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The Newsom Campaign Team

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 12:52:08 PM PDT

SF Mayor Gavin Newsom has announced a campaign team for his run at the governorship in 2010.  In this respect, he gets a jump over any other candidates, potential or announced.  However, if you have read Calitics for any length of time, something in the following PolitickerCA story will stick out to you:

SAN FRANCISCO - Famed California political strategist Garry South has joined Mayor Gavin Newsom's 2010 gubernatorial exploratory committee, a spokesman for the committee announced this morning.
Exploratory committee spokesman Eric Jaye also announced that the committee has retained influential political polling firm, Benenson Strategy Group, and its principals Joel Benenson, chief pollster for U.S. Senator and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and Peter Brodnitz ... will join the exploratory effort.

It's an interesting team, once you throw in campaign manager and former Hillary NH state director Nick Clemons. But, of course, the elephant in the room is the Lieberman strategist Garry South.  Garry and I don't have the best relationship.

Personal feelings aside, I still believe that he is a force for milquetoasty centrist policies. I'll leave it up to you whether you think that's a good thing in an adviser. Now, you can debate whether Newsom is as sculptable as Davis, but I'm sure there will be plenty of eyes on Newsom to see if he runs this primary campaign as a California Lieberman or as a California Wellstone. Of course there's a big spectrum between those two styles.

South, at least in his previous campaigns, was none too fond of people-powered campaigns or the broader movement. Let's just say, he was not empowered by Howard (Dean) and the internet. Time will tell if he recreates his past "success" with Newsom.

Brian Leubitz :: The Newsom Campaign Team
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what will the press focus on? (0.00 / 0)
The Sac Bee noted:

Back in June, South told Capitol Alert that "if you don't have enough money to self-finance you simply can't compete for governor of this state." Newsom is not wealthy enough to self-finance.

Ouch, Newsom can't win, but South will destroy his reputation with some serious DLC joementum. But this is my favorite:

In clearing the way for marriages previously rejected by California's voters, South said Newsom embarked on "an unfortunate and somewhat self-indulgent move ... that had some effect on the presidential campaign."

"I can't say that John Kerry would have won (without the issue)," South said, "but it was certainly not helpful to have our Democratic ticket having to campaign in states like Ohio which had a gay marriage thing on the ballot.''

Republicans such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona agreed that Newsom's moves on same-sex marriage "absolutely" aided the Republican effort to re-elect Bush in 2004.

"It certainly helped with those ballot initiatives,'' McCain said, in crucial swing states such as Ohio, where voters approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and narrowly elected Bush.

Leubitz nailed it:

So who is this man, Garry South?  He may not be the most well-known figure in California politics.  He doesn't have the name recognition of an Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Darrel Issa, or even a Tom McClintock, but he's caused more harm to the State Democratic Party than those three could wish for in their grandest dreams.

As the presidential campaigns staff up in California and across the nation, I implore them, for their own sake, to stay away from Mr. South.  This state is sick of his apparent disdain for the base of the Democratic party.  Furthermore, his triangulation for every candidate that he has managed has ultimately led to an erosion of the Democratic brand.  If you care to read George Lakoff's books, you will see that South violates pretty much every suggestion provided by the progressive movement's greatest linguist.

I do not intend to make idle threats, but there is no surer way to writing off the support of the netroots in California than hiring Garry South. In fact, Mr. South has received votes of no-confidence from national blogs as well.

Thanks for the middle finger mayor. Enjoy losing with somebody who thinks you can't win and are self-indulgent to the point you might have helped re-elect Bush.

Twitter: @BobBrigham

Hm (0.00 / 0)
It seems like Newsom is going to try as hard as possible to run away from the "San Francisco liberal" tag...which in the long run will only weaken his support amongst progressives without really helping him with moderate voters.

yup (0.00 / 0)
Steve Jones says:

Garry South's conservative triangulation approach to politics is arguably a big reason why Davis was recalled, leaving us with the Governator. Along with other soulless, scorched-earth political operatives in Camp Newsom -- including Nathan Ballard, Peter Ragone, and Chris Lehane -- South is sure to drag this campaign down into the lowest common denominator muck.

Twitter: @BobBrigham

[ Parent ]
Unfair Criticism (0.00 / 0)
Basically this criticism says that Newsom is going to run away from who he is.  Might happen, who knows, could happen to anybody, and it's our job to be vigilant.

But for now, there's no reason to assume that...he deserves better because he is, from a healthcare perspective, a nationally-important progressive leader.  Newsom's Healthy San Francisco initiative created the first "universal healthcare" city in the country; his pledge to run on SB 840 and HR 676 is where every single politician in the country should be.  If he runs on that agenda, on his record, he will significantly advance the cause of healthcare reform.

I am a healthcare activist for the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association.  We are the nation's largest RN union, the nation's fastest-growing union, and leading advocates for single-payer healthcare.

