Archive for the ‘Peter Foy’ Category



Press Clips: Sarah Palin, Wikileaks and RIP CRP

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Whither the GOP II: Word for word, the greatest headline ever written was “Headless Body in Topless Bar,” the New York Post’s slammer  on its story about a gruesome decapitation murder committed at Herbie’s Bar, a Queens strip club, on April 13, 1983 (memo to obsessive copy desk types: spare us your email, “Ford to City: Drop Dead” ain’t even close).

With its punchiness and taut economy of language, the hed came to mind as we culled the web for posts pertaining to our oft-commented-on piece story offering some prescriptive advice to the dog-ass California Republican Party, and stumbled upon this trenchant analysis by Robert Cruickshank over at Calitics.

In short, California Republicans are fucked.

While one word longer than the Post’s iconic hed, and lacking its sheer wordsmithing poetry, the Oracle’s powerhouse proclamation nonetheless wins the Calbuzz “Herbie” Award for cut-to-the-bone storytelling, at a time when the uncertain future of the state Republican Party is the subject of far more wordy fulmination across the internets.

The data point of departure for most of the discussion is the L.A. Times/USC poll which found, among other things, that one in five voters say they would never vote for a Republican under any circumstance, and that large majorities of voters express principled contempt for GOP policies on key ideological issues like environmental regulation and immigration.

To our surprise, we found  few offerings that suggest a pathway back to relevance for the GOP, in the positive and upbeat manner of, oh say, Calbuzz (“Issue Oriented – Solution Driven”) itself.

Among such scant offerings, a brave effort by Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy (who we early on did our best to gin up as a possible contender  in the governor’s race) rose to the top of the heap. Writing over at Flashreport ,Foy noted the bevy of anti-government ballot initiatives just passed by voters and suggested that Republicans can attract them with “policies consistent with our conservative values and…new leaders who can inspire a new generation of California voters.”

Besides this murky proposal, what was truly notable in the piece was how Foy correctly pointed the finger directly at Meg Whitman’s crucial role in the party’s 2010 failure.

In 2010, I campaigned all across the state and met thousands of voters.  While I didn’t sense open hostility towards Meg Whitman, her campaign generated a sort of hard-to-describe unease.  Republican activists were detached from her candidacy.

While Whitman pledged to do many right and necessary things as governor, many felt her to be a stranger, despite seeing hundreds (if not more) of her campaign commercials.  Paradoxically, the more ads they saw, the more ambiguous Whitman became.  Try as she might, she appeared analytical and calculating, rather than heartfelt and energized…

This year, the Whitman campaign executed a corporate-style branding strategy with the most extensive communications effort in memory backed by more money than any state campaign in history.  It utterly failed.

I believe it lacked any consequential connection to the public’s view of our state.  It tried to entice voters, rather than engage them.  And it tried to sell them on a product rather than persuade them in an ideal.

Beyond Foy’s manly effort, however, it appears that many among the still-sane sector of the CRP share the same view as Cruickshank, albeit more politely. Chief among this contingent is veteran GOP operative and analyst Tony Quinn who portrayed the plight of state Republicans in harshly stark terms:

Today’s California Republican Party is a regional party with declining registration and a lack of any presence at all in the San Francisco Bay Area and in all but a sliver of Los Angeles County.  That is half the state where the Republican Party no longer exists.

The days of Republicans winning statewide office – other than with an Arnold Schwarzenegger – has certainly past.

Ouch.

Does this woman ever shut up: All right-thinking people agree that Sarah Palin couldn’t find her ass with two hands if she had a map. That being said, it greatly pains and baffles us why the mighty MSM and the Beltway Big Feet insist on treating her endless self-serving tweets and Facebook postings as if they were news, instead of third-rate press releases

When the media on Monday trumpeted coast to coast Palin’s insipid comments bashing Obama for the latest Wikileaks document dump, we at first thought our head would explode (Fortunately we averted disaster by breathing deeply and assuming Bikram yoga posture #15 – “Wind Removing Pose” – until regaining our emotional balance).

