When Calbuzz heard from the enterprising Phil Matier and Andy Ross that Eric Jaye, Gavin Newsom’s longtime senior political adviser, was quitting his Prince’s campaign for governor because of “a fundamental difference” (his words) with strategist Garry South, we weren’t bowled over with surprise.
It’s not that South is a control freak; in fact, he’s perfectly capable of working collaboratively and cooperatively with campaign managers and other candidate handlers.
But Jaye to date in the campaign had Newsom heavily focused on using and trumpeting his use of online social network tools, both for organizing and for fundraising and South is simply not, by nature, a Twitter-Facebook-kind of guy.
The last political consultant to elect a Democrat governor of the state, the Duke of Darkness is a bare-knuckles, in-your-face, shoe-leather, hand-to-hand combat veteran who has two main tasks: 1) Get his candidate to raise a ship load of money and 2) Needle, badger and tweak primary rival Jerry Brown at every turn.
Jaye and South were both doing their best to handle the split-up professionally, and with as little inside vitriol splashing on Newsom as possible. We tried to bait South into talking but he refused to engage.
But as Calbuzz sees it, Newsom’s decision to dump the guy who’s been with him from the beginning of his career, in favor of the guy who has actually won a tough Democratic primary and two governor’s races –- not to mention taking out number of millionaire opponents — suggests Newsom is choosing to forego the all-tweet-all-the-time strategy in favor of a little throwback hardball.
As we noted July 2 , while Brown is sitting on more than $7 million (without actually announcing his candidacy), Newsom has raised just $2.8 million and has only $1.1 million in the bank, despite his legions of Twitter and Facebook fans.
Jaye apparently felt that Newsom could use his online profile to pull an Obama, who shattered all known fundraising records in his presidential bid with a major assist from the web. Fair enough, but that notion ignores the fact that before he was Lord of the Internets, Obama was an old school Chicago pol, with guys like David Axelrod locking him up to dial for dollars and running him through countless fundraisers so that in the year before the election he outraised Hillary Clinton the old fashioned way.
That’s what Newsom must to do to become more than a San Francisco boutique candidate. Brown’s long record and saturation name ID, for better or worse, presents a formidable obstacle for a rookie candidate, and Newsom needs to find a way to gain a financial and tactical edge on General Jerry.
(Aside: We were reminded of the decision made by former Gov. Pete Wilson in September 1995 when he picked Craig Fuller, an old Bush Sr. hand, to manage his presidential campaign over George Gorton, his friend and campaign strategist for 25 years. Gorton had never run a national campaign.)
Democratic primaries are all about capturing the party’s left-wing, and over at Calitics, our liberal friends fretted that losing Jaye, with his back-to-the-roots connection to Newsom and his progressive politics, is worrisome for the San Francisco mayor’s chances.
“South has a history with the radical moderates over at the Democratic Leadership Council, and that’s how he won with Davis,” wrote the estimable Brian Leubitz. “He talked ToughOnCrime ™, business, and all that jive. And it won him the 1998 election.
“But California is in a very different place today than it was then. If Garry South is going to be running Newsom’s campaign, he’ll have to update his strategy. It didn’t work with Steve Westly, and it won’t fare much better now.”
This is fuzzy thinking. Newsom’s first challenge is to beat Brown in a Democratic primary. So why in that context, would South even try to position Newsom to the right of the Attorney General?
Newsom and South are going to have to run a two track campaign: extolling the alleged wonders of San Francisco while ripping Brown’s record — as a governor, mayor, attorney general, state party chairman and the other 173 offices he’s held –- up one side and down the other. This is what South knows how to do, and is very, very good at. And it’s the pathway that Newsom has now chosen as his longtime friend and adviser leaves the field.
– By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine