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10* of the Top Quotes of the Week in CA Politics

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

From The Commish taking a big swing at eMeg to Hurricane Carly aiming a low blow at the the sheepish Dudley Do Right, this week easily scored as the most entertaining to date of 2010, simply because of the surfeit of great quotes flying across the internets. Here are 10 of the best things anybody said about California politics. [Make it to the end for the contest challenge.]

1-“Usually that sort of thing occurs in a one-on-one conversation. It takes a true imbecile to put it in writing.
— Former federal prosecutor Donald Heller offering a lawman’s perspective on eMeg strategist Mike Murphy’s ham-handed effort to force Steve Poizner from the governor’s race.

2-“Part of this is politics.”
— Michael Semler, Sac State political science professor with a lofty thought about the Poizner-Whitman political extortion clash. Ya think?

3-“There are some things that sound easy, but you might as well send somebody a get well card.”
— Speaker Nancy Pelosi, suggesting Hallmark is to be preferred over trying to pass health care reform in pieces.

4-“My goal is to get things noticed.”
— Fred Davis, guerrilla ad man for Hurricane Carly Fiorina, on the viral sensation of his Demon Sheep ad attacking Tom Campbell..

5-If she emerges from the primary she’ll find that California voters of all parties will reject her brand of strong-arm politics.”
— An unctuous John Burton, who would disembowel relatives just for saying the word “Republican,” objects to Meg Whitman’s brand of campaigning.

6-“Kamala Harris opposes the death penalty. In fact, she refused to seek the death penalty even for a convicted cop-killer. She also refused the death penalty for an illegal immigrant gang member who murdered an entire family. This murderer was on the streets only because Harris had released him when he was arrested a few weeks earlier. And he was able to stay in San Francisco despite being arrested because Harris opposes deporting illegal immigrants, even after they commit violent crimes.
“She also created a program that trains illegal immigrants for jobs in the U.S. One illegal immigrant from her program robbed and then tried to murder his victim.”
— Description of San Francisco D.A. and Democrat attorney general wannabe Kamala Harris from poll question by primary rival, Assemblyman Ted Lieu. We think they were testing her negatives.

7– ‘Let’s say what we mean, mean what we say.”
— Meg Whitman, in her new TV ad, which she was forced to change after being caught exaggerating about how long she’s lived in California.

8– “I think some of these Neanderthals, is what I’d have to call them, who want to turn the clock backwards, don’t fully understand the job-creation potential that AB32 and our climate-change laws in California will be able to stimulate . . .
— Undeclared Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jerry Brown, talking about his soon-to-be-formal GOP opponents on KGO Radio.

9-“No matter where you go in the world, people still want to come to California. There’s no one screaming, like, ‘I can’t wait to get to Iowa.
— The diplomatic Gov. Schwarzmuscle, endearing himself to folks in the Hawkeye State.

10-“After reading the ridiculous charges made by Steve Poizner during today’s strange press conference, all I can say is that I’m starting to worry about the Commissioner’s mental condition.”
— Meg Whitman senior adviser Mike Murphy responding to charges that he tried to extort Poizner out of the governor’s race (see #1 above)

* We lied. Here’s one more quote we couldn’t resist:

“Our campaign will forever be a demon sheep free zone.”
— Chuck DeVore, trying to raise money off Carly’s awful ad.

CONTEST HERE! To the Calbuzzer who posts an even better quote than the ones we have here before Monday — two coveted Calbuzz buttons! Totally arbitrary judging by Dr. P.J. Hackenflack.

H-P Founders Would Be For Campbell, Not Fiorina

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

If William Hewlett and David Packard were alive today,  the famous eponymous founders of Hewlett Packard Co. would not be supporting ex- H-P CEO Carly Fiorina for U.S. Senate; they would be backing Tom Campbell.

Not only were both Hewlett and Packard enthusiastic recruiters and backers of Campbell in his first race for Congress in Silicon Valley in 1988, but their heirs fought bitterly with Fiorina over her management of H-P, and were crucial to the board of directors’ movement that canned Hurricane Carly in 2005.

In the Senate campaign, Fiorina trumpets her H-P tenure as central to her qualifications for the Senate. If she gets the Republican nomination, however, you can be sure that incumbent and veteran gut-fighter Barbara Boxer will let voters know Carly was picked as one of the worst CEOs of all time by, among others, Portfolio magazine:

A consummate self-promoter, Fiorina was busy pontificating on the lecture circuit and posing for magazine covers while her company floundered.

Bottom line: She became CEO in July, 1999 when HP’s stock price was $52 per share. Five years later it was $21 per share – a 60% decline – while the stock price of competitor Dell rose to $40, from $37 in the same period.

“Hewlett and Packard would roll over in their graves if they knew what she did to the H-P Way,” said one retired H-P executive we know well. “She was hated inside the company and by most retirees.” [Thanks to Calbuzzer wygk for pointing us to this anti-Carly web site operated by former H-P employees.]

Getting bounced from H-P wasn’t the only time Fiorina was shown the door.

In her only experience in big-time politics, she served for a while as a media surrogate for the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008. She lasted until September, when she said in a radio interview that Palin lacked the experience to run a major company like H-P – a gaffe she compounded by adding that, anyway, none of the candidates for president – including her man McCain – had the wherewithal to handle the task. Though she continued working on fundraising, she was pretty much banished as a campaign spokesperson campaign after that.

Given her history, it’s not surprising to read that Arianna Packard, daughter of David Woodley Packard (who, along with Walter Hewlett, the other eldest H-P son,  led the proxy fight to overturn Fiorina’s merger of H-P and Compaq), had given $2,400 to Assemblyman and GOP Senate hopeful Chuck DeVore. Or that H-P’s PAC has given the maximum $10,000 to Boxer.

Now that Campbell’s in the Senate race, our bet is that H-P and other Silicon Valley money mostly goes to Tom Boy, not the former Cara Carleton Sneed.

P.S. We tried to get former Rep. Ed Zschau, our old friend and the prototypical Silicon Valley politician — the original Zschauist —  to opine on whether Dave and Bill would support Campbell or Fiorina but he wouldn’t bite. He noted, however, that in addition to his current gigs teaching at Princeton and being involved in six start-up companies, he’s a member of Campbell’s campaign finance committee and that some of Dudley Do-Right’s campaign staffers were involved in his own Senate bid 24 years ago (covered by your creaky Calbuzzers).

My greatest strength is probably my humility: In a recent column on business leadership, Wall Street Journal online executive editor Alan Murray cited Fiorina as a fine example of what not to do:

Often, it’s in the humility department that modern leaders fail. Think of Carly Fiorina, who as CEO of Hewlett-Packard had her own picture inserted on the wall between those of the company’s iconic founders, Messers. Hewlett and Packard. Ms. Fiorina’s leadership of H-P foundered in part because she was perceived as devoting too much time to cultivating her own image, and too little to fixing the company’s internal management problems.

Even though cultivating your own image is the name of the game in politics, Fiorina’s efforts sometimes suggest she thinks that Senators get paid by the word.

Her daily barrage of press releases has already become a joking matter among political writers, For her campaign, however, it should be no joke that sometimes, less is more, or that a politician’s comments get devalued when the volume of them becomes too great (see Obama, Barack).

Last week was typical: the Hurricane’s campaign sent out at least 15 announcements (weekend excluded) about iCarly’s views on every conceivable subject. There were five on Wednesday alone, including an attack on Boxer over job creation; an attack on the Administration over Central Valley water supply; an account of an event at USC; her anticipatory comments about Obama’s State of the Union address; and her (You Tubed) comments about the actual SOTU. No word yet on when we’ll see her statement offering a look back at the State of the Union.

Who Got Pantsed, Whitman or Poizner? Is eMeg a felon? Is Mike Murphy an unindicted co-conspirator? Is Commish Poizner certifiably insane? Is Stuart Stevens Nurse Ratched in drag? Tune in tomorrow when Calbuzz definitively unravels this second-rate civic soap opera. Here’s a link to the story if you missed the action.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Calbuzz looooves Lady Gaga, the Carly Fiorina of pop music, but the whole pink lady from outer space thing is too much even for us.

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.)


