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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Finnegan’



Five Ways eMeg Blew Her Campaign for Governor

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

In June 2009, a few months after she launched her campaign to become governor of California, Meg Whitman abruptly fired Nicky Diaz Santillan, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who had served as her housekeeper for nine years.

No one knew it at the time, but Whitman’s words and action in the privacy of her home on June 20, and on the phone four days later, would sow the seeds of her political loss, a debacle that will define her forever as the billionaire who spent more money on a political race than anyone in history and won nothing but a humiliating defeat.

Recollections differ sharply about exactly what happened when Whitman sent Diaz packing. The former eBay CEO insisted she was gracious and caring toward someone she saw as a “member of her extended family.” It broke her heart, she said at one point; only later did she suggest Nicky  should be deported.

At a Sept. 29 press conference with LA Ambulance Chaser Gloria Allred, Diaz said Whitman was cruel and heartless and insisted that her lawyer had told her there was nothing to be done.

“From now on, you don’t know me and I don’t know you,” Diaz said Whitman told her on the phone. “You never have seen me and I have never seen you.”

What Nicky revealed about Meg: The precise details of the episode may remain fuzzy – but its political impact is crystal clear. In the end, the Diaz story dealt two grave wounds that doomed Whitman’s candidacy:

First, the Republican nominee’s memorable Oct. 1 press conference responding to Diaz’s allegations was a public relations disaster. A real-time, real-life event, it was one of only a handful of times that California voters would see Whitman in public, outside of the carefully scripted and controlled campaign events or the unprecedented barrage of TV ads that she beamed into their living rooms. And polls would show that the unfavorable image they already had of the candidate would only grow more negative.

More broadly, Whitman’s handling of the Diaz affair – and her improbable insistence that she had no idea that Diaz was illegal and baseless accusation that Nicky stole the mail — underscored a central failing of her $160+ million effort. Ralph Whitehead of the University of Massachusetts once explained that in an executive leader, voters look for someone with a hard head and a soft heart. Whitman surely passed the first test. But her handling of Nicky Diaz – which had already occurred and could not be fixed – exposed her as a rich woman with the hardest of hearts.

She might, back then, have mitigated the damage that came later if she had done what most human beings would do for someone who had cleaned their toilets for nine years: hire her an immigration attorney, give her severance pay, help her find a new job. Whitman did none of those things. Voters – especially Latinos and women – concluded she was, at best, not like them and, at worst, inhuman.

“I could not be any prouder of the race we ran,” Whitman said in a farewell letter to supporters on her campaign web page. It’s a typical statement from a woman who could never admit a mistake, whether it was flipping IPO shares, booting her maid to the curb or refusing to pull down her negative ads when implored to do so in front of 14,000 women.

Because Whitman’s debacle cost an unprecedented sum – including about $142 million of her own money – it will be endlessly dissected by pundits, pros and political scientists alike. Calbuzz covered the race for 20 months, and our archive is filled with reporting, analysis and candid commentary about what we saw as its weaknesses from the beginning. Here is a look at eMeg’s five biggest blunders:

-She never gave people a reason to be for her. At some point, some determined academic will calculate the percentage of negative to positive ads that Whitman ran. Our bet is that at least three-fourths were attacks, first on her primary opponent Steve Poizner and later on Jerry Brown.

Whitman came out swinging early last winter against Poizner, long before most Californians had any idea who Steve Poizner was. After she captured the GOP nomination in June, she almost immediately started bashing Brown. The net effect: the first thing that many people came to learn about Meg Whitman was that she was mean-spirited.

The Murphy-Stutzman-Gomez consultant brain trust programmed their meal ticket to chant jobs, budget and education, which she did. These were to be the decisive issues that would drive Whitman to victory. What they overlooked was that they were running a billionaire newcomer who could not connect by eating chili dogs and traveling in a green bus.

