Quantcast

Posts Tagged ‘independent expenditure’



Five Key Reasons Brown Won Election as Governor

Friday, November 5th, 2010

One day back in July, Steve Glazer sighed heavily as he explained yet again why Jerry Brown’s campaign for governor was not responding to the barrages of TV ad attacks that Republican rival Meg Whitman kept firing at them.

Glazer, Brown’s unflappable but sharp-tongued manager, had just read yet another quote from a Democratic political professional, arguing that if the Attorney General did not begin to answer Whitman’s summer-long assault with TV advertising, he would fall fatally behind her by September, and never be able to catch up – the fate that befell Democrats Phil Angelides and Kathleen Brown in earlier contests.

“Every day we have to decide,” Glazer told Calbuzz, “if what they’re saying about Jerry is hurting us enough to cause us to have to go up on their air. So far, nothing they’ve thrown at us has caused us to change our plan.”

The Brown campaign’s daily refusal to be drawn into a no-win air war with Whitman in the three months after the June primary, despite near panic among his supporters, turned out to be the most crucial, high-risk strategic choice of the long campaign.

By practicing what Calbuzz dubbed political rope-a-dope back on October 1, 2009, the attorney general — assisted by an $8 million summertime assault on Whitman by labor –entered the fall campaign with an advertising budget that was comparable, if not equal, to the Armies of eMeg. Then, with his wiles, grit and shrewd political instincts, Krusty beat her like a drum.

Brown offered his own analysis Wednesday morning at a post-election press conference in Oakland.

“It’s very fortunate when I had no primary opposition.  It’s also very unfortunate for Ms. Whitman that she had serious primary opposition. Those two right there sets the stage. And then thirdly, there’s more Democrats than Republicans, and we have somewhat mildly liberal-leaning decline to state voters.

“And then, of course,” he added with a grin, “you have my sparkling personality.”

Here are the five keys to Brown’s victory:

-He kept his powder dry until fall. Brown’s fund-raising potential was a big reason that he didn’t face any opposition in the Democratic primary; newly elected Lite Gov. Gavin Newsom abandoned a challenge to Brown in part because he said the AG had frozen contributions from many party backers. And, in any other year, Brown’s fund-raising for the governor’s race would have been impressive, if not prohibitive: by the time he won his no-opposition primary, he had raised $23 million. And would bring in at least another $10 million before the deal was done.

But none of that mattered in the race against Whitman, the billionaire who had vowed to spend whatever it took to win. (Just a little presumptuously, the woman who hadn’t voted for 28 years, declared: “I refuse to let California fail”). She had both the resources and the will to try to make that strategy work. The $160+ million that she ended up spending – most of it her own money – was almost incomprehensible and, by the end, she had eclipsed by far any candidate’s spending on any non-presidential race in the nation’s history.

Looking back, Brown had little choice but to husband his resources. But under the unrelenting pressure of Whitman’s assault, it would have been easy to blink and to begin putting at least some ads up — as even some of his closest advisers had urged. Such a move would have proved fatal because, no matter how much money Brown put into such an effort, she always would have had more.

Mike Murphy, Rob Stutzman and other field marshals in the Armies of eMeg were hoping to bleed Brown dry, in the manner of Ronald Reagan outspending the Soviet Union into oblivion. In the fierce winds of a campaign, the hardest thing sometimes is to stick to a plan, and the Brown team’s resolve in doing so made all the difference.

Krusty was fortunate to have his wife, Anne Gust Brown, Glazer, ad man Joe Trippi, pollster Jim Moore and other smart and experienced folks around him to help make the decision not to start spending. It helped, too, that as Attorney General, Brown could get himself onto TV and into headlines by investigating Michael Jackson’s death, the finances of the City of Bell or whatever other hot new thing called for the attentions of the state’s top law enforcement officer.

-The unions stepped up to the plate. To an unprecedented extent, California’s labor movement got behind Brown, recognizing that if they didn’t, Whitman might simply blow him away and they would be faced with a Republican governor whose top priority appeared to be dismantling the influence that unions have on state government, in favor of increasing that of corporate interests.

Despite what Whitman would later say, Brown had always had an uneasy relationship with the labor movement (and he likely will again). But they saw him as a far sight better than Whitman, who was touting her plan to cut 40,000 state workers, freeze pensions and generally whack blue-collar interests.

Consultants like Larry Grisolano, Roger Salazar, Jason Kruger, Steve Smith, Courtney Pugh, Richie Ross and others steered coalitions that mounted aggressive independent-expenditure efforts, ultimately spending $8 million attacking Whitman during the summer, $5 million on Spanish-language propaganda and Latino turnout and $5 million to find and turn out non-union, like-minded voters. They targeted Asian voters in four languages and spent several million more on mail, TV and organizing.

At a time when Team Whitman was trying to tear down Brown, the labor campaign appears to have helped keep Whitman from breaking away. Her plaintive crying about “Jerry Brown, Inc.” spending millions to beat her up were hilarious to anyone who realized what the differential was between their resources. But the union effort at least kept her from having a free pass in muddying up Brown while portraying herself as pure as the driven snow.

The state Democratic Party, under quirky Chairman John Burton, also played a crucial role in putting together an aggressive and effective get-out-the-vote coordinated campaign operation that boosted and took advantage of the Democrats’ big voter registration advantage, in a year when Republicans everywhere else in the country out-organized them.

One caveat to all this: there was apparently a four-week period in the summer when Whitman was advertising but no IE ads were on the air. And during that window, Whitman’s ads appear to have driven up her own negatives and made voters less likely to support her. She had, it seems, already tarnished her own brand.

Brown had a simple message and he stuck to it. Despite the legions of ad makers and marketers that Whitman threw at him, Brown’s plain, simple and cheap ads were better.

Consciously and decidedly un-slick – to contrast with Whitman’s over-produced Madison Avenue spots — Brown’s guerrilla ads were inspired and produced by Trippi and often edited  by committee at the Oakland headquarters with the help of Christina Sheffey and Paul Blank — online and creative whiz kids Trippi had sent West. “Retired” ad man David Doak was a key adviser and Glazer, Gust and Brown were deeply engaged and made the final decisions about wording and traffic.

From the very first ad, shot by Francis Ford Coppola and narrated by Peter Coyote, Brown’s spots often featured Krusty talking directly into the camera and focusing on simple themes:

He had the know-how and experience to do the job – not another rookie after Gov. Schwarzmuscle – and he wouldn’t raise taxes without a vote of the people. The latter pitch for fiscal sanity was a key element in winning independents. Everyone knew he had a soft heart. But he needed to prove he had a hard head. And that line helped make the sale.

They also they made the best single ad of the season – the echo ad – which had been in the can for weeks in various iterations and was released only in the final days. Showing Whitman and Schwarzenegger saying exactly the same things – no wonder, since both messages had been crafted by Murphy – the ad ended with a devastating line from the San Jose Mercury News endorsement of Brown: “She utterly lacks the qualifications to be governor.”

-He won his base overwhelmingly and also captured the middle. The Latino vote, long described as “the sleeping giant” of California politics woke up and helped propel Brown to victory. His roots with Cesar Chavez and his long connections in the community helped organizers, especially after Meg’s Nicky Diaz debacle. He swept Latinos 64-30% according to the National Election Pool Survey of more than 3,800 voters by Edison Research.

Brown also cleaned Whitman’s clock among women – 55-39% — and he even carried men 51-45%.

Of course, Brown carried the 27% of voters who said they were liberals 86-8% while Whitman won the 33% who said they conservatives by 78-17%. Most important though, Brown carried the 40% of voters who defined themselves as moderates by 60-35%. Winning the middle was key: Brown knew it and he pitched his entire campaign to that end.

IMPORTANT NOTE TO POLITICAL JUNKIES AND FUTURE RESEARCHERS:  The NEPS/Edison Research data on the vote by party cannot be counted on. The data are NOT based on party registration but on party identification.

This was a nationwide survey, including states that do not have party registration, as California does. So for consistency in reporting national data, party ID was used to record partisan affiliations. The question asked was this: “No matter how you voted today, do you usually think of yourself as a Democrat, a Republican, an independent or something else.” In the survey, 42% of respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 31% as Republicans and 27% as independents or something else.

We won’t know until January, when the California Secretary of State releases the official Statement of Vote, what the actual party composition was in this election. But it won’t be this. Clearly, huge numbers of voters identified themselves as “independent” who are not registered as Decline to State. (Actual registration – although not necessarily the same as those who participated by mail and at the polls – is 44% Democrat, 31% Republican and 20% Decline to State.)

That’s why the survey found Brown winning the self-identified Democrats 91-7%, Whitman winning the Republicans 84-11% and Whitman also winning the “independents and others” by 47-43%. These numbers are simply not reliable.

It’s not possible for Brown to have won moderates 60-35% and to have lost the independents.

-He won the authenticity debate. Although Brown was often a loose cannon on the campaign trail – at various points, he compared Whitman to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, trashed would-be ally Bill Clinton as a liar and didn’t object when one of his handlers called Whitman a “whore” – he also came across as refreshingly real, compared to Whitman’s tightly scripted, highly marketed campaign.

