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Posts Tagged ‘Lieutenant Governor’



Checklist for Lt. Newsom; GOP Seeks Presidentials

Monday, January 31st, 2011

When Gavin Newsom made like Achilles and took to brooding in his tent, back in the dark days of 2009 after quitting the race for governor and before re-emerging as a candidate for lite gov, the ex-mayor of San Francisco imperiously mocked the state job he now holds:

“What does the lieutenant governor do?” he said at the time. “For the life of me, I don’t know.”

Today, as Calbuzz formally demotes Newsom from the rank of Prince Gavin to the status of Lieutenant Starbuck, our intrepid cartoonist Tom Meyer offers his own, extremely helpful, suggestion to get the good lieutenant started on a new job description.

“What should Newsom do with his time?” politics guru Jack Pitney recently remarked to the indefatigable Jack Chang. “Accept speaking invitations, do lots of talks, spend time with the family, help raise his kids. It’s essentially a non-job.”

It’s true, of course, that the lite gov’s most solemn constitutional duty is to get up every morning, make sure Governor Brown is still breathing and then go back to bed. And sure, there are plenty of boring and conventional ways for newly-elected Newsom to spend his days.

But in our unstinting efforts to find positive solutions to intractable problems – we’re from the press, we’re here to help! – we’ve come up with a short list of other assignments for Lt. Starbuck to not only make himself useful but also keep his handsome mug squarely on the political radar in Sacramento.

Become California’s Chief Deputy Recycling Officer. Newsom will never be able to match the legendary tree hugger cred of Brown, who was totally green long before Kermit the Frog. But between banning plastic water bottles and starting an organic garden at City Hall, the erstwhile prince built his own, not inconsiderable, rep as a verdant pol. So what better way to save the Earth, while simultaneously meeting and greeting the folks who matter in Sacramento, than by making daily rounds of the Capitol, collecting bottles, cans and unread newspapers (as most, sadly, are).

Stop the squirrels from panhandling in Capitol Park. As S.F. Mayor,  Newsom spent considerable time and political capital trying to tamp down the city’s well-earned image as a happy haven for aggressive, snarling street people. Now he has a splendid chance to apply those skills by forging a pragmatic but humane approach to handling the begging squirrels of Capitol Park (especially the nasty gray ones)– maybe with a new program for tourists to kick into a Rodent Food Bank instead of offering the annoying critters nuts and seeds on an individual basis.

Wash and service Kamala’s car. Sure, Attorney General Kamala Harris is Starbuck’s future rival for the Democratic nomination for governor, but unlike him, she has, you know,  an actual job. While saving the Department of Justice a few bucks by volunteering to change the oil and wax down Herself’s state-financed ride, Gavin might even generate a few extra bucks for the general fund by connecting with other customers in the Capitol’s basement garage.

Launch a new state escort service. A recent study found that Sacramento is one of the few towns west of the Mississippi with a healthy surplus of single women over men. Given that Gavin’s greatest political asset is his movie star mien – hey, is that Matthew McConaughey?-  why not put his good looks to work as the star attraction of California’s new Department of Arm Candy and Society Walkers, safely squiring unattached females to fundraisers and other big events in Sacramento’s non-stop social whirl?

Serve as the Legislature’s designated driver. Every year, it seems, at least one prominent state lawmaker gets stopped on a DUI, endangering his political career when word of his scandalous behavior reaches the district back home. What better insider gig for a guy with lots of time on his hands than hanging around the bar at Lucca and cheerfully grabbing the keys to ensure some soused solon gets safely tucked in bed?

Rearrange Jerry’s books. Our pal Greg Lucas recently provided a terrific guided tour through the eclectic and expansive personal library of Governor Gandalf, noting that his bookcase is “brimming — without organization — with topics like religion, urban planning, history, psychology and mysticism.”

Surely Gavin could earn himself some Brownie points – and begin working off the early demerits he racked up by undercutting Jerry’s bid to whack the U.C. budget – by spending a few hours getting the gubernatorial athenaeum in order, hopefully employing the Dewey decimal system, which the old-school Silver Fox would doubtlessly prefer.

