Quantcast

Archive for 2010



Swap Meet: Weakly Rumor, Crusty Snaps, 3 Dots

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

The record will show that Steve Poizner had just left a meeting with editors and reporters in Silicon Valley, a few minutes after 4 pm. Thursday, when his trusty flack knocked down the latest rumor that The Commish was quitting the governor’s race.

In response to our email inquiry, Poizner mouthpiece Jarrod (The Pagan) Agen texted:

Hahaha…sorry, my blackberry died. We literally just walked out of the San Jose Merc Ed Board….it’s usually better to spread these rumors when we aren’t sitting in front of a room of journalists. I’m sure Meg Whitman would like Steve to drop out of the race, but it is not happening.

Calbuzz is usually far too busy working on our short-iron game or our memoirs (“Settling Our Scores: Our Life in American Journalism”) to truck in such low-rent rumors, but the volume of intelligence traffic on this one got loud enough on Thursday to check out.

It’s not entirely surprising, of course, that such speculation would swirl, given yet another lousy Poizner showing in new Field and PPIC polls (the last time the story got heavily peddled also coincided with a round of fresh surveys, when he suddenly announced a $15 million donation to the cause).

And, if you ponder long and hard enough about it, it’s even possible to think of someone who might potentially benefit from spreading such a tale (“Yeah, that’s the Whitman campaign’s wet dream,” a key Poizner insider growled when we raised the rumor).

All pretty standard primary Kabuki, including the part when Poizner told the Merc Ed Board, “I don’t think the polls mean a lot” at this point. Except: amid the countless media iterations of the new horserace polls, including ours, it is important to keep in mind that Poizner is, um, actually right.

As Timm Herdt, the VC Star’s All-Madden political reporter, notes:

The last time there was a contested GOP primary for governor — in 2002 — former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan held an even larger lead in the polls in January, which at the time was much closer to Election Day (the primary was in March instead of June back then).

Here are the numbers from the Jan. 29, 2002 Field Poll: Riordan 46 percent, Bill Simon 13 percent, Bill Jones 13 percent. That’s a 33-point lead. The Jan. 25, 2010 Field Poll shows Whitman at 45 percent and Poizner at 17 percent, a 28-point lead, with a lot more undecideds than there were in January ’02.

Clearly, there are differences between the two races — most notably the fact that Whitman stands ready to spend a whole lot more money than Riordan ever did, and Poizner won’t be helped, as was Simon, by an orchestrated effort by the incumbent Democrat (Gray Davis) to help undercut the GOP front-runner.

Still, don’t underestimate the power of the conservative grassroots in a closed Republican primary in California.

Good point, well taken.

Beyond the time-space continuum: Jerry Brown appeared to be time traveling again when he went on KGO-radio this week and launched an attack on…Gavin Newsom?

Seems Mayor Narcissus recently sniped at Brown for lacking the “fire in the belly” to run for governor and Crusty being Crusty, just couldn’t let it pass with, oh say, a gracious word or two for a vanquished opponent.

He’s been giving a lot of advice to the president and now me, and I’m sure there’ll be others because when you don’t have a lot to do, you can start checking out what other people have been doing.

Yo Jerry! The dude dropped out in October. Give it a rest, man.

Also notable was Brown’s take on the latest speculation (as reliable as the Poizner rumor, Costco Carla) that Difi is taking another look at running for governor:

The job of governor is going to be a very difficult and painful task.  It’s going to take all the skills and all the knowledge and all the will and the grace of God to get you through it. It’s not something anybody is going rush into other than those ignorant to what’s ahead.

There are a lot of people maybe who are standing in the wings and are looking to undergo a $150 million assault on their character and their record and their future.

Translation: Feinstein was permanently scarred by getting savaged by Michael Huffington’s millions in negative ads in 1994, then demurred on the 1998 gov’s race in part because she didn’t want $40 million of Al Checchi money dumped on her head. So WTF would she choose to go up against eMeg’s $100 million+ to run for the world’s worst job, when she could be sleeping in and exchanging witty banter in amusing Georgetown salons? Meanwhile Don Ringe’s latest political animated cartoon includes an exclusive interview with Herself about her views on the governorship.

