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Posts Tagged ‘Gray Davis’



eMeg: $203,767 Per Day; Brown’s Budget Record

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

As Governor Schwarz- muscle and the Legislature grow ever closer to California’s all-time Belated Budget Record, Jerry Brown keeps promising he can do better in getting a state spending plan approved in a timely fashion.

Krusty basically says he’ll jump into the budget briar patch moments after being elected, lock Democrats and Republicans in a room and then just turn on the charm, a strategy that draws cackles of derision from GOP rival Meg Whitman, who says his record on the matter during his first turn as governor belies his promise. As she recently put it:

The best indication of the future is what you have done in the past, and seven out of eight of Jerry Brown’s budgets were late.

Inspired by the fact-checking exploits of Brooks Jackson, we set out to test the veracity of eMeg’s charge; well, to be more precise, we dispatched Calbuzz intern Emily DeRuy, a UC San Diego honors grad, to do the heavy factoid analyzing. Based on data we gathered from the California Department of Finance, Emily filed this report:

The California Legislature is required to pass a budget each year by June 15. The governor then has 12 working days, or until June 30, to approve it. The budget takes effect on July 1, at the start of the new fiscal year. However, the budget is routinely signed well after the deadline. In the last 33 years, the governor has only met the target date nine times, five of those in the mid-1980s. The 2008-2009 budget was the most delayed, at 85 days late. On average, the budget has been signed 20 days after the deadline.*

The P.J. Hackenflack Scale, a scientific measurement of gubernatorial performance which calculates the average number of days before or after the July 1 deadline by which a governor signs the budget, shows:

– Jerry Brown: five budgets on time or early, three late; average = 4.375 days late.
– George Deukmejian: three budgets early, five late; average = 8 days late.
– Gray Davis: two budgets on time or early, three late; average = 25 days late.
– Pete Wilson: one budget on time, seven late; average = 29.75 days late.
– Arnold Schwarzenegger: one budget on time, five late; average = 35 days late (this does NOT include the 2010-2011 budget which is 78 days late and counting as of today, which will drive up Arnold’s average delay if and when the 2010-11 version ever gets signed).

Does Krusty the General rank best because he was a better governor than all the others? Of course not. What the numbers do show is that getting a budget signed by the constitutional deadline has become increasingly unlikely, given the partisan divisions and gridlock in Sacramento.

Also that, once again, Her Megness has her facts wrong. If she wants to smack Brown around for late budgets again, we have no doubt that she’ll take even stronger whacks at Deukmejian and Wilson, her campaign chairman..

*(The Department of Finance chart above does not include Jerry Brown’s first two budgets. When they are included, the final numbers show the budget was signed by the deadline 10 times for an average of 19 days after the deadline).

Fun with numbers: To the surprise of no one, eMeg has already shattered New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s self-funding record for a U.S. political campaign – with seven weeks left to go before the November 2 election.

With her most recent $15 million check to herself, eMeg has now personally forked out $119,075,806.11, according to the ever-punctilious Jack Chang.

Rounding off and discounting the couch change, this means that she has spent an average of $203,767.12 on each and every one of the 584 days since she declared her candidacy.

For those keeping score at home that works out to a 24/7 average of $8490.29 per hour, $141.50 per minute, and $2.36 per second.

Talk about in for a dime, in for a dollar.

Tea Party surge surges: The brilliant Beltway pundits who totally whiffed on forecasting the victory of Palin whack job clone Christine O’Donnell in the Republican Senate primary in Delaware didn’t miss a step in pivoting to educate all of us provincial types about What It All Means.

Our three cents:

1-By essentially taking The First State off the table as a possible Republican pick up of a Democrat seat – even Karl Rove thinks she’s nuts -  O’Donnell’s nomination will likely mean Barbara Boxer’s tough race against Carly Fiorina is going to get even tougher.

Although the GOP is generally loathe to spend on longshots and lost causes in California, Babs’ seat has instantly gone from would-be-nice to must-have in their recalculations for taking control of the Senate. So look for more big money to pour in like the multimillions the U.S. Chamber just started spending to bash Boxer on the airwaves.

