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Posts Tagged ‘CRA’



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.

Post Mortem: GOP’s Top 10 Shocking Sights

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

SAN DIEGO — You know you’re struggling to craft a strong political message when your top convention speaker is a guy running for secretary of state who shows up wearing a hard hat, demonstrates merely average rhetorical skills and lifts his best line from a 34-year old movie.

As the state Republican convention ended Sunday, the best news for the GOP was that almost nothing happened, at least nothing that might be of the slightest interest to what you call your Real People.

For the political junkie crowd, however, there was no shortage of spectator entertainment. Here are the Top 10 events of a Lost Weekend in San Diego.

10-Calbuzz gets carded: The convention’s biggest surprise came when a thickly muscled bouncer demanded that your Calbuzz correspondents (combined age: 122) produce I.D. to gain admittance to some second-rate pizza-joint-with-a-full-bar in the Gaslamp Quarter which they stumbled upon in the pre-dawn hours. The move by Thor (not his real name) reflected not only his apparent legal blindness, but also some CYA concerns he clearly felt in noting we were two decades younger than the average GOP convention worthy swarming the streets.

9-The CRA deems Meg a squish: The closest thing to a conflict, let alone drama, was the right-wing California Republican Assembly’s unauthorized, opening day press conference assailing Meg Whitman for her softening views on immigration and climate change. The CRA’s unhappiness was  manifest in a proposed resolution urging the party to formally endorse Arizona’s immigration law, which eMeg opposes; party chair Ron Nehring, with a major assist from state Senator Tony Strickland, worked behind the scenes to ensure the proposal didn’t see the light of day.

8-Carly tap dances on immigration. Though the right-wing faithful are well pleased with Senate nominee Carly Fiorina, at least in contrast to wanna guv eMeg, the CRA’s resolution also put the Hurricane on the spot, at a time when she is ever-so-quietly trying to shift to the political center on several issues. Closely questioned by Calbuzz at her Saturday post-speech press conference about the wisdom of the state GOP going on record in the matter, Carly put on a fabulous display of bobbing and weaving before allowing that the proposal was “appropriate.”

7-Mom loves me more than you. Strickland, the party’s nominee for controller, and secretary of state hopeful Damon Dunn battled during their Friday night speeches to see who could suck up to Meg more. Dunn (who arrived at the podium wearing a white hard hat– see above –  for a sight gag that flopped) briefly interrupted the angry tone of his speech (“I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” he kept repeating, quoting the 1976 film “Network”) to gush that “Meg Whitman won my heart,” while Strickland batted goo-goo eyes at her while declaring with terminal earnestness that he’s proud to be “part of what I call ‘Team Whitman.’” Yuck.

6-Strangers in the night. After-hours party sources told Calbuzz it was no accident that eMeg and iCarly never crossed paths at the convention, because Whitman, having made generous contributions to the  GOP, made clear that’s how she wanted it. eMeg no doubt has marginal concerns that Carly’s hard line on issues like abortion, gun control and offshore oil might reflect harmfully on her own mad dash to the center, but the bottom line is simply this: as a political performer, Fiorina is three times the candidate Meg is, and her sharp, punchy and engaging presentation style casts a big shadow on Whitman’s awkward plodding.

5-San Francisco Democrats. As we noted right after the primary, Republicans got a political gift when Democrats nominated a ticket of constitutional nominees heavily tilted to Bay Area liberals. Lite Gov. Abel Maldonado put the Gavin Newsom piece of the package together all weekend, including this must-see video he showed the delegates during his Saturday night speech.

4-Dutch treat. As reporters milled around the press pen early Friday evening, our Assistant Deputy Managing Editor for Cultural Sensitivity and Linguistic Ethnic Profiling got an emergency summons to smooth over a potentially volatile situation, when ace SacBee blogger Torey Van Oot challenged the blatant inaccuracy of “The Tulip,” the nickname Calbuzz gave her in our convention advance. “I’m not Dutch,” she archly informed us, leading management to issue a formal apology, along with a copy desk memo announcing that her new nickname is “Don’t Call Me Dutch.”

3-Cooley’s debut. We got our first extended look at GOP Attorney General nominee Steve Cooley, the L.A. district attorney, and he did a boffo job of ripping the mask off  rival Kamala Harris, the other San Francisco liberal on the Democratic ticket. With his hangdog,  baggy suit, old-school style, Cooley is every inch the career prosecutor, and his authentic outrage was palpable over Harris’s handling of the Edwin Ramos triple murder case and her failure to seek the death penalty in the killing of police officer Isaac Espinoza; when Calbuzz asked him after his speech why he didn’t even mention San Francisco’s drug lab scandal, which Harris also stands in the middle of, he replied, “I only had a certain amount of time.”

2-Meg’s secret message to Goldman Sachs. We’re still trying to parse out precisely what eMeg meant when she dropped this code word thought balloon into the middle of her speech on Friday night: “Do you know who’s as excited about this election as we are? The people of New York. They have suffered the financial reforms that are going to crimp our ability to raise capital and they want California to turn the corner.”

