Mayor Gavin Newsom has entered the race for Lieutenant Governor, a job he ridiculed while running for Governor - and his supporters include San Francisco progressives who figure it's an opportunity to get rid of him. Nonetheless, an endorsement list that includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Teachers Association and Sacramento's legislative leaders (along with an opponent with unimpressive fundraising totals) should make Newsom the front-runner for the Democratic primary. But it won't be pretty - given that Garry South (who ran his gubernatorial campaign) now works for his competitor, L.A. City Councilmember Janice Hahn. The Hahn campaign has been vicious on Gavin so far, using the kind of scorched-earth tactics that South is famous for. Newsom may win the nomination on June 8th, but he could end up suffering the same fate as Garry South's last victim. Phil Angelides had much of the Democratic leadership behind him when he ran for Governor, but only won the primary after a bruising fight with South client Steve Westly. And it left him so bloodied that he went on to lose the general election by a landslide.
For the good of the progressive movement, for the good of the state of California, and for the good of your candidate, Janice Hahn, you should resign your post as chief strategist to the Hahn campaign.
In this time of profound economic and political crisis, California deserves a campaign that is focused on solving the issues that have brought our state to its knees, a campaign focused on restoring the California Dream. Petty attacks like those you have begun to level against other candidates -- including attacks on Jerry Brown's age -- not only distract from those issues, but they undermine your own candidate.
Your attack on Gavin Newsom is highly unethical. (See below the fold.) By using against him conversations you held with Newsom while he was a client of yours you are not only breaching the trust you held as a senior advisor to Newsom's gubernatorial campaign, you are also potentially making Newsom into a sympathetic figure, further undermining Hahn's cause.
Janice Hahn has a lot to offer Californians -- she is a successful local government official who has a long record of effectively implementing progressive policies. She has built a considerable amount of support across the state during her campaign because of her pledge to bring a local government perspective to a profoundly broken state government. You risk undoing that work by resorting to your typical, failed approach of attacking the opponent instead of showing the electorate why your candidate deserves their support.
We write not as supporters of any particular candidate or potential candidate, but as progressive Californians who are sick of watching you run promising campaigns into the ground with your destructive style of vicious personal attacks. All you accomplish is electing Republicans. Do the ethical and honorable thing and resign from the Hahn campaign immediately.
Calitics Editorial Board
Public Policy Director, Courage Campaign
Venice for Change
Founder & Chair, Courage Campaign
Calitics Editorial Board
Online Political Director, Courage Campaign
Note: for an in-depth explanation of why Garry South is a disaster for Democratic candidates, peruse the open letter Calitics posted laying out South's failures in January 2007.
Note 2: It should be emphasized that this isn't really about Janice Hahn, we were impressed with her during our interview last year. But Garry South is really doing her a disservice over the last few weeks. Mudslinging just isn't the way to win a Democratic primary.
"This is complete, utter bullshit, and I categorically deny it. "Mayor Sam" never talked to me to pass any of these hearsay assertions by me, and he is just picking up and disseminating intentional disinformation from the Brown camp - including Brown himself, who's too busy "doing his job as AG" to debate, but has time to hang on the phone in his Oakland loft starting and spreading rumors about Newsom. I don't give my candidates ultimatums of any sort." (CalBuzz 10/07/09)
The thrust of our piece Monday was that Newsom has had such major trouble collecting any real campaign jack the San Francisco Mayor had to throw a hail mary pass and roll out a way earlier than usual endorsement of a former POTUS - Bill "BJ" Clinton in an LA photo opp at a green college building earlier this week. (Mayor Sam 10/07/09)
In the end, I sort of believe South on this one. It just doesn't seem like South to tell a paying client to drop out of a race. And, as he pointed out, he did stay with some rather big underdogs in the form of Gray Davis and Steve Westly when they were polling quite low. That being said, Davis was a pretty good fundraiser and Westly could self-fund.
I would be very surprised to see Newsom drop out of the race early, nor do I think it would be good for the state. A vigorous exchange of ideas (not mud) is critical to ensure that the Democratic nominee supports, or at least understands, the goals of the progressive grassroots.