Whitman needed to convince voters of the most critical question that Brown’s pollster, Jim Moore, asks in surveys: Which candidate best fits this description — Has the knowledge and skill to be governor?

But beyond endlessly identifying herself as the person who ran eBay, the Whitman campaign never really introduced their candidate to voters, never gave Californians more than a mantra of political platitudes and a few quick images of her and her husband when they were younger.

Who, in the end, was she? Why hadn’t she voted for 28 years? How come she’d never been engaged in a single civic project? Why did she lie about things she had no reason to lie about – like how government interference slowed down building a new headquarters for Pay Pal, or her position on offshore oil drilling or whether one of her ads included a shot of a border fence?

Calbuzz christened her “eMeg” at the beginning of the race and, in a very real sense, she never told us more about herself than that, which may be why the name stuck, and spread into publications across the country.

-She couldn’t handle the immigration issue. One of the big unanswered questions about the campaign remains what Whitman’s handlers knew about the Diaz matter and when they knew it. Either she told them the full details of the matter and they did nothing about it, which would amount to political malpractice on their part, or she kept the story to herself, which would amount to felony stupidity on her part.

After Whitman told reporters that she had informed her top advisers about the Nicky Diaz events, Calbuzz tried to ask her consultants what they’d been told and when. That’s when her top people stopped speaking to Calbuzz at all. That was more than a month ago. There was no way to answer our question without throwing either themselves or their candidate under the bus. So they just froze us out until we said we wouldn’t ask the question any more.

One of the reasons that the Diaz issue gained such traction was that Whitman offered up a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of positions on illegal immigration. When Poizner made it the centerpiece of his primary campaign, she tacked hard right, enlisting campaign chairman Pete Wilson – the former governor known on the streets of Mexico City as hijo de puta — to cut an ad declaring she would be “tough as nails.” But as soon as the primary ended, she lurched back to the center, with an expensive effort to woo Latino voters, a baldly transparent move that came across as crass opportunism, if not utter hypocrisy.

Once the personal became enmeshed with the political on the issue, she could never untangle herself. She couldn’t help Nicky Diaz become legal because she had taken a stand against a path to citizenship – a policy endorsed by most California voters, including about nine in 10 Latinos.

And she made matters much worse at the Univision debate in Fresno when she told a young Mexican-born woman – valedictorian in her high-school class about to graduate from Fresno State – that she was taking the place at the university of a legitimate California citizen. Any non-white parent hearing that would have been appalled at her utter lack of compassion.

No wonder the LA Times reported that exit polls found Latinos voted 2-to-1 for Brown.

-She didn’t have dinner with Calbuzz. Our standing dinner invitation to eMeg, first issued on Labor Day 2009, became a running joke on our site and elsewhere. But her refusal to sit down with us in an informal setting came to symbolize something greater – a contempt for the press in general, founded on her arrogant belief that she had enough money and power to go over the heads of the media.

Whitman gave an interview to Michael Finnegan of the LA Times the day after she announced her candidacy, and she made several stumbles in it, as he pointed out. For whatever reason, she reacted to that experience not by seeking to learn from her mistakes, but by walling herself from the press forever.

Far more serious than stiffing us for dinner was her refusal throughout the campaign to grant an interview to the venerable San Francisco Chronicle, the second largest newspaper in the state; when she refused to meet with the paper’s editorial board, as every candidate for governor in memory has done, it evinced nothing more than contempt, if not abject fear.

The press corps roiled with tales of interview requests ignored or turned down and, at one point, she even refused to answer questions at a press conference she had called. The net effect was to send a message that Whitman had something to hide, that she was afraid to engage in the normal give and take between politicians and reporters, and it raised suspicions among voters.

