Archive for the ‘Mid-term Elections’ Category



How eMeg Should Play Gender; Rove Boosts Lungren

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

LONG BEACH — When Gov. Schwarzenegger, Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown join Matt Lauer, host of the “Today Show,”  for a four-way here today at Maria Shriver’s star-studded Women’s Conference, it’s supposed to be a civil, genteel, collegial discussion of the problems facing the Great State of California titled “Who We Are, Where We Are Going.” Isn’t that nice?

But for eMeg — who is trailing in all the public polls just one week before the election — it’s a last chance to squeeze off a big, fat, juicy sound bite that gets played all over the state and the country. And maybe — if Krusty sticks his smug, condescending foot in his mouth — she could put Brown on the defensive.

Jerry will be in protect-the-ball mode and Schwarzmuscle will probably be cruising on automatic statesman (unless he gets asked why he hasn’t endorsed fellow Republican Meg). So the big question is whether Whitman will break the rules and attack or challenge Brown.

Now, Team Whitman hasn’t listened to anything Calbuzz has ever suggested and they pretty much regard us as bad cheese (NB: we asked her to dinner and for an interview but never got either). But still we humbly offer this suggestion: Meg should say something like, “So, Jerry Brown has a long, long career working in the public sector, but you know what — it’s time for a woman to be governor. And I’m ready to do the job.” Or some such.

What’s Gandalf going to say? “No it’s not time for a woman. It’s time for a 72-year-old white guy.”

We kinda doubt eMeg will play the gender card. If she had wanted to, she could have put a gazillion dollars behind it in a TV ad. Feminism isn’t really in her wheelhouse. And as we wrote back in June, party is a much stronger motivator of the vote than is gender. But these are desperate times. She’s way behind among women voters and a rank appeal to sisterhood just might help — especially if she’s actually as close as her advisers have been furiously spinning in the past few days.

Whatever happens, the entire National Affairs Desk of Calbuzz — sparing no cost or effort — is here in Long Beach to capture the flavor and texture of the moment. If there is one. Otherwise, we’re just going to lunch.

How Rove Is Helping Lungren: Here’s a Special to Calbuzz from Mackenzie Weinger,  one of our vast array of political writers in Washington.

The number one target among House races for American Crossroads, Karl Rove’s so-called “Super PAC, is California’s 3rd congressional district.

American Crossroads recently made a $682,323 ad buy against physician Ami Bera (D), who is challenging Rep. Dan Lungren (R) in one of the state’s few close races. While the group has dumped millions into several Senate races across the country, this buy marks its biggest investment in any House campaign.

“It’s the biggest House buy, but it’s also the single most expensive media market we’ve purchased time in for the House,” American Crossroads spokesperson Jonathan Collegio told Calbuzz. “In terms of voter impression, it’s equal to most of our other efforts.”

Lucinda Guinn, Bera’s campaign manager, said the IE buy, although not coordinated with the Lungren campaign, should give residents an insight into the incumbent Republican’s priorities.

“We’ve mounted a very serious challenge to a career politician who didn’t see it coming, and now his big oil buddies and special interest friends are coming to bail him out because he’s nervous,” Guinn told us.

Attack ads from the rival’s campaigns have been hitting TV screens for weeks now, but American Crossroads’ is the biggest independent spending in the district’s media market.

Lungren released an ad this week, “Who is Ami Bera?”, calling Bera Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “handpicked candidate”— an attack that Republicans across the country are using. As for Bera, he made a splash earlier this month with “Shirts,” an ad that criticized Lungren for attending a 2008 conference in Hawaii with campaign funds. Although the trip was cleared by the House Ethics Committee, Bera’s campaign alleges Lungren exploited a loophole for a free vacation.

That’s just part of the Bera campaign’s focus on Lungren and campaign finance. The real concern, Guinn says, is what would happen if Republicans take the House on Nov. 2 and Lungren wins the Third District: as the ranking GOPer on the Committee on House Administration, Lungren is in line to become its chair.

“He would have jurisdiction over campaign finance regulation,” she noted. “He’s been looking out for his own folks for a long time – for big oil, Wall Street and his special interest friends.”

With his vote against the DISCLOSE Act and the recent influx of outside spending, Guinn said that “Lungren claims he supports campaign finance transparency, but he’s not saying anything about Karl Rove coming in” to the district.

“Outside groups and Karl Rove showing up in your living room is not what Californians care about,” she said.

Bera has written a blog post about Lungren and campaign finances that’s been making the rounds on the Internet. He writes that “Rove’s shadowy slush fund” is “hoping to hijack our election through false and misleading advertising.” Bera, who reported $448,859 cash on hand for the most recent filing period, is set to debut a new ad sometime this week, Guinn said.

But America Crossroads operative Collegio said that Lungren is the one under attack by special interests in the toss-up race.

“Lungren is heavily targeted by a well-funded opponent and a number of labor groups who wanted to defeat him in the general, and we believe our efforts serve a good balancing effect in the dynamics of the race,” he said.

He said the district is a critical one for Republicans, and added that the organization may release a new ad there this week.

“Every competitive race for control of the house is important, and while most of the focus has been on Republican pickups, it’s equally important to protect incumbents, especially when they’ve come under attack by outside organizations,” he said.

Check out the American Crossroads ad attacking Bera on health care reform:

Announcer: Not only does Ami Bera support Obamacare, he says it doesn’t go far enough. Obamacare’s $525B in job killing taxes isn’t far enough? The higher insurance premiums aren’t far enough? How about the $500B cut from Medicare? And reduced benefits for over 1.5 million California seniors? Ami Bera and Obamacare – They’re bad medicine for California. American Crossroads is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Speaking of ads: Here at Calbuzz we’re big fans of spots where the candidate contradicts him or herself or where a candidate is caught saying nice things about his or her opponent, to wit, this tasty morsel slapped together by Team Krusty with eMeg opening by saying , “You know, 30 years ago anything was possible in this state.” Followed by a black screen question and answer:  Who was governor 30 years ago? Jerry Brown.” Followed by the Peter Coyote voice-over recounting Brown’s accomplishments, followed in turn by a news station’s raw footage of Whitman saying, “I mean it’s why I came to California so many years ago.” Not sure how much dough Brown’s campaign will put behind it, but it’s a nice touch.

Meanwhile, Team eMeg unleashed yet another attack ad, this one accusing Brown of being a dishonest failure and a “job killer,” whose only plan for California is “more taxes, more spending and more lost jobs.” And he’s a tool of the unions and a liar, to boot. In case you were wondering.

Puerile Polls, Pennant Races and Pigeon Hearts

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Calbuzz has made no secret that we think the Rasmussen Poll, with its automated calling, God-knows-what sampling technique and conservative bias, is basically crap. So we don’t pay much attention to it, even when its results seem in the ballpark. You know: a monkey typing for an infinite amount of time could produce Hamlet, etc.

So two weeks ago, when Rasmussen had the California governor’s race with Meg Whitman at 51% and Jerry Brown at 43%, and Whitman’s guard dog Mike Murphy predicted we’d trash the poll, we just said, “Why bother?” And we were going to just pay no nevermind again when, on Wednesday, we saw that Rasmussen now has the race at 48-45% for Whitman — although exactly NOTHING happened between the two surveys to move the needle (Brown’s new ad wasn’t even up yet).

But for some unknown reason, some media outlets give credence to Rasmussen, so we thought we’d just note a couple of findings that ought to steer our esteemed colleagues away from circulating this survey swill.

Here’s all you need to know: the new Rasmussen poll has Whitman beating Brown among liberals 62-35%. That’s absurd. At the same time a poll from CNN, done by Opinion Research Corp., has Meg over Jerry 48-46%, with liberals voting for Brown 80-16%, which sounds about right.

Rasmussen also has Whitman beating Brown 62-31% among voters 65 and older, compared to the CNN poll which has Brown over Whitman 50-47% in the same age group. Another stupid Rasmussen result.

Mark our words: when it gets down to the wire, and reputable pollsters have weighed in with serious results from legitimate polling, outfits like Rasmussen and Survey USA will post surveys right on the money. However they get there.

P.S.For a more complete discussion of the Calbuzz Standards for Polling, Decency and Free Lunch see this discussion from our Department of Weights and Measures.

Political pennant races: In the final week of August, the San Diego Padres led major league baseball’s Western Division by a comfortable 6.5 games, Vegas oddsmakers made them a 97.2% lock to make the playoffs and their fans were buzzing about probable post-season pitching rotations.

Then they lost 10 games in a row.

At the start of play last night, the Pads led the never-quit Giants by exactly one game, amid the caterwauling and hair-pulling of fans desperate to figure out why their team had suddenly collapsed.

The answer was simple. The Padres had merely run up against one of the venerable unwritten rules of baseball: The pennant race doesn’t start until September.

Baseball’s long history of amazing stretch runs – the ’51 Giants, the ’78 Yankees and the ’95 Mariners for starters – came to mind amid the quickly cementing Beltway conventional wisdom that Republicans are guaranteed to seize control of the House in November and, most likely,  the Senate as well.

A series of national polls, which show that voters strongly prefer a generic GOP congressional candidate over a Democratic one, has generated widespread mockery of a purportedly failed president and ignited (sheesh) created a tsunami of GOP/Fox News triumphalism, summed up best by the single fact that a Google search of John Boehner, the GOP House leader and wannabe Speaker, and the words “measuring the drapes” yields 31,900 hits.

Calbuzz would never presume to claim the unfailing wisdom of the godlike Larry Sabato or the clairvoyance of the sage Charlie Cook.  All we know is a) generic polls don’t mean squat in a local congressional district dogfight; b) trash talking in the clubhouse don’t win games on the field; c) that’s why they have horse races.

So while we’re not making any predictions about the congressional mid-terms, we do note Chris Cillizza’s pretty clear-eyed observation that the  real battle will come down to who wins the definitional fight to frame what the races are about  – a national referendum on the Administration or a district-by-district, state-by-state comparison between two competing candidates.

Oh, and did we mention that the only poll that matters is the one on election day?

Annals of weenie-hood: The Calbuzz Department of Ethical Standards and Goo-Goo Meritorious Service presents gold badges of honor to Mark Yudof and Jack Scott, UC president and community college system chancellor respectively, for resigning from the state Chamber of Commerce board of directors to protest that august body’s taking sides in the race for governor. (CSU president Charles Reed, who remains on the board, apparently has more elastic standards).

Said Scott:

I do not believe the board is using sound judgment by catapulting the California Chamber of Commerce into the center of a fierce political contest…It is destructive to the chamber’s core mission and the businesses it represents when it becomes a partisan operation.

While we admire Scott’s pluck, not to mention his choice of the woefully underused verb “catapult,” we have no beef with the Chamber looking out for their member’s interests by endorsing Republican Meg Whitman and her tax cuts for corporations and the rich. Nor do we begrudge them their decision to spend big bucks running TV ads trashing Jerry Brown.

What does rankle, however, is their lily-livered, pigeon-hearted, weak-kneed, yellow-bellied, gutless spinelessness in hiding behind the skirts of the phony pretense that what they’re putting on the air is some kind of “issue ad.”

These guys and eMeg spend half their lives whining about the injustice of unions airing independent expenditure committee spots in support of Brown, but at least the labor goons have enough courage in their convictions to identify themselves on campaign spending reports.

C’mon Zaremberg, get those weenies on your board to man up for once in their craven, cowardly lives.

Three dot lounge: Must have been an off-year for Dick: Senator Difi clocks in only at #10 on the list of the richest members of Congress…We don’t understand why Denis Thierault appears to have been the only one to report on a fascinating study that shows Democrat counties send Sacramento more in revenue than they get back in services, while GOP counties represented by anti-government types end up on the plus side of the ledger; drown the baby in the bathtub indeed…We’re glad we’re not the only ones grumbling about Fred Thompson peddling reverse mortgages on late night cable for a company that preys on old folks…Amid all the brouhaha about Krusty’s  terms as mayor of Oakland, Steve Harmon has written the best reported piece on his record we’ve seen…Bad taste costs no more

Why Did Obama Ignore Omar? Krusty to Cable Talk?

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

ABC – Always Believe Calbuzz: Now that even Harry Reid publicly complains that Barack Obama fears confrontation and is too willing to play kissy-poo with Republicans, we regretfully recall that the president blundered badly last year, by ignoring four prescient words of advice we humbly offered: Channel your inner Omar.

With Democratic prospects for the mid-term election swirling down the drain, and the Administration engaged in an embarrassing public fight with Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the party’s chances of keeping control of the Congress, Senate Majority Leader Reid recently pointed his finger squarely at the White House to explain the dreadful dire straits in which his party finds itself:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid critiqued President Obama’s “peacemaker” approach to policy-making and suggested he embrace a tougher posture toward Republicans in an exclusive interview with Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston during the congressional recess.

