Archive for the ‘Pete Wilson’ Category



Labor Day Preview: Actual Facts About Job Creation

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

By Michael Bernick

Over the past year, I’ve been engaged in a research project on the transformation of employment in California since World War II. The project has involved research on the shifting employment relations in California (particularly the breakdown of the employer-employee relation and rise of contingent employment) as well the ebbs and flows of job creation and employment.

The chart below shows the growth and decline of total payroll jobs in California during the five recent Governors, beginning with Jerry Brown …

Among the storylines:

1. Job growth has been strong during the 35 year period under all Governors: Despite several ups and downs during the past 35 years, overall job growth has soared from 7.7 million payroll jobs in January 1975 to a high water mark of 15.2 million payroll jobs in July 2007, and around 14 million payroll jobs today. Job growth has been strong under all of the Governors, including Governor Schwarzenegger, until the current Recession.

2. Job growth was strongest during the 8 years of Jerry Brown’s Administration: The greatest job growth in absolute terms was during the eight years of Governor Deukmejian, when 2.7 million jobs were added. However, the more revealing job number is California’s job growth as percentage of national job growth. This was highest during the 8 years of Governor Brown, when California’s job growth of nearly 2 million jobs totaled 17% of the total payroll jobs added in the United States. California’s percentage of job growth has not been as high since that time.

3. Each of the 5 Governors has seen job growth in California undermined by major downturns in the national economy: In the last year of the Brown Administration, the national economy encountered its worst economic downturn since World War II, with national unemployment climbing to 10.8% in December 1982 (and California unemployment at a corresponding 11%). Similarly, Governor Wilson saw state unemployment climb to 9.9% in December 1992, as the national unemployment rose to 7.4%. For the first nearly three years of Governor Schwarzenegger’s tenure, job growth averaged over 235,000 jobs annually. Since the current national Recession started in mid-2007, California has averaged over 300,000 jobs lost annually, and unemployment today stands at 12.3%, following the rise of the national rate to 9.5%.

Marc Lifsher of the Los Angeles Times recently made reference to the job numbers noted above in a short posting in the newspaper’s online edition. This posting immediately brought forth claims of partisanship by the Whitman campaign, which has been trying to portray Brown as a “job killer”. Fair enough. If the Whitman campaign can show that these numbers are inaccurate or misleading, such should be done.

I have known and periodically supported Jerry Brown since serving as a summer law school intern in the office of his State and Consumer Services Secretary, Leonard Grimes, in 1978. I recall well the job debates and policies of the 1970s and early 1980s. There was then and remains today a real and destructive anti-business wing of the Democratic Party in California. But Brown was not a part of it then, and he is not remotely part of it today.

Michael Bernick is the Former California Employment Development Department Director and Milken Institute Fellow. This piece was first published at Fox & Hounds.

Krusty Krashes, Meg De-Friended, Flash Squished

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Gandalf Discovers Technology, Chapter 23: Reports that Jerry Brown’s web site crashed, moments after Barack Obama e-blasted a political support pitch for him, may have caused some brief embarrassment to Krusty’s bare-bones campaign staff, but it was quickly overcome when Jerry’s Kids started toting up the bottom line impact of the message.

Obama’s email (…meeting these challenges will be possible only if we have bold leaders like Jerry Brown working alongside us, yadda yadda…) hit our inbox at 12:13 p.m. and Gandalf’s site went down around 12:45, coming back up about 10 minutes later.

Even at that, said trusty Krusty flack Sterling Clifford, more than 3,000 people signed up for campaign emails in the first hour, or about one every 1.2 seconds, according to calculations prepared by the Calbuzz Division of  Critical Mathematical Thinking and Old Abacus Restorations.

Not half bad and, while we waited and waited until push-the-button time for Brown’s vast and far-flung IT department to ship us more data about the Obama readership spike, it seemed impressive enough to keep us from crafting another full-length cheap shot about how hideously over-matched his online and tech operations are against the Empire of eMeg.