Here’s the thing: Whether Palin is defending childhood obesity , attacking Mark Halperin, backing her 16-year old brat’s use of homophobic slurs or mixing up North and South Korea doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the nation’s newsrooms and political press acts as if it does, as Huffpost blogger Mitchell Bard properly noted:

The real story, though, isn’t that Palin said “North” instead of “South.” Let’s be honest: Vice President Joe Biden could have just as easily blown a line like that.

No, the real story is that Palin was discussing a complex, precarious, highly dangerous issue as if she were an expert, even though she clearly isn’t.

Does anyone outside of Palin’s relatively small group of smitten followers honestly believe that she is competent to act as an expert on Korean policy? That she knows the intricacies and risks of engaging with the North Koreans? That she understands the possible leadership struggle going on there? Do you think she has the first clue about the history of Korea over the last century? Do you think she’s ever heard of Syngman Rhee, the Bodo League massacre, the Battle of Inchon, or National Security Council Report 68, or that she knows about the decades of Japanese rule in Korea? Do you think she’s ever read about the role the propaganda efforts of the post-Stalin Soviet government played in the eventual armistice that ended the fighting?

…That’s the real story about the Palin flub about North Korea that the media isn’t covering. It’s not that she misspoke, but that anyone cared what she had to say on the issue in the first place.

While many in the national GOP privately  view with horror the specter of a Palin candidacy, few of them have the stones to denounce her, fearful of the wrath of her base among Jerry Springer Republicans. So it was refreshing to see MSNBC yakker and former congressman Joe Scarborough stand up and take her on:

Palin is not a stupid woman. But like the current president, she still does not know what she does not know. And she does know how to make millions of dollars, even if she embarrasses herself while doing it.

That reality hardly makes Palin unique, but this is one Republican who would prefer that the former half-term governor promote her reality shows and hawk her books without demeaning the reputations of Presidents Reagan and Bush. These great men dedicated their lives to public service and are too good to be fodder for her gaudy circus sideshow.

If Republicans want to embrace Palin as a cultural icon whose anti-intellectualism fulfills a base political need, then have at it. I suppose it’s cheaper than therapy.

But if the party of Ronald Reagan, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio wants to return to the White House anytime soon, it’s time that Republican leaders started standing up and speaking the truth to Palin.

Good for Scarborough, but we’re unconvinced that the spectacle of a Palin presidency is all that beyond imagination.

The plain fact is that Palin is a truly dangerous person, a narcissistic, anti-intellectual demagogue playing on the fears and prejudices of modern Know-Nothings for no substantial purpose beyond her own self-aggrandizement and thirst for power.

Democrats – and serious Republicans – who chortle and mock her chances of winning the presidency in 2012 do so at their peril, particularly if the race gets complicated by the entry of an independent, like Michael Bloomberg (or Palin, herself, after losing the GOP nomination) and the matter gets tossed to a House of Representatives controlled by right-wing Republicans.

More Thunder from eMeg’s Right; Carla Held Hostage

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Little noticed among all the Ken und John Sturm und Drang came  another right-wing whack at Meg Whitman’s campaign prevarications, from a less  cacophonous, but arguably more consequential, conservative quarter.

Peter Foy, a Ventura County supervisor and a favorite of Tea Party and other hardline precincts, took eMeg to task in a SignOnSan Diego piece (h/t Jon Fleischman) for her flip-flopping flexibility on immigration and climate change, a post showing that conservative dismay with Our Meg is not limited to the yakkers and shouters on the AM band.

Foy played a high-profile role in sinking Governor Schwarzmuscle’s budget plan in last year’s special election, characterizing both Whitman and Steve Poizner as “squishy” on that and other fiscal matters in an interview with Calbuzz at a time when he was taking a semi-serious look at running for the big job himself.

In his new piece, Foy declared himself “a Whitman supporter,” but was unstinting and surgical in slicing her in the very spots where she was pounded last week on talk radio.

