Team eMeg Brags on Poll; John Laird Strikes on Oil

May26

Meg Whitman’s top campaign strategists convened a conference call with California political writers Tuesday to claim they were on the cusp of victory in the race for the Republican nomination for governor.

Beating their chests over a new internal poll* they said shows eMeg skunking Steve Poizner by 26 points, campaign advisers Mike Murphy and Jeff Randle not only boasted of having “an integrated campaign” machine bristling with more weapons than the Empire’s Death Star but also bragged that their latest TV ads brilliantly succeeded, if they do say so themselves, in effectively vanquishing their GOP rival.

“This is quite a comeback for Meg Whitman,” Murphy said. “There’s no doubt the race is now breaking very strongly in Meg’s favor.”

Mike Murphy

Jeff and I said on the last call we did like this with you all that we would – that voters were confused – by the misleading and in many areas highly inaccurate Poizner/Democratic attack campaign and we would endeavor in the Meg Whitman campaign to unconfuse them.

And so we took a lot of action: Meg is working hard on the stump, some new television ads, some new radio ads. All of which we put into effect about two weeks ago and I’m very happy to say those ads have had an extremely positive effect. Voters are becoming unconfused…

While their triumphalist tone was slightly modulated by some CYA boilerplate – “There is no complacency in the campaign” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) – it seemed pretty clear that Murphy and Randle genuinely believed that what they were saying is true. Which led us to wonder about one nagging question:

Why are they telling us this now?

Think about it: If you’re pitching a no-hitter, ahead by 12 runs with two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the ninth, do you suddenly step off the rubber and scream – “I’m really, really winning by a lot now! – to the fans in the stands?

We’re just sayin’.

In seeking an explanation, Calbuzz turned to our Staff Psychiatrist, Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, who posited five possible reasons for Team Whitman’s behavior (solution below):

a) Murphy is like that guy who takes a little blue pill, then calls up his friends and starts yelling,  “Dude – it’s been FOUR HOURS, man!”

b) Henry Gomez ordered them to do it after Meg complained that all the horse people at the Woodside Starbucks were saying she hadn’t got her money’s worth for her $68 million.

c) Meg demanded that her handlers go out and explain to those ruffian reporters that the 60-second ad she had personally written had magically turned the whole thing around.

d) Murphy’s jammed up for cash, and is hoping he’ll get his $500K win bonus a little early.

e) The Whitman campaign badly wants to discourage and depress Poizner, so that he doesn’t complicate their lives in the next two weeks by going to the wallet for another $5-10 million.

Calbuzz sez: a) and e).

*McLaughlin & Associates, paid by the Whitman campaign, says the race is 53-27% after surveying 600 likely GOP primary voters May 23-24, margin of error +/- 4%.

Sam Blakeslee

Laird Draws First Blood on Blakeslee in Maldo’s Old District

If you go to Republican Sam Blakeslee’s campaign web page for the special election in what was Abel Maldonado’s SD15 you’ll find out he’s committed to schools, reforming the state budget, strengthening the economy, energy efficiency, public safety and ethics. What you won’t find is that the Assemblyman from San Luis Obispo was the No. 1 water carrier for the Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil drilling proposal.

But his Democratic opponent, John Laird of Santa Cruz, today launches a TV campaign to remind voters in the district that “even as the oil slick harms the Gulf Coast, politicians like former Exxon executive and current State Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee are still saying, ‘Drill baby, drill.’”

John Laird

Which has the effect of raising  two things Blakeslee is apparently not too keen on mentioning: 1) his background as an Exxon executive who fought for PXP’s proposal to  expand offshore oil drilling in Santa Barbara and 2) that he actually is an Assemblyman (his ballot designation will be “independent business owner”).

Blakeslee’s web site does say that after getting his PhD from UC Santa Barbara in geophysics, he “worked as a research scientist at Exxon’s research lab in Texas, where he received a patent for inventing an innovative technique for imaging geological formations. Later, he moved into management and became a strategic planner where he was responsible for creating and managing Exxon budgets.”

It doesn’t mention that he actually joined Exxon’s Production Research in the Borehole Geophysics Group. Maybe that sounds a little too much like an oil driller. (We can just see the tag line, inspired by Dianne Feinstein’s ad against Michael Huffington in 1994: “A San Luis oilman central Californians just can’t trust.”)

If you are one of those Calbuzzers who follows legislative intrigue, you may recall that we noted in September 2009 that “fingers were pointed at Blakeslee last month when Capitol Weekly disclosed that the Assembly vote on the PXP measure had been expunged from the record.” He denied it, but everyone in Sacramento was pretty sure he was the guy – as minority leader — who had the slate wiped.