“We’ve been in regular touch with the White House political team for months, going back to last winter,” said Clifford, explaining the genesis of Tuesday’s presidential play. “They’ve offered help in a number of ways…with presidential involvement.”

Brown’s campaign, however, offered only clichéd coyness when we asked about any plans for Obama to fly out for a fundraiser in the fall. “That’s for us to know and you to find out,” Clifford actually said. “This is not the only time we’ll see the support of the White House.”

I thought you were my friend. Calbuzz pal Barbara O’Connor, one of our favorite, well-informed eggheads on the subject of state politics and government, checked in to say that reports about her supporting Meg Whitman are not only wrong but also result from a manipulative practice by Team eMeg.

Meg Whitman’s Facebook ad misused my name. They said I was a supporter because I looked at her website and Facebook page as an observer. So much for trying to see what they are posting. If you see my name on any of their materials please complain and ask it to be pulled. I am not supporting her.

Duly noted. To get off the list, she defriended eMeg. (Gasp!)

By the numbers: State GOP chairman Ron Nehring has gotten a lot of mileage out of bragging on the gender and ethnic diversity of the Republicans statewide slate.

“We’ve got a statewide ticket that looks like California, that reflects the diversity of California,”  Nehring told reporters over the weekend.

Among those who ran with Mr. Chairman’s spin was the grassroots blogger Mayhill Fowler – yes, the very one who captured Obama’s famous “cling to their guns and religion” private comment during the 2008 campaign –in her Huffpost report about the convention:

The top of the state ticket has the flavor of inclusiveness that Americans like in their politics now: three women (Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina and Mimi Walters), an African-American (Damon Dunn) and a Hispanic (Abel Maldonado). Diversity was on display in San Diego.

Fair enough, but let’s not get too carried away. While Nehring would have us think the GOP has practically become the UN, the Republican ticket “looks like California” exactly as much as does the Democratic slate: both parties nominated three women and five men, six whites and two minorities for  eight statewide offices.

It’s also worth noting that the most recent demographic data on the parties, a report from the Field Poll released last summer, showed that white voters still account for 79 percent of registered Republicans, although whites are now a minority – 43 percent – of the state’s overall population; by comparison, white voters represent about 55 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents.

Of course, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, as Mao Tse Tung, the Ron Nehring of his own party, was fond of quoting Lao Tzu.

Final word from GOP confab: Jon Fleischman, the state Republican party’s Man of Many Hats, was in a state of constant motion throughout the just-concluded weekend convention, careening from event to event to fulfill the duties – or further the machinations – of his various roles as apparatchik, blogger and political conspirator.

Around midnight Saturday, Fleischman collapsed his hefty frame into a chair in the Grand Lobby Bar of the convention hotel, joining a trio of off-duty journos who were about 13 or 14 drinks into the mission.

Amid the gossip and good fellowship, Flash recounted an absorbing yarn of how, as a 21-year old knuckledragger-in-training in the early 1990s, he had been roughly flung and pinned to the floor, face ground into the carpet, by two of Pete Wilson’s bodyguards – for the ideologically pure, if woefully misguided, act of shouting personal insults about tax increases at PeeWee while running towards the governor at a high rate of speed down an otherwise deserted hotel corridor.

It explained a lot about Fleischman.

Mid-tale, he glanced at his phone to read a text message he’d just received.   Sent seconds before by state Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth who, as it happened, was sitting with a lively group a mere 10 feet away, the text read: “Hanging out with squishes?”

After sharing the message with his journalistic companions, who took it as a compliment, Fleischman finished his story and his drink, then wearily rose to join Senator Hollingsworth’s party, shaking his head at the unstinting demands placed on a man with multiple agendas.

Final photo from GOP confab: Pictured here: The volcanic Sarah Pompei, eMeg spokeshuman, on the convention floor on Friday night, shortly before she mysteriously disappeared and turned up missing from the Dr. Hackenflack dinner.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: We’re pretty sure the numbers on peeing in the pool are wayyyy low.