Three dot lounge: HT to Robert B. Gunnison (the only erstwhile Capitol reporter whose name forms a complete sentence in Ebonics) for demanding we not miss Steve Harmon’s well-reported piece about why journos and other researchers have been denied access to Crusty’s official papers from his first tour as governor…Talk about news that stays news: one of the top stories on the Washpost RSS feed Friday morning was “Democrats confused about path ahead”…Nice thoughtful piece on the Supreme Court’s big campaign finance ruling by longtime Democratic operative and consultant Les Francis, seeking to hose down the easily excited types in his party…

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Pants on the Ground” guy not allowed inside Grammys.

Press Clips: Balz, Hearst Shine; eMeg Still Ducks

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Postman delivers: For political reporters, the most memorable scene in “The Boys on the Bus,” Tim Crouse’s classic chronicle of campaign coverage of the 1972 presidential race, comes at the close of a dreary candidate debate in California: “Walter, Walter, what’s our lead?” one of the reporting pack shouts at the great Walter Mears, of the Associated Press.

The now-retired Mears is known as one of the best ever at performing what Crouse described as “the parlor trick” of instantly finding the lede of a political story – recognizing and honing in on the most important, precisely correct point with which to begin a clear, concise and rational account of what is often a sprawling, complicated and uncertain event.

Amid the countless trees killed in the service of covering President Obama’s first State of the Union this week, the Washpost’s Dan Balz proved anew why he’s the premier political scribe among the Beltway Wise Men, by nailing a Mears-like lede in his thumb sucker on the speech, one of the toughest deadline stories on the beat.

After the theatrics and the rhetoric and the canned responses, two questions remain from President Obama’s first State of the Union address: Did he succeed in persuading nervous Democrats not to cut and run on his presidency; and will he succeed in making Republicans think twice about their united opposition to almost all things Obama?

Our old friend Dan next pulled out and featured, high up in his yarn, the key money quotes from Obama’s hour-plus oratory, focusing on the president’s effort at shaming congressional GOPers into doing something beyond trying to trash and de-legitimize his presidency:

After last week, it is clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual. But we still need to govern. To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills. And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, a super-majority, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership.

Unfortunately for Obama, the answers to the questions Balz raised in his lede are:

a) most likely not
b) NFW.

Limbering up for punditry: While Balz won top Calbuzz honors for Instant Analysis, Richard Dunham of the Hearst Washington Bureau captured the award for print’s Best Pre-Game Show, posting a series of Harper’s Index-style, by-the-numbers measures on Obama’s first-year as president.

Put up on the Chron’s “Politics Blog,” Dunham’s report was a terrific, value-added, online element that provided advance perspective on the speech, on everything from Afghanistan to the anger of voters, as measured by official stats and top-rank national polls.

There was great sadness in the newsrooms of the Chron, and of other Hearst papers, when the mother ship folded local Washington bureaus into a consolidated D.C. operation, but Dunham’s good work on the SOTU offers a case study of how journalistic efficiencies of scale can sometimes work.

eMeg speaks – but not to you! In her unstinting effort to be elected Governor of the United States, Meg Whitman hit her talking points sat for interviews with three national outlets on her big book tour this week, once again stiffing the media organizations that actually cover the California governor’s race.

Breathlessly gushing about her appearances with Today’s Matt Lauer , Neil Cavuto on Fox and NPR’s Morning Edition, her press shop offered this dreck –

Meg has been doing a series of interviews over the past few days, and doing a great job explaining how she will be a different kind of leader for California

– apparently utterly oblivious to the irony that she’s explaining what a swell leader she’d be to REPORTERS WHO ARE NOT IN CALIFORNIA.

Breaking news: 150 days and counting since Calbuzz extended its dinner invite to eMeg.

What difference does it make what he says? Ben Smith at Politico got into an interesting beef with Senator John Cornyn, who accused the journo of being “blatantly unethical” after Smith posted a press release the Texas Republican put out commenting on Obama’s speech – hours before it was given.