2-It’s not likely Fiorina will get much oomph in California from the alleged national Tea Party wave (just ask Republican nominee Chuck DeVore). The TP’s most ballyhooed wins have come in low-population states – Alaska, Delaware, Nevada and Kentucky – where what they’ve actually accomplished has been to expand the universe of GOP primary voters.

Hurricane Carly has a much bigger problem trying to get back to the political center to attract some coastal moderate and independent voters than she does in pandering further to the three-cornered hat brigade.

3-Former Delaware Governor and current Rep. Mike Castle’s defeat signals that the ancient species known as a “moderate Republican” is now way beyond endangered and is pretty defunct.

Castle, who was close to a mortal lock to capture Joe Biden’s old Senate from the Democrats, is by all accounts a decent, dedicated and effective congressman who knows how to work across the aisle – no more politics as usual! – to get important things done quietly. That his own party turned him out is testament to the blood-lust cannibalism that Fox News has wrought, and his post-election comments add further evidence in support of the Calbuzz Death of Truth theory.

This just in: Jerry Brown is up with a new 30-second positive starting today. It couldn’t be simpler: Brown looks directly into the camera and delivers a little tough love straight talk, Most interesting to us is his reference to “at this stage in my life,” which both addresses the Gandalf issue and offers a subtle contrast with President eMeg’s motivation for running.

Our state is in a real mess. And I’m not going to give you any phony plans or snappy slogans that don’t go anywhere. We have to make some tough decisions. We have to live within our means, we’ve got to take the power from the state capital and move it down to the local level, closer to the people.  And no new taxes without voter approval. We’ve got to pull together not as Republicans or as Democrats, but as Californians first. And at this stage in my life, I’m prepared to do exactly that.

Brown spokeshuman Sterling Clifford says the new ad is joining, not replacing the 15-second Pinocchio spots in rotation. 

PS: After a bit of lawyering, Comcast, at least, is reportedly going to put the California Teachers Association ad attacking Meg Whitman back on the air. Joe Garofoli of the Chron has all the details.

IE Hit on eMeg Targets Indie Voters, Not Poizner

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

When “Level the Playing Field 2010” – the Democratic, pro-Jerry Brown independent campaign committee – launched their first ads against Meg Whitman, the Armies of eMeg immediately accused the group of  meddling in the Republican primary race for governor in a bid to help Steve Poizner.

Team Whitman pointed as precedent to the ad campaign run by the Gray Davis’s consultants against former L.A. Mayor Dick Riordan starting in January 2002. That attack helped cause Riordan’s support to collapse in the GOP primary, leaving Davis facing a weaker general election candidate in conservative businessman Bill Simon.

The argument now, from communications director Tucker Bounds and others in eMeg’s camp, is that the Brown-for-governor Democrats would rather face Poizner in November, so are trying to knock eMeg out, as Davis did to Riordan.

“Clearly, Team Brown not only prefers to run against Steve Poizner in the general election, but is taking steps to achieve that with a radio buy targeting Republican primary voters,” Bounds said in an email to reporters.

But the argument is bogus, based on a false premise that has become false conventional wisdom: that  Davis strategists Garry South, David Doak and Paul Maslin set out in 2002 to take Riordan out of the GOP primary. That’s not what they aimed to do. And it’s not what the “Level the Playing Field” guys are trying to do today

The goal of the anti-Meg campaign (as it was for Davis’s people in 2002) is to increase negative perceptions – especially among conservative Democrats and moderate independents – toward the candidate they expect to face in the fall. In this case: Meg Whitman. It has nothing to do with Poizner, really. If they help him, so much the better, from their point of view. But that’s not the design.

In the December 2001 Field Poll, Gov. Gray Davis’s favorability was 42% positive and 47% negative. Riordan’s was 39% positive and just 24% negative. Worse for Davis, Riordan’s favorability was 32-31% among Democrats and 34-18% among independents. Riordan was so far ahead in the primary that South and the others had no doubt they’d be facing Riordan in the general election. They had to begin cutting Democrats and independents away from Riordan’s base.