Reilly: Underfunded Brown Bid a Case of Deja Vu

Monday, July 26th, 2010

By Clint Reilly
Special to Calbuzz

Today Calbuzz presents an assessment of the campaign for governor by political strategist, businessman and columnist Clint Reilly. Reilly, whose advice Brown recently sought, has a unique perspective, having run the 1994 gubernatorial bid of the Democratic candidate’s sister, Kathleen, against Pete Wilson, who enjoyed a substantial fundraising advantage.

Jerry Brown was the keynote speaker at the recent Gay Pride Breakfast in San Francisco. To loud cheers from the highly partisan audience, Brown talked human rights and revved up the crowd for a tough election in November. I was there with my candidate wife, Janet Reilly, who is running hard for the Board of Supervisors, to fill a seat previously held  by Dianne Feinstein and Gavin Newsom.

To my surprise, after delivering his address, Brown took a seat next to me and proceeded to question me intensely for more than half an hour about my experience running his sister Kathleen Brown’s campaign for Governor in 1994.

The Attorney General had clearly read carefully an April 2010 article I had written in the editions of all 11 Bay Area MediaNews newspapers. I had predicted that Whitman would launch a withering assault right after the primary and present him with a classic Hobson’s Choice:

Should he deplete his limited war chest and respond with tough attacks on Meg Whitman’s record and character in order to prevent her from building an insurmountable lead over the summer? Or should he keep his powder dry until after Labor Day and be competitive on television during the crucial weeks of September and October?

I had faced the same dilemma as Kathleen Brown’s campaign consultant and chairman in 1994.

That year, I was hired after a late primary campaign shakeup to take over Treasurer Brown’s sagging bid for governor against incumbent Pete Wilson. First, we had to defeat John Garamendi‘s persistent primary challenge. Garamendi was easily dispatched, but the skirmish sucked up valuable campaign resources.  Kathleen’s two-year march to the primary had exhausted precious money as well.

I took a poll following her June primary victory; the euphoria was quickly killed when I discovered that Gov. Pete Wilson had built a 10-point lead over Brown.

Public polls at the time still showed Brown with a lead over the governor. But Wilson’s unanswered negative commercials during his uncontested primary had clearly worked. Initially, I was skeptical and did something I had never done in more than two decades in the business — I took another poll.

Unfortunately, the second results were worse.

As we entered July, Wilson had a huge financial advantage. Ultimately, he outspent us by more than 2.5 to 1 during the time I worked for Brown. Because we were decisively behind during the summer, I chose  to spend money during the summer to close the gap. I reasoned that unless we were in the hunt after Labor Day, Wilson’s vastly superior bank account would bury us at the end.

As it turned out, bad polls in September and October choked off our fundraising and we ran out of money.

Of course I was roundly criticized. Press, pundits and competitors fed on my carcass for weeks after Brown lost badly in November. At a well attended UC Berkeley post mortem on the race in January 1995 – ill-timed on my birthday – I remarked that I felt like a cadaver at my own autopsy.

Campaign professionals – like sports coaches – are often confronted with two unpalatable options. In 2006, then-Treasurer Phil Angelides faced the same problem against Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Behind in the summer and drained from a costly primary against Steve Westly, Angelides decided not to compete with Arnold’s summer television blitz. By September he was so far behind that he was never able to make a dent in the Governor’s 20-point lead. Angelides lost by the same margin as Kathleen Brown.

This year, Whitman’s summer assault by mid-June had already closed a post primary gap of 5 points enjoyed by Brown. Now, I believe, she has already moved ahead by mid-single digits . Unanswered, she will reach Labor Day with an insurmountable head start.

Back to my discussion with Jerry Brown at the Pride breakfast. Here’s what I told him:  His $30 million war chest isn’t enough to beat a billionaire who will spend more than $100 million.