I understand why Cornyn and his office are unhappy about the item and that they intended the early release as a convenience. I respectfully disagree on both the news value and the ethics. My blog item didn’t suggest that the mild deception in which his office was asking reporters to participate was some kind of major crime. It was just an opportunity to lift the curtain on a bit of Washington artifice and cast a little light on the way the parties actually interact.

And traditional ground rules, which I’ve been clear about in the past, are that you can’t put something off the record or under embargo without a reporter’s consent.

Amen, brother.

Hurricane anticipation: Cornyn wasn’t the only one to engage in a little crystal ball gazing about the speech. Carly Fiorina opined that Obama was offering “gimmicks, not real solutions” in the speech nearly seven hours before Obama started talking.

“Carly on anticipated SOTU content,” read a release eblasted by her campaign at 11:07 a.m (PDT), recounting her interview with some radio windbag from San Diego. A mere eight hours and 34 minutes later, iCarly shared her thoughts on the actual speech on You Tube.

She said that Obama had offered “gimmicks, not real solutions.”

(Memo to Carly handlers: You really should let her know not to keep looking down at the script when she’s on camera, which makes her look, um, kinda shifty. Also: that buzz cut is looking a little poofy around the ears, no? We’re just sayin’).

This just in: Sarah Palin has arrived to help with the relief effort in Tahiti.

PPIC: Boxer, Brown Slim Leads; Big Gender Gaps

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

In the wake of the GOP upset in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts, a new public poll finds California’s Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer – thanks to a big advantage among women – clinging to a narrow 4-point lead over  Republican Tom Campbell, who entered the race only two weeks ago.

The survey, from the Public Policy Institute of California, also shows Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown – trailing among men but leading among women — with a slim 5-point advantage over Meg Whitman, the Republican former CEO of eBay.

The results mirror those reported last week by the Field Poll, but with closer margins than the earlier survey: Field had Boxer and Brown each with 10-point leads over Campbell and Whitman.

Both widely respected, the two polls use wholly different sampling methods to determine who is a likely voter. Another key factor: the distribution of voters by age in the Field Poll is considerably older – and closer to our projections — than in the PPIC survey.*

In the GOP Senate primary field, Campbell leads with 27% of the likely voters, followed by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina at 16% and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore at 8%.  Interestingly, Campbell holds an 8-point edge over Fiorina among men but a 14-point lead over her among women. Nearly half of GOP voters — 48% — remain undecided in the Senate race, PPIC reported.

Boxer has long run better among women than among men, and the findings in the PPIC survey underscore that dynamic.

Against Campbell, Boxer is trailing among men, 40-46%, but leads among women, 50-36%. Against DeVore, Boxer loses the men 41-45% but carries women 53-33%. And against Fiorina, Boxer loses men 41-46% but interestingly has her largest margin among women – 55-33%.

Against all three challengers, she takes about eight in 10 Democrats while they capture eight in 10 Republicans. But Boxer holds an important lead among the independents: 42-37% over Campbell, 45-35% over Fiorina and 45-34% over DeVore. Assuming either Boxer or her challenger holds his or her partisans, the battle in the Senate race will come down to who can carry the independents.

This is where Campbell – who is pro-choice, pro-gay rights and moderate on the environment – could, with significant resources, pose a more serious threat to Boxer than either Fiorina or DeVore.

Over in the GOP primary for governor, Whitman, who held a 20-point lead over Campbell in December, before he switched races, now holds a 30-point lead over Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, her lone remaining major rival.

Even with 41% of the vote compared to Poizner’s 11%, however, an additional 44% of the GOP primary voters remain undecided.

The PPIC findings also suggest Whitman has a problem among women voters, much like the Field Poll showed. For example, Whitman leads Poizner by 35 points (48-13%) among men in the primary vote but by 25 points – one-third less – among women (34-9%).

In the primary, that’s a gender difference but in a general election match-up against Jerry Brown, it’s a genuine gender gap: It’s Whitman over Brown 43-38% among men but Brown over Whitman 44-30% among women. That’s a 19-point gender gap in Brown’s favor against the woman GOP candidate, giving Brown his overall 41-36% edge over Whitman.

The same is not true for a Brown-Poizner match-up: he leads Poizner 43-34% among men and 46-24% among women for an overall advantage of 44-29%.

Other findings in the PPIC poll:

Most Californians would be willing to pay higher taxes to maintain current funding for public schools and most favor spending cuts in prisons and corrections . . .

But while majorities want to protect K–12 schools and cut spending on prisons, Californians are as divided as their leaders on the overall strategy to deal with the state’s $20 billion budget deficit: 41 percent favor a mix of spending cuts and tax increases and 37 percent favor mostly spending cuts (9% favor mostly tax increases).

They are in more agreement when it comes to asking the federal government for help, as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has done: 66 percent say California should seek federal aid to help meet its budget obligations.

PPIC surveyed 2,001 California adults Jan. 12-19, including 1,223 respondents deemed to be likely voters or whom 445 were identified as likely voters in the Republican primary. The margin of error for the overall survey is ±2 percent at the 95 percent confidence level, ±3 percent for likely voters and ±5 percent for the GOP primary.

Get the whole thing here.

* The differences between Field and PPIC are significant. Field calls only registered voters from the voter file and uses past voting behavior in the file to determine who is a likely voter; PPIC calls households at random (thereby reaching households with unlisted numbers)  and asks people if they are registered and likely to vote.

Field’s callers know how people are registered — Democrat, Republican, Decline to State or Other; PPIC asks people to tell them. Field makes voters who only use a cell phone (younger voters) a key part of their survey; PPIC includes 200 cell phone users but not necessarily people who have no land line.

One result:  While 45% of likely voters in the Field Poll are age 55 and older, just 39% of the voters in the PPIC poll are in that age bracket.  Because Brown has a powerful advantage among older voters, his percentages are likely understated in the PPIC survey. (BTW, the Calbuzz estimate, based on our experience and extensive review with pollsters and analysts, is that 59% of the electorate in November will be age 50 and older and about 46% will be age 55 and older.)


I, Jerry: How Brown Campaign Will Be Run

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

It’s been an open secret* for weeks that Jerry Brown planned to hire longtime aide and Brown family retainer Steve Glazer to run his campaign for governor.

With the MSM now trumpeting this “news” to the skies, it seems like a good time to explain what it actually means.

Brown’s political operation quietly moved out of Jerry’s Oakland loft a couple of months ago, into about 5,000 square feet of  warehouse space about a mile and a half away. That relocation, coupled with the confirmation of Glazers’ status, means his  campaign is finally, if fitfully, under way.

Characteristically, it will not be a typical campaign operation: while Meg Whitman has hired hordes of strategic consultants, Brown will have none.

Glazer, an Orinda city council member and former mayor, organized the student vote for Brown back in 1978; was deputy campaign manager for his 1982 Senate race; press secretary and consultant for Assemblyman Gray Davis (he created Davis’s famous missing-children  milk carton campaign); did policy and press for Kathleen Brown’s 1994 general election campaign and has managed several statewide ballot measures. He’s also been a pilot fish for developers on half a dozen land-use projects.

All of which means Brown’s got a smart, experienced and trusted hand in place as his day-to-day manager — but doesn’t change the fact that Crusty and his very savvy wife, Anne Gust Brown, will function as their own general consultants.

Ads will likely be made by Joe Trippi and David Doak, two former media partners who have since gone their own ways. Trippi, whose clients have included John Edwards and Howard Dean, worked for Brown’s presidential campaigns and also did his media for the 2006 Attorney General’s race.

Doak, who did California media for the late Sen. Alan Cranston and for former Gov. Gray Davis, is essentially retired from the business, playing golf and poker, but eager to help Brown as a volunteer in collaboration with Trippi. We’ll know for sure when spending reports come out, but Calbuzz expects Trippi and Doak will get a fixed fee WAY below market rate for their media work — or no fee at all.