Not that anyone in the real world cares about whether reporters have access. They don’t mind if a candidate stiffs the media, if she speaks to them, mingles with them, does something other than staged events with phony, planted questions. People care about media access only to the extent that it’s a surrogate for their access

With her retinue of consultants, pollsters and handlers, Whitman presented herself to the public as being more important and too insulated to understand people like them. It is telling that the California Nurses Association character of Queen Meg, who followed her around the state, drove eMeg crazy, because it cut too close to the truth.

Worse, according to a variety of political consultants from the left and right, Whitman’s failure to get out among the media early in the campaign, where she could make mistakes and learn from them, rendered her brittle and unstable at the end of the campaign, when she needed to be sure on her feet. Whitman’s consultants failed to help her handle the unscripted moments of the campaign — and it was in those moments that voters saw who she really is.

The ultimate example occurred at the Women’s Conference in Long Beach, where she managed to get herself booed by 14,000 women by her mishandling of an idiotic proposal from the “Today Show’s” Matt Lauer to take down her negative advertising. “Of course I will, Matt,” she could have said. “As soon as Jerry Brown Inc. takes down their attack ads on me.”  A seasoned pro could have knocked it out of the park. Just days before the election, she was still a rookie.

When it became clear in the final weeks of the campaign that she was losing, she resorted to driving around in a bus and ordering junk food at diners in a by now pathetically too late effort to “reintroduce” herself to the public.

-She ran only one memorable ad and that blew up in her face. It is astonishing that Whitman spent more than $100 million on paid television advertising and even those of us who covered the campaign would be hard pressed to recall any of them that penetrated.

The sole exception was an ad she put up after Labor Day featuring an excerpt from a 1992 presidential primary debate between Brown and Bill Clinton, in which Clinton attacks Brown on many of the same issues Whitman was trying to press.

At first it looked like a killer ad. But when Brown and his fellow Democrats quickly produced, first, a statement from Clinton and then the former president himself to back Brown and assail Whitman for misusing the comments, it backfired on her. Things went from bad to worse when the former CNN reporter whose long-ago TV story was the basis for the whole controversy came forward to say he’d made a big factual error – and Whitman still refused to take down her ad.

This was a Big Moment in the campaign because it shifted the ground precisely where Team eMeg did not want the campaign to go – away from issues and toward character. The ad was mainly about the issues, in particular Proposition 13 and taxes, and secondarily about Brown’s truthfulness. Here was an icon of the Democratic Party saying Jerry Brown could not be trusted on taxes and spending. That was the single most dangerous charge Brown faced. But the ad turned out to be an exploding cigar. When Clinton repudiated it and Whitman defended it anyway, the story shifted to “liar, liar, pants on fire.” And what Team eMeg did NOT want was a campaign about Whitman’s character.

No one should have been surprised that the LATimes/USC survey found that among likely voters Brown had her beat 2-1 when rated on the quality of “tells the truth.”

-She ran as a brand and over-saturated the market. Months ago, Brown’s campaign manager Steve Glazer predicted to us that the race would be about authenticity, with Whitman, fundamentally a marketing executive whose closest confidant, Henry Gomez, was also a marketing guy, trying to brand herself and Brown, a lifelong public official, running as the real deal.

Calbuzz recognized the danger presented by Whitman’s unlimited marketing budget when we laid out how the “standard quantum limit” could inevitably affect perceptions of voters in a political campaign – even one as big as a California governor’s race.

“Some among the cognoscenti wonder if voters will, at some point, find a chalk-on-a-blackboard cognitive dissonance created by a candidate who spends with no limits  to become  governor in order to cut spending,” we wrote back in April.

“Others suggest that as Whitman’s spending keeps growing exponentially, it will bump up against some outer limit where cash begins to have diminishing returns, or even a negative impact, as voters find repulsive her free-spending ways amid the state’s worst recession in a generation.”

Lo and behold, that’s what happened. Whitman’s advertising became so ubiquitous, so intrusive, that voters found her in their living rooms, uninvited, at all hours of the day and night. It didn’t take long before Whitman’s branding campaign ran up against another scientific principle: The T Factor.

This strong force, according to the Calbuzz Department of Weights and Measures, is based on the power of  Tivo to mute and completely skip advertisements, especially nauseating political spots; it is greater than, or equal to, a voter’s curiosity about what an ad might have to say. (This is represented by the formula T≥b*X, where b=bullshit and X=off.)

Certain political consultants will, of course, dismiss this theorem out of hand because if candidates were to believe it, they would make less money. But not only did Whitman’s advertising over-saturate the market (diminishing exponentially the stickiness of later ads) but they actually fed Brown’s narrative about her: that she was a greedy billionaire with too much money to spend and too little respect for ordinary people.

Every new ad had to overcome that revulsion before its content had a chance of being heard and processed. And in the end, voters just tuned her out.

Why Meg Went Negative on Poiz; Hell Freezes Over

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Inquiring minds want to know: Scoop of the week honors to KTVU-TV in Oakland, which did the first story on new, 15-second eMeg spots attacking Steve Poizner, after some anonymous hero saw them suddenly turn up in the ad rotation and heads-upped the newsroom.

Channel 2’s Frank Sommerville did a report on “Mornings on 2,” about three hours before Poizner put out a release attacking eMeg for the attack, and about five hours before Team Whitman acknowledged the ads in their own release with its link to their “Why We Can’t Trust Steve Poizner” web site.

The key question — Why is Whitman bashing Poizner when she’s sitting on a 30-point lead?

The official line on that, from Sarah Pompei, Whitman’s volcanic mouthpiece,  is that “our campaign strongly believes Californians deserve a lengthened debate between the candidates.” (We note, however, that debate just won’t be uncontrolled or in front of actual human beings like, oh say, delegates to her party’s state convention).

After talking to other analysts and Dem and Reep consultants, we’ve got some more believable theories:

1) Meg’s got a glass jaw and she’s scared. Worried that her support is soft and that Poizner could smack her upside the head, the Armies of eMeg are a bit panicky and are striking out even though nobody knows who they’re talking about. (Steve Poizner: Isn’t he somebody’s insurance agent?) “Best case — she’s proactively pre-emptive; worst case — she bounces the rubble,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.

2) She’s trying to drive him out of the race. Her consultants have done everything they can to cajole, bribe and threaten anyone in earshot in an effort to clear the field because eMeg does not want to run in a competitive primary. So it’s a last ditch attempt — $400,000 over four days, according to one GOP source — to convince Poizner not to run.

3) She’s hoping to kill the baby in the crib — to finish him off before he goes on the air. Who knows how much he could really spend. He’s damn near as rich as she is, so why couldn’t he spend 40 or 60 or 100 million dollars? Better to force him now to have to defend himself than to leave the path open for him to run positives for himself and negatives against her.

We think it’s a bit of all of the above. And we were, frankly, surprised to see eMeg rip into the Commish when she’s sitting on such a big fat lead. But then, we don’t think Stevie Wonder can be driven from the race, so all this negative airtime aimed at someone nobody knows seems kinda nutso to us. Unless you’re the media consultant getting 15% on the buy, of course.

We’re pretty sure the cry for a cease fire from folks like Bill Whalen, the former Pete Wilson operative now ensconced at the Hoover Institution, is pretty much a pipe dream.

“Which candidate is willing to move back to the high road and halt this destructive cycle before the Republicans produce what California Democrats want: a tarnished nominee?” Whalen asked.

Calbuzz bet: neither.

And the winner is: The prestigious Little Pulitzer for Investigative Punditry this week goes hands-down to Mark Paul, of the New America Foundation’s California Program, whose Friday piece in Calbuzz offered a moment of clarity about the state budget that should transform the way the issue is covered in the governor’s race.

Putting on a clinic of Actual Reporting, Paul not only shattered the easy demagoguery of every candidate who’s ever mouthed the phrase “waste, fraud and abuse,” but also put the lie to Meg Whitman’s bogus argument that she’ll fix everything by firing 40,000 surplus state employees.