In the debates, he made fun of his age and his lifelong presidential ambitions, lectured Whitman in human terms about her mistreatment of her housekeeper, and refused to pander to xenophobes on illegal immigration, saying that undocumented workers were not “serfs.”

He never gave up his stream of consciousness impressionistic verbal style, even when it cost him, as it did in the last debate when he tried to defend someone in his campaign referring to Whitman as a “whore.” (We think, but can’t prove, it was his wife, Anne.)

When asked at the Women’s Conference in Long Beach who he’d call for advice in the middle of the night, he said he didn’t have to call anyone because she’d be sleeping right next to him (that would be Anne).  In several of his ads he said, “At this stage of my life . . . “ making an asset out of his Gandalfian presence in California politics.

We think he did trim and darken his eyebrows – as Calbuzz had urged long ago. But other than that, he was just who he is: a wizened 72-year-old lifelong politician who knows, as he put it, where the bodies are buried in Sacramento and what skeletons are still in the closet there.

Glazer said it would come down to authenticity versus marketing. And it did.

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.

How Meg’s Citizenship Stand Hurts Among Latinos

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Can we get a fair program where people stand at the back of the line, they pay a fine, they do some things that would ultimately allow a path to legalization?
– Meg Whitman on citizenship for illegal immigrants, October 2009

So, I don’t think we should have blanket amnesty, and I am not for a path to citizenship. I have been very, very clear on that.
– Meg Whitman on citizenship for illegal immigrants, August 2010

By flatly declaring herself against a path to citizenship as she did on the John & Ken radio show last week, Whitman has, we believe, undercut her chances – slim as they might have been – of winning a significant portion of Latino votes in November.

Instead, she has driven voters to Jerry Brown who, if not entirely consistent on immigration issues himself, clearly supports developing a process by which illegal immigrants can become U.S. citizens.

This is a big blunder on the part of the Whitman campaign – on par with their decision to oppose AB 32, California’s pioneering climate change law, supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and iconic GOP figures like former Secretary of State George Shultz.

Together, these moves have hurt Whitman’s ability to capture votes from two constituencies that could decide the election: independents and Latinos.

Calbuzz has explained several times our thinking about independents and the environment.  See here, here and here, for example.

So now let’s recap why opposing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants – a position Whitman took to shore up her standing with conservatives during the GOP primary fight with Steve Poizner — is such a mistake by eMeg.

Since June 2007, the Public Policy Research Institute of California has asked this question:

If you had to choose, what do you think should happen to most illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at least two years? They should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status or they should be deported back to their native country.

 

Overall, among all adults, the responses have ranged from 69% to 74% in favor of a path to citizenship. Democrats have hovered at about 80%, independents at about 70% and even Republicans at about 50%.

But among Latinos, the response has consistently been about 90%. This is not even a question for Latinos. It’s a core, baseline article of faith in the Hispanic community that illegal immigrants should not be deported but should, instead, be given an opportunity to become citizens.

eMeg has been on both sides of the issue, giving Working Families for California – the pro-Brown labor-funded independent committee – an opening to create a commercial accusing her of being “dos caras” – two faced. She is, in their Spanish language TV spot, “sin verguenza” – shameless.

Whitman’s problem is that as good as she might appear to Latino voters on jobs, education and cutting bloated government, she is on the wrong side on a deeply-rooted issue that is fundamental among this population. In fact, she agreed on the John and Ken radio show the other day that illegal immigrants should have to leave the country and apply through legal channels before they can become citizens.

John & Ken: No illegal alien is going to get any citizenship unless they leave the country and apply through the process. Is that true?

 

Whitman: Yes.

 

How are you going to make them leave the country and come back through legal channels, Meg? Shove ‘em, right? Unless her plan is to politely ask all the illegal immigrants to please, kindly go back home, we’re talking deportation.

Bill Whalen, the very smart former speechwriter for Pete Wilson who is now at the Hoover Institution, doesn’t believe Whitman has killed her chances with Latinos. First of all, he argues, “Every politician in America who opens their mouth and tries to speak lucidly about illegal immigration usually ends up creating problems for himself or herself.”

That’s true for Brown as well as Whitman, he believes, because illegal immigration is a Gordian Knot in American politics.

Moreover, he asks, “Is Jerry going to campaign on this?” Brown, he argues, has to be careful not to push too hard on the issue for fear of a backlash from voters who are not sympathetic to illegal immigrants.

But if PPIC’s numbers over three years are correct, Brown has little to fear from California voters by advocating a process by which illegal immigrants can become citizens: that’s a popular position. So why wouldn’t Brown campaign – among Latinos – on the issue?