Boxer, Campbell Running Strong in New Field Poll

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

boxerangryAlthough a recent entrant to the contest, former Congressman Tom Campbell leads the Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate, with 30% of the vote, followed by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina at 25% and Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore at 6%, a new Field Poll shows today.

Campbell also runs best in simulated match-ups against Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. She leads Campbell 48-38%, Fiorina 50-35% and DeVore 51-34%.

According to Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field: “Campbell’s lead over Fiorina is somewhat larger among GOP primary voters in Northern California, those who are moderates or moderately conservative, women and seniors. On the other hand, Fiorina is running about even with Campbell among GOP primary voters in Southern California, those who are strongly conservative, men and voters under age 65.”

As a Campbell supporter noted in an email we received curiously at 5:52 am (8 minutes before the embargo), Campbell is the only Republican candidate whose favorable rating is better than his unfavorable among general election voters.

He’s at 22-14%, Fiorina is at 16-18% and DeVore is at 6-9%. Of course, it’s also true that 64% of voters and 63% of Republicans have no opinion about Campbell; 66% of voters and 70% of Republicans have no clue about Fiorina, and a staggering 85% of voters and 81% of Republicans have no opinion about DeVore.

Boxer, on the other hand, has a 49-39% favorable rating among all voters: 71-17% among Democrats and the reverse, 15-74% among Republicans. Democrats love her; Republicans can’t stand her.

Here’s the best news for Babs: at the moment, her favorability is 55-27% among independents — a crucial voting bloc in the general election. If she keeps those numbers, she likely can’t be beaten. At the moment, Campbell’s favorability among independents is 17-10%, Fiorina’s is 18-15% and DeVore’s is 5-7%.

Because Calbuzz does not receive the Field Poll in advance (NB: we offered to pay for a subscription, but were rejected because Field executives fear the wrath of their MSM clients, some of whom have complained behind our backs about us getting the survey) we don’t have data to provide full analysis yet. [Update: We could see the basic release at 6 am and we’re adding to this story now.]

But a few thoughts suggest themselves:

1 — We argued in an earlier post that based on the USC/LA Times poll, there appeared to be some overlap between Campbell and DeVore voters and we suggested – contra conventional wisdom – that Campbell might actually draw votes from the more conservative DeVore. These results suggest that may well be the case.

2 –-The gender card is not necessarily an asset for Fiorina in GOP primary. We suspect there’s not much difference in preferences of Republican women and men at this point. In fact, the data show, Campbell has a slightly larger lead over Fiorina among women 28-19% than he does among men 32-30%. This is probably due to the fact that  Republican women are more moderate than GOP men and are more likely to be swayed by ideology than gender. This is confirmed by the poll’s finding that Campbell leads Fiorina by 13 points (30-23%) among those who say they are moderate or moderately conservative and by just 2 points (29-27%) among those who say they’re strong conservatives.

3 –- Campbell hasn’t spent a dime compared to Fiorina, so his lead has got to be based on the fact that he’s been known to Republican voters for a long time – or at least he’s better known than his opponents.campbellnew

4 – With four in 10 Republicans still undecided and no serious media in play yet, these are little more than baseline numbers that should be expected to shift dramatically in the weeks and months to come.

The Field Poll surveyed 958 likely voters Jan. 5-17, including 202 likely Republican primary voters. The margin of error for the overall sample is plus or minus 3.3% and for the GOP sample it is 7.1%.

PS: Regarding the email we got at 5:52 am with the Field Poll results, our tipster writes: “I didn’t know what time the embargo was supposed to have lifted.  I woke up,  I refreshed the Field Poll public website, and saw the link.  I had time to read it and write that email before I sent it out, too.”

We also note with interest that the San Francisco Chronicle’s web page shows the Field Poll story was posted at 4 am. Here’s the screen capture:

Boston Massacre Has Implications for California

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

060-238Whatever the loss of Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat means for the Democrats nationally and for President Obama – and they have no one to blame but themselves — this historic and politically crippling massacre  (see Jon Stewart’s takedown, the best political analysis out there) carries huge potential implications for California.

While no one expects U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer to make the kind of rookie, dumbass, arrogant mistakes that Massachusetts Attorney Gen. Martha Coakley made (she’d better not suggest, for example, that Willie Mays played for the Dodgers)*, the election of Republican state legislator Scott Brown in a true-blue state like Massachusetts, suggests that anyone who looks or smells like an incumbent could be in trouble in 2010.

