Archive for the ‘Bell scandal’ Category



Five Key Reasons Brown Won Election as Governor

Friday, November 5th, 2010

One day back in July, Steve Glazer sighed heavily as he explained yet again why Jerry Brown’s campaign for governor was not responding to the barrages of TV ad attacks that Republican rival Meg Whitman kept firing at them.

Glazer, Brown’s unflappable but sharp-tongued manager, had just read yet another quote from a Democratic political professional, arguing that if the Attorney General did not begin to answer Whitman’s summer-long assault with TV advertising, he would fall fatally behind her by September, and never be able to catch up – the fate that befell Democrats Phil Angelides and Kathleen Brown in earlier contests.

“Every day we have to decide,” Glazer told Calbuzz, “if what they’re saying about Jerry is hurting us enough to cause us to have to go up on their air. So far, nothing they’ve thrown at us has caused us to change our plan.”

The Brown campaign’s daily refusal to be drawn into a no-win air war with Whitman in the three months after the June primary, despite near panic among his supporters, turned out to be the most crucial, high-risk strategic choice of the long campaign.

By practicing what Calbuzz dubbed political rope-a-dope back on October 1, 2009, the attorney general — assisted by an $8 million summertime assault on Whitman by labor –entered the fall campaign with an advertising budget that was comparable, if not equal, to the Armies of eMeg. Then, with his wiles, grit and shrewd political instincts, Krusty beat her like a drum.

Brown offered his own analysis Wednesday morning at a post-election press conference in Oakland.

“It’s very fortunate when I had no primary opposition.  It’s also very unfortunate for Ms. Whitman that she had serious primary opposition. Those two right there sets the stage. And then thirdly, there’s more Democrats than Republicans, and we have somewhat mildly liberal-leaning decline to state voters.

“And then, of course,” he added with a grin, “you have my sparkling personality.”

Here are the five keys to Brown’s victory:

-He kept his powder dry until fall. Brown’s fund-raising potential was a big reason that he didn’t face any opposition in the Democratic primary; newly elected Lite Gov. Gavin Newsom abandoned a challenge to Brown in part because he said the AG had frozen contributions from many party backers. And, in any other year, Brown’s fund-raising for the governor’s race would have been impressive, if not prohibitive: by the time he won his no-opposition primary, he had raised $23 million. And would bring in at least another $10 million before the deal was done.

But none of that mattered in the race against Whitman, the billionaire who had vowed to spend whatever it took to win. (Just a little presumptuously, the woman who hadn’t voted for 28 years, declared: “I refuse to let California fail”). She had both the resources and the will to try to make that strategy work. The $160+ million that she ended up spending – most of it her own money – was almost incomprehensible and, by the end, she had eclipsed by far any candidate’s spending on any non-presidential race in the nation’s history.

Looking back, Brown had little choice but to husband his resources. But under the unrelenting pressure of Whitman’s assault, it would have been easy to blink and to begin putting at least some ads up — as even some of his closest advisers had urged. Such a move would have proved fatal because, no matter how much money Brown put into such an effort, she always would have had more.

Mike Murphy, Rob Stutzman and other field marshals in the Armies of eMeg were hoping to bleed Brown dry, in the manner of Ronald Reagan outspending the Soviet Union into oblivion. In the fierce winds of a campaign, the hardest thing sometimes is to stick to a plan, and the Brown team’s resolve in doing so made all the difference.

Krusty was fortunate to have his wife, Anne Gust Brown, Glazer, ad man Joe Trippi, pollster Jim Moore and other smart and experienced folks around him to help make the decision not to start spending. It helped, too, that as Attorney General, Brown could get himself onto TV and into headlines by investigating Michael Jackson’s death, the finances of the City of Bell or whatever other hot new thing called for the attentions of the state’s top law enforcement officer.

