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Jerry vs. Gavin: The Sacto Party Smackdown

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom each invited hundreds of their closest friends to a big party last night to promote his Democratic primary campaign for governor. The people, places and performances by each politician spoke volumes about the approach each candidate is taking. Here’s the Calbuzz tale of the tape:

Event: JB- outdoor reception GN – block party concert with loud music
Location: JB – Historic governor’s mansion GN – Sacramento’s Lavender District
Crowd : JB- 800+ middle-age voters GN – 2,000+ 18-30-year-old rap fans
Music: JB – recession reception playlist GN – Wyclef Jean, Butterscotch
Activity: JB – Mansion tours and schmooze with Jerry GN – Dance your ass off to throbbing sounds
Drinks: JB – Free beer GN – Cosmopolitans, martinis at cash bar
Backdrop: JB – Jerry’s 1974 Plymouth GN – Badlands, Faces, The Depot and Head Hunters
Ally on hand: JB – Wife Anne Gust Brown GN – Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson
Cost of event: JB – Pretty cheap GN – Really expensive
Crowd attire: JB – Political buttons and blazers GN – Black hoodies and cocktail dresses

Some outtakes:

Gavin met with bloggers in the afternoon and bragged that his announcement came when he “pushed the button” to 300,000 online fans and followers . . . said it’s not about old versus young but attacking the status quo . . . also said he can’t support Props 1 C, D and E . . . He was way late getting to the party in his honor. . . Calbuzz could barely see the guy and he gave no political speech at all.

Jerry scoffed at Gavin’s Twitter boast: “You can’t solve the problems of California by Twitter”* . . . said he would live in the historic mansion if he were elected governor . . . recalled living there when his dad was governor: “I had a small room on the second floor. This time I’ll take the big one.” . . . Calbuzz learned late Saturday that JB is staying in his old apartment on N St. during the convention.

* That’s the short verion. Long Jesuitical version: “You can’t solve the problems of California by Twitter. To state the proposition is to refute it. What is the proposition? That you can solve the problems of California by Twitter.”

P.S. Here’s Brown’s 1974 Plymouth which he didn’t know would be there

Uberhead: Party Hearty, Donkeys!

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

LIVE BLOG FROM SACRAMENTO:

Gets applause when he notes that back in the ’70s, California spent 3% of its general fund on prisons and 17% on schools but today it’s even . . .says CA has to invest in kids . . .

More Jerry: Extols his own record on clean energy . . . says they made fun of him as Moonbeam but 30 years later this is the national paradigm . . . We stand on the shoulders of those who’ve gone before . . . (Does this mean Jerry’s standing on his own shoulders? How’s that work? A yoga thing?) . . . He has no text or talking points, so he makes it up as he goes along . . .

Jerry Brown being introduced . . . Bruce Springsteen’s “We All Have a Dream” . . . difficult at conventions, he says, to speak the “truth to power” . . . not engaged in the campaign process yet . . . decries that White House authorized torture . . . Thank God our president has brought out into the full light of day the horror of torture under George Bush . . . talks about what he’s done as attorney general . . . OMG he’s leading a teach-in on the collapse of the banking system . . . casting himself as the populist (as opposed to the latte-sipping Newsom) . . . tough on white-collar criminals who exploit blue-collar workers in the underground economy . . .

Don’t know why, but the speaking order has been shuffled and Jerry Brown has yet to make it to the podium. Boxer delays her press avail so’s not to step on Jerry . . .

More Boxer: To the surprise of no one, she formally announces she’s running for re-election next year. Take that, Carly Fiorina . . . As a postscript, Babs announces a new line of Boxer merchandise, including bibs for babies and scarves for dogs (Barkers for Boxer) . . .The speech is better than Dianne Feinstein’s (who must be helping Tony V solve the LA budget troubles) . . .