“On a few occasions, I think he should have been more firm with those on the other side of the aisle,” Reid explained. “He is a person who doesn’t like confrontation. He’s a peacemaker. And sometimes I think you have to be a little more forceful. And sometimes I don’t think he is enough with the Republicans.”

Ya’ think?

Yet, a full nine months ago this space, upon observing troubling signs of presidential faintheartedness, threw a flag at his craven performance in the heat of the health care battle, and urgently recommended he review the collected wisdom of one Omar Little, the extraordinary character whom Obama had repeatedly identified as his favorite cast member in “The Wire,” the greatest television series ever made.

From liberal West Coast precincts to the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Obama’s base is pointedly questioning the stiffness of his political spine and the strength of his personal convictions:

Those Obama fans who are disappointed keep looking for explanations. Is he too impressed by the elite he met in Cambridge, too eager to split the difference between left and right, too willing to compromise? As he pursues legislation, why does he keep deferring to others — whether to his party’s Congressional leaders or the Congressional Budget Office or to this month’s acting president, Olympia Snowe? Why doesn’t he ever draw a line in the sand? What’s with all this squishy need for a “bipartisan solution?”

This state of affairs poses a serious risk to Democrats in the 2010 mid-term elections and to Obama’s second term prospects as well.

Ahem.

While it may already be too late, if you buy John Dickerson’s persuasive argument that Americans have already stopped listening to the president, it’s worth reprising at least one of the nine profound Omarisms we suggested Obama take to heart:

“The game’s out there and it’s play or get played.”

Omar’s definition of how things work on the streets is useful advice for the president: From his first day in office, Obama extended his hand in the name of bipartisanship, only to be bitch-slapped by Republicans for his trouble.

It’s way past time for him to start channeling his inner Harry Truman and expose the just-say-no GOP crowd as the know-nothing obstructionists they are. His mealy-mouthed appeasement of a tyrannical minority, who get up every morning thinking about how to destroy and delegitimize him is not  “change we can believe in” but a simple case of political weakness.

The trouble with Jerry: With 1,126 paid staff members, Meg Whitman’s communications shop has a lot of time to sit around and do silly busywork, like its regular series of eblasts called “Yup, Jerry Brown said it,” which mock whatever Krusty’s latest foot-in-mouth comment may be, picked up by Team eMeg’s statewide network of Big Brother electronic listening devices.

On Tuesday, they snarked at something Attorney General Gandolf said about Whitman on radio in San Diego: “She in many ways is more the incumbent than I am.”

It’s an offbeat comment, to be sure, but not for the reason that the Empire of eMeg thinks.

As a political matter, viewing Whitman as the incumbent in the governor’s race is actually an interesting take: her over-the-top spending, the ubiquity of her ads, her multi-channel, overbearing non-stop marketing blitz all have positioned her so Brown might frame the election as a referendum about her, casting himself as the foil to all-Meg-all-the-time.

Interesting thought, interesting point. The problem for Brown, however, is that he’s talking like he’s a political analyst, not a candidate; since the day after the primary, most of what he’s said has been focused on the process of the campaign – Meg’s money, Meg’s ads, his cheapskate approach to the race – not on anything that voters might actually care about, or what affects their lives.

There are few people more interesting to talk or listen to about the business of politics than Jerry Brown, but this ain’t a rolling seminar in campaign methodology.

What’s he most sorely lacking in his campaign is any sign of a narrative, a political meme about, oh say, the state of the state, why he wants to be governor, why voting for him will help the middle class, why and how we must fix the schools, things like that.

Until he starts discussing bread and butter issues like building the economy, helping people who are in foreclosure, growing jobs, re-prioritizing the state budget or reclaiming the UC system, everything else he’s talking about is just a tryout for Hardball or the John King show.

On the other hand, Calbuzz recognizes that the Brown campaign makes a point when they note that in the 35 days since the start of the general election:

While Attorney General Jerry Brown has done 26 public appearances or media interviews [mostly as Attorney General], Meg Whitman has done nine. While Brown has taken the tough questions about the race and the future of California, Whitman refuses to talk. While Brown has accepted 10 debate invitations from nonpartisan groups around the state,Whitman will agree to only one in October.

In case you missed it: Why Sarah Palin is a complete ditz, Chapter 686: She can’t even make it through an interview with Bill O’Reilly without making a fool of herself. Sheesh.