-The unions stepped up to the plate. To an unprecedented extent, California’s labor movement got behind Brown, recognizing that if they didn’t, Whitman might simply blow him away and they would be faced with a Republican governor whose top priority appeared to be dismantling the influence that unions have on state government, in favor of increasing that of corporate interests.

Despite what Whitman would later say, Brown had always had an uneasy relationship with the labor movement (and he likely will again). But they saw him as a far sight better than Whitman, who was touting her plan to cut 40,000 state workers, freeze pensions and generally whack blue-collar interests.

Consultants like Larry Grisolano, Roger Salazar, Jason Kruger, Steve Smith, Courtney Pugh, Richie Ross and others steered coalitions that mounted aggressive independent-expenditure efforts, ultimately spending $8 million attacking Whitman during the summer, $5 million on Spanish-language propaganda and Latino turnout and $5 million to find and turn out non-union, like-minded voters. They targeted Asian voters in four languages and spent several million more on mail, TV and organizing.

At a time when Team Whitman was trying to tear down Brown, the labor campaign appears to have helped keep Whitman from breaking away. Her plaintive crying about “Jerry Brown, Inc.” spending millions to beat her up were hilarious to anyone who realized what the differential was between their resources. But the union effort at least kept her from having a free pass in muddying up Brown while portraying herself as pure as the driven snow.

The state Democratic Party, under quirky Chairman John Burton, also played a crucial role in putting together an aggressive and effective get-out-the-vote coordinated campaign operation that boosted and took advantage of the Democrats’ big voter registration advantage, in a year when Republicans everywhere else in the country out-organized them.

One caveat to all this: there was apparently a four-week period in the summer when Whitman was advertising but no IE ads were on the air. And during that window, Whitman’s ads appear to have driven up her own negatives and made voters less likely to support her. She had, it seems, already tarnished her own brand.

Brown had a simple message and he stuck to it. Despite the legions of ad makers and marketers that Whitman threw at him, Brown’s plain, simple and cheap ads were better.

Consciously and decidedly un-slick – to contrast with Whitman’s over-produced Madison Avenue spots — Brown’s guerrilla ads were inspired and produced by Trippi and often edited  by committee at the Oakland headquarters with the help of Christina Sheffey and Paul Blank — online and creative whiz kids Trippi had sent West. “Retired” ad man David Doak was a key adviser and Glazer, Gust and Brown were deeply engaged and made the final decisions about wording and traffic.

From the very first ad, shot by Francis Ford Coppola and narrated by Peter Coyote, Brown’s spots often featured Krusty talking directly into the camera and focusing on simple themes:

He had the know-how and experience to do the job – not another rookie after Gov. Schwarzmuscle – and he wouldn’t raise taxes without a vote of the people. The latter pitch for fiscal sanity was a key element in winning independents. Everyone knew he had a soft heart. But he needed to prove he had a hard head. And that line helped make the sale.

They also they made the best single ad of the season – the echo ad – which had been in the can for weeks in various iterations and was released only in the final days. Showing Whitman and Schwarzenegger saying exactly the same things – no wonder, since both messages had been crafted by Murphy – the ad ended with a devastating line from the San Jose Mercury News endorsement of Brown: “She utterly lacks the qualifications to be governor.”

-He won his base overwhelmingly and also captured the middle. The Latino vote, long described as “the sleeping giant” of California politics woke up and helped propel Brown to victory. His roots with Cesar Chavez and his long connections in the community helped organizers, especially after Meg’s Nicky Diaz debacle. He swept Latinos 64-30% according to the National Election Pool Survey of more than 3,800 voters by Edison Research.

Brown also cleaned Whitman’s clock among women – 55-39% — and he even carried men 51-45%.

Of course, Brown carried the 27% of voters who said they were liberals 86-8% while Whitman won the 33% who said they conservatives by 78-17%. Most important though, Brown carried the 40% of voters who defined themselves as moderates by 60-35%. Winning the middle was key: Brown knew it and he pitched his entire campaign to that end.