Boxer demonstration to the tune of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” . . . lots of bass beat . . . Boxer thanks incoming CDP Chairman John Burton for teaching her to be polite, diplomatic and reserved . . . Biggest applause so far in praising Barack Obama: “Our pro-choice president has reversed the international gag rule that stopped family planning dollars from going overseas.” . . .

No media avail. Says Newsom Guru Garry South: “Our speech speaks for itself.” . . .

Besides his shots at Brown, Newsom also directly took on his biggest leftover political liability: the “whether they like it or not” gay marriage clip used so effectively by supporters of Prop. 8 last fall: He said he enjoyed being introduced by outgoing party chair Art Torres “a whole lot more than the introduction I got in a few of those TV ads last fall. Well, whether they like it or not – my name’s Gavin Newsom, and I’m here to get things started.”

More Newsom: So far, his speech is better than LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s . . . (Here’s the opening shot at Jerry Brown) Will we offer the voters of California a stroll down memory lane, or a sprint into the future? . . . Will we choose the past — or will be embrace the future? . . . We’re not a state of memories, we’re a state of dreams. . . . We are not content to relive history. We are going to keep making it. . . .

Flack Peter Ragone hands out an actual speech text for SF Mayor Gavin Newsom . . . big cheers with Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” playing . . . Newsom: This state is ready for a new direction . . . We need to stop talking about universal health care and start providing it in this state . . . the old ways of doing business just don’t cut it in this tough new world . . . Gives rosy description of health care and schools in San Francisco, but we’re wondering will it all hold up to scrutiny in the heat of the campaign . . .

Treasurer Bill Lockyer has taken the podium and turned the decibel level down considerably, using a buttery late-night FM voice to deliver a Top 10 list of movie remakes, spinning off various disasters that have struck the economy in the last year; nice premise but the execution is too clever by half. Best joke: mug shot of Bernie Madoff used in remake of Spielberg film: “Swindler’s List” . . .

Bob Mulholland, political director for the state party, drops by the skybox to ask: “In five years, what will be around – the Chronicle or Calbuzz?” Ace Chron writer Carla Marinucci blanches…

John Garamendi spontaneous floor demonstration to the tune of “We Are Family” gets tepid response . . . For some mysterious reason, Garamendi is yelling really, really loudly and apparently believes he’s speaking to the 1968 convention in Chicago. Modulate, man . . . something in his vision about “algae and waste products” and methane collectors . . . still yelling . . . quoting FDR now (twice) . . .

Chris Finnie, the Boulder Creek Dem activist who is challenging Lord John Burton for party chair, tells us people have come up to her seeking so many flyers she’s been almost wiped out of her cache . . .

Dr. Hackenflack’s crack political team is settled into the Calbuzz Sky Box at the California Democratic Party convention, not listening to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who is warm-up speaker for Gov Lite John Garamendi . . .

Dr. H’s Glittering Bash Opens Demo Weekend Meet

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Delegates to the California Democratic Party cast a contentious key vote Friday in favor of all six of the ballot propositions on the May 19 ballot – but the hottest action on opening night of the Sacramento convention came at the A-list party hosted by Calbuzz staff psychiatrist Dr. P.J. Hackenflack.

Following heated debate, the vote by the party’s Resolutions Committee was a victory for the Democratic establishment, and came over the objections of grass and netroots delegates who fiercely oppose the half-dozen budget measures put on the ballot by Governor Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative leaders; the volatile debate is expected to resurface Sunday, when resolutions are to be voted on on the convention floor.

The atmosphere was far friendlier a few hours later at Lucca, the fashionable J-Street restaurant where the esteemed Dr. H welcomed political and media luminaries for the First Annual Meeting of the Dr. Hackenflack Senior Advisory Board. After consuming 13 or 14 cocktails in the bar, members of the group adjourned to a private back room for their choice of penne pasta, chicken risotto, grilled salmon and braised short ribs. The event was graciously underwritten in part by a bipartisan coalition led by Alpha consultants Gale Kaufman and Donna Lucas, who picked up the tab for a number of deadbeats who ate and ran. (We know where you live, weasels.) Also kicking in was top drawer Sacto consultant Jason Kinney.