Paul offered a healthy dose of fact-based reality to show that: a) the state is spending less this year than five years ago, despite population growth of two million people; b) the number of state employees per 1,000 Californians has declined over the last three decades; c) half of the bloated state workforce that eMeg is always caterwauling about consists of UC employees (many of whom are paid from independent sources) and guards and other workers in state prisons (many hired to keep up with demand generated by Three Strikes and other throw-away-the-key measures).

Excepting these two groups, the number of all other state employees has decreased over the last 30 years.  So: The next time Her Megness talks about cutting 40,000 workers, she can mean to do only one of three things:

1-Dump UC staff and faculty.

2-Fire many thousands of corrections officers, necessitating the early release of many thousands of felons.

3-Cut other state programs – which ones, please? – to 1970s levels.

…if you examine California state government as a business, one of the first things you are likely to notice is how few people it employs compared to others in its “industry.” Over that past decade, California has ranked between 46th and 50th among the states in the annual federal listing comparing state workforces to population; its state workforce is about 25 percent smaller than the national average.

Mark’s piece is a must-read. It’s here.

Hell Freezes Over: Mega-kudos to Ken McClaughlin of the Murky News, who scored the first in-depth interview with eMeg since she botched her way through a session with the LAT’s Michael Finnegan more than a year ago.

Three things jump out to us from the interview:

1-On the budget, Whitman has no clue what she’s talking about (see above).

2-On social issues, she’s all over the lot – equal rights for gays but no gay marriage, against illegal immigration but in favor of benefits – but she’s basically a liberal.

3-On governance, she confirmed her belief that the sign on the door of the Capitol says “Empress of California,” not “Governor of California.”

Asked by McLaughlin how she would be more successful than Arnold, who peddled much the same tired campaign wheeze as her when he first ran in 2003, eMeg said she would “get to know every senator and assembly member by name, letting them know what she ‘will and will not put up with.’”

What she “will and will not put up with?” Really?

Memo to John Perez: Put that cookie down, clean your room and then do your homework! And I mean NOW, Mister!

3-Dot Pot Shots: Madonna & Paris vs. Carly & Babs

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

carlyIt’s on: Not since Madonna’s smack down with Paris Hilton over Kabbalah has there been such an intriguing match-up of big-name narcissists as the potential U.S. Senate brawl between Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina – both of whom probably thought that song was about her.

Fiorina’s self-aggrandizing style has been well chronicled in stories about her destructive reign as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. And Boxer, whose shameless self-regard recently popped out in her public dressing down of a Pentagon officer who dared call her “ma’am” instead of “Senator,” has recently written yet another cheesy political thriller that admiringly focuses on her alter ego, Ellen Fischer (guess who’s the “honest, tough and energetic” U.S. Senator?).

At a time when California’s unemployment is soaring and its public schools are going down the toilet, there’s something vaguely creepy about the state’s junior senator tooling around with an entourage to book readings as she tries to cash in on her office with fine writing like this swooning recollection of the first glimpse her heroine’s hubby had of her:barbara-boxer

“Listen, ever since I saw you across that room, fighting for your children’s bill with every nerve in your body, I’ve loved you and wanted you and I can’t stand the thought of losing you.”

Whoa – peeping legislative posturing makes you hot? Duuude!

As Kimberley Strassel wrote about Boxer’s “Blind Trust” in a Wall Street Journal review,  the book  “begs to be read less as a thriller than as an attempt to score real-life political points in fictional form.”

Carla Takes On Carly: As a novelist, Boxer is, um, a really good politician. No matter what you think of her, she certainly paid her political dues, as a county supervisor and a member of congress, before stepping up to run for Senate, unlike Fiorina.