But all is not lost for the dashingly slick mayor of the City of St. Francis. He's getting some big time help. From a press release:
San Francisco, CA - Former President Bill Clinton and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will participate in two events together in Los
Angeles on October 5, the Newsom for California campaign announced today. One event will be a fundraiser to benefit the Mayor's primary
campaign for governor.
"President Clinton's record of achievement as president and as a senior statesman is inspiring to all Democrats," said Newsom. "I am truly honored that he will join me in October."
If there is one thing that the Big Dog can do, other than rescue reporters, it is raise money. The fundraiser and appearance will give Newsom a desperately needed boost at a time when Jerry Brown is running away with a race that he hasn't actually entered yet.
It is going to take more than a couple of campaign stops for the Newsom campaign to really challenge the Jerry Brown Express, yet, if you had to pick a name that would help in a Democratic primary, Bill Clinton would be pretty high on that list.
UPDATE by Dave: ABC News has a report. A (public?) event is reportedly scheduled to be held in October in East Los Angeles, a largely Latino area. The real benefit of this endorsement will come if Newsom can tap in to the ground effort that Hillary Clinton used so well to defeat Barack Obama, particularly in the Latino and Asian communities.
(Some thoughts from the current San Francisco Democratic Party Chair and former president of the Board of Supes on the role of a clean campaign in electing a Democratic Governor. - promoted by Brian Leubitz)
In the past month, the political spin doctors behind Mayor Gavin Newsom have been boasting about their intent to run a negative campaign against their most likely Democratic opponent for Governor - California's Attorney General and former Governor Jerry Brown.
In just the latest round of personal attacks, Newsom strategist Garry South attacked Brown in print for having taken "more positions than in the Karma Sutra." I will leave it to Mayor Newsom to explain why his staff is making references to sex manuals, particularly given his own recent scandals. But this latest detour into political trash talk illustrates why Democrats across California need to be concerned with Newsom's intent to launch a negative campaign.
As Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, my mission is to help make sure we elect a Democratic governor in November of 2010. The latest series of devastating state cuts to services for children and seniors is another reminder of just how important it is for our party to win back the governor's office in Sacramento.
Less than 48 hours after "King of Mean" Garry South was left calling the shots in the Gavin Newsom campaign for Governor, the SF Chronicle had a front-page piece attacking Jerry Brown. Apparently, Brown fundraising for his favorite charities carries all sorts of "conflict-of-interest" allegations that voters should be mindful about in next year's election. But this wasn't the first time reporter Carla Marinucci went on the attack to help Garry South's clients. In the last gubernatorial race, Marinucci used her perch at the Chronicle to repeatedly go after rival Phil Angelides - who was locked in a nasty primary fight against South client Steve Westly. On March 16, 2006, Marinucci wrote a story on Angelides that strangely resembled yesterday's piece on Brown - attacking the state Treasurer for raising corporate donations to a non-profit. South burned bridges in that race with his scorched-earth campaign against Angelides (and bad-mouthing the nominee after the primary was over), and it seems like he's back to his old tricks. But feeding stories to the Chronicle sounds like part of his modus operandi.
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.
Twenty thousand dollars a month for this? No wonder Gavin Newsom can't raise as much cash compared to when he ran for mayor.
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.
Lots of early positioning in the last week, especially the news from Senator Dianne Feinstein that she would make a decision as to running in the new year (translation: don't write checks to other candidates during the reporting period that ends...at the end of the year).
On a conference call with bloggers, Lt. Governor John Garamendi noted that he'd be announcing a campaign manager in a bit, but couldn't say the name now. Let the speculation begin.
Carla Marinucci looked at who will land Ace Smith, who has a stellar reputation. Carla was tipped about Smith joining a Jerry Brown for Governor facebook group (currently standing at 63 members), but I think we all need to remember joining a facebook group is not an endorsement, as Smith pointed out. Of course, the story looked at how Smith has recently worked for both Attorney General Jerry Brown and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. It should be noted, neither have a facebook page of their own...
More discussion on Gavin Newsom getting busted with Garry South. Randy Shaw said, "for all of his unpopularity with bloggers, the traditional media, progressives and politicians, Garry South was likely the most experienced and competent campaign manager available." Tim Redmond brushed it off because, "anyone who thinks Newsom will run for governor as a San Francisco progressive hasn't been paying attention to the mayor's history and career. He ran for mayor the first time as a pro-business moderate, and that's how he'll run for governor."