[ Parent ]
Well (0.00 / 0)
Let me clarify - I think Newsom has done some great work in San Francisco. But the act of hiring Garry South, as well as his position on the Clean Energy Act, seem to be indicators that he is planning to triangulate like some of South's previous clients have.

[ Parent ]
hmm (0.00 / 0)
I'm going to reserve judgment and see what happens. I mean, past performance is no indication of future results. And like him or not, Garry does have some experience and knows a few folks.

Believe it or not, not everything in politics started in 2003 with Howard Dean. I know, call me crazy but some of us remember the Bad Old Days pretty well, and remember how a lot of good people got railed by the right. And there were no "blogs" to save the day then either.

I think, though it's easy for San Francisco liberals to simply assume that running as liberal as possible gets you elected somehow  statewide in California. May I remind y'all that until recently, California was red as hell, and folks like Leo McCarthy, no fiery communist, would lose to guys like Pete Wilson?

More to the point there aren't enough socalled "progessives" in California to sustain such a mythical campaign statewide. Wish that were the case, but it's not. Try talking solely about mega progressive issues and rhetoric in Stanislaus County and see where you end up.

If you want to get votes outside of San Francisco, you have to be able to talk to and listen to people, many of whom aren't nearly as "progressive" as you are. That doesn't mean they're bad people, they're entitled to their opinions too just as we in SF are.

The 'talk down to the voters if they're not as progressive as me' approach may work for "progressives" in San Francisco, but elsewhere, many people are concerned about other issues, and as Governor, Gavin will have to address them.

Simply calling anyone not a fiery progressive an asshole is not a winning strategy outside of SF. Plus, given how turnout has continued to suck in Democratic primaries for some time now, maybe a spirited contest amongst "known" candidates will at least get people to pay attention and vote.


the problem is the triangulation (0.00 / 0)
He leaves Democrats worse off than without him.

Twitter: @BobBrigham

[ Parent ]
That's the problem (0.00 / 0)
Well, problem*s*.

First, California isn't the deep red state you assume it to be. This isn't the 1980s or even the early 1990s. Democratic strength really is deep here - otherwise how does one explain the strong reelection numbers for the very liberal Barbara Boxer?

Second, Newsom absolutely does have to address "other issues" around the state. But that's precisely why South is the wrong choice. Progressive values are broadly shared by California voters. Progressives are the only ones with answers to the basic economic problems Californians face. DLC Dems helped create those problems and voters instinctively understand this.

Newsom has a lot of promise - he's the kind of person who can credibly sell progressive policies to a statewide audience. But with Garry South on board we're likely to see a repeat of 1998 and 2002, which ended in ruin.

And that's the true lesson here. DLC centrism has only one possible outcome - Republican ascendancy. By failing to solve the basic problems facing the state DLC centrists hand the keys to power to Republicans and discredit Democrats.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

[ Parent ]
I think it is worse (8.00 / 1)
I see this as have to inevitable results:

1. Newsom will lose the primary
2. South will ensure the nominee is weak for the general

Twitter: @BobBrigham

[ Parent ]
I never said... (8.00 / 1)
I never said it was a deep red state. I simply said in the past it has been less than blue, and anyone who forgets that does so at their own risk. And it explains why some people still think certain tactics still work, etc.

The problem I've been raising for some time now here at Calitics in the comments that few people want to talk about, though are the dismal turnout numbers in Democratic primaries at all levels. This is not a good sign, and we are continuing to get retread candidates, the churn of term limited legislators, and weak statewide candidates who "win" but if you look we're losing statwides bit by bit. The fact a guy like Steve Poinzer is our insurance commissioner is an embarrassment (as was having Cruz "lose with cruz" Bustamante as our nominee!)

Barbara Boxer can win re-elections because she has incredible name ID, a campaign war chest, and has a solid constituent services operation that ensure her re-election. Sure she is liked for her views too, but she also gets votes from people despite her views, because she has good constituent service. And the GOP hasn't put up a decent candidate against her in a while (the defernece to incumbency in US politics is epic)

Finally, I take to task anyone who says only one side has all the answers - that's simply not the case. I've lived under "progressive" rule in San Francisco, and after 8 years all we have to show for it are a rising crime rate, a MUNI that does not work, and elected officials sent to Sacramento who enjoy killing mass transit funding for one of the most transit dependent cities in the state.

I'm not saying I agree with the cavemen of the GOP - they haven't had a lot to say for some time now - but there are other sides that don't fall left/right that deserve an airing.

The biggest failing of "progressives" (whoever they are since the definition changes with who you ask) is that they are always demanding an ideological purity from candidates, and yet are willing to abandon said electeds in a heartbeat. Put it another way - what is the reward for being a lock-step ideologically pure Progressive? (Or pure Conservative, for that matter?)