On the day he was inaugurated this month, Newsom pathetically pleaded with reporters, who showed up to watch his swearing in but quickly decamped to fry some bigger fish: “This is the last time you’re going to want to talk to me,” he said. “Don’t forget me.”

No worries, lieutenant, we wouldn’t think of it.

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Let the games begin: We hear the California Republican Party, struggling to recover its footing after getting pasted in November, is assiduously putting out feelers to potential 2012 presidential contenders in hopes of attracting some attention to its March 18-20 convention in Sacramento.

Party activists, of course, will be there to elect leaders, establish rules for top-two primaries and other fascinating chores, but whether normal people even notice the event may hinge on whether any presidentials come courting.

Included on the GOP’s wish list: Haley Barbour, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. Of course, they have to extend a warm invitation to Tundra Queen Sarah Palin, too, but we hear that some in the party dearly hope she won’t want to show, since she would consume all the oxygen and turn the convention into a Tea Party Extravaganza, when serious party rebuilding is what’s called for.

Calbuzz is not in the party building business but we sure would like to see the California GOP become relevant again in statewide elections: it’d be better for political reporters, not to mention democracy, if there was a little competition of ideas in California. That’s why we posted our Memo to the GOP (key item: figure out a way to support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants without sacrificing your Republican principles).

Meanwhile, back in the United States of Washington, D.C., the 2012 sweepstakes is already well underway. If you’re already behind — for shame! — here’s a preliminary reading list:

– Chris “The Fix” Cillizza offers an early line on the electoral college, concluding that Obama’s not nearly in the sad shape some would-be rivals would have you think.

– The Chron produced a swell set of charts for their pre-SOTU coverage comparing Obama’s standing on some economic and political measurables with those of recent presidents.

– The Times details how national political blogs are cranking up to go completely nuts with coverage.

Politico confirms the accuracy of the Times story.

– Politico also smokes out our own Rob Stutzman, a key 2008 Mitt Romney operative, to buttress their situationer showing that Mighty Mitt is encountering a level of skepticism among political professionals that’s hardly befitting an alleged front-runner:

“I’m keeping my powder dry for now,” said Stutzman, Romney’s top California adviser in 2008. “I think new congressional maps and Senate races may provide the most exciting campaign opportunities in ’12.”

At least since that whole Meg Whitman thing, anyway.

Why football is America’s Game: The Jets blew their chance at the Super Bowl with a bunch of dog-ass play calls in a crucial series at the Steelers’ goal line last week, which means the big game’s entertainment value will be considerably lessened without the performance art stylings of madman head coach Rex Ryan.

Q: Will Jerry’s Mea Culpa Hose Down Bill? A: Yes

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Update 1:15 pm: In a statement to the LA Times, Bill Clinton today endorsed Jerry Brown for governor saying he and Brown had patched up their differences from the 1992 presidential race and that Meg Whitman’s using his attack on Brown is misleading.

“I strongly support Jerry Brown for governor because I believe he was a fine mayor of Oakland, he’s been a very good attorney general, and he would be an excellent governor at a time when California needs his creativity and fiscal prudence,” Clinton said in a statement to the Times. If Clinton mentioned what he thought of Brown’s previous two terms as governor, it was not reported.

“Clinton agreed that the [Whitman] ad was misleading, and said his claim was based on an erroneous report,” the Times reported. And they quoted Clinton further saying: “Moreover, the tough campaign we fought 18 years ago is not relevant to the choice facing Californians today. Jerry and I put that behind us a long time ago.”

Clinton also endorsed Gavin Newsom for lieutenant governor “because of his strong support for Hillary in the 2008 primary season and because of his impressive record of innovation and accomplishment.”

Later on Tuesday, Brown issued the following statement:

“I am deeply honored to have been endorsed by former President Bill Clinton, who, after his accomplishment-rich presidency, continues to demonstrate his commitment to bettering our state, our nation, and our world, each and every day.”

For the record, the headline on this piece, before we saw the Times posting (congrats to Seema Meta who had it up online at 12:27 pm) read: “Will Jerry’s Mea Culpa Be Enough to Hose Down Bill?”

Our report as originally posted:

Calbuzz hears that right up to the moment on Sunday when Jerry Brown lost his marbles and his self control and went negative on Bill Clinton Krusty was really, really, really close to a deal for the  popular former president to do something very helpful for Brown’s campaign for governor.