It’s troubling that Meg Whitman – the billionaire first-time candidate seeking to become California’s next governor – is running the most conventional of too-clever-by-half campaigns. If she stubbornly continues this aloof tactical venture she will almost surely lose and won’t deserve to win…

While Whitman and her advisers understand the need to reach out to diverse constituencies, ham-handed efforts to woo Latinos (and other favored groups) are likely to both fail to launch and even blow up in their face…

They are likely to see this for the kaleidoscopic approach it is – inviting people to see what they want to see – and could punish Whitman even more severely than they would a different politician.

Here’s why. Whitman obviously has special appeal and the independent, outsider profile many voters say they are looking for. But if she’s simply going to advance the most expensive version of a bargain-basement campaign, Whitman is literally inviting voters to view her as calculating and even manipulative. While this is dangerous for a veteran politician, it’s lethal for a newcomer.

Over at Fox and Hounds, the estimable Joe Mathews argues that Meg’s appearance on John and Ken was a “Sister Souljah” moment that will help her image among independent voters by showing she’s not afraid to stand up to the most raucous elements of her party. We say: Not so much.

Unlike the talk show boys, Foy is a well-starched, perfectly respectable, establishment arch-conservative. As a political matter, it’s significant that he not only sounds the same  themes as John and Ken but also echoes the argument, made by independent voices like ours, plus progressive sites like Calitics, that Meg’s tell-everyone-what-they-want-to-hear pattern of behavior is most troubling, not as a policy issue, but as a character flaw.

…Their hearts and minds will follow: Maybe eMeg should stop with all the too clever by half moves and be more like Linda McMahon in taking a more ballsy approach.

Just askin’: Has there ever been a goofier idea by a news organization than the Chronicle’s effort to goose print circulation by delaying for 48 hours the posting of some of its best stories on SFGate?

A half-baked hybrid version of Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to force readers to pay for content one way or another (which itself is not exactly off to a roaring start) the Hearst Chron’s strategy of holding its own Sunday edition journalism hostage seems to be having three main effects:

1) it keeps some of the best work of its reporters out of the real-time conversation that drives the 24/7 news cycle;

2) it gives more eyeballs to the competition, as folks in search of new news head to the L.A. Times or SacBee to find it;

3) it drives traffic to aggregation sites which find and post the Chron’s stories despite the paper’s delusional notion that it can exercise singular control over the flow of online information.

For example, this Sunday the Chron kept Willie Brown’s column off the web, so readers in search of his latest take on the governor’s race (“Nerdy Jerry Brown a Formidable Opponent,” read the good hed, which was all a reader could read) was directed to this note:

This story is exclusive to the Chronicle’s Sunday print edition and will not appear on SFGate.com until 4:00 AM on Tuesday, August 10. To buy an electronic version of the Sunday paper now, go to…Print subscribers can go to…to sign up for free e-editions.

Hold your horses, Maude! Let’s forget that picnic and hike in the Berkeley hills – I really need to spend half the day navigating the Chron’s web site to read “Willie’s World.”

Readers encountered a similar M.C. Escher-like maze if they clicked on Carla Marinucci’s Sunday blog post (hopefully through the link on the Calbuzz Blogroll of Honor) where she offered a sketchy version of Jerry Brown’s just-released jobs plan, then appended this sad little lose-friends-and-don’t influence people note:

UPDATE: Check today’s San Francisco Chronicle for a “print-only” exclusive analysis of the jobs proposals being offered by both gubernatorial candidates, Brown and Whitman, as well as the candidates for U.S. Senate — Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer and GOP challenger Carly Fiorina. The “print only” exclusive will be released to the web on Tuesday morning…

Rather than wait until Tuesday morning, however, political junkies who cared found the very good, “exclusive analysis” of the jobs issue, which Marinucci co-wrote with boy wonder Drew Joseph, over at Jack Kavanagh’s Rough & Tumble , where it was posted more than 24 hours before it appeared “exclusively” on SFGate.

While the pathway the story took to R&T is not entirely clear, at least one key thing is: keeping information barricaded behind walls is kind of like running the 100-yard dash with water cupped safely in your hands.