IMPORTANT NOTE TO POLITICAL JUNKIES AND FUTURE RESEARCHERS:  The NEPS/Edison Research data on the vote by party cannot be counted on. The data are NOT based on party registration but on party identification.

This was a nationwide survey, including states that do not have party registration, as California does. So for consistency in reporting national data, party ID was used to record partisan affiliations. The question asked was this: “No matter how you voted today, do you usually think of yourself as a Democrat, a Republican, an independent or something else.” In the survey, 42% of respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 31% as Republicans and 27% as independents or something else.

We won’t know until January, when the California Secretary of State releases the official Statement of Vote, what the actual party composition was in this election. But it won’t be this. Clearly, huge numbers of voters identified themselves as “independent” who are not registered as Decline to State. (Actual registration – although not necessarily the same as those who participated by mail and at the polls – is 44% Democrat, 31% Republican and 20% Decline to State.)

That’s why the survey found Brown winning the self-identified Democrats 91-7%, Whitman winning the Republicans 84-11% and Whitman also winning the “independents and others” by 47-43%. These numbers are simply not reliable.

It’s not possible for Brown to have won moderates 60-35% and to have lost the independents.

-He won the authenticity debate. Although Brown was often a loose cannon on the campaign trail – at various points, he compared Whitman to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, trashed would-be ally Bill Clinton as a liar and didn’t object when one of his handlers called Whitman a “whore” – he also came across as refreshingly real, compared to Whitman’s tightly scripted, highly marketed campaign.

In the debates, he made fun of his age and his lifelong presidential ambitions, lectured Whitman in human terms about her mistreatment of her housekeeper, and refused to pander to xenophobes on illegal immigration, saying that undocumented workers were not “serfs.”

He never gave up his stream of consciousness impressionistic verbal style, even when it cost him, as it did in the last debate when he tried to defend someone in his campaign referring to Whitman as a “whore.” (We think, but can’t prove, it was his wife, Anne.)

When asked at the Women’s Conference in Long Beach who he’d call for advice in the middle of the night, he said he didn’t have to call anyone because she’d be sleeping right next to him (that would be Anne).  In several of his ads he said, “At this stage of my life . . . “ making an asset out of his Gandalfian presence in California politics.

We think he did trim and darken his eyebrows – as Calbuzz had urged long ago. But other than that, he was just who he is: a wizened 72-year-old lifelong politician who knows, as he put it, where the bodies are buried in Sacramento and what skeletons are still in the closet there.

Glazer said it would come down to authenticity versus marketing. And it did.

Gandalf Pension Secrets Revealed; Fox Ad Scam II

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

To his credit, Jerry Brown finally followed the advice of Calbuzz and pushed out a batch of info Monday that cleared up most of the confusion and questions about his taxpayer-funded pension.

To his detriment, Gandalf should not have let the matter become a campaign issue in the first place; it did so only because he’s too cheap to hire enough staff to deal with the unstinting demands of running for governor of California in what most of the rest of us recognize as the 21st Century.

Next up: Jerry and Ann organize names and contact info of his supporters on alphabetized, color-coded 3X5 cards arranged on the dining room table.

To recap: At a time when the Democratic candidate for governor has been shattering glass with his howls of outrage about the scandalous salary and pensions being funneled into the pockets of public swindlers officials in the L.A. suburb of Bell, the Orange County Register raised some tough questions about Brown’s own public retirement benefits.

That gave Republican foe Meg Whitman an opening to bash the attorney general as a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do hypocrite on pensions, and to suggest that he had something to hide on the issue.

This resulted in Sterling Clifford, Brown’s indefatigable flack, spending much of Monday putting out the fire ignited by the OCR story, providing a squadron of campaign reporters answers to their questions, but only after Brown personally, and belatedly, rang up the state Public Employees Retirement System to inquire, uh, what his benefits, uh, actually are.