Sterling Clifford, who last worked as communications director for Baltimore Mayor Shiela Dixon before she was indicted on fraud charges, the Baltimore Police Department, looks to be the day-to-day press secretary. But don’t look for a communications director: Brown has always managed his own communications and it’s not likely there’ll be anyone on hand to teach old dog Crusty to bark on command.

Jerry and Richard Maullin, of the survey firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz are old friends from the Mesozoic Era so we expect him to manage polling and focus groups.  But we also hear our old friend Paul Maslin is really interested in the race and we expect Brown will also rely on polling by labor groups and others who piggy-back questions for him on their surveys.

We understand Glazer has hired an opposition researcher and there are some other paid people in the office already. But Brown is apparently going to try to prove his belief that it’s possible to run a bare bones, frugal, heavily-volunteer campaign for governor in the biggest executive-level political contest in America outside of the presidency. Good luck with that.

*In late December, Glazer was already clearly signaling he would be the campaign manager, but asked people to respect his timing in announcing it. We honored his request.

The Commish (sorta, kinda, almost) goes negative: Nice work by Team Poizner putting together a comprehensive, well-sourced, well-linked oppo memo on eMeg, e-blasted to the world on Tuesday.

In honor of the Great Woman’s book launch, Commish campaign operatives framed a three-page dossier around chapter heds of eMeg’s magnum opus, “The Power of Many: Values for Success in Business and in Life (Plenty of Free Parking!).” Okay, we made that last part up.

Titled “Meg-A-Tales,” Poizner’s poison pen peppering covers mostly familiar negative ground – from the Great Woman’s sleazy treatment of Craigslist, disgraceful voting record and obscene campaign spending, to her strategic missteps at eBay, political re-invention as a conservative and cowardice in refusing to answer questions from reporters or debate her rivals – but it makes an impressive, hefty package all pulled together.

That said, there are two big problems with the hit: a) Poizner obviously isn’t prepared to put any money behind an attack that goes much beyond the 2,000 people in state politics who talk to each other, plus the rest of the plucky population of Calbuzzville and b) even if he was, there’s a good chance it would blow up in his face; at a time when he’s trailing Whitman by 30 points, two-thirds of Californians have never heard of him and over half of those who have hold a negative opinion.

So Poizner’s Greatest Hits Against eMeg ain’t exactly nothin’, but up against her millions of dollars of earnest, feel good radio ads, it’s pretty damn close.

PXP goes viral: After AP picked up* our story last week on the once-secret offshore oil drilling agreement between PXP oil company and the Environmental Defense Center, Calbuzzer and campaign media consultant Don Ringe worked up an animated political cartoon featuring a monologue by “Mr. PXP” about the deal, which you can find here.

And special Calbuzz T-Ridge props to KQED’s John Myers, who closely questioned Schwarzmuscle about the issue at the governor’s Monday appearance at the Sacto Press Club and offers a smart take on the exchange on his blog at Capital Notes.

Two points worth noting here: a) As Myers reports, it’s interesting to see how breezily Arnold is in abandoning the notion of “principles” when the going gets tough; b) the governor clearly formulates the deal on T-Ridge as a “budget-driven” decision, not an energy vs. environment balancing act.

That is precisely the point that most concerns many environmental opponents of the deal: that California’s landmark environmental protections should be conditioned on the ebb and flow of the budget. In other words, any time Sacramento is in the red, just suspend the Coastal Sanctuary Act or AB 32 or local development guidelines and generate some fresh cash. Laissez les bons temps rouler.

The environmentalists who support the deal, like the EDC, do not agree with this fiscal argument of Arnold’s for the deal: to them T-Ridge has always been a pathway to end some offshore oil drilling permanently, essentially by horsetrading a lease to slant drill in state waters for a promise to decommission four  operations in federal waters.

But: Lay down with dogs, wake up with fleas.