Update 7:41 a.m. Rough and Tumble’s Jack Kavanagh checks in with this on the Chron/48-hour delay imbroglio:

I never link to Chronicle stories that are being withheld from the Internet on Sunday.

I only link to items readily available on the Chronicle site or the Chronicle politics blog.

The story you referenced by Carla was either available on the site or on the blog.

By the time the stories that are withheld by the Chronicle on Sunday are released on the following Wednesday, I generally ignore them mainly because by that time they are generally pretty stale.

Emphasis in original. We rest our case.

Memo to Frank Vega: Great Cesar’s Ghost, man! Free Willie, Carla, Drew, Phil, Andy and all political prisoners!

Does the Money Primary Matter in GOP Gov Race?

Monday, June 29th, 2009

emegcoverForty-nine weeks before California Republicans pick their candidate for governor, Tom Campbell is winning the Press Corps Primary, Steve Poizner leads the Attack Dog Primary and Meg Whitman is way ahead in the Fred Barnes/Weekly Standard  Sloppy Wet Kiss Primary.

The shape of the GOP nomination race remains unformed and uncertain, unlike the Democratic contest, which has settled — at least for now — into a mano-a-mano match-up. In contrast to Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom, the GOP contenders have been less visible, their competition to date waged largely for the benefit of the cognoscenti over endorsements, free media and the occasional cheap shot zinger.

The only reliable data we’ve seen is a Field Poll from March that found Whitman at 21%, Campbell at 18% and Poizner at 7%. But these numbers have little meaning since only 28% of Republicans have any opinion about Whitman and just 40% have a view on Campbell. And even though Poizner is a statewide officeholder, only 42% of Republcans have an opinion about him.

poiznerpointing1A key tactical moment for the Reeps will come Tuesday, however, when the rivals show their cards — and balance sheets – for the first big cash-raising period of the Money Primary. With eMeg and the Poison Commish, the two self-made Silicon Valley zillionaires, maneuvering to emerge as the favorite moderate of the right-wing primary voters, media coverage of the new fundraising reports will be crucial in shaping the narrative of the early stage of the campaign. (Even if most of the media coverage misses the point. See #1 below.)

With no clear front-runner among the three candidates now running – a fourth is still playing Hamlet – the campaign at this point is all about fundamentals: money, organization and message. With that in mind, here is a look at five key questions about the GOP primary:

1. Who wins the money primary – and does it really matter?

As a practical matter, neither Whitman nor Poizner needs to raise a dime from outside sources, since they’re both wealthy enough to finance their campaigns for governor and buy a couple of small island nations with the leftover change. For them, political contributions are not about raising the funds to run a campaign operation –- as they are for most mortal candidates. For Whitman and Poizner, fundraising is a kind fiscal Potemkin villagism –- done mainly for symbolic reasons to demonstrate that someone other than the candidate believes enough to invest in the campaign.

That’s why the Whitman campaign for months has been talking up expectations about her reporting at least $5 million raised this week, much of it from individual and organizational donors rather than from her own bank account. Raising a bunch of dough she doesn’t really need, the campaign hopes, will establish Whitman as a viable candidate who is more than a business executive dabbling in politics: “We will not disappoint,” said Whitman spokesman Mitch Zak. “The fundraising primary is a good indication of who can move voters.”

Poizner – who, in the past, has argued that campaign contributions are a measure of external support — has been more circumspect about how much he’ll report.  But his handlers  set out to inoculate their guy from a big eMeg money report, writing in a memo to his steering committee today:tomcampbell

“Many candidates are either ‘money’ candidates who rely on fundraising but lack a strong connection with voters or activists while others are ‘grassroots’ candidates who have difficulty raising the money necessary to get their message out and can rely only on volunteers and activists. Steve Poizner is unique in that he will have a fully-funded campaign with the resources necessary to get his message out as well as have impressive grassroots support that is vital in GOP primaries.”

As for Campbell, he will be the poor church mouse of the race and knows that no matter how much raises, his well-heeled foes will always have more.