Yet from Boxer’s first, down-to-wire campaign against the mercurial Bruce Herschensohn in 1992, she has been routinely underrated by Republicans. Every six years, they think they’ve found the guy who can knock her off, and this time out, Fiorina is the guy being anointed by establishment GOPers such as Texas Senator John Cornyn, chair of the Republican Senatorial campaign committee. Unlike some of the other stiffs that Boxer’s vanquished, Fiorina at least will offer her a serious challenge in the swollen head sweepstakes.

“One is hard-pressed,” ABC-News Silicon Valley columnist Michael Malone wrote of Fiorina, “to think of anything she did during her time at either Lucent or HP that wasn’t designed to burnish her own image — at the sacrifice of anyone who got in her way.”

madonna_dont_tell_me_coverBe that as it may, the famously failed and fired CEO  Fiorina does know a thing or three about product launches, so the rocky roll-out of her nascent Senate candidacy this week can’t have pleased her very much.

For starters, there was this roundhouse right attack by party rival Chuck DeVore, whose slashing style makes Steve Poizner look like the Dali Lama. Then came a total takedown by the ubiquitous Carla Marinucci, who added to her previous reportage about Fiorina’s spotty California voting record the new news that the would-be Senator never voted in the 1980s and 1990s, when she lived in Maryland and New Jersey.

“Fiorina strongly disputes the voting records as ‘just wrong,’” an unfortunate spokeswoman for Carly told Carla.

Yeah, well, Calbuzz strongly disputes our birth certificates as “just wrong” too, but that don’t make us young.mug-shot-paris-hilton

The final epee cut to the rookie contender came from Michael Finnegan of the By God L.A. Times, who graced his yarn with a fine example of proper technique in  employing  the understated story kicker: “Fiorina was fired from Hewlett-Packard after a rocky tenure.” As Brian Leubitz put it in Calitics: “Ouch”

“Carly doesn’t understand Boxer,” one triple smart GOP insider told us. “If she tries to play that princess act, she’s toast.”

Calbuzz early line: Give the points and take the incumbent.

Speaking of entitlements: It’s disappointing to learn that San Francisco Mayor and wannabe governor Gavin Newsom views as a state secret the public costs of the cops who follow him everywhere, including on his campaign travels.

Let’s be clear that we don’t begrudge Newsom a round-the-clock security detail, especially given San Francisco’s history of violence against public officials. But refusing to disclose the bill taxpayers are footing, on top of his years-long resistance to releasing his daily mayoral calendars, suggests a petulant disregard for transparency in government, a troubling trait for an elected official at any level, let alone a governor.

The mayor’s office contends that releasing such information could compromise Newsom’s security and put him at risk, an argument that doesn’t seem to fly with the U.S. Secret Service or other big city mayors.

The Prince of Pride’s obstinacy on the issue has won him an extended beef mirkarimi_lgwith S.F. Supe Ross Mirkarimi, who’s sponsoring an ordinance that would not only make the mayor disclose how much his  personal protection on the campaign trail costs taxpayers, but also require him to reimburse the city for the politicking portion of his security bill.

“If he’s campaigning outside the city, there’s a question of commingling taxpayers’ money with his campaign,” Mirkarimi told us. “It’s good public policy that we recover those funds.”

Press Clips: Not sure who Tom Campbell knows at the Journal, but he got himself a big sloppy wet kiss this week trumpeting his bid for the Republican nomination for governor, in which a whole brigade of unnamed “analysts” offered a rosy view of Dudley Do Right’s chances…The always worth reading Nate Silver offers a forecast that should keep Nancy Pelosi awake at night — “While the Democrats are not extraordinary likely to lose the House, such an outcome is certainly well within the realm of possibility” –- over at FiveThirtyEight.com… Check out California’s Capitol, where Deadhead Greg Lucas turned off the iPod long enough to analyze the true shakiness of the just completed budget deal.

Friday Fishwrap: Road Trip!