Who is Garry South? Joe Lieberman announced he was running for president on Janunary 13, 2003. A January 16-20, 2003 ABC News/Washington Post Poll had Lieberman the clear front-runner, with more support than his next two closest competitors combined. Then Lieberman hired Gary South, started tanking, then started talking about Joementum just before calling his FIFTH place finish a three way tie for third. David Letterman said, "Because of poor results at the primaries last night, Senator Joe Lieberman will be dropping out of the race. Earlier today, he broke the news to his supporter." Lieberman was subsequently kicked out of the Democratic Party.
Garry South elected Gray Davis with an impressive 58% and drove him so far south that he was kicked out by 55%. Jay Leno said, "Another hot day in California. It was so hot I actually saw a mirage. It was a Gray Davis supporter, I couldn't believe it." Steve Westly had all the money in the world, double digit lead two months out and ended up losing by 5 points thanks to Garry South. His DLC triangulation (Mayor Newsom is a long time DLC member) is so bad that many California bloggers signed on to an an open letter warning the presidential candidates about Garry South (must read, long but exposes exactly why this is the last person Newsom wants to get busted by bloggers with).
I wanted to get to a bunch of stories today, but my time is somewhat limited. So, I'll condense them together.
Term limits. Remember Dave's congratulatory statement on the term limits initiative getting onto the February ballot? And that it was by less than a thousand signatures? Well, with the sampling methods that the state uses, a change of one or two signatures being ruled valid in the random selection makes a big difference. And that's what happened for this one. The Chronicle reports that Riverside, San Bernadino, Contra Costa and Alameda counties changed their count after discovering mistakes in their rulings on a couple of names. How many signature does just one of the samples affect? Well, just over a thousand, coincidentally. So, the four or so ruling changes threw the initiative over the top. Methinks Sen. Perata and Speaker Nunez came very, very close to disaster unnecessarily.
A lot more bills have passed between chambers and out of the legislature and onto the Gov's desk. Frank at CPR has more on a whole slew of passed legislation here and here. Remind me again why one of the best reporters in Sacto isn't making seven figures? ;)
Garry South thinks Arnold will run for Senate. It would certainly make for an interesting race, but then again, this is coming from the man who brought Joe Lieberman from the front of the pack in 2004 all the way up to...um a 3-way tie for 3rd place! (aka 5th in Iowa)
A TSA employee was fired for posting union materials in the break room at OAK. A federal court has now said the suit can go ahead. The TSA, incidentally, was deliberately designed to be anti-union. Another great experiment to eliminate organized labor by BushCo.
Arnold is getting into his pronouncement mode. Of course, there was dirty tricks. Yesterday, the Governor announced that he's still in favor of the bloody video game ban for minors. Lucas reminded me that this is the governor whose movie career includes, chronologically, conan the barbarian, conan the destroyer, the terminator, commando, predator, red heat, total recall, terminator 2, true lies, eraser, end of days, terminator 3. Pot, I'd like to introduce you to kettle. I'm thinking Jingle All the Way should have been banned just because it was terrible, but I suppose taste is subjective.
And, one more pronouncement: Arnold is leaning towards vetoing the Out of Iraq ballot measure. Apparently, he's against all this democracy hooey. "Well, I think if you want to get the message across that the people of California are against the Iraq war, I think every poll has done that. To show that the California people are against the war. I, in principle, don't like non-binding resolutions, because it's a federal issue, not a state issue." (KCRA 9/5/07) Because, you know, it would be sooo expensive to put 20 more words on the ballot and count the votes? If we have to have the third election, we might as well let the people make a statement.
Democratic strategist Garry South, who advised Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman during his bid for the party's 2004 nomination, said "there's always a danger when you're running for public office that a pattern of behavior starts to emerge. And it might be utterly unfair to draw conclusions when things add up to a pattern -- but that's what people do, and that's what the media does.''