Scott-Brown_Hubba_copy

Senator Elect Scott Brown

No doubt, Republicans Hurricane Carly Fiorina and Caveman Chuck DeVore would have a harder time against the Democrat Boxer because as pro-life conservatives they’d have more trouble connecting to California independents.

But Tom Campbell is a horse of a different color. If he were to somehow pull out a victory in the GOP primary, the pro-choice, pro-gay rights, somewhat green, social moderate and fiscal conservative would be a genuine threat to Boxer – especially in light of the pitchfork-bearing quality of the Massachusetts vote.

Taking nothing for granted, Boxer has been raising money at a record pace for her: she brought in $1.8 million in the last three months of 2009, the campaign announced Tuesday, leaving Babs with $7.2 million in the bank at the end of the year.

The dynamics of the Massachusetts race have some potential implications for the California’s governor’s race as well. Whoever emerges from the Republican side – eMeg Whitman or Steve Commish Poisner – their goal will be to portray Attorney Gen. Jerry Brown as the insider who must be thrown out. Of course Jerry, the incumbent attorney general and former two-term governor, will do everything he can to portray himself as an outsider, newcomer and insurgent.barbara-boxer

And in both the Senate and governor’s race, we expect the Democrats to sound a lot like one of the roving 1886 lecturers cited in “The Populist Movement” by Duke historian Larry Goodwyn:

We have an overproduction of poverty, barefooted women, political thieves and many liars. There is no difference between legalized robbery and highway robbery . . . If you listen to other classes, you will have only three rights . . . to work, to starve and to die.

Boxer and Brown — we predict — will run against the banks, the corporations and the oil companies — all of which will be lashed to their GOP opponents.  Whether voters will buy it is anyone’s guess. The Coakley defeat will be massively overinterpreted by the national media (the best evidence is that it was mostly a case of a truly crappy Democratic campaign). But still, the Boston Massacre should be a cautionary tale for California Democrats.

061-460Here’s the secret agreement: Some of the sharpest react we heard from Monday’s story about the behind-the-scenes maneuvering over the Tranquillon Ridge project came over the Environmental Defense Center’s agreement to advocate for the PXP oil company project, while receiving a $100,000 payment for reimbursement of legal fees from the firm.

“I’ve never heard of any environmental non-profit doing anything remotely like this,” said Mark Massara, a former longtime attorney-advocate for the Sierra Club.

By popular demand, we’re posting the text in pdf of the April 2008 EDC-PXP agreement here, for those who want even more detail than we gave you in Monday’s 3,000-word opus.

conanMeanwhile, Back at the Ranch: While the rest of the world was pondering the fate of Haiti and the future of the Democratic Party and health reform, the folks over at Jerry Brown headquarters were consumed by the great debate that’s ragiing from Hollywood to Brentwood: Conan vs. Jay . . . And Steve the Commish Poizner popped a bit of good news: He’s won the endorsement of former Gov. George Deukmejian, who is much preferred among GOP conservatives to former Gov. Pete Wilson, who has endorsed eMeg.  Said Deukmejian: “Steve is the only candidate in this race with the right mix of experience, leadership, and vision to lead California back to economic prosperity.”. . . Minorities Need Apply: Good piece by Pete Carrillo and Orson Aguilar in the Mercury News noting that while “California reform-minded voters gave themselves the power to redraw legislative lines in California when they passed Proposition 11, the Voters First Act . . . an alarmingly low percentage of people of color is included in the pool of applicants from whom the 14 commissioners ultimately will be chosen. Less than 20 percent of that pool now is people of color, even though they make up 60 percent of California’s population.” . . . Condolences: We note with sadness the passing of Margaret Whitman, 89, of Lexington, Mass., mother of Meg Whitman.

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* Some of Coakley’s mistakes: She said the Taliban were gone from Afghanistan. She said Red Sox hero Curt Schilling was a Yankee fan. And when asked why she was not spending more time with voters (Brown had stood outside Fenway Park greeting hockey fans who attended a special outdoor game between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers) Coakley said, “As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?”