this to say after the June 15 vote:

“While Democrats lauded the swift passage of what they called a budget that brings California closer to fiscal solvency, this budget is the product of back door deals, accounting schemes, and does absolutely nothing to help dig California out of the financial hole that we are in.  This budget increases spending, does nothing to protect education funding,” Nestande said in a statement.

“This budget contains no spending reforms whatsoever.  We can no longer afford these budget gimmicks when dealing with the financial future and welfare of our state.  We must put education first and reduce government spending.  We must create a strong business environment by streamlining the regulatory process and improving our tax code to encourage more investment in business, thereby bringing jobs back to California.”

Perez tours small businesses

Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez will spend Saturday visiting small businesses in Indio and Coachella.

The Coachella Democrat says it will be the “first of many visits” to recognize employers in the restaurant, hospitality, and service sectors.

Pérez’s district office announced the four-hour tour this afternoon. The news release didn’t indicate how many businesses owners he would visit, but said each would get a “small business hero” award.

“Small businesses play a critical role in California’s local and regional economies, serving as the primary new job creator,” Pérez said in a statement.

“I look forward to meeting with our small business owners to hear their concerns and ideas to help them flourish and be successful.”

Pérez — a second-term lawmaker who is running for reelection in November – is chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy.

Ballot designations get certified

The California Secretary of State’s office has certified the list of primary election candidates and their official designations on the June 5 ballot.

In other parts of California, incumbents have tried to downplay their government ties by instead describing themselves as business leaders.  But the certified list shows that the desert’s incumbents are not shying away from their legislative experience.

Here’s what Coachella Valley residents will see when they vote in the three key legislative races:

36th Congressional District: Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack is listed as “U.S. representative” and Democrat Raul Ruiz is listed as “emergency room doctor.”

42nd Assembly District: Republican Assemblyman Brian Nestande is listed as “lawmaker/ businessman” and Democrat Mark Orozco is listed as “educator/ school boardmember.”

56th Assembly District: Democratic Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez is listed as “Assemblymember” and Republican Corky Reynaga Emett is listed as “business woman.”

State Assembly honors area women

The desert’s two Assembly members honored women from their respective districts this week as part of the Assembly’s annual Women of the Year honors.

– Assemblyman Brian Nestande, a Palm Desert Republican, honored Rose Mary Ortega of Palm Desert. The retired educator is president of the Palm Desert Sister Cities Foundation. She is also the widow of Palm Desert’s former city manager, Carlos Ortega.

– Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, a Coachella Democrat, recognized Judge Ruth Bermudez Montenegro. The El Centro resident spent nine years as assistant superintendent for the El Centro Elementary School District before returning to the legal profession in 2011. Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her to the Imperial County Superior Court bench in February.