Despite the bad blood between these two monumental egos, Clinton apparently had been persuaded – likely with assists from California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton and San Francisco Mayor and Lite Gov candidate Gavin Newsom – that defeating Meg Whitman and electing Democrats should be Clinton’s priority.

Even if it meant helping Brown, whose self-important primary challenge was a relentless thorn in Clinton’s  side during the 1992 presidential campaign; the memorable primary battle between the two resurfaced last week, when Team Whitman made Clinton the start of a new ad using an 18-year-old presidential debate clip where Bill says Jerry is a taxer and a liar — based on a CNN report which the original author now admits was wrong.

But something about Clinton seems to turn Brown into a raving lunatic and so on Sunday, in a couple of cheap, throwaway lines, he insulted Clinton as a liar and dredged up the Monica Lewinsky affair by quipping:  “I did not have taxes with this state.” How stupid is that? Anyway – That’s our job!

It’s also worth noting that the Calbuzz archive will prove that we had already warned him that everything is on the record in the 21st Century which he, in his digital dotage, seemed to have forgotten, or maybe never knew.

Recognizing that Brown had stepped in a pile of his own…making, his campaign called a quickie  press conference on Monday to try to clean up the mess. “Bill Clinton was an excellent president. It was wrong for me to joke about an incident from many years ago, and I’m sorry . . . I’ve made my share of mistakes, and my inappropriate joke about President Clinton is one of them. But from me you’ll always get the truth.”*

Whether his mea maxima culpa will be enough to assuage Clinton, we can’t predict. Better, we thought, Brown should have flown to New York, put on a blue dress, assumed the penitential position and . . . begged Clinton for forgiveness.

Brown’s people say he called Clinton and got as far as the senior staffer they’ve been talking to about Clinton’s participation in the California campaign.  Apparently, Brown doesn’t have the juice to get a call through to Clinton himself.  How sad is that? Still, Brown’s peeps say, plans for Clinton to campaign in California (for  Barbara Boxer, for Brown, for the ticket or all of the above, we don’t know) are still a go.

If Clinton does  lift a finger to help Brown it will be because he is, despite everything, a hard-nosed political pragmatist who, for a lot of reasons, doesn’t want a billionaire female Republican governor of California hovering over national politics for the next eight years. (Can you say President Hillary Clinton? Reapportionment? Meet the Press? )

And because he wants to help Boxer, a longtime ally whose daughter Nicole was married to Hillary’s brother Tony Rodham from 1994-2000. Also, Clinton would want to help Newsom, who was a prominent supporter of Hillary’s in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, Team Whitman — gloating over the great reviews their ad is getting –  ignores the fact that Brooks Jackson, the former CNN reporter on whom Clinton was relying when he made his charge against Brown, has since acknowledged he was wrong. Instead, they’re clinging to Jackson’s argument that his report was essentially “valid.”

“As I said then, rising taxes in Brown’s early years helped bring about a tax revolt. It came in the form of Proposition 13” Jackson wrote. But in this context, that’s misleading. Those “rising taxes” were the result of inflation in the housing market – not Brown’s tax policies. By trying now to make it look like his original report had merit, Jackson has given Whitman an excuse to perpetuate her lie.

Yes, Brown vehemently opposed Proposition 13 – as did eMeg campaign chairman Pete Wilson and most other people in public office. And once it was passed, he implemented it with relish and allowed state spending to increase, spending down a big surplus, to make up for billions in funding lost by cities, counties and schools.

Despite that, Brown’s spending as governor – adjusted for inflation and population, as economists do when comparing dollars in and out over time – were actually lower than his predecessor, Ronald Reagan. The Associated Press has a story detailing that fact.

As if any of these facts matter.

*Inquiring Jesuits want to know: Brown’s comments about Clinton on Sunday – and his effort on Monday to wave them off as a joke – got us thinking about Michael Kinsley’s famous formulation that “a ‘gaffe’ is the opposite of a lie – it’s when a politician tells the truth.”

Putting aside the Lewinsky portion of Brown’s bonehead remarks, it seems to us that the more serious part of his statement on Sunday came when he said, “I mean Clinton’s a nice guy, but who ever said he always told the truth?”  Those words call into question the former president’s fundamental honesty.