The real choice is not whether to spend his limited funds now or later, it is to convince his allies in labor to power a substantial independent expenditure campaign during the summer that keeps him in the game; the total Democratic campaign must be roughly equal in dollars to Whitman’s in order for the attorney general to prevail.

But Brown faces two stumbling blocks: First, public employee unions are an easy target in an era when  budget deficits in Sacramento are a major issue in the November election. Second, Whitman’s money might have boomeranged like Al Checchi and other previous, wealthy self-funded candidates. But recently, voters seem to be accepting her huge personal spending as just another form of legitimate funding.

The lesson of Kathleen Brown’s 1994 failed campaign and Phil Angelides’ 2006 debacle is the simple rule followed by generals in battles through the ages: the side with superior resources usually wins.

eMeg Asks: What Does Jerry Have to Hide?

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

In the summer silly season of California’s 1990 campaign for governor, a  strategist for Dianne Feinstein used to say that running against Pete Wilson  was like “getting up every morning and having somebody throw marbles in front of you” all day.

The description perfectly expressed the challenge of facing the aggressive, always-on-offense style of Republican Wilson’s camp, which worked assiduously to keep Democrat Difi constantly off balance before defeating her in November.

The phrase came to mind Tuesday with word that Meg Whitman’s campaign  has filed a Public Records Act request seeking reams of documents at the state Department of Justice, ostensibly to discover if Attorney General Jerry Brown has been nefariously using state employees or resources to advance his bid for governor against eMeg.

The request, formally made by Sacramento GOP oppo research consultant Mark Bogetich, came one day after Seema Metha did a feature in the L.A. Times, which examined the line that Brown must walk between his official duties and campaign activities; the piece presented no evidence that he’d crossed it, nefariously or otherwise.

Rising with its usual, over-inflated self-righteousness, the eMeg Empire nonetheless pointed to Mehta’s story to explain its PRA demand, a cheap head fake used to justify a smart political play.

The demand, which Brown’s office has 10 days to answer, is a tactical move to strew marbles in Krusty’s path, a distraction that interferes with his effort to gain some traction, let alone momentum, in at least three ways:

1-It pushes out the idea that Brown must be guilty of something – planting the suggestion that he’s committed some kind of official misconduct into both the campaign debate and the public consciousness (especially if Team Whitman throws some advertising dough behind it).

By putting Brown in the position of having to prove a negative, in a year when politicians are more subject than ever to perceptions of chicanery, it sets up a new line of attack over his character, at a time when his camp is trying to push a narrative that questions her personal integrity; as the money quote from eMeg spokeshuman Sarah Pompei announcing the PRA request  clearly shows, Whitman is already treating her so-far baseless suspicions as proven fact:

After 40 years in politics, Governor Brown appears to be someone who will try to take advantage of his incumbency, even if it costs taxpayers money. Voters deserve to know what they’re spending on Jerry Brown’s personal P.R. campaign.”

Deserve to know “what they’re spending,” not “whether they’re spending,” mind you.

2-It opens the possibility that the records search might actually reveal something embarrassing or, at least, something commonplace that can be twisted to seem embarrassing.

The PRA letter from Bogetich  is actually pretty mundane: asking for hiring and payroll records, calendars and travel expense sheets (have a blast reading those maintenance logs for state cars, man) for DOJ employees who work on communications matters. Given Brown’s experience in office, and the micromanaging he does over anything involving media, it’s unlikely there are any bombshells there, but, hey, a girl can always hope.

Whatever else the PRA demand does, it creates a tiresome, day job distraction for Brown, his professional staff and his Merry Band of campaigners to locate, pull, examine and assess thousands of pages of boring documents, all of it time not spent plotting and running against eMeg.

