After LA Mayor Tony V told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer he won’t be running for governor in 2010, Calbuzz put in calls to Attorney General Jerry Brown and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Brown talked to us; Newsom wouldn’t.
“What do you think about it being a two-man race for the Democratic nomination?” we asked General Jerry, following up on our prescient Monday post on the race.
“I think it’s a one-man race,” Brown quipped. “I haven’t gotten in yet.”
“When a guy leaves, I don’t like to jump too quickly,” Brown said. “I’m not in any hurry to make an announcement. (As attorney general) I have a lot of good lawsuits teed up to go after some serious scoundrels.”
Pressed for his political analysis, however, Brown offered this: “I have a strong base in LA and a strong base among Latinos. Among younger people, I have some work to do. But so does everybody because they’re not as attached to the political process.”
From Newsom, joining the Meg Whitman school of duck and cover communications, all we got was a cheesy press release. It assiduously avoided anything political, or even vaguely interesting, unless you count Prince Gavin’s genteel collegiality toward his fellow mayor — whom his consultants had been carving up like a roast turkey in private until Monday.
“His leadership is valuable to the people of California and the nation, regardless of the office he chooses to hold,” Newsom said of Villaraigosa. “His life story is an inspiration to millions of Californians and especially to Latinos everywhere.”
“As Mayor Villaraigosa has said so eloquently recently, state government needs to change and I believe we can work together to make that a reality,” Newsom added.
Of course, Newsom’s camp has argued for some time that a one-on-one race with Brown helps them because they can fight a full-on generational campaign that will seek to portray the 71-year-old Brown as a doddering, moth-eaten antique compared to the 41-year-old Twitter-hip model of modernity that is Newsom.
Whether Newsom can make Brown look like a geezer, however, is an open question. Brown has a kind of Tony Bennett appeal and he’s always been a cutting-edge — if quirky and chameleon-like — kind of guy.
Moreover, polling suggests Brown starts with a broad advantage. The latest J Moore Methods shows him ahead statewide by 43-26% in a two-way match-up; Brown has a 32-14% lead (after Villaraigosa’s 39%) among likely voters in Los Angeles according to the LA Times Poll taken before Antonio bowed out.
That same LA Times Poll showed Newsom ahead of Brown among voters 18-29 by 14-9%. But it showed Brown ahead of Newsom among all other age groups — with the margins increasing among older voters — those most likely to vote in primaries.
Meanwhile, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner got the jump on his GOP rivals Meg Whitman and Tom Campbell — by blasting out a press release reaction to Tony V’s pullout.
“The mayor’s announcement today that he will not be a candidate for governor of California doesn’t change the fundamental decision the people will make in the 2010 election: whether to reform California and move forward with innovative policies or stick with a failed status quo.
“While Jerry Brown, as usual, attempts to once again repackage himself and Gavin Newsom presents himself as an entirely new shiny package, the truth of the matter is that at their core both candidates represent the same discredited policies of the past that are dragging our state down.”
You can always count on the Poison Commissioner to get in a gratuitous shot or two.
— By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine