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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Cooley’



How “San Francisco Democrats” Could Hurt Brown

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

It speaks volumes that Meg Whitman’s first public appearance as the Republican nominee for governor will be a joint event with the GOP’s other statewide candidates while Jerry Brown plans to hold a rally of one.

California has scant history of campaigns that feature major party candidates running in tandem with down-ticket nominees, but last night’s results on the Democratic side offer eMeg plenty of reasons to try to tie Krusty the General closely to some of his party colleagues.

With all the money in the world to run multiple campaign themes, don’t be surprised if Whitman constructs a narrative that appeals to independent voters and underscores her attack lines on Brown, by identifying him as the leader of a statewide ticket of Bay Area Democratic liberals.

With such a gambit, eMeg could try to frame the election as a choice between an outside challenger (her) and a California political status quo dominated by arrogant and ineffective lefties (Jerry and his Kids) whom she portrays as weak on taxes, soft on crime, permissive on illegal immigration and in the thrall of public employee unions.

The notion recalls the 1984 presidential race, when President Ronald Reagan was nominated for a second term at a convention that rocked with raucous bashing of “San Francisco Democrats,” who had nominated the ill-fated Walter Mondale in that city a month earlier.

“It’s a very plausible strategy,” said one top Republican consultant. “That’s what I would do if I was running against Jerry,” chimed in a Democratic statewide strategist. “Duh,” said another.

The basics were suggested weeks ago, by Democratic political consultant (and Jerry Brown hater) Garry South, who argued that his client for Lite Gov — Janice Hahn — would be a better “running mate” for Brown than South’s former client, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a liberal white male who’d be a drag on Brown statewide.

As a political matter, Whitman would certainly have raw material to work with:

– Newsom, the lieutenant governor nominee, is known statewide for his sneering “whether they like it or not” comment, flung at foes in his role as the High Priest of Gay Marriage, not to mention the anything-goes values and left-wing politics associated with his city around the state.

– San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, the attorney general nominee, is not only embroiled in a scandal involving the city’s drug lab which has threatened  prosecutions in hundreds of drug cases, but also the architect of a decision not to seek the death penalty in the high profile case of a cop killer, among other controversies.

– U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, since beginning her career in Marin County, has long been a vivid symbol of California liberalism, a three-term incumbent with a reputation for arrogance that went on full display in her now-famous dressing down of a military leader for not addressing her as “Senator” during a public hearing.

And that’s not to mention U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco liberal conservatives love to hate (often with absolutely no rationale.)

The Bay Area lefties strategy, of course, carries considerable risks, as well as opportunities.

For starters, Democrats still dominate Republicans in voter registration statewide, and President Obama remains very popular in California, two factors that could make the move backfire. A majority of independents appear, also, to identify with Democrats more often than with Republicans on many issues.

For another thing, while Whitman might be quick to frame Brown and the Democrats as a purported “ticket,” she would likely be loathe to invite comparisons with the Republican slate, which at times bears resemblance to the bar scene in Star Wars:

Lite Gov nominee Abel Maldonado has a well-earned reputation as a flip-flopping wiggler who is hardly a beloved figure among his own party; Attorney General candidate Steve Cooley was assailed by GOP primary rivals for being soft on Three Strikes prosecutions and Senate candidate Carly Fiorina is, well, she’s Hurricane Carly and all that implies.

The Dem reply to an attempt to ticketize Jerry’s Kids might well be to cast Carly and Meg together and ask: “Do you want to be represented by a pair of greedy business moguls who would take away your right to choose, cut pensions for cops, firefighters and teachers and turn back the clock on global warming?”

To be sure, some political professionals just don’t think the ticket strategy works in California.

“That assumes the whole ticket effect and I don’t buy that for California,” said one prominent GOP consultant. “Guilt by association, the boogie man – I don’t think is going to be effective with voters.”

On the other hand, we’ve never seen what you can do with an unlimited campaign budget, have we?