3-It’s a brush back pitch that serves to warn Brown that he needs to be extremely careful in wielding the most effective weapon of his el cheapo campaign – the constant free publicity he receives from weighing in on every high-profile case, from Anna Nicole Smith to the Grim Sleeper, and suing every populist target from investment firms to health care insurers.

In putting Brown into a defensive posture, the move seeks to transform his greatest strength into a potential liability and make it harder for Krusty to frame the election as a referendum on Meg – and easier for her to make it about him.

It’s worth noting that Bogetich markets his firm by offering “political vulnerability research” that “helps clients…de-position opponents.” Orwell would be proud.

It’s also telling that he’s part of a broader oppo research division within the mighty Empire: in describing the operation a few months ago, Politico quoted an inside source who made a point we keep harping on:

We believe that (Brown) hasn’t undergone the rigors of modern campaigning. He hasn’t run a competitive race at this level since the early eighties. It’s a different news cycle than he has experienced. He’s incredibly skilled and incredibly talented. But this is a new challenge for him.

Not to worry Gandolf fans: he’ll gets things cranked up on the fax, as soon as the typeball gets replaced on the Selectric.

P.S. Things could be worse for Democrats.

If they had nominated Gavin Newsom instead of Brown, they would have had to contend with “vulnerability research” Bogetich was doing a while back on the cost of the only-in-San Francisco “Healthy Penis” campaign. (Answer: $122,575).

In case you missed it: Slate’s mashup of Mel Gibson’s abusive phone calls to Oksana Grigorieva and the trailer for his movie, “What Women Want,” is a must-see. Fair warning: X-rated and strictly not for the easily offended.

Why It’s Nuts for Dems to Want a Primary Fight

Monday, November 9th, 2009

jerrydianneAfter San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom dropped out of the Democratic race for governor, leaving Attorney General Jerry Brown as the only (still-unannounced) candidate for the nomination, some folks on the left and others in the party immediately started complaining that an uncontested race would hurt their cause.

“A contested primary will only make Brown a stronger candidate should he indeed win that primary — and more importantly, it would give Democrats and DTS voters a chance to weigh in on the future of California, to have a real discussion about how to fix a broken state,” wrote the normally level-headed Robert Cruickshank over at Calitics.

“If Brown faced a more progressive challenger, he would have to clarify his positions on key issues facing the state, instead of keeping them under wraps until August 2010. A primary battle will help him keep not just his name, but his vision before the voters of California,” wrote the Oracle of Cruickshank.

Our pal Steve Maviglio at from California Majority Report, stoked the issue, writing in Capitol Morning Report, that “over the weekend, there’s already been some noise in Democratic circles about possible challengers and murmurs of an Anybody-But-Jerry movement that could prevent a Brown coronation next June.”

Former Chronsman John Wildermuth and current Chron pol writer Carla Marinucci both wrote stories trying to drum up some interest in a new candidate (and a spicier story). Of course, all the names dropped into the mix – Bob Hertzberg, Jane Harman, Loretta Sanchez, Maria Shriver, John Doerr, Antonio Villaraigosa, yada yada yada – were nothing more than crapchurn.

Our friend Harold Meyerson, a very bright guy, got himself swept away worrying that a free shot for Crusty the General would be a black mark on California’s political systejm, ferchrissake.

And the ByGodLATimes and some very smart poli sci profs at USC are so hot for a contest, that when Prince Gavin dropped out of the race half-way through their six-day poll, they cooked up a wildly loaded question to prove that Democratic voters aren’t satisfied with Brown as their candidate.

As you may have heard, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom dropped out of the race to become the Democratic candidate for governor on Friday, leaving former Governor Jerry Brown as the only major political figure seeking the Democratic nomination. Are you satisfied with Brown as the only major figure seeking the nomination or do you think it is important for Democratic voters to have additional choices in who to nominate to be the Democratic candidate for governor?

Note the “only major political figure,” followed by “only major figure” followed by “additional choices.” With the question worded that way, it’s astonishing that about a third of the Democratic primary voters said they were satisfied while only 65% said it’s important to have more choices.  Democrats always want more choices. Who’s gonna be against more choices when Jerry Brown is the ONLY major political figure seeking the nomination?

