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Posts Tagged ‘Proposition 187’



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.

The Latino Vote: Why Brown Crushes Whitman

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

After Meg Whitman’s appearance the other day at the Greater San Jose Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a 30-year-old account executive from Univision told Julia Prodis Sulek of the Mercury News she was “wowed away.” This led to a story suggesting eMeg would be trying to round up votes from Latinos.

Which got the Calbuzz Department of Historic Factoids and Demographic Analysis pretty worked up for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that one of eMeg’s campaign chairmen is former Gov. Pete Wilson (once known on the streets of Mexico City as “Hijo de Puta”) for his pioneering role in using illegal immigration as a wedge issue in California politics.

Although Whitman would eliminate “sanctuary cities” and is opposed to amnesty for undocumented immigrants, she certainly comes across as less antagonistic to immigration than her GOP rival Steve Poizner:  she says she would not have voted for Prop. 187, which sought to deny services to illegal immigrants, and would not deny medical services or education to the children of illegals.

But try as she might to keep anyone from noticing that she is seeking the REPUBLICAN nomination, the chance that she could capture even a quarter of the Latino vote is far from certain.

Even before he has campaigned among Latino voters — who are expected to comprise 15% of the November electorate – Crusty the General is in a lot better shape among Latinos than eMeg is.

In the January Field Poll, Brown’s favorable-unfavorable ratio among Latinos was 43-22% and in March it was 36-22%, By comparison, Meg’s ratio was 17-16% in January and 31-18% in March. And while Brown led Whitman 52-29% in January among Latinos, he was ahead of her 54-25% in March.

In other words, while eMeg picked up some positive ID among Latinos from her TV ads between January and March, Brown’s lead in the vote among Latinos increased from 23 percentage points in January to 29 points in March. And the only thing Brown had done was his announcement media tour.

And that’s before the Brown campaign has made clear a few actual facts about Jerry Brown and Latinos, including:

1. Former Gov. Brown made Cruz Reynoso the first Latino on the California Supreme Court.

2. He named Mario Obledo in his Secretary of Health and Welfare – the first Latino in a modern-day California cabinet.

3. Brown marched with Cesar Chavez in support of the National Farmworkers Association and later the United Farmworkers Union.

4. Brown signed into law the Agricultural Relations Act, giving farm workers the right to unionize and provide state oversight of labor relations in the agricultural industry.

5. He hooked up with Linda Ronstadt.

Case closed.

ABC (Always Believe Calbuzz): The emergence in Brown’s weekend speech to the SEIU of an overtly and aggressive populist tone, as alertly reported by the SacBee’s Jack Chang, fulfills the prediction we made after the surprise election of Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat:

We hear from a lot of conservative circles: It’s the people who work for the people, the firefighters, the nurses, the hospital workers, the janitors, these are the people who caused our problems – not true,” Brown told a gathering at Oakland’s Marriott City Center hotel and hundreds more around the state via a video link.

“The folks of Wall Street who cost the United States over $11 trillion, they’ve created the problem,” he said. “And we are the ones who suffer.

As we reported in January, in a year when Brown, and other incumbent Democrat officeholders, face enormous risk in being portrayed successfully by the GOP as political insiders, the smart play is to position himself as an insurgent scourge of big business greed heads of all types:

In both the Senate and governor’s race, we expect the Democrats to sound a lot like one of the roving 1886 lecturers cited in “The Populist Movement” by Duke historian Larry Goodwyn:

“We have an overproduction of poverty, barefooted women, political thieves and many liars. There is no difference between legalized robbery and highway robbery . . . If you listen to other classes, you will have only three rights . . . to work, to starve and to die.”

Boxer and Brown — we predict — will run against the banks, the corporations and the oil companies — all of which will be lashed to their GOP opponents.  Whether voters will buy it is anyone’s guess.

