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Posts Tagged ‘Level the Playing Field’



Fishwrap: This Just In from Krusty, eMeg & Babs

Friday, July 9th, 2010

We wish we’d said that: Calbuzz felt verdant with envy at reading the nice perceptual scoop that Christiana Bellantoni posted on Talking Points Memo, which drew a parallel between the strategy and tactics of Meg Whitman’s zillion dollar campaign for governor and Barack Obama’s technologically groundbreaking operation in 2008.

Yeah, yeah, we know eMeg ain’t exactly in Obama’s class when it comes to public speaking, much preferring a crisp three-bullet Power Point approach when it comes to world class oratory; nor do we see too many folks fainting or leaping from their chairs to shout “Fired up – ready to go” when Her Megness hits the closing chords of the eight millionth delivery of her somnolent stump speech.

But Bellantoni’s yarn (graphic stolen shamelessly from TPM) –  “Meg Whitman Copies ‘Obama Playbook’ in Pursuit of her California Dreams” — did a swell job of finding a story hiding in plain sight. She drew together strands of reporting about the mechanics of the Whitman operation that have been produced, variously, by Ken McLaughlin, Jack Chang and, uh, us into an analysis of the race that casts eMeg as the high-tech candidate of change and Jerry Brown as, well, John McCain.

The Democratic take on Whitman being a 2010 version of Barack Obama? “In her dreams,” they say. And of course, much of Obama’s success had to do with the candidate’s own popularity and appeal. Obama was a young, African-American senator who represented generational change and used technology to mass finance much of his campaign. Whitman is a middle-aged former tech CEO who’s already self-financed her campaign to the tune of almost $100 million. But plenty of the building blocks and strategies of the Obama ’08 effort can be copied. And Whitman seems to be trying to duplicate pretty much all of them.

Krusty McCain: Her Obama-McCain take, while flawed, certainly resonated on Thursday, when Team Whitman rolled out a big new Spanish language outdoor advertising program to keep pressing her aggressive bid for Latino voters, while Brown responded by surrounding himself with a bunch of Hispanic pols and hacks who complained that she’s shading the truth about her stance on illegal immigration.

Sample remark, from U.S. Rep Xavier Becerra: “Jerry Brown broke bread with Cesar Chavez.  His opponent breaks bread with Pete Wilson [aka in Mexico City 1999 "Hijo de Puta"]

“Leaders are quite chagrined and shocked at the way the Whitman campaign can say one thing in English which is very hostile to the Latino community and then take out billboards and ads and make it sound like she was fighting Pete Wilson and Prop. 187 when in truth she wasn’t even here in the state of California,” Brown said.

Brown does have a point about eMeg’s claim that she opposed Prop. 187, seeing as how she lived in Massachusetts when the measure was on the ballot, wasn’t even a voter and has since agreed with fundamental aspects of it, to wit: Illegal immigrants should not expect benefits from the state of California. No driver’s license and no admission to state-funded institutions of higher education.

But hey, despite her casual relationship with true facts, at least she’s reaching out to Latinos. We’re still waiting to see Brown actually break a sweat in search of Latino votes.

He hit me, he hit me: Since the start of the World Cup, Slate has been running a terrific feature called “Dive of the Day,” which presents video of the top flop by a player who falls to the ground in fake distress,  taking the slightest hint of contact as an opportunity to roll around, grab his limbs and contort his face in horror, all in an  effort to convince the ref he’s been fouled. (Good examples are herehere and here ).

As Dave Eggers wonderfully described it, diving is:

…essentially a combination of acting, lying, begging, and cheating, and these four behaviors make for an unappealing mix. The sheer theatricality of flopping is distasteful, as is the slow-motion way the chicanery unfolds….Go and do the grocery shopping and perhaps open a new money-market account at the bank, and when you return, our flopper will still be on the ground, holding his shin, his head thrown back in mock-agony. It’s disgusting, all of it, particularly because, just as all of this fakery takes a good deal of time and melodrama to put over, the next step is so fast that special cameras are needed to capture it. Once the referees have decided either to issue a penalty or not to our Fakey McChumpland, he will jump up, suddenly and spectacularly uninjured—excelsior!—and will kick the ball over to his teammate and move on.

The melodramatic element of diving, in particular, came to mind when we received a communiqué from Her Megness, complaining that Jerry Brown and his allies were spending too much money on TV ads that are unkind to her.

Whitman media buyer Kyle Roberts sent a memo to campaign reporters whining about the sheer unfairness of it all:

Jerry Brown Incorporated continues its spending on attack ads against the Meg Whitman for Governor Campaign. To date, Jerry Brown Inc. which consists of union backed California Working Families, Level the Playing Field, the California Democratic Party and Jerry Brown 2010 have spent $6.6 million in advertising on broadcast, cable TV and radio. Of the $6.6 million, approximately $1 million has been spent on positive (pro-Jerry Brown ads) leaving $5.6 million in negative attack ads.