If Brown ever campaigns at all among Latinos. Or anyone else.

For another – somewhat more partisan — look at this issue, you can read what the Oracle of Cruickshank has to say about it over at Calitics.

BTW: Camp eMeg argues — gamely but unconvincingly — that when Whitman said she was for “a path to legalization” she never meant “citizenship.” “She was talking about a temporary guest worker program,” the volcanic eMeg spokeshuman Sarah Pompei told John Myers.  “She supports a comprehensive solution that secures the borders first and includes a temporary guest worker program. What she said today is entirely consistent with what she has said before.”

Consistent, indeed.

Reilly: Underfunded Brown Bid a Case of Deja Vu

Monday, July 26th, 2010

By Clint Reilly
Special to Calbuzz

Today Calbuzz presents an assessment of the campaign for governor by political strategist, businessman and columnist Clint Reilly. Reilly, whose advice Brown recently sought, has a unique perspective, having run the 1994 gubernatorial bid of the Democratic candidate’s sister, Kathleen, against Pete Wilson, who enjoyed a substantial fundraising advantage.

Jerry Brown was the keynote speaker at the recent Gay Pride Breakfast in San Francisco. To loud cheers from the highly partisan audience, Brown talked human rights and revved up the crowd for a tough election in November. I was there with my candidate wife, Janet Reilly, who is running hard for the Board of Supervisors, to fill a seat previously held  by Dianne Feinstein and Gavin Newsom.

To my surprise, after delivering his address, Brown took a seat next to me and proceeded to question me intensely for more than half an hour about my experience running his sister Kathleen Brown’s campaign for Governor in 1994.

The Attorney General had clearly read carefully an April 2010 article I had written in the editions of all 11 Bay Area MediaNews newspapers. I had predicted that Whitman would launch a withering assault right after the primary and present him with a classic Hobson’s Choice:

Should he deplete his limited war chest and respond with tough attacks on Meg Whitman’s record and character in order to prevent her from building an insurmountable lead over the summer? Or should he keep his powder dry until after Labor Day and be competitive on television during the crucial weeks of September and October?

I had faced the same dilemma as Kathleen Brown’s campaign consultant and chairman in 1994.

That year, I was hired after a late primary campaign shakeup to take over Treasurer Brown’s sagging bid for governor against incumbent Pete Wilson. First, we had to defeat John Garamendi‘s persistent primary challenge. Garamendi was easily dispatched, but the skirmish sucked up valuable campaign resources.  Kathleen’s two-year march to the primary had exhausted precious money as well.

I took a poll following her June primary victory; the euphoria was quickly killed when I discovered that Gov. Pete Wilson had built a 10-point lead over Brown.

Public polls at the time still showed Brown with a lead over the governor. But Wilson’s unanswered negative commercials during his uncontested primary had clearly worked. Initially, I was skeptical and did something I had never done in more than two decades in the business — I took another poll.

Unfortunately, the second results were worse.

As we entered July, Wilson had a huge financial advantage. Ultimately, he outspent us by more than 2.5 to 1 during the time I worked for Brown. Because we were decisively behind during the summer, I chose  to spend money during the summer to close the gap. I reasoned that unless we were in the hunt after Labor Day, Wilson’s vastly superior bank account would bury us at the end.

As it turned out, bad polls in September and October choked off our fundraising and we ran out of money.

Of course I was roundly criticized. Press, pundits and competitors fed on my carcass for weeks after Brown lost badly in November. At a well attended UC Berkeley post mortem on the race in January 1995 – ill-timed on my birthday – I remarked that I felt like a cadaver at my own autopsy.

Campaign professionals – like sports coaches – are often confronted with two unpalatable options. In 2006, then-Treasurer Phil Angelides faced the same problem against Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Behind in the summer and drained from a costly primary against Steve Westly, Angelides decided not to compete with Arnold’s summer television blitz. By September he was so far behind that he was never able to make a dent in the Governor’s 20-point lead. Angelides lost by the same margin as Kathleen Brown.

This year, Whitman’s summer assault by mid-June had already closed a post primary gap of 5 points enjoyed by Brown. Now, I believe, she has already moved ahead by mid-single digits . Unanswered, she will reach Labor Day with an insurmountable head start.

Back to my discussion with Jerry Brown at the Pride breakfast. Here’s what I told him:  His $30 million war chest isn’t enough to beat a billionaire who will spend more than $100 million.

The real choice is not whether to spend his limited funds now or later, it is to convince his allies in labor to power a substantial independent expenditure campaign during the summer that keeps him in the game; the total Democratic campaign must be roughly equal in dollars to Whitman’s in order for the attorney general to prevail.