2. How much do endorsements matter?

Poizner jumped out early in the campaign, starting last year to begin rounding up dozens of local, legislative and congressional endorsements that gave him a head start in putting together a statewide campaign organization. With a wide-open race, the endorsements of elected officials matter more than usual for 2010, because they can provide the infrastructure for registration, absentee and turnout operations, by offering volunteers, mailing lists and contributors.

For Poizner – who isn’t as personally wealthy as Whitman – endorsements are a kind of political currency. He’s been racking ‘em up like Phil Angelides did in the Democratic primary in 2006 – hoping to build a firewall against eMeg’s money.

In the last several weeks, however, Whitman has succeeded in flipping half-a-dozen former Poizner endorsers, including three legislators, a House member and a county chairwoman, all of whom withdrew their endorsements of the insurance commissioner and started singing the praises of eMeg. That’s the same as snatching Poizner’s purse.

At one point amid the rash of defections last week, Poizner chairman Jim Brulte responded by sending out a letter to GOP lawmakers in a bid to settle things down, contrasting his guy’s political and start-up business experience with Whitman’s CEO gig at eBay: “Though she has much to offer,” Brulte said of eMeg, “her campaign is once again proving why first time candidate business executives never win.”

“Voters simply don’t buy the connection that running an online auction company is the best training ground for our next governor,” he added. “And never in modern history has there been a worse time to be running on the ‘corporate CEO’ brand.”

Whitman’s sudden entry into the grassroots endorsement race, which clearly stung Team Poizner, followed several months when she gave a series of interviews to national media and became the flavor of the month for Beltway establishment Republicans. Among other props, she earned a gushy cover piece in the conservative Weekly Standard by Fred Barnes and the backing of high-profile GOPers, from ex-presidential candidate John McCain to congressional wunderkid Eric Cantor.

To a large extent, the jousting over endorsements is total inside baseball; like the battle of perception over fundraising. However, it matters as a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy: if members of Congress and the Assembly who’ll be facing election themselves next year stand up for a candidate for governor, it sets a marker for voters in their districts about who they should think about backing.

3. What do the candidates stand for?

With the economy and the state’s failing budget the only issues that matter for now, Whitman and Poizner have both been content to stand atop the hill, watching the battle and mouthing conservative platitudes that could be drawn from the 1996 Steve Forbes for president campaign, or the Milton Friedman script for almost any GOP nominating contest in the nation.

Campbell, by contrast, has been aggressive in analyzing, commenting and proposing on the state budget issue, partly because of his experience and background as an economist and public finance expert and partly because he has no choice. Unable to compete with Whitman and Poizner for money, Campbell needs to keep a high profile in the news; he’s helped in this effort because reporters generally respond favorably to his mix of specific, thoughtful ideas about the state’s problems, regular guy persona, and his instant accessibility to anyone with a notebook or a microphone.

As a policy matter, Campbell’s disciplined brand of fiscal conservatism comes with a strain of non-ideological realpolitick – as shown by his support for a short-term increase in the gas tax to ease the deficit, a proposal that may cause him a world of hurt in the primary. Whitman and Poizner for their parts have both largely avoided talking to California reporters familiar with the issues (about that interview with Calbuzz…) and so far have offered little but empty rhetoric and knee-jerk Republican talking points on fiscal issues.

4. Who is Peter Foy and why would he matter?

Foy is a conservative Ventura County supervisor who’s been doing a dance of the seven veils for months about whether or not he’ll enter the race.

Foy has never run statewide and has the naïve and breezy assurance of an overconfident former business executive who hasn’t learned that this stuff is harder than it looks. The reason anyone is still paying attention to him is that, unlike the trio of contenders now on the field, he’s pro-life and conservative on other cultural issues. As we wrote several months ago, the evangelical and social conservative bloc of the GOP does not have a horse in the race, and if Foy ever stops flapping his gums long enough to make a decision to get in, he’d likely begin with a double-digit base and shake up the race.

Were he to get in, Calbuzz thinks the most likely casualty would be Poizner, who has been trying to roll up conservative support for his anticipated battle with eMeg.

