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Friday Fishwrap: Cheap Shots, Drive-Bys, Three Dots

Apr3

Snark alert: Count Kam Kuwata among the minority of political insiders who thought Steve Poizner’s “Happy 40th Anniversary” blast at Jerry Brown this week was a swing and a miss.

Poizner noted that April Fool’s Day marked exactly four decades since The Man Formerly Known as Moonbeam won his first election to the L.A. Community College Board, in not-no-subtly jabbing at Brown’s never-ending electioneering and his septuagenarian status: When Brown first won office, Poizner’s mouthpiece said in an e-blast, “Nixon was the newly inaugurated President, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were going strong, people were still using carbon paper, an Apple was something you ate and the Apollo Mission had not yet landed on the moon.”

Said Kuwata, who’s on the gubernatorial sidelines while his liege, Lady DiFi, clenches her furrowed brow in contemplation of whether to run: “It’s a surprise that Steve Poizner, who hasn’t been defined yet, comes out and starts talking about negative things before he starts talking about a vision about how to get California out of this mess.”

“Political hacks have a way of telling voters what they should believe about people,” Kuwata added, warming to the task. “But the reality is the age argument in California was tried against Ronald Reagan and failed and tried against Alan Cranston and failed. My experience is that voters care more about your ideas and how credible you are.”

While Kuwata makes a valid historical point, count on geezer digs at Brown –- born the same year “Gone With the Wind” was released and before Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling –- to abide, at least subtly, in a campaign when generational change could be an important theme (see Newsom, Gavin incited by South, Garry). Besides, the grumpy old men at calbuzz found the combination of acid and wit in the Poizner hit -– “Jerry Brown, what a long strange trip it’s been” –- kind of a refreshing change from usual attack fare.

In fact, we liked it enough that we suspected Poizner supporter Ken Khachigian — who once said he has studied Brown “like Patton studied Rommel” — was the invisible hand behind it. But the GOP senior statesman, who became Social Security eligible two years ago, demurred, and gave full credit to Poizner’s press point man, Kevin Spillane.

“Actually wish I could take credit,” Khachigian emailed calbuzz. “But my clone – Spillane, who I trained in the Rosario Marin and Chuck Poochigian campaigns — is trying to outshine the Yoda. Nice little blast, huh? I think Jerry’s free ride might be over.”

Limbering up for his shot at Brown, Spillane earlier in the week also fired on Republican state Sen. Abel Maldonado, who got all huffy with Poizner for opposing the tax-raising, budget-enacting Proposition 1A. Maldonado had released an apropos-of-nothing, two-page blistering letter saying the Insurance Commissioner’s stance would “let the state fall into financial ruin just to win a political campaign.”

Said Spillane: “Senator Maldonado’s letter is a bit like the arsonist lashing out at the fire department for not stopping him from burning the village.”

Not exactly a Michelle Obama squeeze for HRH . . .

Two-fisted giver: At first glance, it seemed perplexing that Jerry Perenchio, late of Spanish-language TV giant Univision, would fork over $1.5 million to help Gov. Arnold pass Prop. 1A, while maxing out — $25,900 from him and a like amount from his bride — to wannabe governor Meg Whitman, who’s been huffing and puffing against 1A.

But then it occurred that a total of fifty grand to Ms. Meg is a cheap date for Perenchio, while the 1.5 large ensures he’ll have a seat at the Terminator’s table in the year-and-a-half plus the gov has left to dole out favors.

As the esteemed Dr. Hackenflack points out: “Listen fellas, if you’re worth $3 billion, giving $25,900 is the equivalent of giving $8.63 if you’re worth $1 million, right?” . . .

Democratic firing squad: The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill is often cited as the event that hatched the environmental movement in the U.S. Now the debate of how best to battle offshore oil is pitting enviros and progressives against each other in S.B. in a divisive Democratic primary feud that may draw statewide attention. Details here . . .

A good man leaves the trail: A calbuzz hats-off to John Wildermuth, longtime political writer for the Chronicle, who’s taking the buy-out in the latest episode of that paper’s slow-death movie. Chron suits prevailed on him to stay through the May 19 special but after that, he’s gone from 5th and Mission and, for now, from the trail. Big John covered a lot of big stories, but says his favorite memory is a small, intimate one: watching Barbara Boxer literally do a dance in a motel bar in Fresno, after reporters told her the next day’s L.A. Times poll put her ahead for the first time in her 1998 re-election campaign.

“These days, campaigns can rent a compact car, not a bus, to accommodate the traveling press,” he says, “since most papers are convinced you can cover politics by reading releases, watching videocasts of speeches and blogging from your desk. But it was the very human moments that made the trips worthwhile, both for reporters and their readers. I’ll miss it.” Safe travels, man.

This photo has been around the block already, but in case you missed it, and to underscore Wildermuth’s point, here’s what a campaign bus used to look like in California. This was Alan Cranston’s final campaign swing in 1986 including calbuzz founder Phil Trounstine and the aforementioned Kam Kuwata. For more detail, check here.

Photo courtesy of Dave Lesher’s Facebook

Deconstructing the props: BTW, for simplified explanations of the May 19 ballot propositions, you might want to check out the League of Women Voters site here.


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There are 8 comments for this post

  1. avatar The Rev. James Richardson says:

    Great photo! But I’m not there! Dang. Others who made those trips w/ the Cranston-Morgan Fairchild circus that year included Laura Mecoy of the Sacbee and EJ Dionne of the Post. Wish I could place the wire guy…

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    I agree with Kam Kuwata about Poizner’s attack on Brown: voters will decide whether Brown should be governor based on who he is today, and what he proposes to do now — not on war stories from 40 years ago.

  3. avatar Bill Bradley says:

    I was looking forward to Poizner appearing back-to-back with Jerry Brown speaking at last year’s Victims Rights March on the West Steps of the Capitol.

    Alas, Poizner didn’t show, sending a rep to explain that he had to be in LA instead.

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    Nice “untouched” photo. (As if Phil Trounstine had more hair than Alan Cranston…)

  5. avatar James Richardson (formerly of the Sacramento Bee) says:

    I am still trying to figure out the photo. Could that be John Lynn Smith of the Sacramento Bee? There has to have been someone from Beedom on the busdom. I was still at the Riverside P-E in ’86. Hey, guys, you started this trek down nostalgia lane. And I am sure Z has a pencil in his ear if you look closely.

  6. avatar paul.wilner@gmail.com says:

    like the don bachardy/jerry picture. you’re prolly right on how the gav/jb thing will play out…change, that’s the ticket (or at least the slogan…

  7. avatar Bill Bradley says:

    By the by, Ken Khachigian and Kevin Spillane did this sort of thing non-stop in 2006. When Brown beat their candidate for state attorney general, 56-38.

    I’m surprised that hasn’t been mentioned …

  8. avatar Roberts and Trounstine says:

    Actually Jim, Dave Lesher started it by posting the photo on his Facebook Wall. Here's the link to that and the comments, which is the fullest discussion of who's who and who's where.
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/album.php?aid=17653&id=1448520451&ref=mf

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