Laird’s ad buy – about $350,000 in Salinas, Santa Barbara and on cable in San Jose – is likely enough to inject offshore oil drilling into the contest. Armed with a new FM3 survey showing the race a dead heat – each candidate with about a third of the vote – Laird is banking on a finding that 56% of likely special election voters are opposed to allowing more offshore oil drilling.

Blakeslee has his own ad up – a nice positive in which he pledges to “fight to stop the waste and turn California around.” Not one mean word about what a liberal, special-interest, job-killing tree-hugger Laird is. So there’s no question: Laird is firing the first shot here.

It’s his sad good fortune that offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has raised to an extraordinary level an issue on which he actually has fought most of his political career. As he says in his ad:

Enough is enough. I’m John Laird. Protecting California’s coastline is crucial to our economy and our way of life. That’s why I’ve always stood up to the oil companies and worked to prevent more drilling off our coasts. Because the risks to California’s future are just too great.

That’s powerful stuff.


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There are 6 comments for this post

  1. avatar 4oceans says:

    No question John Laird is the superior candidate in SD15, despite the fact it has been gerrymandered to death to assist the GOP. Does anyone seriously believe that large a portion of the California coast would ever vote GOP-PXP-offshore oil drilling without a bit of political help?!?

    Meanwhile, let’s hope Laird putting the wood to Mr. Exxon PXP Blakeslee (can an Exxon guy even hope to win a senate seat along the central coast?) will wake up voters in Santa Barbara, who need to be reminded that PXP maven Das Williams continues to push for new offshore oil drilling in his race against environmentalist Susan Jordan for AD35.

  2. avatar Ernie Konnyu says:

    Don’t get too carried away with the brilliance of your analysis, namely suggesting that the oil stuff will be the decider between Blakeslee and Laird.

    Blakeslee is going to easily carry the Santa Barbara and San Lois Obispo counties while Laird will carry easily Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. The Senate election winner will be chosen by the fifth of the voters living in the Republican leaning high tech Santa Clara County portion of the 15th S.D. where the coastline is 20 miles and proposed drilling is 200 miles away and where Blakeslee’s Phd. is going to look really smart.

    I represented all those Silicon Valley voters in the Assembly and in Congress and they will like a well educated reasonable conservative proven leader that Blakeslee is. Laird can not match Blakeslee’s beautiful family who will be on display, toddler pictures and all I suspect, on most every Blakeslee mail piece. Today they do not know him but after several million will be invested by the Republicans in spreading the news about high tech Sam, that missing ingredient will be corrected.

    Further, those voters will find out what a flaming liberal Laird had been as mayor of Santa Cruz and what a big deficit spender and high taxer he had been as state Assemblyman. Once the voters find out about John’s fiscal madness, Blakeslee will get his needed majority in Silicon Valley and win it all.

  3. I live in the San Jose portion of SD15. Never heard of either guy. Polling company called and grilled me on what issues would get me to care about one of them. State budget? Nope. Union endrosement? Nope. Education? Nope. Against offshore drilling? I said, “Yeah. I’ll definitely vote for the candidate who is against offshore drilling.”
    Guess they heard me.

  4. avatar Adelaides Lament says:

    That’s a terrific ad you linked to. The final scene really tugged at the heartstrings with the young parents walking their baby next to the ocean. I think oil drilling will be a very important part of this campaign.

  5. avatar Diogenes says:

    More weapons than the Deathstar. Well as a Republican there’s one I’d like to see meet a torpedo. I am at the point where I would like to see Meg fail if for no other reason than I won’t continue to get three to five “robocalls” a week for the next six months.

  6. avatar pedronava says:

    Besides doing some heavy lifting on the PXP Assembly Budget play, Sam mailed out a very shiny, glossy pretty pro-PXP mailer to folks in his district. All of this is coming back to haunt him. I warned him not to get into bed with PXP-but hey, he’s a big boy and didn’t listen. Fascinating that offshore oil is the defining issue in two coastal district elections. Republican Sam Blakeslee and Democrat Das Williams both drank the PXP kool-aid and now are paying the price. For Das, his embrace of new offshore oil drilling was the excuse he used to jump into the 35th AD race after expressing support for Susan Jordan. Doesn’t look like such a smart move now, what with the Gulf disaster, the Governor deciding that new drilling in CA Sanctuary Act waters is a really bad idea and the fact that the State Lands Commission, at the request of John Chiang, has reviewed the “new” EDC/PXP deal and determined it is still not enforceable. Oh, and by the way, would the PXP supporters please stop telling people that the platforms come out under the deal-they don’t. How about you take some time and actually read the “agreement”. Ain’t nothing in the document that makes anybody do any such thing.

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