More on that later; first, the facts that matter about Krusty the General’s pension:

1-Brown soon will have 25+ years of service – eight as governor, four as secretary of state, four as attorney general, eight as mayor of Oakland and one year as a state Supreme Court law clerk – vested in two different state pension plans – the Legislature Retirement System (LRS) and the aforementioned PERS.

2-Taken together this qualifies him for an annual, combined pension of $78,450, which he would receive if he were to lose the election and retire at the end of 2010; if he wins, he would not receive the pension until after serving as governor, at which point it would be slightly higher to reflect the salary of that job.

3-Brown is not receiving a pension now, although he did receive about $20,000 a year between 1998 and 2006, a period during which he served  two terms as the mayor of Oakland, for which he was paid an additional $115,000 a year in salary.

Brief weed whacker alert: There’s also a whole magilla that’s still being reported out by the Register’s Brian Joseph about some apparent goofy accounting of Brown’s pension at LRS, but frankly that one makes our heads hurt and doesn’t affect the bottom line of what benefits  Krusty has received and will be eligible for in the future.

(As a policy matter, it’s worth noting again that state retirement administrators consider the LRS records to be double-secret super-confidential, no doubt from concern about the sensibilities of the 16 politicians who are the only ones covered by that plan. For the record, Brown on Monday called for the records to be opened up to the public: “If public employees salaries are public record, there is no reason for pensions not to be,” said Clifford).

Alert lifted: As a political matter, the pension controversy is just the latest evidence that Brown’s pastoral, nostalgic ideas about how you run a nationally-watched, high-pressure, high-stakes statewide campaign in the digital age lack, um, a certain sense of urgency.

In a 24/7 news environment, the only thing that’s for sure is that there will be a constant series of brush fires that erupt on the campaign trail which will require immediate attention so they don’t go from being one-day stories to five-day stories, the way the pension kerfuffle did; recall that Brown earlier allowed the story about his former spokesman in the AG’s office taping reporters’ calls to get legs and linger when there was no reason for it.

At some point Brown needs to realize he is not just dealing with the run-of-the-mill energies and demands of a baying pack of political reporters filing daily print and TV stories, while blogging, tweeting, pod and videocasting in their spare time.

He’s also facing about 72 heavily armed press and communications Storm Troopers on the eMeg Death Star, all equipped with real time feeds of his daily, random pronouncements, off-the-cuff punditry and various perorations, not to mention reams of high-quality opposition research worthy of the National Security Agency, each one of whom gets up in the morning thinking about how best to tear his face off.

Brown’s man Clifford is a total pro, a highly talented, street-smart, fast-thinking, multi-tasking veteran operative who’s always got the candidate’s back. But at some point, Krusty really needs to get the poor guy some help. What if he gets whooping cough or something?

We’re just sayin’.

Folo that story: Our scoop on the Small Business Action Committee’s so-called ”issues ad” attacking Brown while not disclosing who’s paying for it was picked up and advanced by Torey Van Oot, who got a copy of the spot, and Carla Marinucci, who disclosed that Whitman gave $10,000 to the group, run by Joel Fox, a couple days before they endorsed her. Just a little more walkin’ around money from Meg.

In case you missed it: Greatest cable news freakout since CNN stopped inviting Orly Taitz to come on and perform logorrhea.

Meyer Looks at Meg’s Big Bill (With Apologies to Ben)

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

“Silence is not always a sign of wisdom, but babbling is ever a folly,” Ben Franklin once said. Good advice in politics, especially as we watch the race for California governor. Jerry Brown’s Zen-like silence may or may not be an indication of wisdom: we’ll know soon enough. We’ll also know whether voters conclude that the $100 million or so Meg Whitman has spent on TV ads is nothing more than babbling.

Today, Calbuzz Editorial Pen Swordsman Tom Meyer memorably looks at In Meg We Trust.