Which is why they attacked him from the LEFT, with devastating ads showing Riordan himself calling abortion “murder” and pointing out that while he was calling himself pro-choice, he’d given serious money to anti-abortion causes.

Unlike the “Level the Playing Field” forces, however, who have launched with a puny little radio buy, Davis unloaded on Riordan with $9 million on TV in five weeks. Actually, they were about to take down the ads when Maslin found that the ads – originally designed to hurt Riordan with Democrats and independents – were also hurting him with Republicans, who began to see him as a weasel. So they kept the ads up and Riordan’s GOP support cratered.

Today, Meg Whitman’s overall favorability is 25% positive and 20% negative in the January Field Poll. It’s 34-8% among Republicans and only 16-31% among Democrats. But it’s 27-13% among independents – about 2-1 positive – and that’s what the pro-Brown forces now want to alter.

The initial strike against Meg – in their opening 30-second spot that was designed mostly to grab some media attention – charged Whitman has “taken the side of the corporate special interests who want to roll back California’s bi-partisan law fighting global warming.”

And the Level 2010 web site includes a link to a Calbuzz analysis explaining why Whitman injected the environment as an issue in the governor’s race and how she had made a strategic mistake by assailing AB 32, California’s pioneering greenhouse gas reduction law.

In short, the opening shot at eMeg was, as with Davis and Riordan, from the left. And the ensuing 60-second spot – with its argument that she won’t debate, won’t release her tax returns and won’t explain her income and bonuses at eBay, plus the charge that she billed shareholders for use of her corporate jet – seems more aimed at independents than it does Republicans.

Kyle Roberts of Smart Media Group, eMeg’s media consultants, argued in a campaign memo that the initial radio buy was aimed at Republican listeners in Fresno, Sacramento and San Francisco in a campaign “designed to target and persuade Republicans during their primary election.”

Well, Kyle, that might be a side benefit. But the real goal here is to take Meg down a notch or two among those independents and Democrats who – for now — think she’s OK.

“They’re coming at her from the left, which isn’t a strategy to get Poizner as a nominee,” said South. “They’re assuming Meg Whitman is going to be the Republican nominee just like we assumed Riordan was going to be the nominee.”

What Level the Playing Field 2010 doesn’t have is what the Davis campaign team had in January 2002 when they threw down $9 million and bet the farm on early advertising against the guy they thought they’d be facing in November: a big budget and brass balls.

[Posted 12:01 am; updated 5:25 am]

How Gov Candidates Sell Amid Doom and Gloom

Monday, February 1st, 2010

California’s candidates for governor face the gnarliest combination of public anger and economic distress in decades, making the 2010 race a text book case study in political communications: How does a wannabe governor effectively tell extremely pessimistic voters he or she understands the depths of their misery, without succumbing to despair, and while offering hope for the future that doesn’t over-reach or seem totally naïve?

Call it the Carter Conundrum, in homage to failed one term President Jimmy Carter, who simultaneously faced double digit inflation, huge unemployment and the first assault on America’s national security by violent Muslim fundamentalists. He famously screwed the pooch in that deal by tapping fully into the gloom and anxiety of voters about the seemingly intractable conditions they faced – and got walloped by a sunny and upbeat Ronald Reagan in 1980 for his trouble.

In watching the candidates for governor so far, Calbuzz sees markedly different approaches to the problem. Here are some rail bird observations on the strengths, weakness and holes in their strategies, at the first turn of the race.

What the candidates face. A few factoids to set the stage:

California voters have a most dismal view about the direction of the state, as both the Field Poll and PPIC show about eight in 10 voters saying we’re on the wrong track.