…it is quite clear that if Jerry Brown Inc. continues to double its spending and attack Meg Whitman at this level, it will be necessary for Meg Whitman to continue to defend herself from these attacks in order to ensure a competitive position for the General Election.

The mind boggles.

Putting aside the facts that 1) eMEg spends $5.6 million before lunch and 2) she went on the air for about 12 seconds with a positive spot before starting to air an anti-Brown ad portraying him as a cross between Jerry Rubin and Jerry Garcia, the sheer audacity of a) Team eMeg unctuously complaining about someone else’s spending on TV ads and b) gussying up their complaint to justify even more – “Well, I guess we have no choice but to throw another $100 million in the pot, Mike” – would be breathtaking, if it wasn’t so hilarious.

The refs say: No foul. Get up and keep playin’, Meg.

And don’t call me chief! Senator Barbara Boxer has been beaten up for over a year for the infamous You Tube moment when she upbraided Brigadier General Michael Walsh in the course of a hearing before her Environment and Public Works Committee for addressing her as “ma’am” rather than as “Senator.”

By now, Boxer’s huffy snit of petty arrogance has become an iconic image for her legions of political enemies, who find in the brief exchange with General Walsh personification of all the condescending,  Chardonnay liberal elitist values which they can’t abide.

Given that we’ve mentioned the episode, oh, once or twice, we thought it only sporting that, given a chance to talk to her the other night, we should ask her the key question that’s so long troubled us about the matter: WTF was that all about ?

Our query came at the end of a long  campaign day for Boxer and, when we raised it, she shot a hard look, as if calculating how quickly she could kick open the door of the van and push us out, somersaulting along the highway at a high rate of speed. To her credit, she quickly suppressed any sign of crankiness and offered this explanation:

I really wasn’t trying to make a point. We were going back and forth in the hearing, and I was calling him “General” and he was calling me “ma’am” and I just thought we should both use our formal titles.

For the record, Boxer also said she called Walsh after the hearing to check in and he told her, no worries. So there you have it, exclusive to Calbuzz.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Lindsay Lohan channels Clarence Darrow.

Why Brown Won’t Unload on eMeg at Dem Convo

Friday, April 16th, 2010

You could argue that Jerry Brown, who is going to be his party’s nominee for governor, ought to accept the notion that Meg Whitman is going to be the Republican nominee and should begin campaigning against her at the California Democratic Party convention this weekend in LA.

The general election is already under way, says this argument, posited mostly by progressive Democrats, and Brown is just wasting time, letting Whitman get away with murder as she gains positive name ID using corporate CEO as a brand. Given the scandal in the banking industry, Wall Street’s misadventures and the collapse of the American economy, who would ever have thought that a candidate could gain traction as a corporate bigwig?

Whitman’s succeeded so far because no one is attacking her from the left (except Level the Playing Field and the California Accountability Project, neither of which has put their anti-Meg slams into serious TV). eMeg’s GOP opponent, Steve Poizner, attacks Whitman from the right – which actually helps her look somewhat moderate in the general election against Brown.

So with all the news organizations gathered in LA for the Democratic convention, why not use the opportunity to get some free media and launch an all-out attack against eMeg? Frame it around three bullet points:

1) She’s a corporate fat cat who’s out of touch with real people and in cahoots with the greedy, bloodsucking parasites on Wall Street who have wrecked our economy.

2) She’d undo California’s progressive laws seeking to reverse global warming and set polar bears out on ice floes.

3) She’d build more prisons at the expense of schools – how’s that supposed to help California grow jobs and become more competitive in the modern economy?

Yes, Brown could fall prey to the siren song of a full-time, 24-7, balls-to-the-wall general election starting right now. And be broke by Labor Day.

Further, you might ask, why would he want to poke a stick at Whitman right now? Let sleeping billionaires lie seems to make more sense. Why do anything to encourage Whitman to start spending any of her unlimited funds on Brown any earlier than it’s gonna happen anyway?

Which is why, when Brown speaks Saturday, he’s likely to rally the Democratic base and speak harshly in general about Republicans, but not too personally about Whitman. There will be some obvious references: you can’t do a populist jeremiad without bellowing about the bankers on Wall Street and their black-hearted corporate cronies. But don’t expect too much about Goldman Sachs, eBay stock spinning and investments in Skype.

As one strategist close to the Brown campaign told Calbuzz: “It would be a waste of opposition research to roll it out now.”

Sure, we’d love to see the fireworks. But then again, we don’t have to maintain the fire.