Guests included Attorney General and gubernatorial front-runner Jerry Brown (pictured here earlier in the day expressing his appreciation for the premise of a piece by Carla Marinucci of the S.F. Chronicle); the redoubtable Garry South, chief strategist for Brown rival SF Mayor Gavin Newsom; Capitol power couple, Ms. Lucas escorted by blogger/consort Greg; Capitol Alert’s Shane Goldmacher , the hardest working man in show business; Dave Lesher, communications guru for the Public Policy Institute of California; Beth Willon, communications director for Lite Gov John Garamendi; Democratic consultants for LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Ace Smith and Dan Newman; also consultants Steve Maviglio and Roger Salazar, pollster Ben Tulchin and longtime Democratic linebacker Ed Emerson; and political writers Michael Finnegan of the LA Times, Marinucci and John Wildermuth of the Chronicle, Peter Hecht of the SacBee and Bill Bradley of New West Notes.

Best story of the night: Garry South on former Ohio Gov. Dick Celeste’s wife and her anatomically correct Christmas cookies. Weirdest moment: Lady from another party hands cell phone to Jerry Brown to take a call from famed SF attorney William Coblentz, special counsel to California Gov. Edmund G. “Pat” Brown (1959 to 1961).

Attendees all received much-coveted “I’m a Calbuzzer” pins, suitable for shameless promotion.

Friday Fishwrap: Road Trip!

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Not Exactly Huntley-Brinkley: We’ll be reporting live from the Calbuzz Convention Sky Box in Sacramento this weekend, bringing the vast resources of our far-flung crack political team to the task of bringing you the best and worst of the Democratic state confab and schmoozefest.

With Tony Villar taking a duck, just days after John Boy Garamendi quit the field, the first cattle call of the Democratic primary for governor will be the Jerry and Gavin Show. S.F. Mayor Newsom rolls into River City on the momentum of his statewide announcement Twitter, while Ageless Wonder Brown seeks to keep his crown as the champion of new ideas. Plus: Cameos by Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Howard Dean and a cast of thousands.

Will General Jerry and Prince Gavin come to blows over hair products? Who will win the party’s coveted seat as Male Undersecretary Assistant Treasurer? How’s the food at Lucca? Can John Burton get through an entire sentence without an F-bomb? All this and more, in Calbuzz’s special weekend coverage. . .

Utz vs. Early Bird Special: How do you entertain delegates when the guy trying to paint you as a drooling geezer is being honored by California College Democrats at a hot-ticket block party featuring Wyclef Jean – a Grammy-winning rapper that a lot of vintage members of the California Democratic Council never heard of: Wuddee say? There’s a cleft in his jeans? Whaa? Huh?

If you’re Jerry Brown, you throw a “Recession Reception” kegger with chips and salsa at your Dad’s old home – which just happens to be the historic governor’s mansion, through which you’ll be happy to offer guided tours. That’s the General’s play, during Early Bird Special hours, 5:30-7:00 p.m. Saturday. Not sure what music will be playing, but don’t expect “Fast Car” or “Riot.”

For that, you’ll have to stroll over to the College Dem’s block party which doesn’t even get going until 8 p.m. and likely won’t pick up steam until after 10 when Jerry’s Kids will be back in their rooms with their Polident. Out in the hood, SF Mayor Gavin Newsom will be working the crowd and being honored. Beatbox artist Butterscotch from NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” Sacramento’s Utz! and the Shuttlecocks are also scheduled. Plus: Hip-hopper Biz Markie is on for a post-concert “After Party” for special invited guests at Lounge ON20.