But Brown faces two stumbling blocks: First, public employee unions are an easy target in an era when  budget deficits in Sacramento are a major issue in the November election. Second, Whitman’s money might have boomeranged like Al Checchi and other previous, wealthy self-funded candidates. But recently, voters seem to be accepting her huge personal spending as just another form of legitimate funding.

The lesson of Kathleen Brown’s 1994 failed campaign and Phil Angelides’ 2006 debacle is the simple rule followed by generals in battles through the ages: the side with superior resources usually wins.

New: Calbuzz Video, Hit on Meg, Cleveland Curse

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

In today’s installment of Calbuzz Video, multi-media reporter Jennifer Fey serves up her own take on Meg Whitman’s unexpected bump in the polls among Latinos, chatting with Field Pollster Mark DiCamillo and Cal politics guru Henry Brady, and hanging out on the Fourth of July to ask voters what they think about the Megabucks campaign.

For us, Fey’s money quote comes from Brady, Dean of the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, whose commentary carries echoes of the Calbuzz Standard Quantum Limit Theory of campaign finance:

This is a lot more money than we’ve ever seen before…She’s got a lot of money and we don’t know in this territory whether if you spend enough money, you can get such an indelible impression out there that it’s very hard for anybody to turn it around.

As for Jennifer’s question of “how Brown plans to combat Whitman’s war chest,” part of the answer came Friday, when the labor-backed I.E. California Working Families rolled out a new whack on Whitman that doesn’t pull too many punches, from its opening line:

How many lies can Meg Whitman jam into one ad?

The answer, it turns out, is seven, according to Camp Jerry’s interpretation of the analysis performed on eMeg’s last blast at him by Fact Check.org . The pro-Brown I.E’s use of the widely respected truth testing outfit at the University of Pennsylvania as a source to stand up its “lies” charge resulted in the entertaining spectacle of highly caffeinated eMeg spokeshuman Sarah Pompei  sputtering and spluttering a 141-word stream of consciousness response brimming with non-sequiturs and shaggy dog run-on sentences.

Fact checkers did not come to Jerry Brown’s defense on fiscal issues while he was Mayor of Oakland or Governor of the state (huh?)…During his career, Brown has championed Sacramento’s philosophy of raising taxes to the tune of billions of dollars, including personally signing into law a $2 billion-plus gas tax increase before he left the state reeling with a deficit and, as the media described it, “on the brink of bankruptcy.”

Jeez, for $100 million you’d think they could afford to hire a copy editor.

Roll ‘em and smoke ‘em: The new Field Poll showing Proposition 19, the legalize and tax marijuana initiative, trailing, is nothing but a buzz kill, sez Calbuzzer Barstool Blondie:

I didn’t get into the weeds on the methodology but… the stoner vote is going to turn out big. They’re not going to show up in the polls in enough numbers to make a dent but may well do so on election day. There hasn’t been another ballot measure in a long time so poised to rile the youngsters out of civic apathy.

Sounds like a match made in heaven for John Burton. Calbuzz is betting, however, that there’s going to be a lot of people who aren’t going to admit to pollsters that a) they ever smoked dope and b) that they’re going to vote to make it legal.

King James of Clowns: With deep roots in the Buckeye State, the Calbuzz Department of Professional Sports Haplessness and Home Town Hopelessness was born, raised and beat down broken hearted by Willie Mays’ catch of Vic Wertz’s drive to center, Michael Jordan shooting over Craig Ehlo, the Drive, the Fumble and the Great Satan Art Modell, among countless other depresso ray events leading to a lifetime of fan despair.

So we take this whole LeBron James to Miami thing real personal, and find our only solace in the bitter words of Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Bill Livingston.

James is…the great player who left unfinished business after quitting on his team on the court and left unanswered questions by quitting on his city off it….

By waiting to leave until after his high-profile basketball camp in his hometown of Akron, by surrounding himself there with current and former Cavs teammates, and by scheduling a one-hour national cable “event” just to exploit this city’s suffering, he hit the trifecta in deplorable behavior.

He had before invoked all the connotations of home, only to leave it. He had before summoned an image of family, only to reject it. He had before cherished loyalty, only to betray it. He wears “Family” and “Loyalty” tattoos on his torso. Dermabrasion, please. The sooner, the better…

Because home is gone. Because it’s personal here too.

Alas, the Curse of Rocky Colavito lives .

Update: Charles Apple at Visual Editors.com has a terrific collection of front page images showing how LeBron’s decision was portrayed in a batch of daily papers, including an instant classic from the Plain Dealer, where our old friend Susan Goldberg reigns supreme.