Was It Something We Said? We now have the official, break-our-hearts turndown from the Whitman campaign. Jerry Brown accepted but eMeg won’t join us, FlashReport and Calitics in a debate. Here’s the break-up letter:

Silver bullet for silver fox? Mega-kudos to Brian Joseph, the OC Register’s man in Sacramento, who’s dug out one helluva’ story about Jerry Brown’s pension or, more precisely, the mystery surrounding Jerry Brown’s pension.

Joseph, who spent weeks trying to get to the bottom of how many actual public dollars Krusty is due for serving, variously, one term as secretary of state, two terms as governor and one term as attorney general, came up with one terrific yarn about a scam called the “Legislators Retirement System” which was so shady it got banned by Proposition 140, the 1990 term limits initiative. Almost, kinda, sort of…

Turns out that a handful of very lucky, past and present state officials are still benefiting from the LRS’s very generous terms including, apparently, one Edmund G. Brown, Jr. Seems that it’s impossible to report the exact terms of Gandolf’s pension because the administrators of the double secret pension fund are sworn to confidentiality about its workings, terms and beneficiaries. Move along, nothing to see here…

Sterling Clifford, Brown’s otherwise talented campaign flack, has been doing a lot of very intensive tap dancing, in a vain effort to deflect Joseph’s multiple and persistent questions about the matter, but his answers to date have been, to put it charitably, unsatisfactory.

Calbuzz sez: This is a very serious issue for Brown, and he needs to quickly, and with great transparency, get all the facts out into the public domain about a) what he’s getting; b) what’s he already got and; c) what’s he due to get in the future from state pension systems. As soon as possible. Also: really, really fast.

Brown has done textbook nice work in making hay about the one-for-the-books City of Bell scandal. With its outrageous details about local government salaries, benefits and tax rip-offs, Bell has become the highest of high-profile symbols of government profligacy, in a year of taxpayer utter disgust with government.

But if Brown doesn’t come clean, and soon, about the terms of his pension, this issue will bite him the ass, big time, for three key reasons:

1-Brown’s recent outrage and self-righteous investigations of the Bell matter are going to turn to dust, of the most hypocritical kind, if it turns out he’s been living large on exactly the same kind of scam as he’s publicly decrying – and probing – in that community.

2-The official secrecy surrounding Brown’s pension belies the narrative he’s pushing about his fundamental integrity and monkish frugality, in contrast to Meg Whitman’s corporate greedhead lavishness, in a way that will rebound to her considerable advantage in what you like to call your Reasonable Man Test.

3-Brown’s so-far brilliant, gravity-defying ability to position himself as the outsider to eMeg’s insider – using political ju-jitsu to use her extraordinary campaign spending to portray her as the de facto incumbent in the governor’s race – will fall to earth and crash.

Should she put a couple million bucks behind ads that assail him as a dissembling, evasive scumbag who, with his pension, is ripping off the public trust he’s proclaiming in public he’s working overtime to protect (not exactly a long shot possibility) Brown will spend the next month trying to explain the pension checks he’s cashed, not to mention the stubs sitting in the top drawer of his bureau.

Somebody – most logically the Orange County Register – should file a Public Records Act request to get all the documents and data pertaining to Brown’s state pension (damn the personnel information exemption). Calbuzz will gladly lend our extraordinary financial resources to assist any such legal effort as a friend of the court.

Ballad for a Friday night after getting dumped by eMeg:

Meyer Dings Bell, Carly Snarls & Snarks, Press Picks

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Before the City of Bell (“promoting a healthy, balanced and moral lifestyle”)  became a global  symbol of greed, rapacity and plunder by scumbag public officials, the town was best known as the site of the heist of 55 Oscar statuettes from a loading dock on March 8, 2000.

Although three trucking company employees were sentenced to probation in the case, all of them pleaded “no contest,” and their professions of innocence at various points in the proceedings suggested to Some Observers – we name no names – that they were set up to take the fall for the caper, while the real culprits remained at large.