Despite all the flash, why is Jerry not too worried about being outflanked by Gavin among young voters? Because, as Brown argued to Calbuzz, those younger voters Newsom is chasing account for no more than 12% of the Democratic primary vote. . .

eMeg leads money primary: Over on the Republican side, Steve Poizner has been winning the battle of earned media in recent weeks, but chief rival Meg Whitman made a little bottom line news of her own this week.

The Whitman camp announced that she’s kicked $4 million of her own dough into her race, and is “on track” to raise at least another $5 million by the June 30 reporting deadline. While her handlers were a little wiggly about exactly what that meant – spokesman Mitch Zak wouldn’t say whether or not she would have $9 million in the bank come July 1 – it’s still an impressive number (especially if they’re actually low-balling at this point to make their eventual fundraising number look bigger).

Zak said that still on the table is the notion of Whitman stepping up to put some bucks opposing Prop. 1A on the May 19 special election ballot, at a time when she and Poizner are competing to be the loudest voice against the measure’s $16 billion extension of tax increases.

The GOP primary has been framed as a battle of two personally wealthy business types squaring off, but so far it looks like there’s only one fighter in that ring.

PS: After we posted we came across this nice piece (here) by Michael Finnegan in the LATimes about troubles Poizner’s having getting his campaign organized. Also, a fairly critical look at Meg’s challenge from the National Review Online (here).

Dr. H’s Old Mailbag: Comes this convention weekend query for esteemed political psychiatrist Dr. P.J. Hackenflack:

Dear Doctor: My husband told me something troubling: that John Burton is in the Guinness Book of Records for using the f-word as every possible part of speech in a single sentence. Is this true?
– Sarah Saddleback, Orange County

Dear Sarah: WTF?

Tony V to Skip Dem Cattle Call; Won’t "Twitter While Rome Burns"

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

At 2:20 pm today, the California Democratic Party released a list of speakers at this weekend’s convention in Sacramento with one big name glaringly absent: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Exactly one hour and 32 minutes later, Villaraigosa’s press office sent out a release announcing: “Mayor Villaraigosa today announced that he will convene emergency weekend meetings with union leaders to tackle the city’s budget crisis.

“Talks will focus on ways to close a $530 million budget deficit through shared sacrifice and shared responsibility. The Mayor will begin meetings in City Hall with labor leaders on Friday evening and will continue through the weekend.”

“It is imperative that we act now to save jobs and protect services here in Los Angeles. That’s why I’m meeting with our City union leaders,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “We’re going to brew a pot of coffee and roll up our sleeves to get it done. We can’t solve this unprecedented economic crisis with the old politics as usual.”

Reminded us immediately of when Gov. Pete Wilson used the same excuse – budget negotiations in Sacramento – to skip the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston for his own political reasons (in his case, because he didn’t want to be associated with the party’s ultra right-wing platform).

Calbuzz asked Tony V spokesman Sean Clegg if the emergency budget session was just a lame excuse to skip the convention. “It’s exactly the opposite of that,” Clegg said. “The city of Los Angeles and most cities across California are facing an unprecedented economic crisis and jobs come first.”

Clegg said Villaraigosa is putting the needs of his city before his personal political fortunes by trying to pull together an agreement that would require labor unions to give back some hard-earned gains in order to save jobs and services in Los Angeles.

“This is a leadership moment. Antonio Villaraigosa is not going to Twitter while Rome burns,” Clegg said — a clear shot at the other mayor who would be governor: San Francisco’s Gavin Newsom.

We can hear Newsom’s spinners cackling already – and we haven’t even spoken to them yet. It’s their desperate hope that Tony V will not enter the race, leaving Prince Gavin a shot at being the anti-Jerry Brown candidate.

Especially when a new poll by Tulchin Research – Democratic but not affiliated with any governor’s campaign – came out at 3:53 p.m. announcing that while Brown is still the leading candidate at 31%, Newsom is in second place at 16% with Villaraigosa in third at 12%.

With a 4.5% margin of error, the poll of 472 likely Democratic primary voters is further Newsom cackle fodder.