Nasty Ringer from inside the Horseshoe: So Calbuzz is reading along Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal’s slobber job on Gov. Arnold’s COS Susan Kennedy and suddenly — KABOOM! — she smacks her former patron Gray Davis upside the head with a crowbar:
“Gray Davis would still be governor today if he had the chops [i.e. “balls”] to stand up to the unions and if the Democrats weren’t so pig-headed and owned by the special interests,” said the diminutive cigar-chomping Ms. Kennedy.
This, from a putative Democrat who owes her job to Davis, who made her his cabinet secretary, deputy chief of staff and then put her on the PUC. Kennedy is no press rookie either — having been communications chief for US Sen. Dianne Feinstein before going to work for Davis in 1999.
Kennedy also knows – as well as anyone – that while the CCPOA, CTA and AFL-CIO all had their hooks into Davis (and her), had it not been for Enron and the energy crisis, Davis never would have lost his job.
We tried to get a reaction from Davis but he wouldn’t bite. “I’m not going there,” he insisted. “I’m a senior statesman now. I don’t get into disputes.”
An associate of his at Loeb and Loeb in LA, however, said Kennedy sent an email apology to Davis. And a friend of Kennedy’s in Sacramento said she had been trying to aim her fire at the unions (who had made life difficult for the penny-pinching Davis) and felt terrible that she shot her former boss in the face instead.
As long as we had Davis on the phone, we asked him if he wasn’t feeling just a little bit of schadenfreude watching Gov. Schwarzenegger try to handle the budget he so loudly pledged to streamline.
Again, he wouldn’t take the bait. “I don’t take any glee in seeing the difficulty Californians are facing,” Davis said. But, he noted, “It’s abundantly clear that just because you change governors you don’t change the financial condition of the state.”
The Meg and Jerry Show: The preliminary numbers on first round fund-raising are in and, as expected, Meg Whitman is dominating the GOP Money Primary, reporting contributions of $6.5 million in the first five months of her campaign. That amount is in addition to $4 million she has donated herself.
The numbers reported by the campaign do not make it clear how much she has spent, with what appears to a much higher overhead operation than any of her rivals, nor does it say how much eMeg has in the bank.
Our Monday post on the Money Primary offered some caveats about over-interpreting Whitman’s big haul, but by any measure it’s an impressive effort by a rookie candidate, and her spin posse took full advantage, quoting campaign chairman Pete Wilson: “There is no more certain measure of enthusiasm for a candidate than heavy early campaign contributors.”
Republican foe Steve Poizner reported raising $1.2 million to date, and pointedly noted that most of his contributions were $100 or less in contrasting his strategic approach to that of Megabucks Meg, a fellow member of the uber-wealth club.
” “Our campaign has focused heavily on generating support at the grassroots level from hard-working California voters and these numbers reflect our success in earning that support,” the insurance commissioner said in a release. “We will have the funds needed to communicate our message throughout the state, from now to the primary and beyond.”
Republican Tom Campbell, who’ll spend the campaign with his nose to the windows of the counting houses of his two party rivals, said he had raised just under $500,000, had no debts and about $300,000 cash on hand.
As we reported yesterday, General Jerry’s $7.4 million haul exceeded expectations, and dwarfed the $1.6 million raised by Gavin Newsom, who joined Poizner in talking up the number of small donors who’d given him cash.
But here’s a worry for Newsom: He has thus far raised $2.8 million and reported $1.1 million cash on hand. If our Calbuzzer math is right, that would mean he has spent $1.7 million –- or about 60% of his money raised. Yow, that burns.
Times Weighs In: On the other hand, Gavin Hood cops the cover photo of this Sunday’s New York Times magazine, featuring Mark Leibovich’s 8,300 word situationer on the California governor’s race.
Leibovich, formerly of the SJ Mercury News, is a graceful writer and a fine reporter, and his piece provides a solid one-stop fill, bristling with good quotes and anecdotes, about where the 2010 race stands, at least for that small handful of Californians who have inexplicably failed to follow Calbuzz in recent months.
At first glance, Newsom comes off as the big winner of the piece, both because of the Nixon Redux, guy-on-the-beach-in-a-suit photo that graces the cover, and because the San Francisco mayor is also the entry point into the Times story.
“Newsom sees the job of governor as a potentially exhilarating high-wire act,” Leibovich writes. “’We’re in a moment of crisis that requires order-of-magnitude change, dramatic change,’ he told me. ‘Candidly, if things were going very well, I don’t think I’d be the best person for the job.’”
But Newsom’s political vulnerabilities, from his Prince Gavin sense of entitlement to his unease in discussing the adulterous affair he had with a top aide’s wife several years ago, also clearly come through.
“There is indeed about Newsom something of that quintessential California type, the overgrown and hyperactive child,” the piece reports. “Immensely gifted but flawed, he is a jumble of self-regard, self-confidence and self-immolation – potential greatness and a potential train wreck in the same metrosexual package.”
Leibo interviewed all of the contenders, as well as Gov. Arnold, and the up-close-and-personal treatment he affords each of them is worth the price of admission.
From Jerry Brown’s recounting of receiving advice from the Big Dick (“’Richard Nixon once said to me, ‘Don’t peak too soon,’” Brown said) and the tiresome sameness of Meg Whitman’s cipher campaign (“All of her campaign events appear to be held in the exact same ballroom, whether they are in a Radisson, a Hyatt or a Doubletree”) to Steve Poizner’s bummer-dude manner (“On behalf of Californians, I apologize to the rest of the country”) and Tom Campbell’s terminally earnest hopefulness (“Campbell said that a large field of candidates will help him”), the Timesman offers telling glimpses behind the masks of the candidates.
IOU an explanation: Amid the thousands of dead trees sacrificed to reports that the state has started issuing IOUs’, the most valuable piece of journalism has been offered not by the political press corps but by Chronicle business columnist Kathleen Pender.
You can find Pender’s smart Q&A about the IOU situation here.