Sources: Mike Murphy to Join eMeg Gravy Train


mike murphyUpdate 10:30 a.m. Whitman manager Jillian Hasner has just sent out a release confirming the Calbuzz scoop that Mike Murphy is signing on to eMeg’s campaign for governor. He’s “joining the team to advise, at a senior level, our campaign’s winning strategy,” says Hasner. Here’s our earlier story, posted at 12:06 a.m.

Mike Murphy, the blunt-spoken, sharp-tongued, smart aleck Republican strategist who has advised such clients as John McCain, Mitt Romney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, is joining Meg Whitman’s campaign for governor, two reliable sources told Calbuzz.

Whitman, who has already spent more than $20 milllion, decided to shake up her campaign on  Friday, Nov. 13, one source told us, and add  another layer to her consultant-rich organization.

Murphy is widely known in the business for his skill in dealing with the media, which could help eMeg’s dreadful relations with much of the California press; although she has enjoyed a host of often fawning profiles in national publications, she has strained relations with many of the state’s major media outlets. Most recently, the Wall Street Journal described her  “thin skinned” attitude towards the press, a charge she answered by saying many of the newspapers seeking access to her would soon be out of business.

Murphy is widely credited with Schwarzenegger’s victory in the 2003 election; at the same time, he is also blamed for the disastrous defeat of Arnold’s agenda of reform initiatives in 2005, which led to his departure from the Schwarzenegger camp.

More recently,  Murphy has been vocal in his criticism of Sarah Palin, beginning with her selection by McCain as a running mate in the 2008 election. His continuing criticisms of Palin, and of the right-wing ideologues who champion her as a Republican savior, would bring an intriguing element into the GOP primary for governor, where the most conservative elements of the party historically dominate the vote.

In addition to McCain and Romney, Murphy’s gubernatorial clients have included  Jeb Bush,  John Engler, Tommy Thompson, Christie Whitman, Dirk Kempthorne and Terry Branstad. Also the senatorial races of Lamar Alexander, Slade Gorton, Spence Abraham, Jeff Sessions, Dirk Kempthorne, Steve Symms, Paul Coverdell, and Larry Pressler.

A spokesman for the Whitman campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Murphy could not be reached.

subscribe to comments RSS

There are 3 comments for this post

  1. avatar Ave7 says:

    Murphy may or may not have been responsible for the real reason behind the Governor’s 2005 special election debacle…which was the Governor’s 2004 special election debacle.

    It is amazing that press coverage summarizing this failed governorship (and even the Governor’s wiki page) rarely mention 2004’s Propositions 57 and 58 — though Schwarzenegger’s decision to put them on the ballot and then personally sell them to Californians set the stage for the remainder of his tenure.

    It’s hard to say that every bad thing that has happened to Schwarzenegger was caused by Props 57 and 58, though many were, but what is clear is that the lost opportunity of this Governorship, the forfeiture of his political base and his popular support, the squandering of his mandate for change, and (taken with the car tax repeal) the origins of our ever-worsening budget nightmare, all have their roots in Schwarzenegger’s 2004 initiatives.

    Having taken office less than four months before the 2004 election, after a high-energy, big-promises recall campaign, the public was desperate for serious reform in Sacramento. Schwarzenegger connected with the people in a way that gave him virtual carte blanche to rewrite the rules in Sacramento. He could have put anything on the ballot in 2004 — even a new state constitution — and it probably have passed. No one had the street credibility to stop him.

    So what did he do? Against the stern warnings of highly respected Legislative Analyst Liz Hill and many economists, he issued long term bonds to buy his way out of short term debt, and sold a fraudulent “Balanced Budget Act” that had the strength of Swiss cheese. Remember his money line, “we’re going to tear up the credit cards in Sacramento?”

    Arnold was betting on the come that the economy was already turning around and business as usual in the capitol would be easier than the overhaul he had promised the voters. The man who values popularity above principle was now more interested in being loved by the state lawmakers populating his smoking tent than the frustrated electorate who sent him to Sacramento.

    By the time Schwarzenegger was ready to attempt some modest-but-actual reform measures in 2005, the public had his number. Like jilted lovers, they came to the polls with clenched fists aiming for the jaw of the man who had promised change but delivered more of the same: fiscal mismanagement, broken promises and political pandering.

    If you ever want to see what political suicide looks like, watch this Schwarzenegger speech (audio starts after 30 secs): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0WxdBAJIxI.

    None of us can really know what role Mike Murphy or any other adviser played in the 2005 special election debacle, but that election wasn’t just a case of “too little, too late,” for the voters it was really a case of “here he goes again.” The die was cast one year earlier.

    Imagine if Schwarzenegger had believed his own recall rhetoric and delivered a significant set of reforms in March 2004. What a different state we might be living in today.

  2. avatar zuma hans says:

    Well put, Ave 7, but what you really mean is “imagine that Arnold Schwarzenegger had better handlers in 2004, who were more concerned with statesmanship than sloganeering.”

    Which brings us back to Mike Murphy, the master sloganeer and puppet master.

Please, feel free to post your own comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.