5. How bad will the economy get?

With all the signs suggesting that California will be in a deepening recession well into next year, it’s impossible to know whether voters in 2010 will be in the mood for a dose of Republican tax-cut, slash-and-burn orthodoxy, or looking to government to help ease the economic pain.

At this point, Whitman and Poizner have not offered even a hint that they think the government should do much beyond fire tens of thousands of employees and offer more tax breaks to business to help those affected by the recession. Campbell alone has put forward a proposal that offers a strategic look at what government can and should do to help create jobs and stem the loss of business to other states.

One night last week, Campbell got on the phone with several thousand voters who’d responded to a mass robo call inviting them to talk to the candidate on a teleconference, one of the cheapo campaign tactics he’ll be counting on. At one point, the several thousand people on the call were asked to do a touch tone poll to indicate what they identify as the state’s most important issue: the economy and the budget finished far ahead at one and two, a result that had the Campbell camp smiling.

Friday Fishwrap: Squishy, Dishy, Always Fishy

Friday, April 17th, 2009

When Prop. 1A hit man Peter Foy opened a can of whupass on wannabe governors Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman this week, his cruelest cut was calling them “squishy” on taxes.

The charge leveled by the GOP Ventura County supe, who’s toying with a run against the two objects of his ire, resurrected one of the most heinous ad hominem labels one Republican can tag on another. While using the adjectival “squishy” is, well, a little bit squishy, calling someone a “squish” is the GOP equivalent of trash talking someone’s mother in gangsta circles.

In a wide-ranging investigation including a couple of Google searches, multiple emails and an actual long distance phone call, the Calbuzz Linguistic Desk spared no expense in its effort to shed light on the origin and usage of the term.

“Very good question,” said Ken Khachigian, California’s dean of Republican wordsmiths. “I can’t honestly recall when it entered my vocabulary, though I’m sure I’ve used it frequently.”

Khachigian, who made his bones working in Dick Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign, added that “using the word ‘squish’ is almost always in the context of questioning someone’s level of commitment or strength.”

Wiktionary defines a squish as a “political moderate (derogatory term used by conservative activists in the 1980s),” while conservative think tanker and journalist Amy Ridenour blogged this recollection on the web site of the National Center for Public Policy Research:

“’Squish’ was in frequent use in the College Republican National Committee office when I worked there in 1981 and elsewhere in conservative circles during the era. There was a much firmer line of demarcation back then within the GOP between conservatives and moderates (ed: that’s because there still were GOP moderates in 1981)

“Examples of prominent (perceived) ‘squishes’ circa 1981: Vice President George H.W. Bush, James Baker III,” Ridenour wrote. “I recall Baker being seen as the invisible hand behind many, many a squishie plot.”

In advance of the 2006 mid-term elections, a top (George W.) Bushman in the Justice Department used the phrase to ding Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., in an email that argued against extending campaign aid to the congressman’s re-election effort; the email was uncovered in one of L.A. Dem Rep. Henry Waxman’s probes of political chicanery at the Bush White House.

“My two cents,” Roveian hatchet man Kyle Sampson wrote at the time, “I wouldn’t choose a sort of weird, maverick squish . . . to team up with.”

But senior statesman Khachigian traces the possible derivation of squish much further back, at least to his first Nixon campaign: “Your younger readers won’t have any connection with one possible progenitor of the word, but back in the ’68 presidential race (yes, I was there), Ted Agnew accused Hubert Humphrey of being ‘squishy soft on communism.’”

Update: An email early Friday from William Safire, political lexicographer, famed columnist and ex-Nixon speech writer, buttresses Khachigian’s theorem: “It was popularized by Vice President Agnew in the 1970 mid-term elections as ‘squishy soft,” Safire says . . .

You can only pick one, Gavin: Scrolling through Gavin Newsom’s web site the other day put us in mind of the famous New Yorker cartoon in which an exasperated Charles Dickens sits in the office of his editor, who tells him: “I wish you would make up your mind, Mr. Dickens. Was it the best of times or was it the worst of times? It could scarcely be both.”