Part of it is the state’s higher-than-national unemployment rate, part the years of failed leadership, massive budget deficits and political gridlock in Sacramento. The Field Poll reported that 59% of voters, including 54% of Republicans, expect Gov. Schwarzenegger to leave the state in worse shape than he found it – along with near universal (95%) agreement that we’re experiencing bad economic times and the feeling among a significant strong majority of people (54%) that they’re personally worse off than they were a year ago.

Interestingly, the last high point for optimism, when Californians thought the state was clearly on the right track, was back in August 2000, as 59% of voters said they were better off than the year before and Gov. Gray Davis enjoyed a 59-35% right track-wrong track assessment.

Of course the economy was in far better shape and neither the Enron-induced energy crisis nor the 9/11 terrorists had struck yet.

As a political matter, however, there was another dynamic at play: Davis, consciously and conscientiously, chose NEVER to convey bad news, but personally only conveyed good news. If the Parks Department was going to cut fees, for example, that was an announcement for the governor. If the Parks Department was going to raise fees – that was an announcement for the Parks Director. It was at least part of the reason why his approval rating was around 60%, two years after his election.

To some extent, this is simply political Public Relations 101, which Schwarzenegger seemed not to understand, at least at first. He spent his first two years in office constantly decrying how bad things were in California. The result: People believed him.

After voters waxed his 2005 2004 initiatives, he re-emerged as Hopeful Arnold and his approval ratings went back up. That they’ve fallen again is mostly due to global, national and state economic woes, but also  because he consistently focuses on problems and points the finger of blame – his State of the State speeches are notable exceptions – that remind everyone things are terrible with no way out.

The Jerry & Jeremiah show: Given Attorney General Brown’s duck-and-hide, Rose Garden strategy, it’s early to assess fully the themes he intends to stress on the campaign trail. Back in April, in his speech to the state Democratic convention, he was a thundering populist, railing against investment bankers and corporate power. In September, in a talk to Willie Brown’s power breakfast in San Francisco, he tried a new line – “optimism of the will” –  that was one-part Joel Osteen and one-part Frederic Nietzsche, which combined with stock rhetoric about hope and the Golden State.

More recently, however, he’s devolved into full Jeremiah mode, recalling the biblical prophet of doom and gloom who played a central role in the aptly named Book of Lamentations.

“The state is profoundly screwed up,” Brown said on KGO the other day, “and anybody who thinks they got an idea, I would say, ‘Give me a call, I’d like to listen to it.’ Because I can tell you we’re in for blood, sweat and tears over the next four years no matter who runs.”

Putting aside the fact that, because it’s Jerry, we’re not entirely sure whether the blood sweat and tears reference was to Churchill or the guys who made “You Made Me So Very Happy,” the statement itself would have made his top political consultants wince, if he had any top political consultants:

Here’s the thing: People know the state is profoundly screwed up – they don’t need to elect somebody to tell them things are screwed up. What they’re looking for in a leader is someone to show them a way the state might not be screwed sometime in the pretty near-term future.

If Brown stays with the Jeremiah act, he’ll end up getting tossed into a cistern, just like the original guy. Especially with those Old Testament eyebrows.

eMeg and the culture of “I.” Meg Whitman’s message could not be clearer: “I will not let California fail.”

Echoing the Brown line, eMeg tells people, in her carefully controlled appearances , that California is screwed up, schools are lousy, we spend too much, state workers are greed heads who deserve to be fired and nobody in Sacramento knows anything.

Pivoting, she then essentially says that the only hope for the state is Meg Whitman – “I will not let California fail.” eMeg can turn things around because she has experience in the private sector, knows how to whack a payroll, cripple the unions and smack sense into the worthless Legislature.

She can do all these things, it seems, because she has “a spine of steel,” i.e. she’s got more backbone than Schwarzenegger, who made essentially the same arguments as her in winning the 2003 recall. So: She’s more muscular than Mr. Universe. Really? Will voters believe this?

Her diatribes about California being a mess may resonate, but what, really, can she do about it? Will voters believe that she has a clue how to get things done in the political hothouse of Sacramento when her only experience is being the Alpha Dog in a corporation where she yapped and everybody around her yelped? That’s not how politics works.