Today Tom Meyer, internationally renowned editorial cartoonist, fashion plate and world class Calbuzzer, tackles the lingering mystery of the case, and with uncanny Holmesian intuition, solves it at last.

Not available in stores: Calbuzzers interested in purchasing a full color print of a Meyer cartoon can email Tom at tom@meyertoons.

Don’t be a jerk: Shortly after Roger Simon returned to work at Politico last month after a dreadful illness, he wrote a lovely little column on the subject of civility, specifically the lack of it in politics, called “Impolite Pols Face Doom.”

Perhaps inspired by his experience in cheating death, Simon riffed on a recent survey showing people across the nation rank “politics and government” as the most uncivil arena in American life,  with 72 percent of those polled saying it’s more rude and disrespectful than talk radio and high school, at 59 percent, Hollywood at 56 percent and even blogs, at 51 percent, all perceived as bastions of greater civility than The Game.

“Listen up, you morons,” Simon began:

We, as a people, pay a price for the jerks among us: Nearly half of all Americans say they are “tuning out” of government and politics, 46 percent are tuning out of opinion pieces and editorials in the media, and 38 percent are tuning out of news coverage and reporting.

His piece, and others on the same subject, came to mind when we received the latest copy of “Boxer Bites,” a regular emailed attack feature of Carly Fiorina’s campaign for Senate, and decided that, in a campaign year when spending millions on the low road is just table stakes, Hurricane Carly hands down wins the prize for absolute pure nastiness.

We’ve certainly done our share of ripping Babs for her arrogance and sense of entitlement, true that, but still, there’s  something vaguely creepy about the unrelentingly toxic tone of the constant ad hominem attacks coming out of iCarly’s corner.

From the Mean Girls cattiness she accidentally revealed with her comments about Boxer’s hair, to the sophomoric sarcasm of “Boxer Bites” and her overall habit of making criticisms more personal than political, Fiorina’s attitudes and language echo the caustic corrosiveness of Sarah Palin, even as  they recall the personal viciousness with which Carly set about to smash the civility and respectfulness of the “H-P Way” corporate culture when she moved in as CEO. An excerpt from Friday’s eblast:

Perhaps it’s good that Barbara Boxer is visiting an employment-training center today. As a career politician who has been in elected office for more than three decades, the transition back into the real world is likely to be a rocky one. Boxer may very well need some job-skills training in order to find new employment after the people of California fire her on Election Day. (After all, bitter partisanship and election-year grandstanding aren’t exactly marketable job skills in the real world).

As you would know better than almost anyone, Carly.

Notes from the cutting room floor

A young and hotly talented political writer looks at the 15th SD race.

A nice and nicely restrained conservative takedown of Obama.

Memo to Meg: Washpost’s conventional wisdom on self-funders.

Tom Friedman watch: A mere eight uses of “I” in 800 word column.

The smartest meta political piece in a while on culture and ideology.

Why didn’t somebody warn us Obama has a David Brooks fetish?

What makes Dick Blum run?

The Girl with the Seriously Dead Author.

And speaking of civility

Humpday: Bell Chimes for Krusty, eMeg in 2016!

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Back when George Stephanopoulos was peddling his memoir of life in the Clinton White House, he often began his stock talk to audiences with a classic joke premised on him defining the word “politics,” which went something like this:

“It derives from the Greek root ‘poli,’ meaning ‘the many,’” he’d say, then pause a beat. “And the word ‘tics,’ meaning, “blood sucking parasites.’”

Given this Calbuzzian weltanschauung, George would naturally be our top pick to interview Meg Whitman for “Good Morning America,” far better suited than the rest of the steel-bellied airheads who populate the network airwaves at that time of day. And when he faced off for a 4:33 sit-down with Her Megness early Tuesday, he did a pretty good job of asking a few tough questions within the patty cake parameters of the GMA genre.