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Newsom’s version: “Mayor Newsom has organized an exploratory committee for Governor as an initial and technical requirement to begin organizing a potential campaign. Mayor Newsom has organized an exploratory committee so he can make the decision about a campaign for governor from a position of knowledge and strength.”

Brown outtakes, Take 1: At one point in Calbuzz’s recent interview with Jerry Brown, he spoke wistfully about maybe settling down on “a nice ranch that’s been in the family” for generations, near Colusa. So we asked him why the hell, at the age of 71, didn’t he just pack it in and kick back there with the lovely Lady Anne.

“That’s a good question,” he answered, before a rare pause. “You know something, and the more you do it, the better you get at it, and you derive a certain pleasure from it.” . . .

That’s -30-: Ex-Sacbeeman, the Rev. Jim Richardson, has started a blog for folks to leave their memories of the late, great LA Timesman Jerry Gillam. The blog is here if you want to leave a comment. Or you can email your recollections and photos for posting to Jim at revjimr@yahoo.com

Peter Foy: Poizner and Whitman Are “Squishy” on Prop. 1A

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Republican Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy, who has emerged as a leading conservative voice against Prop. 1A, says GOP millionaire wannabe governors Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman aren’t doing nearly enough to kill the May 19 election measure.

“Poizner and Whitman should be doing everything they can, they should be with us and they should be throwing money at it,” Foy told calbuzz.

“It’s going to hurt them in their campaigns,” he added. “We want someone who’s going to do something on this and isn’t squishy.”

Amid blogospheric buzz about the possibility that the Ventura supe might jump into the governor’s race, Foy left the door wide open when we asked him about it.

“Spending is out of control . . . and we need leadership in Sacramento on this,” he said. “On the Republican side, where’s Poizner, where’s Whitman, where’s Campbell? If that kind of leadership doesn’t rise up then you bet I will take a long hard look” at running for governor.

Foy’s comments to calbuzz are likely to stoke the unhappiness among red meat movement conservatives with the candidacies of Insurance Commissioner Poizner and former eBay exec Whitman. The two Bay Area moderates are both scampering to the right in an effort to capture the crucial GOP right wing in the 2010 primary.

Foy, who is scheduled to address a big “tea party” rally in Sacramento today, has hooked up with veteran anti-tax crusaders Jon Coupal and Ted Costa as a co-chair of an ad hoc committee to defeat 1A.

While former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell has come out in favor of Prop. 1A, Poizner and Whitman have both declared they’re against it. But Foy insisted the true measure of their opposition is if either steps up with some cash for TV ads against it.

“Poizner’s done some things, but it’s not enough –- you have to be a leader,” he said in a telephone interview. “I got something, a little mailer from Steve Poizner –- come on, you have to put it on TV.”

Prop. 1A is the linchpin of five measures put on the May 19 special election ballot by Gov. Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative leaders. Ostensibly intended to create a bigger state reserve fund by imposing restrictions on spending –- a feature which has drawn the ire of liberals –- it would also would extend for two years $16 billion worth of tax increases used to balance the budget in February’s deficit deal.

Asked what he would do as governor to close a deficit estimated to reach at least $12 billion if the ballot measures go down, Foy said, “There’s no question it’s going to be cuts.”

He argued that much of the budget problem came about because state government had hired “50,000 people in the last five or six years.” (According to the official state figures, however, state employment increased 31,352 between 2002-03 and 2007-08)

Foy also said that it would be necessary to impose cuts on public education. “because it’s the biggest numbers” in the budget. He said considerable savings could be found by “getting rid of layers and layers of middle management” and by privatizing services such as janitors, maintenance and cafeteria workers.

Asked what the chances are – on a scale of 1 to 10 — that he’ll run for governor Foy said “5 or 6.” He said he would decide what to do by “the first of summer.”

PS: After posting this, Jon Fleischman over at Flashreport, tipped us to Whitman’s open letter to the Cal Reep Exec Committee in which she argues against Props. 1A, 1B, 1C and for Props. 1D, 1E and 1F.