Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is in Fresno for a dinner fundraiser Saturday evening, and both supporters and opponents are ready to do their part for the GOP ticket of Ryan and presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, will arrive at the Fresno Convention Center's Valdez Hall around 5:30 p.m., when a VIP reception is scheduled. The main event starts an hour later.
For local Republicans, the event means forking over from $1,000 per person for dinner to $10,000 for a table sponsor to $25,000 per couple that buys entrance to the VIP reception.
West-side grower Mark Borba, a co-sponsor of the event, said ticket sales have been going very well.
"People realize we're at a crossroads," Borba said. "They don't want to be waking up Nov. 5 and saying, 'If we'd only done this or that.' "
For local Democrats and other liberals opposed to Romney and Ryan, it means arranging a protest outside Valdez Hall.
Groups including Campaign for a Healthy California, Central Valley-Sierra Progressives, Sierra Club Tehipite Chapter and Occupy Fresno held a Friday afternoon news conference outside Valdez Hall, where they urged local residents opposed to Ryan and Romney to show up at 5 p.m. to protest.
Among other things, speakers at the news conference hit both men on their opposition to the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.
"The Romney-Ryan ticket represents the worst in government," said Fresno resident Howard Watkins, who is a steering-committee member of the Progressive Network of Central California, an umbrella organization for several community-based progressive groups.
Organizers of the protests said they have been in contact with both Fresno police and the Secret Service to ensure that everybody is on the same page for the protest. For example, both sides have worked out where the protesters will be allowed.
Ryan arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday night to fundraise. On Friday, he headed to Reno, Nev., for a rally, and then was scheduled to be back in California by Friday evening.
Today, he'll attend a breakfast fundraiser in the Bay Area city of Danville before coming to Fresno.
-- By John Ellis
Fresno State GOP to attend Ryan fundraiser
Among the GOP supporters at Paul Ryan's fundraiser Saturday night will be 34 Fresno State students -- members of the campus College Republicans.
An anonymous donor paid the $1,000-per-person fee for the students to dine with some of the area's prominent Republicans, said Matt Shupe, a Fresno State senior and Central Valley vice chair for the California College Republicans.
The Fresno State College Republicans have a web of connections with local Republican leaders and are active in several races. Shupe is the campaign manager for JD Bennett, candidate for state Assembly District 31. Daniel Harrison, chair of the Fresno State College Republicans, is working for 16th Congressional District candidate Brian Whelan. Shupe said other college students are interns on Bennett's and Hanford Republican David Valadao's campaigns.
-- By Heather Somerville
Labor union sees member revolt fade
An uprising of workers against their labor union within Fresno County's social services department appears to have petered out.
A 914-member unit of the Service Employees International Union voted overwhelmingly last month not to secede from the county's largest labor group. The proposal to seek representation elsewhere failed 459-104.
Leaders of the local SEIU chapter, who have faced criticism since a union-led work strike in January left many county workers without three days of pay, are lauding the vote as vindication of their aggressive labor tactics.
"We have proven once again that we will not be divided or defeated," a recent statement read. "We can now move forward in making real progress at the bargaining table."
Union leaders are in negotiations with the county over this year's contracts. They also remain locked in a dispute with the county over last year's contracts, a matter that is being arbitrated by the state labor board.
The labor board has not indicated when it will make a decision.
-- By Kurtis Alexander
State Farm Bureau endorses Costa in 16th
The California Farm Bureau announced this week it was endorsing incumbent Democrat Jim Costa in the newly created 16th Congressional District, which covers half the city of Fresno as well as the western half of Madera County and all of Merced County.
In a way, it isn't news. As state Farm Bureau spokesman Dave Kranz put it, the organization has a "long-standing relationship with (Costa) since his days in the (state) Legislature."
Beyond that, Costa historically has had strong support from much of the region's agricultural community.
But in looking for chinks in Costa's armor, Republicans in the past have taken aim at the longtime Fresno resident's support -- or alleged lack thereof -- for the region's most prominent industry.
It reached a crescendo two years ago when Hanford cherry farmer Andy Vidak nearly beat Costa in his former district, which ran from Fresno south to Kern County.
In that race, the Kings County Farm Bureau endorsed Vidak, and the state Farm Bureau stayed on the sidelines, not endorsing anybody. In the meantime, signs popped up all over the district saying Costa was the enemy of agriculture and tying him to Bay Area Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
Today, however, the state organization noted that Costa's family has farmed in the Valley for more than a century, and that he currently serves on both the House Agriculture and Natural Resources committees.
State Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger said in a news release that Costa "recognizes that the economy and environment of his district both depend on the success of farms and ranches -- and that the success of the Valley's farms and ranches depends on water."
-- By John Ellis
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6320, email@example.com or on Twitter @johnellis24