Unfortunately for any viewer who hoped to learn something new or authentic about eMeg, she also performed well, slipping, sliding and dodging throughout, as she stayed relentlessly on her straight jacketed message and tediously stuck to her tiresome talking points.

For Calbuzz, the highlight came when Stephanopoulos asked her if she wanted to run for president, the first time we’re aware that any national type raised the issue since we warned the world to keep an eye on the burgeoning Our Meg in 2016 campaign.

Sorry to say, he loosely worded his question so to give the slippery eMeg an easy out, as she instantly chuckled the phoniest laugh since 1950, when LFN made its debut on the pioneering Hank McCune show.

GS: You win in November, you’re automatically at the top of the Republican party list, not only in California., but the country. Ever thought about running for president?

MW: No (big burst of head tossed back fake hilarity). I am here to run California. I want to fix California. Where goes California goes the country.

“Where goes California goes the country”? Really?

Calbuzz sez: Not exactly what you call your Shermanesque statement. Keep those “Meg 2016” buttons – they could be worth big bucks on eBay.

More on Meg in the morning:

1-eMeg first tried to duck the question of whether she supports congressional Republicans in pushing to extend the Bush tax cuts; when George S.interrupted her filibuster – “Let me get back to my question” – she promptly threw in with the Laffer Curve crowd: “I do.”

In between, she served her usual fog of gibberish about “targeted tax cuts” in California, a mumbo jumbo mashup she uses to disguise a supply side agenda of gifting corporations and billionaires like herself, as the superb financial writer Michael Hiltzik made clear in Sunday’s LAT.

2-Stephanopoulos asked an excellent question about the well-deserved dismal public image of corporate executives, but failed to follow up, letting eMeg off the hook for her own sleazy history of  dealings with Goldman Sachs and Craig’s List, not to mention her manhandling of a subordinate press aide at eBay.

GS: Why should the public trust business leaders any more than politicians? These days they see all of the shenanigans on Wall Street and there’s just as much distrust of the business world today as there is of politicians.

MW: I would tell people to look at my eBay experience, blah, blah, blah…

3-Interesting visual: In his lead-in to eMeg, GS said, “We continue our series of interview with new faces on the political scene,” over a graphic display of newcomers that included wannabe California Senator Carly Fiorina, South Carolina GOP gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, Tea Party Kentucky Senate nominee Rand Paul and…Jerry Brown.  “New face on the political scene”? No way. Way! Chalk up one for Gandolf.

The Bell tolls for thee: In a sudden burst of energy,  Brown this week showed off his consummate skill as a political ambulance chaser, breaking all land speed records to dive into the middle of the story surrounding the widening scandal of gold-plated salaries and benefits local officials paid themselves in the small Southland city of Bell.

Wearing his Attorney General hat, Krusty immediately launched an investigation of the rancid mess, uncovered through first-rate enterprise reporting by the By God L.A. Times, managing in one swell foop to a) garner reams of free media attention in what is Topic A in L.A.; b) thumb his nose at eMeg who keeps insisting she’s shocked – shocked! – at the notion of an attorney general getting political benefit from the exercise of his official duties and c) find a strong pony to ride in the campaign contest to exploit  outrage over public employee pay and benies, without offending his allies in labor.

Debate over debates: We’re feeling a bit confused over Tuesday’s exchange of fire over debates in the governor’s race, as eMeg said she was challenging Krusty to three, and he responded that he’d already challenged her to 10 so she owed him an answer on three, but one of those she accepted was not in the original 10, so yadayadayada.

We’ll leave the untangling of all this to others. All we know is that Our Meg snubbed the gracious  Calbuzz/Flashreport/Calitics invite for an historic Blogosphere Debate, which Brown earlier accepted. As the late Calbuzz Joseph Marie Eugene Sue was fond of saying:
“La vengeance se mange très-bien froide.”