That’s the story of the Hurricane: Once again, Carly Fiorina is shocked – shocked! – to learn of alleged unsavory, perhaps illegal, conduct by employees under her watch as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. As all good Calbuzzers know, Hurricane Carly has already professed to know nothin’ about nothin’ to do with HP’s shipments to Iran of hundreds of millions of dollars of products, through a third party company, during her tenure.

Now comes the Wall Street Journal (subscription) to report that the SEC and the U.S. Justice Department have joined the governments of Russia and Germany in investigating allegations that HP went to the wallet for $11 million in bribes to win a lucrative contract with the Russian prosecutor general’s office, while Fiorina was in charge. So, for the second time, iCarly is rolling out her see-no-evil, hear-no-evil act:

“Carly has no knowledge of these alleged actions,” said her spokeswoman, Amy Thoma. “When she served as the CEO of HP if she had been aware of any illegal or inappropriate behavior by any employee she would have taken action immediately to terminate the parties involved.”

Which leaves four possibilities:

1) Double agents in the German and Russian governments, joined by moles in the SEC and DOJ, have all been duped by demon sheep in the Chuck DeVore for Senate campaign into leaking word of a baseless, phony investigation.

2) Fiorina, who never stops boasting of what a swell job she did as HP CEO, was simply ignorant of what was going on in her own company.

3) The whole messy business has slipped her mind.

4) She’s lying.

Calbuzz bets: 2) or 4).

Big Union Leaders to Chair and Fund Pro-Brown IE

Monday, April 12th, 2010

SAN JOSE — Leaders of the second* major independent expenditure committee supporting Democrat Jerry Brown’s campaign for governor on Monday said their group will be chaired by representatives of the influential firefighters, construction trades and public employees unions.

The union leaders, operating as California Working Families 2010, were in San Jose Monday for a meeting of the California Labor Federation where they agreed on leadership and a strategic plan to coordinate research, polling, focus groups and a paid television and media campaign to drive the message “about why billionaire corporate CEOs with no government experience and other Republican candidates are bad for California’s future.”

“What distinguishes us,” said Larry Grisolano, chief strategist for the group, “is that these are folks coming to the table with the expectation of making serious commitments . . . An IE cannot replace a campaign or a candidate but we can give people important information for when they make their choice.”

Chairmen of the group, announced Monday, will be Lou Paulson of the California Professional Firefighters, Bob Balgenorth of the California State Building and Construction Trades and Bill Lloyd of Service Employees International Union.

Each of them told Calbuzz on Monday they will contribute at least $1 million to the effort which is modeled, as a coalition, after the drive that defeated Proposition 75 (“paycheck protection”) in 2005 with a $35 million unified campaign.

“Our number one goal has to be to elect Jerry Brown,” said Lloyd of SEIU. “The IE will compare and contrast” the Republican candidate with Jerry Brown, added Balgenorth. Paluson, too, said the goal would be to “improve the quality of California.”

But if past is prologue, the union-backed IE is likely to be mostly a vehicle for sharply attacking the Republican candidate — most likely Meg Whitman — especially for her Wall Street connections and her avowed desire to fire 40,000 state employees and cut spending on state services.

In addition to union support, the coalition expects to add environmental, women’s and other progressive groups and have been promised support from billionaire Democrat Ron Burkle, CEO of Yucaipa Companies, whose representative, Frank Quintero is serving as the IE’s treasurer.

Operatives who will run the IE have close ties to the Obama administration and former Gov. Gray Davis. Among them:

– Grisolano, a partner in the Chicago-based political firm AKPD, where Obama political strategist David Axelrod is a partner. Grisolano also ran Davis’s re-election campaign and has worked closely with SEIU.

– Roger Salazar, principal of Acosta|Salazar consulting and former press and communications meister for Davis, in whose operation Quintero and Jason Kruger of SK Impact also first cut their political teeth.

– David Binder, of David Binder Research, is doing polling and focus groups; Marjan Philhour of the California Group is doing fundraising and Link Strategies is doing research.

Another pro-Brown IE already is up and running – Level the Playing Field – with is own cluster of Democratic operatives and strategists and an active online and social media presence. While it has been a constant thorn in Whitman’s side through its online activities, LTPF has yet to put together the resources for a serious television ad campaign.

The California Chamber of Commerce, through its political arm, is likely to be part of an IE effort to counter the unions and oppose Brown. Its first effort in that regard however – an anti-Brown ad masquerading as an “issues ad” — was aborted last week because instead of being run through the Chamber’s political action committee, it was funded, crafted and placed by the non-partisan Chamber itself.

* There’s actually a third group operating independently if you count the California Accountability Project of the Democratic Governors Association.