Brown never directly addressed that comment during his damage control press conference, when he apologized only for his “inappropriate joke.”

Instead, Brown simply concluded by saying, “But from me you’ll always get the truth.”

Which raises the question: Was Brown “always” telling the truth on Sunday, when he said that Clinton had problems telling the truth? Or was that just a gaffe?

Fix My Ticket: Why Lite Gov Candidates May Matter

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

California has no history of major party candidates for governor and lite gov running as a single entry, but both sides in the 2010 campaign are suddenly talking ticket.

“I can’t recall any time that the governor ran with a lieutenant governor as a team – that would be unique,” the venerable Allan Hoffenblum told Calbuzz.*

Co-founder and publisher of the invaluable California Target Book, and a recovering Republican consultant, Hoffenblum added: “Often as not, they kind of run away from each other.”

Despite bipartisan memories of politically troubled lieutenant governors of the past (see Curb, Mike and Dymally, Mervyn), there’s widespread chatter among California’s chattering class these days over scenarios that posit the major candidates for governor may actually benefit – or actually suffer – from their party’s nominees for lite guv.

On the Republican side, the confirmation of Abel Maldonado to fill the #2 spot has sparked speculation that GOP front-runner Meg Whitman could boost her general election chances, if she wins the nomination, by raising Abel to a veritable partnership position on the ticket.

Hoffenblum said that in order to win election, Whitman’s must pull at least one third of the Latino vote, and having the first Republican Latino to hold statewide office since 1875 , who happens to speak Spanish, could help.

“I can see Meg trying to work closely with Abel Maldonado,” Hoffenblum told us. “Nothing would be better for her.”

Of course, the notion depends entirely on Maldonado surviving a primary battle against state Senator Sam Aanestad, in one of those chest-beating fight-for-the-soul of the Republican party type things .

Longtime political analyst Tony Quinn, Hoffenblum’s Target Book colleague, agreed that Maldonado could prove an asset to eMeg, and suggested that eMeg might even discover a sudden rush of generosity towards Maldonado.

Although a gov-lite gov mutual aid pact has “never happened before,” Quinn said, Maldonado “could definitely help her.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see her try to help Maldonado get the nomination sub rosa,” he added. “It would be smart for her to see that he gets the nomination.”

(Calbuzz sez: We would not be too surprised if eMeg finds a spare $1 million in the sofa cushions and feels a sudden onset of generosity towards Maldonado.)

Even if Maldo wins the nomination, and even if he helps Whitman in the general, of course, he could still easily lose in November to the Democrats, among whom there’s some top-of-the-ticket intrigue as well.

With San Francisco Mayor Prince Gavin Newsom and L.A. City Council member Janice Hahn competing for the nomination, her handlers unveiled “Jerry and Janice” campaign signs at the party convention this month.

Planned and produced without the assent of Jerry Brown’s campaign for governor, the slogan served the purpose of sharply making the political point that, even if Hahn didn’t help Brown, as a woman from Southern California, she potentially would hurt him less than having Newsom running for lieutenant governor.

Having two white male San Francisco Bay Democrats at the top of the ballot would give Republicans a big target, not only ideologically, in a year when voters are worried about government spending, but also demographically, in a campaign where the GOP could turn the tables and become the party offering diversity in its statewide slate.

Offshore update: With the still growing oil spill off the coast of Louisiana now about 2,000 square miles in size, NASA has produced some extraordinary images of the mess.

As we’ve reported, the political fallout from the spill could impact the future  chances Governor Schwarzmuscle’s pet Tranquillon Ridge project. First shot comes from Assemblyman Pedro Nava, a staunch foe of the proposal who was recently named the new chair of the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials committee; he plans to hold “an investigative hearing” in Hermosa Beach on Friday to examine the “threats” posed by drilling.

“Given the disaster in the Gulf, we need to evaluate the dangers posed by both off-shore and on-shore oil drilling in California,” Nava said in a statement announcing the hearing.  “Many parts of the state are impacted by oil development and drilling.  Whether it is Hermosa Beach and Baldwin Hills in Los Angeles County or Santa Barbara…we must make sure that we do not have the type of catastrophe that is occurring in the Gulf of Mexico.”