If you want a pattern, let's talk about Garry South destroying the (all once-bright) futures of Gray Davis, Joe Lieberman, and Steve Westly. It is literally like he won't hire a client without potential to be on the top 10 list of the biggest losers in the Democratic Party this millennium. There are plenty of reasons for the Open Letter to Garry South.
And can we finally retire the term of him as a "Democratic strategist" after all the evidence the Democratic Party rejects him everywhere he goes? He's a "Connecticut for Lieberman" strategist and has the record to prove it.
After the trouble that Peter Ragone got into for posting comments under different names, you'd think Garry South (and his wife) would have learned something. But, alas, in California, sock puppetry is always in season. They developed some sort of tag team in the Open Letter diary. So here's how it goes. First Garry comes in and says how pathetic I am for having what is essentially a myspace page (I have a real one too), how mean I am, how I have no right to dare question his genius and how I have no right to communicate with my presidential candidates. Whew! Plus I received and offer to do something that I have no desire to do: "Until then, you can kiss my . . . baby." All that was in this comment.
Yesterday, another comment came down the pike from Garry South, but this one referred to South in the third person, such as this from an excellent introductory paragraph:
I suggest you should be the one to shut your mouth. You simply have not an ounce of political savvy or wisdom to second guess one of the most brilliant political minds of our country.
Maybe I'm alone on this site in my opposition to moving up the CA Presidential primary, but just remember that, for the Democrats, this will make two people in this state inordinately rich and powerful.
1) Garry South (take THAT, BL!)
2) Phil Angelides
There was a reason every Presidential candidate flocked to Angelides' side last fall, despite the polls. They wanted his donor list and his volunteer base. It'll be even more valuable now. And South's one of the consultants who will be the recipient of the one-way flow of progressive movement money.
Over at CA Majority Report, former gubernatorial wannabe Steve Westly looks at what he calls the, "three key lessons from this year's midterm election." Setting aside the fact that you should never take advice from anyone who hired Garry South, the biggest problem is what Westly failed to learn.
Garry South has appeared to be very bitter since his DLC candidate failed to buy the gubernatorial primary. In one of his recent whines, the first comment is from the Flash Report's Jon Fleischman:
Now, Garry, I think it might be more effective if you had told Phil NOT to do these things. Now in this morning's staff meeting, when the staff members (who all will have read your illuminating column) suggest your strategy, Phil will throw a temper-tantrum, and declare, "South doesn't run THIS campaign."
Setting aside the obvious -- that a Republican gave tips to try and get Democrats to listen to South -- I think this is the exact appropriate response. Garry South's DLC triangulation approach has looked badly out of place for years. Democrats have long since tired of Garry South's campaigns and the only recent candidates who hired him seemed to be planing on winning in-spite of a lack of Democratic support.
With the recent launch of the California Majority Report, I returned to the idea of what the meaning of what it really means to have a blog, to write a blog, and to be part of a group blog. What is a progressive blog? But more generally, what is a political blog? To me a political blog has a purpose more than just to inform. It has a goal in mind of moving political goals forward. Some are focused on plain and simple electioneering, some on issues, but they have a purpose because they have a somewhat consistent message. This is even true of the Daily Kos, where there are a wealth of different opinions. dKos is attempting to further Dem politics by building and motivating grassroots activists. It's a model that can be successful for a blog because there are so many grassroots activists out there that it can appeal to. It's the model that I based Calitics on precisely because I wanted to help develop progressive grassroots infrastructure in California.
But let's digress into some of the specifics of this new site, the California Majority Report. First, the technical aspects. First of all, it appears to be based off of a WordPress install. However, somehow they managed to mangle WordPress so badly that it's a ridiculous pain in the ass to leave a comment. It took me about 7 hours to set my user name up. What can a computer do in 7 hours that it can't do in 7 minutes, or 7 seconds? Who knows, but that's how long it took me because the email took that long to arrive. And even when I got my password, the site seemed to have some problems logging me in. Oops! Additionally, I don't want to harp on the design itself, but I will point out the fact that it's amongst the ugliest WordPress blogs that I've ever seen. Oh wait, that's harping isn't it? My Bad.
I ask the question that is in the title of this post because the "contributors" of the California Majority Report seem to be working at cross purposes. To flesh this out let's compare this site to several others on the Internet. Follow me to the flip...