Poizner: Yes we can. Interestingly, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who’s nowhere in the polls, is at present the only guy who’s selling a message of better days ahead.

Part of it is his strong focus on private sector expansion. Where eMeg aims her moral rectitude and disapproval at the need to inflict pain on the processes and politics of the Capitol, Poizner seems to view Sacramento as a side show and focuses his campaign critique on the need for economic growth.

Part of it, too, is the specificity of the solutions he offers. As a policy matter, we happen to think his prescription of radical tax and spending cuts is Flat Earth Society stuff, but at least he’s got a plan, which he presents in a soft-spoken but upbeat manner.

Poizner’s biggest problem is one of stature: He looks like a nerd, especially compared to the commanding figure of eMeg and the ascetic Brown.

But that’s not altogether a bad thing: If Californians have a history of electing charismatic governors – Reagan, Jerry Brown I and Schwarzenegger – they also have a tendency to course correct with low-key, pragmatic nerds – George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Davis come to mind. It’s no accident that Deukmejian just endorsed Poizner.

Poizner sells himself essentially as an engineer, a guy who wants to get under the hood and get his hands dirty fixing stuff. There are worse messages to try in the troubled political landscape of 2010.

I, Jerry: How Brown Campaign Will Be Run

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

It’s been an open secret* for weeks that Jerry Brown planned to hire longtime aide and Brown family retainer Steve Glazer to run his campaign for governor.

With the MSM now trumpeting this “news” to the skies, it seems like a good time to explain what it actually means.

Brown’s political operation quietly moved out of Jerry’s Oakland loft a couple of months ago, into about 5,000 square feet of  warehouse space about a mile and a half away. That relocation, coupled with the confirmation of Glazers’ status, means his  campaign is finally, if fitfully, under way.

Characteristically, it will not be a typical campaign operation: while Meg Whitman has hired hordes of strategic consultants, Brown will have none.

Glazer, an Orinda city council member and former mayor, organized the student vote for Brown back in 1978; was deputy campaign manager for his 1982 Senate race; press secretary and consultant for Assemblyman Gray Davis (he created Davis’s famous missing-children  milk carton campaign); did policy and press for Kathleen Brown’s 1994 general election campaign and has managed several statewide ballot measures. He’s also been a pilot fish for developers on half a dozen land-use projects.

All of which means Brown’s got a smart, experienced and trusted hand in place as his day-to-day manager — but doesn’t change the fact that Crusty and his very savvy wife, Anne Gust Brown, will function as their own general consultants.

Ads will likely be made by Joe Trippi and David Doak, two former media partners who have since gone their own ways. Trippi, whose clients have included John Edwards and Howard Dean, worked for Brown’s presidential campaigns and also did his media for the 2006 Attorney General’s race.

Doak, who did California media for the late Sen. Alan Cranston and for former Gov. Gray Davis, is essentially retired from the business, playing golf and poker, but eager to help Brown as a volunteer in collaboration with Trippi. We’ll know for sure when spending reports come out, but Calbuzz expects Trippi and Doak will get a fixed fee WAY below market rate for their media work — or no fee at all.

Sterling Clifford, who last worked as communications director for Baltimore Mayor Shiela Dixon before she was indicted on fraud charges, the Baltimore Police Department, looks to be the day-to-day press secretary. But don’t look for a communications director: Brown has always managed his own communications and it’s not likely there’ll be anyone on hand to teach old dog Crusty to bark on command.

Jerry and Richard Maullin, of the survey firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz are old friends from the Mesozoic Era so we expect him to manage polling and focus groups.  But we also hear our old friend Paul Maslin is really interested in the race and we expect Brown will also rely on polling by labor groups and others who piggy-back questions for him on their surveys.

We understand Glazer has hired an opposition researcher and there are some other paid people in the office already. But Brown is apparently going to try to prove his belief that it’s possible to run a bare bones, frugal, heavily-volunteer campaign for governor in the biggest executive-level political contest in America outside of the presidency. Good luck with that.