Whether she was complaining that poor Goldman Sachs is suffering unduly under new federal financial regulations, or suggesting that Wall Street types would joyously celebrate the election of a like-minded $oul, you can safely bet that Jerry Brown will use the quote to help paint her as the darling of investment bankers everywhere.

1-The Dr. Hackenflack Dinner: Once again, all right-thinking people agreed, the unquestioned highlight of the convention was the Dr. P.J. Hackenflack dinner, which brought a top-drawer collection of players together at Osetra. Amid fun, frivolity and a wide variety of alcoholic beverages, the group cast secret written ballots for the candidates they think, as of today, will win (not who they prefer). The results:

Governor: Brown 12,  Whitman 5
Senator: Boxer 10, Fiorina 7

The not-so-random voter sample included: Republican operatives (5); MSM reporters (5); Bloggers (3); Civilians (3); Recovering journalist (1). A sixth MSM reporter refused to cast a ballot (don’t ask), making turnout 94%.

Consumer Advisory: This is heir to the same group that a dozen years ago  voted conclusively that Al Checchi would win the Democratic nomination for governor in 1998.





Carly: Pass Reforms, Dump ‘Bitter Partisan’ Babs

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

SAN DIEGO – With a slashing attack on Sen. Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina called Saturday for sweeping reforms to shake up Washington, a bid to steer the race away from issues where she is to the right of mainstream voters and to frame her Republican candidacy as a strike against the status quo.

Portraying Boxer as a left-wing ideologue and prime example of a failed liberal Democratic establishment, Fiorina cast herself as an agent of change who would fight for Congressional term limits and rules changes to make Senate legislation more transparent to citizens.

It’s doubtful that Boxer will rise to the bait by engaging Fiorina on issues like term limits and open government, however. Her campaign would rather keep voters focused on matters where her rival has taken positions more conservative than the more moderate, independent voters who will decide the election — immigration, climate change and abortion , for example  — as well as the Republican’s record as the fired CEO of Hewlett Packard.

In her crisply delivered mid-day speech to state Republican convention delegates, Fiorina repeatedly criticized Boxer as a career politician who long ago overstayed her welcome in Washington.

“They say Washington is a place where people go to do good and stay to do well,” she said, in launching her verbal assault.

“To be blunt, for four decades, (Boxer) has earned her keep not by the sweat of her brow, but by the toil and struggle of hard-working Americans in the private sector. And her left-wing ideology allows her to avoid agonizing over tough decisions,” she said.

Fiorina called for an end to “a system where politicians make backroom deals to ensure their eternal re-election and the re-election of their buddies in Congress.” To that end, she pledged to serve only two terms in the Senate and called for limiting House and Senate terms to 12 years each.

“Ours was intended to be a citizen government and 12 years in each chamber of Congress is enough time to get something done without losing touch with the real world,” she said.

Fiorina also endorsed Proposition 20, an initiative that calls for a citizens commission to draw Congressional district boundaries, instead of leaving the job to the state Legislature. She also called for the defeat of Prop. 27, a measure sponsored by legislative leaders to reverse earlier, voter-approved state redistricting reforms, and for posting federal legislation online for public comment for at least two weeks before voting begins, including complete cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

Fiorina repeated the charge that the Obama administration’s economic stimulus bill– which Boxer supported — has been an utter failure, noting that California’s unemployment rate , now 12.3%, was 10.2% when the stimulus was passed.

She cast Boxer as a “bitter partisan” who has achieved little in her 34 years in public office, 28 as a U.S. Senator and House member.  “Barbara Boxer,” she said, “the only job you are fighting for is your own.”

Carly and the little people: Hurricane Carly blew past a crowd of about 100 cheering volunteers her campaign had assembled to greet her at the entrance of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, barely pausing to acknowledge them, let alone offer personal thank yous,  handshakes or hugs.

Fiorina was nearly 45 minutes late when she swept in at 11:25 a.m., stopping for just a few seconds to wave at her supporters, who had assembled early and lined up to practice chanting her name (weirdest sign: “Carly – Rep Our Hood,” held by a woman with a baseball cap on sideways). Then the candidate quickly made a sharp right turn, briskly walking through the crowd, up the escalator and out of sight.

A trio of elderly folks from central California, all clad in bright red “Carly” caps and t-shirts, told  Calbuzz as they walked away through the hotel lobby that they’d waited an hour to see their party’s nominee and were disappointed that she hadn’t spent some time meeting and greeting her grassroots backers.

Another reason why we call her Hurricane Carly.

Dems come to town: While Fiorina was inside getting ready for her big speech, we found our old friend Kam Kuwata outside the Hyatt, overseeing a rag-tag picket line of Boxer supporters who carried handwritten signs (“Fiorina = Massive Job Losses”) and chanted (“Bad for California – Bad for H-P”) as they marched on the sidewalk to protest the Republicans’ position on tax cuts for the rich and her record as CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

Kuwata is coordinating a new truth squad operation called “CEO Watch,” financed by the L.A. County Democratic Party, to “educate the voters about the Republican candidates for office.” He had a pink flyer, headlined “Carly Fiorina’s ‘Pink Slip’ for California,” affixed to his lapel with the biggest safety pin in California.

There were no injuries.

LATE BREAKING UPDATE: For those of you who were dying to know what happened to the California Republican Assembly’s resolution putting the state GOP on record supporting Arizona’s “papers please you immigrant suspect” law, here’s the poop: It died in the Resolutions Committee for a lack of a second (and opposition from Meg Whitman’s loyalists). Bee Person, Torey “Don’t Call Me Dutch” Van Oot (who,btw, is NOT Dutch, thereby embarrassing Calbuzz who called her “The Tulip”) has all the intel here.

GOP Liveblog: Right-Wing Whacks eMeg Early

Friday, August 20th, 2010

SAN DIEGO — Even before Meg Whitman stepped up to address the Republican state convention here, leaders of the party’s grassroots right wing sharply criticized her stands on immigration and the environment, warning that many conservative voters might sit out the election if she takes their support for granted.

Top officials of the California Republican Assembly and Young Republican Federation of California told reporters covering the convention at San Diego’s Manchester Grand Hyatt that the GOP nominee for governor is making both an ideological error and a serious strategic mistake by moderating her earlier positions on illegal immigration, California’s climate change law and taxes, among other issues.

“There’s almost nothing left of the primary Meg,” said former CRA and GOP chairman Mike Schroeder.  “It’s time for the Republican Party to be officially concerned about whether or not Republicans are going to turn out for this ticket . . . if there’s no enthusiasm a lot of people don’t turn out at all.”

“Republicans are unified in their support for Meg Whitman both here at the convention and across the state,” replied Brian Seitchik, spokeman for the GOP.  Immigration and other issues will not fragment the party, he said. “The party is unified behind Meg because she has a plan to create jobs and that’s going to be the central issue in November.”

Despite assurances from Whitman loyalists in the party apparatus, the tone and substance of the comments by the conservative leaders showed that her brazen shift to the political center after portraying herself as a movement conservative in the primary is deeply upsetting some of the most loyal Republican voters.

Calbuzz asked this question: Do you think she is taking the conservative wing of the Republican Party for granted?

“Yes,” said Schroeder. “I think she assumes that people will look and say, ‘Well, the alternative is Jerry Brown.’ But that’s not true. The alternative to Jerry Brown is not voting at all, or voting for the Libertarian or somebody else. And that’s what a lot of the conversation is becoming.”

Because a state party convention is a kind of ideological hothouse, it is not clear whether the comments from the right-wing leaders represent an actual threat to Whitman’s chances in the general election against Democrat Jerry Brown, or more a intramural scuffle for the hearts and minds of the activists who populate these conventions. The CRA endorsed Steve Poizner, eMeg’s rival, as the preferred conservative in the GOP primary.

It didn’t help relations between the two sides, however, that the CRA was denied access to the official GOP press room and was forced to hold forth in a lobby.

The CRA is sponsoring a resolution, which they are trying to bring before the convention, that would put the party squarely on record in favor of both California’s Proposition 187 and the controversial Arizona law aimed at illegal immigrants. Whitman has said she would have opposed 187, if she was living in the state in 1994. And she has said that while the Arizona law is OK for Arizona, it’s impractical in California.

“That’s nonsense,” said Celeste Greig, president of the CRA. Greig said she is not  concerned that pushing Whitman to the right on the issue could backfire on her in the general election. “We are trying to help her. We want her to win. We want her to be successful. But we also want her to come aboard with the issues that we care about. We want her to stand strong on what she campaigned for in the primary election.”

As a political matter, however, the flap between Whitman and the right-wing overshadowed what Team Whitman had hoped would be the message of the day. Earlier in the day, her campaign produced an elaborately staged media event at a solar company in San Diego that was intended to showcase her alleged plan for dealing with California’s 12.5% unemployment; it was no accident that her convention speech was scheduled for late Friday evening, when it might be too late to get on TV news, and would get relatively short shrift in the poorly-read Saturday papers.

Even before the CRA news conference, eMeg managed to step on her own story in advance, when she told reporters at a press gaggle that, if elected governor, she would support a legal appeal by supporters of the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8, a position Gov. Schwarzenegger has refused to take.

But it’s Whitman’s waffling stance on illegal immigration (along with her refusal to endorse Prop. 23, overturning California’s climate-change law) that has her party’s right wing worried.

Adam Abrahms, president of the GOP youth federation said he’ll vote for Whitman but she’s not sure he can bring masses of cohorts along. “It’s a matter of enthusiasm. And I want all of our candidates to go out there and say the things and do the things that are going to help energize our base . . .  In 2008 I had a very difficult time motivating people to do something with  Mr. McCain. There was a big problem. They didn’t trust him,” he said.

Of course, McCain was Whitman’s candidate. After her first choice — Mitt Romney — fell by the wayside.