First the verdict, then the trial.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: Calbuzz mistakenly reported the other day that Jerry Brown had sold the state airplane. We couldn’t remember where we got that alleged factoid which, the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters informed us, was wrong. Ronald Reagan sold the plane. Tuesday, we found the source of our mistake: it was in Jerry Brown’s own video — the one they showed at the Democratic Party state convention and the one that’s on his web site here (or at least it was before we spoke to Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer who tried to argue that it wasn’t their mistake, they just pulled together news clips!). “He sold the governor’s executive jet and travels commercially,” the narrator intones in the video. After first trying to argue that the mistake was Mike Wallace’s or Morley Safer’s, Glazer finally said, “I’m sorry that our video had a factual inaccuracy and you reprinted it.”

* From the Calbuzz Department of Corrections: Steve Merksamer and Kurt Schuparra, two of the sharpest guys in Sacramento, noted a couple of instances where candidates for  governor and lieutenant governor ran as a team.

According to Kurt, “In 1966, Ronald Reagan and Robert Finch ran ads in the LA Times and other papers, with a picture of them together, urging voters to “Elect California’s new team,” a duo with “common sense and integrity” and committed to dealing firmly with ‘Beatniks, taxes, riots, [and] crime.’  Like Reagan, Finch won by a wide margin.”

In addition, says Steve, “Reagan and Ed Reinecke ran as a ticket in 1970.  Advertising was joint and billboards throughout the state said “reelect Reagan/Reinecke Team 70.”

We note that Finch later joined Richard Nixon’s administration as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and later as Counselor to the President  until his resignation in 1973. Reinecke resigned his post after he was indicted by the Watergate Grand Jury in 1974 on three counts of perjury before Sam Ervin’s Senate Watergate Committee.

Sifting the Detritus of the CA Dem Convention

Monday, April 19th, 2010

It’s a measure of the small bore political stakes of the California Democratic Party convention that the weekend’s only drama played out over an inconclusive fight for the party’s endorsement in an internecine contest for lieutenant governor — a conflict over a second-tier office that has far more to do with personalities than policy.

During a two-day convention when one officeholder after another pleaded with 3,000 activists to match the passion of the conservative Tea Party movement in the 2010 campaign, the convention remained a mostly sedate affair, with delegates wistfully recalling the sense of purpose in President Obama’s historic 2008 victory, while trying to get excited about candidates for insurance commissioner and lieutenant governor, ferhevensakes.

“At this point, I think the polls are showing that there is more enthusiasm with the tea party (movement)” Senator Barbara Boxer candidly told reporters, “and I think it is absolutely a fact that we have to match that enthusiasm.”

This just in: in the long-awaited balloting in the Lite Gov’s race, S.F. Mayor Gavin Newsom out-polled L.A. City Council member Janice Hahn, 52-to-42. According to a furious exchange of late-night spinning memos eblasted by the two camps, this was either a great victory for Hahn, for denying her rival the 60 percent needed for the endorsement, or a key tactical win for Newsom, who skunked his foe in her own back yard.

Zzzzzzz.

As a practical matter, the question of how much energy and enthusiasm the Dems can muster  — in a non-presidential election year, when the political winds now strongly favor Republicans, when the Donkey Ticket is led by two old war horses, aged 69 and 72, and when the GOP’s statewide entry is led by an Empire Strikes Back campaign bristling with more money than God -– will be a major factor in determining the size and make-up of the November electorate.

When handlers for Jerry Brown are only half-joking in telling reporters the party’s presumptive nominee for governor just needs to win by one vote, the question of turnout, and whether Democrats can expand the size of their base to pick up a sizable chunk of younger and independent voters, is crucial.

And you have to wonder how forward-thinking comprehensive a strategy the Democrats have for doing so, when party chairman John Burton says he thinks that a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana will be the key to motivating the under-30 crowd to come to the polls.

Brown insists he’s sanguine about his chances against Republican front-runner Meg Whitman, despite her surge in the polls and her clear intent to recycle many of the millions she pocketed from shady dealings at Goldman Sachs and other high-end investments. And, on one level at least, his unruffled display of patience is a reminder that it’s still very, very early in the campaign season – “I only have to win on one day,” he told reporters Saturday.