Commish pounds immigration: Proving that he has little  interest in the Latino vote, Steve Poizner’s campaign plans to unveil a new TV spot today, in which he declares himself the only candidate with “the guts” to stop illegal immigration.

Stepping up the pitch to GOP conservatives he rolled out at the Republican state convention, promises to “stop taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal immigrants,” or to bring a new initiative before voters to do so.

Down but not out in his battle against GOP front-runner Meg Whitman, Poizner ends the ad by doing a superman act with a Buick, representing California, that’s about to fall over a cliff. Preview the ad here.


GOP Extra: Shocker – eMeg Meets the Press

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Calbuzz gets results: Suddenly shifting gears on media strategy, Meg Whitman showed up at the Republican state convention Friday and promptly met with California political reporters for a full-on,  one-hour press conference that made us wonder why they’ve been hiding and sneaking her out of the back door for the last year.

Now if she goes to dinner with us, we may have to actually quit bitching and moaning about the whole issue of her accessibility.

“It’s the first of more to come,” eMeg said of her give-and-take session with political writers. “We’re now getting down to the short strokes of the primary so you’ll see more of this, and I’ll be doing more and more one-on-one interviews.”

As a short-term political matter, Team Whitman’s move to have the candidate hang  with the political pencil press, after months of missteps, stumbles and embarrassing flights from reporters at campaign events, stops the bleeding on a self-inflicted wound.

She got unfavorable national attention this week, when she refused to take questions after inviting the media to cover an event in Oakland. Friday’s performance may also take a big bite out of a narrative being pushed by GOP rival Steve Poizner – that Whitman is too aloof, imperious and controlling to open herself to the normal rigors faced by candidates in California.

“I don’t think we handled it very well,” she said of this week’s incident at the Port of Oakland. “I should have taken questions. It’s one of those days on the campaign trail where things don’t go how they’re supposed to.”

At the convention site Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, Whitman handled questions ranging from taxes to temperament, from pensions to prisons, from immigration to her investments (which were the subject Friday of a must-read piece in the L.A. Times).  Although she frequently retreated to talking points, she was direct, facile and responsive in discussing a host of policy issues, as well as the politics of the campaign.

“Steve has changed his mind on many, many issues, immigration is just one of them,” she said of her GOP rival. “When he ran for Assembly in 2004, in a largely Democratic district, he had a very different tune on a whole host of issues.”

At one point, Calbuzz asked her about her recent threat to veto every piece legislation except those focused on her agenda of job creation, spending reduction and education improvements. We asked her to explain what in her background equipped her for dealing with the push and pull of political forces in the Legislature and, while we didn’t really get an answer to that, she responded without hesitation to a question of whether she thought her veto stance sends the right message to a co-equal branch of government.

“I do,” she said. “I think it’s firm and its ‘listen, here’s my approach, here’s what I want to get done, here’s what the people of California expect us to do so let’s focus on these three things.

“I think by saying ‘I will veto everything’ except for public safety, I mean, if we have an earthquake or something, right, we’re going to be realistic about it, but I think by saying ‘we’re not going to do any of the other stuff, let’s put all of our energies against these three things,’ and I have to tell you the nearly 700 pieces of legislation that were signed into law last year, virtually none of this was on point to the crisis…

“The legislature is interested in many things but they’re interested in being re-elected, so can we focus the Legislature around my three priorities?”

Like Jerry Brown on his announcement tour last week, Whitman said she would move the Legislature in part by improving personal relationships between it and the governor’s office.

“I think in many ways this is about relationships. The next governor has to move to Sacramento…you’ve got to buy a house, you’ve got to be part of that community you’ve got to know every state senator by name, every Assembly person by name. You’ve got to build the relationship because life is about relationships…

“Trust is an important thing and consistency is an important way to build trust and one of the things that hasn’t happened here has been consistency.”

We’ll have more on eMeg’s take on issues in days to come.

Update 10:35 pm: eMeg shudda quit while she was ahead.