*AP not only picked up but also properly credited the story. Having played the MSM exclusivity rip-off game for many years, your Calbuzzers these days are as scrupulous as possible about crediting and linking to other media sources, new and old alike, and we appreciate the same in return. As for those who jack our stuff, Dr. Hackenflack knows who you are and where you live.

What happens in Mass. stays in Mass: In our piece on the seismic Senate election in Massachusetts, we noted the absence of any election day exit polls that might have provided a data foundation for any of the scenarios spun about Republican Scott Brown’s surprise victory.

Now comes the Washpost, which conducted a survey in the immediate aftermath of the election, in partnership with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard’s School of Public Health.

In their piece on the poll, postmen Dan Balz and Jon Cohen noted that Brown, significantly, won two-thirds of the 63 percent of special-election voters who said the country is on the wrong track:

Dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, antipathy toward federal-government activism and opposition to the Democrats’ health-care proposals drove the upset election of Republican senatorial candidate Scott Brown…

HT to Bill Carrick for the heads up.

DBI: Cal Forward, Con Con, Campaign Finance

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

A plague in the newsroom: When dinosaurs roamed the Earth, the Old Chronicle had a cityside editing slot known as the “Plague Desk,” assigned to whatever unfortunate assistant city editor was tasked with herding the cats who covered Politics, Law and Government.

In due time, old school Old Chronicler Carl Nolte invented a fanciful PLAG  desk publication, which he called “DBI: The magazine of politics, law and government.”

DBI stood for “dull but important,” and, thanks to Nolte’s abiding interest in designing and drawing covers for his imaginary mag, it featured headlines like, “Infrastructure: Threat or Menace?” and “The Secret World of the Bay Area Air Pollution Control District,” or “Up Close and Personal with Regional Planning Superstars” and “What’s New in Waste Water Management.”

For whatever reason, in recent weeks the News Gods have favored Calbuzz with a plague of DBI stories, from tax reform to T-Ridge, so today we honor Nolte’s extraordinary contributions to newsroom saloon humor with our own version of DBI.

Kaufman, wearing a Calbuzz botton

Cal Forward moves forward: California Forward has hired ace Democratic consultant Gale Kaufman to quarterback their 2010 campaign for two reform initiatives, after their efforts to get things started faced some delays, thanks in part to a big assist from Calbuzz.

Facing an April 16 deadline to collect 694,354 valid signatures — which means a million or so raw ones — Cal Forward is still awaiting title and summary for its proposed constitutional amendment to revamp the state’s budget process. AG Jerry Brown’s office, which appears to be struggling to keep up with the zillion or so would-be  initiatives flying around, only recently signed off on the group’s other measure, aimed at keeping the state’s hands off local government revenues.

“We’re definitely going ahead with the initiatives. The deadline is tight, but we’ll have enough time,” Kaufman told us, adding that she is confident Cal-Forward, a business-labor-goo goo coalition, will have no problem raising money for the campaign.

Kaufman, who’s elected half the Democrats in the Assembly and whose  client list also includes the CTA, is coming on board amid a batch of rumors about Cal Forward floundering to qualify its initiatives.

Some members have been grumbling that the bipartisan group should scrap its local finance measure, because it’s too similar to an initiative backed by the League of California Cities. Cal Forward’s John Stevens defended the measure, noting that it would give cities, counties and school districts new authority to gain voter approval of one-percent increases in the local sales tax with a majority, instead of a two-thirds, vote. Passage would be pegged to a comprehensive government finance plan prepared by local pols, Stevens told us.

Their second initiative, a proposed constitutional amendment which, at post time, was  still gathering moss in Crusty’s office, has gained more attention and discussion.

Among other provisions, it would require the governor and Legislature to put in place a performance-based budget and a two-year spending plan. It also would reduce the two-thirds requirement for passage of a budget to a majority of both houses.

Amid the initiative push, some legislators are still screwing around with their own version of a similar ballot measure, a rear guard action which isn’t helping the urgency of Cal Forward’s own effort.