But facing a likely foe who’s equipped to outspend him by orders of magnitude, Brown faces a stark choice between spending his own resources defending himself over the summer, when either Whitman or fellow zillionaire wannabe governor Steve Poizner will surely be bashing him daily on the airwaves, or hanging on to his pile until fall, when voters will be more engaged.

Brown must hope that at least one of the several Independent Expenditure committees that have popped up with promises to help him – but have so far shown a far greater ability to trash Whitman than to raise cash to beat her – will gain enough traction to mount a serious summer TV campaign to go after the GOP nominee and watch Brown’s back.

IE operatives in the Calbuzz orbit tell us they believe they’ll have the money in place and a plan of attack to mount a TV-radio-internet-bus stop-anywhere-you-frequent campaign that will find like-minded voters — especially independents — during the summer, giving Brown some breathing room to husband resources for the fall. We’ll see.

“The rules of democracy are not changed just because a billionaire decides she wants to be governor,” Brown told Calbuzz. But the rules have changed — and Brown knows it.

Paging Pamela Harriman: In the absence of heavyweight political skirmishes at the convention, the sharpest competition played out over who put on the best party.

Speaker John Perez and Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg tossed the Best Bash for the Masses, with their Saturday afternoon free Taco Truck Throwdown with mobile catering from such favorite as  Calbi Fusion (whose pulled pork was good but hardly Mexican)  and El Principio (which served up a killer carnitas).  Friday’s elegant soiree thrown by the  California Correctional Peace Officers union, with salmon caviar and free booze,  captured top honors in the Intimate Setting Category.

But in the end, Calbuzz can report with complete immodesty, the most entertaining event was the Second Annual Dr. P.J. Hackenflack’s Hack and Flack dinner at Café Pinot, where Brown Himself and heavyweight consultant Garry South got into a cage match battle over electoral strategy at one table, with LA political wheelhouse Donna Bojarsky and political analysts Sherry and Doug Jeffe in the mix. At another table Boxer strategist Rose Kapolcynski, Brown’s Steve Glazer, L.A. premier blogger Kevin Roderick and Laurel Canyon media meisters Julie Buckner and Celia Fischer all compared notes on the political landscape and the chocolate mouse gateau. Other Calbuzzers kicking around strategic insights included poll taker Ben Tulchin and his wife consultant Laurie Biejen,  Kaufman Campaigns’ Richard Stapler, plus reporters from the Chronicle, Media News, KQED and more, who dined on a choice of duo of beef, pan roasted Jidori chicken and Atlantic salmon.

Although Dr. H briefly considered hiring a couple of leg breakers to go after a couple of confirmed guests who were no shows (we know where you live) and one gate crasher, there were no injuries.

Paging Mr. Bartlett: Brown’s three best weird comments of the weekend:

1-“The menu is not the meal,” a big-think overview of where the governor’s race stands today. 2-“I believe in the  papal doctrine of subsidiarism,” a reference to his belief that government authority should be pushed back to locals from Sacramento. 3-”The sherpas will meet soon,” his proposal for a process of arranging debates between him and his Republican rivals.

We’re just sayin’: Can the Democratic party staff please arrange for Burton to have a makeover? The unbuttoned red safari shirt look makes him look like a cheesy Vegas weekend low-roller from Cleveland.

Hahn: Newsom Don’t Know Much About Lite Gov

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Democrat Janice Hahn’s lieutenant governor campaign this morning has dropped a 55-second web video on Gavin Newsom’s head that’s pretty darn funny. If you like Sam Cooke and you’re not Newsom, who is  considering jumping into the gov lite race now that he crapped out of the heavy gov race, that is.

The intro on Hahn’s web site says: “There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether or not Gavin Newsom is going to get into the Lt. Governor’s race. So, we made a quick must-see video about what Gavin doesn’t know about being Lt. Governor.” Here at Calbuzz, we make no judgment about Prince Gavin’s worthiness to be lieutenant governor. We just like a good goof. Maybe  Hahn consultant Garry South  (formerly Newsom’s)  can call it  “Whether You Like It Or Not, Part II.”