Instead she decided to test the limits of human endurance and deliver a speech that was reliably reported to be left over from her middle school student council election to an audience of 500 Republican delegates seemingly struggling to stay awake, who applauded enthusiastically at exactly three lines: a) “I want to eliminate the capital gains tax”; b) “we will win the battle to give rank and file union members the right to protect their paychecks”; c) “Thank you for inviting me to speak to you tonight…thank you.”

The highlight, such as it was, came during her introduction by former GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, one of her mentors. Romney, who was celebrating his 63rd birthday – who says Mormons don’t know how to have fun? – stumbled all over himself in introducing her:

“She’s soft on the inside and hard as nails on the…” he began. “…Excuse me…she’s soft on the outside and hard as nails on the inside,” he added, never really explaining how he would know such a thing.

Earlier Poizner had his own news conference, and channeled the Energizer Bunny cranked up on about three Red Bulls. He hammered eMeg on a host of issues, most especially illegal immigration.

Poizner said as governor he would “yank the business license” of companies that employ illegals,  move to secure the state’s border  “with the National Guard if necessary” and “turn off the magnets” by ending “all taxpayer funded benefits for illegals – not because anyone’s being heartless – this is about ending the magnets so that people don’t come here in the first place.”

“Meg Whitman is not willing to do that. I supported Prop. 187, she does not support Prop. 187,” he said. “It’s one of these important distinctions between the two of us that’s critical.”

Poizner speaks to the delegates Saturday night.

Road Trip: 3 Key Questions for the GOP Convention

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Cue the elephants: Although half of our Western Hemisphere Bureau is on Special Assignment, sampling voter opinion in Cozumel, the short-handed National Affairs Desk will try to soldier on to offer our unique brand of babble-to-babble coverage of this weekend’s Republican state convention.

The festivities promise to be the most intriguing political event since, um, Eric Massa made Glenn Beck’s head explode, as the confab bristles with crucial questions about the future of the California GOP, if not the whole damn Republic. Like:

Will Carly Fiorina stroll the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara accompanied by a Demon Sheep? Will Tom Campbell issue a white paper entitled: “Sami Al-Arian: A Man and His Music”?

Will Meg Whitman take Mitt Romney’s advice to use a little dab of Brylcreem? Will Steve Poizner unveil a cell phone GPS device that only  allows right turns?

Will Joe Garofoli try to sneak those little booze bottles from the mini-bar out in a pillowcase, bellowing that they should be included in his room rate? Will Flash Fleischman be carted off in a straitjacket from the sheer excitement of it all?

Only Calbuzz, from our skybox high above the convention floor, will answer these and other of life’s persistent questions.

You sure do ask a lot of stupid questions: Of course, it’s also true that answers to several other, um, more purely political questions may help to shape the increasingly entertaining GOP primary races for governor and U.S. Senate. Such as:

1-Will eMeg talk to the press?

Meg Whitman, the GOP’s front-runner for governor, heads for the convention coming off her worst week of the campaign since, well, since the last state Republican convention.

Her bizarre behavior at the now-infamous Union Pacific non-press conference train wreck not only attracted a ton of national media attention – here, hereherehere and here , for example – but also drew a quarter-ton of brickbats from within her own party, like the wily conservative blogger Jon “Flash” Fleischman, who’s also a state GOP officer:

I have not been in a hurry to pen a commentary on this topic as it seems like how an individual campaign handles the media is really its own business.

Except as of yesterday, we are now shifting to “embarrassing” as the adjective of choice to describe the situation of Whitman and reporters — where we are now seeing prime time television news reports about the avoiding of reporters! This is not good for Whitman, in my humble opinion, and I know it is not good for the GOP — the latter being my reason for weighing in.