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Not Exactly Huntley-Brinkley: We’ll be reporting live from the Calbuzz Convention Sky Box in Sacramento this weekend, bringing the vast resources of our far-flung crack political team to the task of bringing you the best and worst of the Democratic state confab and schmoozefest.

With Tony Villar taking a duck, just days after John Boy Garamendi quit the field, the first cattle call of the Democratic primary for governor will be the Jerry and Gavin Show. S.F. Mayor Newsom rolls into River City on the momentum of his statewide announcement Twitter, while Ageless Wonder Brown seeks to keep his crown as the champion of new ideas. Plus: Cameos by Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Howard Dean and a cast of thousands.

Will General Jerry and Prince Gavin come to blows over hair products? Who will win the party’s coveted seat as Male Undersecretary Assistant Treasurer? How’s the food at Lucca? Can John Burton get through an entire sentence without an F-bomb? All this and more, in Calbuzz’s special weekend coverage. . .

Utz vs. Early Bird Special: How do you entertain delegates when the guy trying to paint you as a drooling geezer is being honored by California College Democrats at a hot-ticket block party featuring Wyclef Jean – a Grammy-winning rapper that a lot of vintage members of the California Democratic Council never heard of: Wuddee say? There’s a cleft in his jeans? Whaa? Huh?

If you’re Jerry Brown, you throw a “Recession Reception” kegger with chips and salsa at your Dad’s old home – which just happens to be the historic governor’s mansion, through which you’ll be happy to offer guided tours. That’s the General’s play, during Early Bird Special hours, 5:30-7:00 p.m. Saturday. Not sure what music will be playing, but don’t expect “Fast Car” or “Riot.”

For that, you’ll have to stroll over to the College Dem’s block party which doesn’t even get going until 8 p.m. and likely won’t pick up steam until after 10 when Jerry’s Kids will be back in their rooms with their Polident. Out in the hood, SF Mayor Gavin Newsom will be working the crowd and being honored. Beatbox artist Butterscotch from NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” Sacramento’s Utz! and the Shuttlecocks are also scheduled. Plus: Hip-hopper Biz Markie is on for a post-concert “After Party” for special invited guests at Lounge ON20.

Despite all the flash, why is Jerry not too worried about being outflanked by Gavin among young voters? Because, as Brown argued to Calbuzz, those younger voters Newsom is chasing account for no more than 12% of the Democratic primary vote. . .

eMeg leads money primary: Over on the Republican side, Steve Poizner has been winning the battle of earned media in recent weeks, but chief rival Meg Whitman made a little bottom line news of her own this week.

The Whitman camp announced that she’s kicked $4 million of her own dough into her race, and is “on track” to raise at least another $5 million by the June 30 reporting deadline. While her handlers were a little wiggly about exactly what that meant – spokesman Mitch Zak wouldn’t say whether or not she would have $9 million in the bank come July 1 – it’s still an impressive number (especially if they’re actually low-balling at this point to make their eventual fundraising number look bigger).

Zak said that still on the table is the notion of Whitman stepping up to put some bucks opposing Prop. 1A on the May 19 special election ballot, at a time when she and Poizner are competing to be the loudest voice against the measure’s $16 billion extension of tax increases.

The GOP primary has been framed as a battle of two personally wealthy business types squaring off, but so far it looks like there’s only one fighter in that ring.

PS: After we posted we came across this nice piece (here) by Michael Finnegan in the LATimes about troubles Poizner’s having getting his campaign organized. Also, a fairly critical look at Meg’s challenge from the National Review Online (here).

Dr. H’s Old Mailbag: Comes this convention weekend query for esteemed political psychiatrist Dr. P.J. Hackenflack:

Dear Doctor: My husband told me something troubling: that John Burton is in the Guinness Book of Records for using the f-word as every possible part of speech in a single sentence. Is this true?
– Sarah Saddleback, Orange County

Dear Sarah: WTF?