At the same time, as Dan Schnur at USC noted Sunday, it is true that Crusty the General’s favorable is about 64% among Democrats. So it’s not as if they don’t like the guy – especially the older voters who are likely to participate in the 2010 primary.

Truth is, the only person who could realistically get into the race right now would be U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein Herself. And although Former Assembly Ayatollah and SF Mayor Willie Brown is frantically pushing Difi, all good Calbuzz readers know that’s not gonna happen.

Now while Calbuzz has no horse in the race,  on either side, and though we’d dearly love a Dem horse race to write about, we do have a penetrating analytical question to ask those Democrats who want a competitive primary: “Are you out of your friggin’ minds?”

You have the ideal situation right now, tactically and strategically, and you want to screw it up? What are you – Democrats?

petewilsonConsider Exhibit A – 1990 — when U.S. Sen. Pete Wilson was begged by California Republicans to come back and run for governor because they were convinced there was nobody at home who could beat then S.F. Mayor Dianne Feinstein or Attorney General John Van de Kamp..

Wilson stepped into the breach, with no need to run a primary campaign. “It allowed us to position Pete for general election—pro-choice, anti-offshore drilling—two incredibly important symbols of moderation, AND we were able to hold our resources and our fire for DiFi in June, with an entire campaign planned from June to November,” recalled Don Sipple, Wilson’s media strategist.

“If you will recall, it was an off year with GOP controlling White House and we had to buck headwinds at the end,” Sipple remembered. “All of the advantages cited above came into play in order for Pete to squeak out a close win in a tough campaign.”

Ben Tulchin of San Francisco, our Democratic pollster pal who had been keeping a close eye on Newsom’s potential but who had no candidate in the race, agreed: “Jerry Brown needs to save as much money as he can for the general. He’s going to need it because he’s likely going to be facing a billionaire.”

It’s a no-brainer, really: Why would Brown want to be pulled to the left on gay marriage, driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants,  taxes, or whatever? Why would he want to have to kiss ass for the CCPOA, CTA or any other labor union that would extract promises in exchange for money and volunteers? Would he rather spend $10 million in a battle for the nomination or have a pile of cash on hand to go after his GOP rival the day after the election – like Wilson did to Feinstein in 1990? We’re pretty sure we know how media strategist and Brown adviser Joe Trippi would vote on that one.

As Tulchin wrote in a Chronicle op-ed: “Brown and California Democrats can now sit on the sidelines and watch the Republicans beat each other up in what will likely be a nasty and divisive primary fight between well-funded candidates who will spend millions of dollars attacking each other and leaving them in a weaker position for the general election.”

Having run statewide in California for secretary of state, governor, senator, attorney general and president, it’s not as if Brown is a newcomer in the political process. “Even more important,” Willie Brown told us, “He is not a newcomer to the thought process of government.”

But progressives like the Oracle of Cruickshank aren’t convinced. “A contested Democratic gubernatorial primary is essential to not only a strong Democratic campaign in the fall of 2010, but more importantly, to rebuilding the shattered ruins of a once-golden state,” Cruickshank wrote.

To which Jerry Brown replied the other day: “Do you know how many primaries I’ve been through?”

P.S. While the question about more choice in the Democratic primary was bogus, Calbuzz applauds the LA Times and USC for putting together the cash for a series of polls in this political season. With the demise of the LA Times Poll and the Survey and Policy Research Institute at San Jose State (which at least half of us worked on), there are too few quality public polls in California beyond the Field Poll and PPIC.  Here’s the link to the current LAT/USC effort. One note to LAT/USC: You need to clear up how your sampling was done. Your methodology story suggests it was a random sample with weighting at the back end. But on the conference call you said it was a cluster sample, which would normally obviate weighting.