Archive for the ‘Mike Murphy’ Category

Tom Meyer: eMeg’s the Life of the Party

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

The record will show that it was six years – to the day! – before California’s Nov. 2, 2010 election that alert customs agents at the Tecate Port of Entry on the U.S.-Mexico border foiled a nefarious smuggling plot to sneak into the country a little girl hidden inside a piñata.

That story came to mind with the arrival of this week’s Calbuzz commentary on Meg Whitman by meta-uber-editorial cartoonist Tom Meyer. His eMeg-on-a-string is of necessity drawn larger-than-life (although, it must be noted, still smaller than the biggest piñata in the world), in order to accommodate her many  views on immigration, which are nothing if not fungible.

Her Megness may well have felt like the piñata at last weekend’s big party of her party, where the small but hard-hitting California Republican Assembly took some good whacks at her before loyal apparatchiks swung her safely out of harm’s way by playing hide-go-seek with a proposed CRA resolution calling for the GOP to take a clear stand on the issue. Memo to Meg: have the campaign buy you a couple of these Empire Death Star piñatas to defend against any future such attacks. We hear they’re tough as nails.

Bitter Twitter: eMeg handlers Mike Murphy and Jeff Randle broke out the pom poms and the letter sweaters with the big “M” on them Friday to do some serious,  high-energy cheerleading for their candidate as the governor’s race heads towards the Labor Day mile marker.

Murphy, who sounded like he’d had a few double espressos with Red Bull chasers, correctly observed during a conference call with political reporters that the quaint notion of the first Monday in September signaling the start of the fall campaign has long since passed, as he noted that things have been “ripping and roaring” in California for some time now.

After a paranoid, preemptive Twitter attack on Calbuzz Thursday, wrongly predicting we’d post a critique of a wobbly, new Rasmussen poll that purports to show eMeg eight points ahead of Jerry Brown (“Why bother?” we cross-tweeted) Murphy on the call proceeded to dismiss the survey himself:

“I’m not telling you we’re eight points ahead, I’m telling you we’re ahead,” he said at one point, referring to summer polls in general as “wet cement,” not a bad line.

Both he and, especially, Randle offered a dizzying array of boasts, claims and factoids – 20,000 volunteers! 1 million calls! The largest campaign organization ever built! – that all added up in the mind’s eye to Team Whitman positioning their $100+ million Death Star (tough as nails!) to lay down two months of withering fire at Krusty’s knobby bald pate.

While Murph announced their intention to invade Brown’s Bay Area home base and Randle detailed the strategy and specs for a coordinated Republican “victory operation,” the broader takeaway for us was this:

Of the three basic elements of any campaign – money, mechanics and message –Whitman is going to open a can of wupass on Brown on #1 and most likely, on #2 as well.

In order to prevail against the Empire of eMeg, this means Brown really needs to win on #3,  with a superior message about how he plans to revive the badly beat up state of California. And so far, except for the hits on Meg delivered by IE committees of his labor pals, his message has been…uh…nothing.

All year, Team Krusty has promised their campaign would ignite come Labor Day. Now it’s a week away. We just can’t wait to hear what he’s got to say.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: We look forward to the Pregnant Paso Doble.

What eMeg’s Murphy Hire Means for Gov’s Race

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Murphy_MikeDespite their partisan differences, count Democratic consultant Garry South, the party’s Duke of Darkness, as one of Republican strategist Mike Murphy’s fans: “He’s a great guy – one of the funniest and smartest people I know in politics. He brings a centrist perspective that befits the political climate in California pretty well.”

But South – who was S.F. Mayor Gavin Newsom’s consultant in the governor’s race until the Prince dropped out last month – also warned that by bringing Murphy into her campaign, Meg Whitman runs the risk that afflicts most wealthy candidates in California (viz: Simon, Bill and Checchi, Al).

“Having more consultants doesn’t necessarily mean a better campaign,” he added. “They put together these big campaigns but they don’t know who to listen to and there’s sometimes warring camps that take hold inside and give the candidates conflicting advice.”

As word spread, in the wake of our Tuesday post, that Whitman had brought Murphy into her campaign, insiders saw both opportunities and risks in the move, balancing the high-profile consultant’s talent for messaging and strategy against his take-no-prisoners style, which can be aimed both at his candidate’s rival – as well as his own rivals within the  campaign.


One Republican strategist who has worked with Murphy described his greatest value to Whitman this way: “He’s somebody with actual political experience and the stature to push back on the candidate and her non-political advisers when it’s necessary.”

While it appears that Whitman crony Henry Gomez, her former eBay colleague and closest adviser, was the one who reached out to Murphy, his presence in the campaign will also assure that “When Henry has an idea that’s dumb, there’s someone who can call him on it,” the source said.

Like many business executives, Whitman has a low regard for political professionals, several sources said;  for this reason, she needs a strategist who is not intimidated by her, “someone who can get into her face and say ‘This is what we have to do,’” as one operative put it.

megandmittMurphy – who was no doubt recommended to Whitman by those around her old pal and mentor Mitt Romney — is such a figure. Said another former Murphy colleague: “He’s the original Big Foot. He’s charming and good company. But he’ll stomp on everybody  else. He’ll want to dominate in every respect. He’s a one-man wrecking crew.”