Me, I respect Getting Things Done. Right now neither the Legislature or Governor Doofinator is winning any awards on that issue, and maybe it's time for someone to truly be post-partisan and force everyone to take a breath, shut off the crazy fans on all sides ,and think very very hard about what kind of state we live in now, and want in 40 years.


[ Parent ]
South's approach isn't pragmatic (0.00 / 0)
We don't want to go back to this:

From the time of Davis' landslide election for governor, South bestrode Sacramento like a consultant colossus.  He was regularly identified as Davis' chief advisor, and he raked in the cash that is available to the power broker willing to put that influence up for rent.

As the Davis Administration began slipping into an energy crisis and then an economic one, South's advice offered the classic short-term objectives:  keep raising money, smash your opponents, get through the next election, and it will all go away.

Well, three out of four isn't bad, unless the one you missed ends up bringing down the whole operation.  But this exposed South's greatest flaw:  If the sledgehammer can't do the job, he has no other tools and no other techniques to offer.

And the sledgehammer will be aimed at triangulating, that is the only reason you hire the guy.

Twitter: @BobBrigham

[ Parent ]
you could try being constructive (0.00 / 0)
How about passing a law banning political consultants from being lobbyists?

People have been talking about that for years.

Harder than posting "FU" emails about the Mayor, but more useful.



[ Parent ]
lobbying isn't the problem with South (0.00 / 0)
The problem is politicians who hire somebody whose only move is triangulating. Making that point via the open letter and then following up to hold candidates accountable is the solution. South is a disaster, I just hope he doesn't take the nominee down with Newsom.  

Twitter: @BobBrigham

[ Parent ]
wimped out (0.00 / 0)
You wimped out once again Bob.

Your wimpy answer just shows how you truly have no moral convictions. If you somehow elected some one to office you'd be doing obscene things at the thought of lobbying them. You'd love it.

You're like Steve Jones, Tim Redmond and the Bay Guardian. If only you could be as corrupt as Willie you'd love it. The problem is before you had some moral upper hand.

Unfortunately for you, you just want to be as rancid as them. Big harm, big foul, for you!

also, your hatred for Gavin Newsom is well documented. Just cop to it, Bob ok?


[ Parent ]
and don't forget (0.00 / 0)
Davis was not exactly a lamb being led to the slaughter - he bought in to being a relentless fundraiser and ran for so many higher offices it wasn't even funny. Don't let the politicians off the hook by blaming "advisors" - the politicos are adults and if Davis was so empty of a person that he just ate all those turkey on white bread sandwiches and raised tons of money, well frak him. He didn't realize that once he was in trouble he had no base. Unlike other politicians.


[ Parent ]
Let me take issue with some of this (0.00 / 0)
First, I don't see "progressive" rule in SF since Gavin Newsom has generally not governed as a progressive. But even if he had, SF has very limited powers over what goes on in its borders. That's the issue American cities have faced for decades - the real decisions that affect them are made in Sacramento and Washington DC. Given those factors I'm not sure it's fair to blame progressives for SF's ongoing problems.

Second, I haven't seen you make your point about primary turnout before, but I don't see why Calitics would be unwilling to confront the issue - I am in full agreement with you. Part of the problem is something many of us in the netroots have long identified - that many Democratic activists and even the rank and file Dems are more engaged in national level issues than they are in their own state or their own city. I don't think that holds true for California Republicans, who often eat our lunch in the local races.

We absolutely need to raise turnout in Dem primaries. Now I think we should do that in order to produce a more progressive set of general election candidates, because I think progressives tend to win more often than weak-ass DLC types, or outright morons like Cruz Bustamante (of course Poizner is going to beat him). But yes, we need to work on raising turnout in the primaries.

Finally, I just don't agree that this is about "purity." It's about sticking to a long-term intellectual and political project. A core animating belief about progressive politics is that our ideas are not only right (as in "correct") but that most Americans and Californians share our views. The problem to date has been Democrats haven't been articulating or selling those views, preferring to abandon their core values to instead embrace neoliberalism shock doctrine crap in an endless pursuit of "the center."

Most progressives are convinced that good salesmanship of progressive populism, combined with smart on-the-ground political organizing, can get folks even in the red areas to embrace the key planks of a progressive cause. But that won't happen when Dems abandon the progressive project to chase "the center" by embracing Republican ideas and frames.

That's what's really at the core of the criticism over Garry South. Well, that and the fact that he has a poor track record. Progressives are sick of watching promising candidates abandon the politics of change for the politics of failure, for the same mistakes that have been made before and produced the Republican victories that have wrecked this state and this country.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

[ Parent ]
Gavin Newsome shouldn't be a candidate for any elected office (0.00 / 0)
The man cheated on his wife.  Why is he even remotely being discussed as a viable candidate for governor?  I'm not a conservative but I still believe that character is fundamental to whether a person should hold elected office.

Amazing how Democrats in this state will support candidates who have no business representing the people of this state.  

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