Cal Forward submitted an amended version of the budget reform initiative after Calbuzz reported that the original would place restrictions on the Legislature’s ability to enact new fees for state services under the Sinclair Paint decision, an obscure but important policy procedure. After we blew the whistle on the play, some liberal-leaning Cal Forward types screamed bloody murder, and the Sinclair section was rewritten, a move which is partially responsible for the delay.

And thank you for that.

Con Con petitioners vs. pros: We hear there’s a story percolating about the, um, questionable actions by agents of some statewide signature gathering firms unhappy about the initiative petitions being circulated by backers of a constitutional convention.

Apparently some of the professional petition movers fear that delegates to a constitutional convention will, among other things, seek to change the current ballot initiative process, disrupting or killing their business. They want nothing to do with the con con effort, which instead is trying to organize its own, largely volunteer, petition force of 400 people on the street by President’s Day.

Word is that some of the opposition to the convention petitions has been expressed in what you might call your allegedly extra-legal manner. Nobody’s talking for the record about this yet, but don’t be surprised if there’s some action on this front within the week.

What campaign finance decision means for us: The best line we’ve read about last week’s big U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to buy elections contribute to federal campaigns appeared in the NYT’s thundering editorial of outrage about it, which summed up the politics pretty well:

The ruling is likely to be viewed as a shameful bookend to Bush v. Gore. With one 5-to-4 decision, the court’s conservative majority stopped valid votes from being counted to ensure the election of a conservative president. Now a similar conservative majority has distorted the political system to ensure that Republican candidates will be at an enormous advantage in future elections.

Beyond the bald facts of partisan politics, two other things seem perfectly clear about Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: 1) it will create more work for lawyers; 2) its practical impact in California this year will likely be limited to Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate race.

“There’s no impact on state races,” said Karen Getman, one of the smartest campaign law attorneys in the state, with Remcho, Johansen & Purcell.  “But in House races and the U.S. Senate race, the dynamic has changed.”

With most of the state’s congressional districts nicely gerrymandered for one party or the other (this could change in the future if a proposed initiative for a new redistricting commission to redraw House seats passes), it’s unlikely to cause huge changes on that front.

But Boxer, who’s already facing a very tough political environment for Democrats, could well become a test case for how the new court decision affects a big, expensive Senate race. It’s easy to imagine any of the three contenders for the Republican nomination – even third-place runner Chuck DeVore, who could benefit from Tea Party astroturfing right-wing donors or industry-specific hit squads – flooding the zone with big corporate bucks against Babs.

Of course, the decision also allows labor to contribute freely to independent expenditure campaigns on behalf of candidates, so it’s likely Boxer would get a boost from SEIU and AFL-CIO types if she runs into trouble. Bottom line, of course, is that the big winners will be campaign media buyers and TV stations throughout the state, which could find corporations and campaigns road blocking available ad times.

Our own discount copy

Costco Carla strikes again: The forces of eMeg are being weirder than ever in providing info about “The Power of Many: Values for Success in Business and in Life,” the Great Woman’s new self-serving propaganda piece memoir.

Seems like Her Megness is concerned about running afoul of state laws that might look askance on her using the private book venture for campaign purposes, and so has engaged a new battalion of purse holders and coat carriers to staff her book tour.

While campaign types insist they couldn’t possibly scare up a review copy of the thing for the Sensitive New Media Guys covering the governor’s race, the Chron’s resourceful Carla Marinucci scored one in her weekend big box foray:

With less than five months until the June 8 gubernatorial primary, the release of Whitman’s book – listed at $26, but available at Costco over the weekend for $14.99 – is as much a skillfully timed campaign effort as it is a literary one.

Following Costco Carla’s leadership on the matter, Calbuzz managed to secure our own copy of the book at the Santa Cruz Costco Monday, fighting off hordes of fellow shoppers who were actually looking for bargain prices on cargo shorts and shrink-wrapped cartons of dental floss.

We know you’ll find it as scintillating as we have already to hear eMeg tell us, “I personally would have passed on buying Shatner’s old toupee, but I found getting Weird Al for eBay Live! an irresistible opportunity.” We’ll have a full report once we manage to work our way through the damn thing, which clocks in at 277 pages.