*In late December, Glazer was already clearly signaling he would be the campaign manager, but asked people to respect his timing in announcing it. We honored his request.

The Commish (sorta, kinda, almost) goes negative: Nice work by Team Poizner putting together a comprehensive, well-sourced, well-linked oppo memo on eMeg, e-blasted to the world on Tuesday.

In honor of the Great Woman’s book launch, Commish campaign operatives framed a three-page dossier around chapter heds of eMeg’s magnum opus, “The Power of Many: Values for Success in Business and in Life (Plenty of Free Parking!).” Okay, we made that last part up.

Titled “Meg-A-Tales,” Poizner’s poison pen peppering covers mostly familiar negative ground – from the Great Woman’s sleazy treatment of Craigslist, disgraceful voting record and obscene campaign spending, to her strategic missteps at eBay, political re-invention as a conservative and cowardice in refusing to answer questions from reporters or debate her rivals – but it makes an impressive, hefty package all pulled together.

That said, there are two big problems with the hit: a) Poizner obviously isn’t prepared to put any money behind an attack that goes much beyond the 2,000 people in state politics who talk to each other, plus the rest of the plucky population of Calbuzzville and b) even if he was, there’s a good chance it would blow up in his face; at a time when he’s trailing Whitman by 30 points, two-thirds of Californians have never heard of him and over half of those who have hold a negative opinion.

So Poizner’s Greatest Hits Against eMeg ain’t exactly nothin’, but up against her millions of dollars of earnest, feel good radio ads, it’s pretty damn close.

PXP goes viral: After AP picked up* our story last week on the once-secret offshore oil drilling agreement between PXP oil company and the Environmental Defense Center, Calbuzzer and campaign media consultant Don Ringe worked up an animated political cartoon featuring a monologue by “Mr. PXP” about the deal, which you can find here.

And special Calbuzz T-Ridge props to KQED’s John Myers, who closely questioned Schwarzmuscle about the issue at the governor’s Monday appearance at the Sacto Press Club and offers a smart take on the exchange on his blog at Capital Notes.

Two points worth noting here: a) As Myers reports, it’s interesting to see how breezily Arnold is in abandoning the notion of “principles” when the going gets tough; b) the governor clearly formulates the deal on T-Ridge as a “budget-driven” decision, not an energy vs. environment balancing act.

That is precisely the point that most concerns many environmental opponents of the deal: that California’s landmark environmental protections should be conditioned on the ebb and flow of the budget. In other words, any time Sacramento is in the red, just suspend the Coastal Sanctuary Act or AB 32 or local development guidelines and generate some fresh cash. Laissez les bons temps rouler.

The environmentalists who support the deal, like the EDC, do not agree with this fiscal argument of Arnold’s for the deal: to them T-Ridge has always been a pathway to end some offshore oil drilling permanently, essentially by horsetrading a lease to slant drill in state waters for a promise to decommission four  operations in federal waters.

But: Lay down with dogs, wake up with fleas.

*AP not only picked up but also properly credited the story. Having played the MSM exclusivity rip-off game for many years, your Calbuzzers these days are as scrupulous as possible about crediting and linking to other media sources, new and old alike, and we appreciate the same in return. As for those who jack our stuff, Dr. Hackenflack knows who you are and where you live.

What happens in Mass. stays in Mass: In our piece on the seismic Senate election in Massachusetts, we noted the absence of any election day exit polls that might have provided a data foundation for any of the scenarios spun about Republican Scott Brown’s surprise victory.

Now comes the Washpost, which conducted a survey in the immediate aftermath of the election, in partnership with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard’s School of Public Health.

In their piece on the poll, postmen Dan Balz and Jon Cohen noted that Brown, significantly, won two-thirds of the 63 percent of special-election voters who said the country is on the wrong track:

Dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, antipathy toward federal-government activism and opposition to the Democrats’ health-care proposals drove the upset election of Republican senatorial candidate Scott Brown…

HT to Bill Carrick for the heads up.