Murphy has a reputation for being disorganized, disheveled and sometimes difficult to get engaged. “Organization is not his forte,” said a former GOP colleague.

But those who know him suggest that Murphy – who lives now in the Hollywood Hills, hasn’t run a campaign in years and works in the entertainment industry – has no intention of taking over the campaign.

“It’s good to have as many smart people around the table as possible,” said former Schwartzmuscle spokesman Rob Stutzman and Murphy business partner in Navigators LLC, who’s now part of eMeg’s brigade of consultants.

Murphy is said to have been genuinely impressed with Whitman’s leadership skills and – no doubt – her ability to pay whatever fee he’ll be charging for his strategic and message advice. “Fortunately, this is the type of campaign that has the luxury to keep adding talent,” said one operative.


Despite speculation that his presence will diminish the role of the other consultants now feeding at the Whitman campaign trough, sources say most will welcome a figure of stature who can help focus a campaign that can’t seem to decide from day to day whether to attack Republicans Steve Poizner and Tom Campbell or go straight after Attorney General Jerry Brown, the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Calbuzz expectation: Once Murphy gets engaged, Whitman is likely to ignore Poizner and Campbell and use his acid touch to go straight after Crusty the General – unless Poizner finally decides to crack open his pocketbook and put up some serious TV and radio designed to take out eMeg before she runs away with the show.

BTW — Here’s some of the official spin on Murphy’s hire, from eMeg Central:

Murphy will work closely with the campaign’s two other senior advisors, Henry Gomez and Jeff Randle. Murphy will also work closely with Jillian Hasner, Whitman’s campaign manager. Hasner, Gomez, Murphy and Randle make up the senior leadership of the campaign.

“Our goal is to win in June and November, so we can start putting California back on track,” said Whitman. “Mike is a trusted friend and someone who brings enormous experience to our campaign. There is no one better at helping Californians understand your message, values and commitment.”

Perhaps. But before he was for eMeg, Murphy was dancing cheek-to-cheek with Poizner. In fact, he laid out a pretty serious approach for the Commish in this memo, (download it as a pdf) passed along to us from Poizner’s campaign.

Asked about the memo by the Sacramento Bee, Murphy said:

“It’s true that around July (of last year) I gave Steve Poizner some free advice about how to set up a campaign. Steve offered me a consulting position on the campaign, and I declined it. I’m fond of all Republicans, but I’ve decided I believe Meg Whitman is the strongest Republican candidate and the candidate the party should nominate in the primary. I look forward to a united Republican party behind Meg Whitman after the primary election.”

Sources: Mike Murphy to Join eMeg Gravy Train

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

mike murphyUpdate 10:30 a.m. Whitman manager Jillian Hasner has just sent out a release confirming the Calbuzz scoop that Mike Murphy is signing on to eMeg’s campaign for governor. He’s “joining the team to advise, at a senior level, our campaign’s winning strategy,” says Hasner. Here’s our earlier story, posted at 12:06 a.m.

Mike Murphy, the blunt-spoken, sharp-tongued, smart aleck Republican strategist who has advised such clients as John McCain, Mitt Romney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, is joining Meg Whitman’s campaign for governor, two reliable sources told Calbuzz.

Whitman, who has already spent more than $20 milllion, decided to shake up her campaign on  Friday, Nov. 13, one source told us, and add  another layer to her consultant-rich organization.

Murphy is widely known in the business for his skill in dealing with the media, which could help eMeg’s dreadful relations with much of the California press; although she has enjoyed a host of often fawning profiles in national publications, she has strained relations with many of the state’s major media outlets. Most recently, the Wall Street Journal described her  “thin skinned” attitude towards the press, a charge she answered by saying many of the newspapers seeking access to her would soon be out of business.

Murphy is widely credited with Schwarzenegger’s victory in the 2003 election; at the same time, he is also blamed for the disastrous defeat of Arnold’s agenda of reform initiatives in 2005, which led to his departure from the Schwarzenegger camp.

More recently,  Murphy has been vocal in his criticism of Sarah Palin, beginning with her selection by McCain as a running mate in the 2008 election. His continuing criticisms of Palin, and of the right-wing ideologues who champion her as a Republican savior, would bring an intriguing element into the GOP primary for governor, where the most conservative elements of the party historically dominate the vote.

In addition to McCain and Romney, Murphy’s gubernatorial clients have included  Jeb Bush,  John Engler, Tommy Thompson, Christie Whitman, Dirk Kempthorne and Terry Branstad. Also the senatorial races of Lamar Alexander, Slade Gorton, Spence Abraham, Jeff Sessions, Dirk Kempthorne, Steve Symms, Paul Coverdell, and Larry Pressler.

A spokesman for the Whitman campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Murphy could not be reached.