A small-bore controversy at first glance, Whitman’s performance in Oakland on Monday seemed to crystallize a bundle of doubts about her candidacy – her record of failing to vote, her shyness about debates, her year-long avoidance of serious press interviews, her refusal to release her tax returns, her disinclination to avoid any but the most controlled campaign events – that can be summed up in the question: Who is Meg Whitman?

eMeg’s sprint to the head of the pack has been built entirely on the strength of millions in paid advertising. Now her imperious behavior, however, has got the press corps snarling and growling, which could make things unpleasant for her, at best, should the pack go into full barking and baying mode.

One good way to soothe the beasts would be to make herself available for a full-blown press conference at the convention, in which she handles every question that comes at her, by herself, without restrictions and without the help of press handlers or down field blocks from campaign thugs.

2-How hard will Poizner hit illegal immigration?

Still far behind eMeg in the polls, Steve Poizner is showing signs of gaining some traction with his recent red meat offerings to the GOP right-wing, a faction over-represented among the grassroots convention attendees.

The V.C. Star’s Timm Herdt has smartly noted the emphasis that Poizner has been putting on the issue of illegal immigration, among the most visceral concerns of conservative voters.

With eMeg having expressed her distaste for the milestone Proposition 187, Poizner will work all weekend to rally the troops around this and other filet mignon matters; if he succeeds, he could build up some steam heading out of the weekend and into next Monday’s first debate with Her Megness.

“Meg’s message so far has been very muddled,” said one veteran GOP consultant who’s not playing in the governor’s race. “Steve is now talking directly to the conservative base and what he’s saying has some edge to it.”

3-What’s the Tea Party going to do?

As the aforementioned Chronicler Garafoli reported, a busload battalion of Tea Party types plan to raise the flag at the convention, which could make for some interesting political theater:

There may not be any candidate debates at the GOP hoedown this weekend, but the pitchfork and torch crowd will be welcomed home like prodigal children….angry prodigal children. Is there a family therapist in the house?

“Probably 70 percent to 80 percent of our supporters are disaffected Republicans,” TP Express spokesman Joe Wierzbicki told us Monday. So while the Tea P has problems with both parties, they have a better chance to affect change by changing the GOP, he said.

“By us being there, I’m sure people will be wondering,’Is the Republican Party selling out to the Tea Party?’ or ‘Is the Tea Party selling out to the Republican Party?’ People can have that discussion. I’m sure it’s a little bit of both,” he said.

Good times.

For conservatives, the energy and the passion of the political moment reside squarely with the Tea Party crowd, and their enthusiasm for a candidate can make a difference in a close race. Just ask Senator Martha Coakley, D-Mass.

One beneficiary of it this weekend will likely be Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, the right-wing’s favorite son in the three-way GOP primary for the nomination to oppose Senator Barbara Boxer in the fall. As Tom Campbell and Carly Fiorina beat each other’s brains in on issues like Israel and internet taxes, you can make an argument that DeVore is the only guy in the race with a clear, identifiable political base.

As the Tea Party’s tribune, DeVore could make things interesting if either Campbell or Fiorina fades, and he’s left standing as the conservative foil to a moderate front-runner.

All that said, the biggest question of the weekend convention is: How much does it really matter?

Traditionally, Republican conventions have been pep rallies for grassroots folks who ring doorbells, make phone calls and help organize modest fundraisers. But California’s zillionaire candidates are running for governor on television, period, and their presence at the state convention is something of a courtesy call.

This is especially true of Whitman whom, our sources tell us, has already bought a staggering $12.6 million in cable and broadcast time. That kind of campaign plan renders party activism and enthusiasm largely irrelevant.

Sure, it’s nice to have some excitement generated from the base and sure, convention types represent some votes themselves and with the people they can bring to the dance.

But it’s not like the old days (“We walked 12 miles to school, through the snow, barefoot!”) when a candidate for governor stone cold needed hard-core party activists. eMeg, especially, has no need for actual people, except perhaps as props.

A final note: Calbuzzer Don Ringe imagines eMeg and The Commish encountering each other in the convention hotel hallway.