Arnold Tries Again on T-Ridge & Rumors of the Week

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

offshoreGovernor Schwarzmuscle rolled out a new version of his twice-defeated plan for expanded offshore drilling Friday, but it’s tough to imagine his latest tweaks changing many minds.

Despite his 0-2 record in pushing for a lease to allow the PXP energy company to drill in state waters off the coast of Santa Barbara, Arnold doggedly added the Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil project to his just released, ugly budget plan.

As a financial proposal, the much chronicled project (memo to those who’ve been sightseeing in Albania since May: see Calbuzz archive) is intended to generate a quick, couple hundred million bucks for the recession ravaged state treasury. Politically, however, Schwarzenegger must overcome the passionate and visceral opposition to offshore drilling which reflects longstanding California environmental policy.

The project was voted down by the State Lands Commission early last year, then rejected by the Legislature at the end of the long summer budget battle. Now Schwarzenegger is trying again, tarting up the proposal politically with some key tactical changes:

Process: The budget plan calls for T-Ridge to be sent back to the State Lands Commission for rehearing.

The change is crucial, because reconsideration by the lands commission is exactly what the faction of environmentalists who back the project, led by Santa Barbara’ Environmental Defense Center, have been seeking, as an alternative to Schwarzenegger muscling the matter through the Legislature. His move instantly paid off in the form of a quick EDC statement in support of the governor’s latest plan:krop_lg

“We look forward to the opportunity to have this project reconsidered by the State Lands Commission,” said Linda Krop, EDC’s chief counsel, expressing “appreciation” to the governor. “Reconsideration by the State Lands Commission is the only process that we support to address this unique proposal.”

Despite the new process, however, Schwarzenegger’s budget document also states that if the drilling plan is “not approved by the Commission, legislation will be necessary,” making it clear that he will take another run at the Legislature if state lands turns it down again.

Abel Maldonado: The administration’s clear political calculation is that  Senator Abel Maldonado, whom Schwarzenegger has nominated for  Lieutenant Governor, would vote for the measure on the lands commission.

The Lite Gov is one of three members of the commission, and John Garamendi, the former occupant of the office who was recently elected to Congress, cast the deciding vote against PXP’s plan last year. Although Maldonado also voted against it as a state senator, his well-earned reputation for political opportunism makes it not unlikely he’d see things the governor’s way if the Legislature confirms him.

State Parks: The money generated by the PXP project would be earmarked for state parks, many of which were slated for closure last year, until Schwarzenegger reinstated funding. By tying the new lease to parks financing, he forces a choice for the lesser of two environmental evils.

Pedro-Nava“The governor has truly sunk to a new low, by making the parks system, the jewel of California, reliant on new offshore oil drilling,” said Assemblyman Pedro Nava, who has led legislative opposition to the drilling proposal.

Warming to his task, Nava said that linking parks and offshore oil was like “offering a rent reduction to a victim of domestic violence in exchange for forcing them to go back and live with the abuser.”

That little vein in his ample forehead throbbing vigorously, he added:

“If anybody thinks there wasn’t an agreement reached by Abel Maldonado (with Schwarzenegger) then think again. This is one of the most cynical acts I’ve ever seen.”

Beyond the PXP conflict, the offshore debate is certain to become even more combative this year with the introduction by Republican Chuck DeVore, an Orange County assemblyman and contender for the U.S. Senate nomination, of legislation to effectively open up the entire California coastline to new drilling.devore

DeVore said his plan, which would impose a 40 percent royalty on offshore oil and natural gas extraction, could generate as much as $16 billion by 2011: “My proposal generates billions of dollars this year, when California needs it most,” he said.  “Allowing new offshore leases under this plan prevents cuts to education, public safety and other government services.”

T-Ridge and the DeVore measure are the latest examples of the intertwined politics of the economy and the environment moving center stage in 2010 campaigns.  Check back on Monday for more on this development.

Rumors of the week: Calbuzz hears that Steve Cooley, L.A.’s hardass, three-term district attorney, plans to jump into the Republican race for Attorney General, perhaps as early as next week.

SteveCooley_picCooley’s entry would be a game-changer in the race, giving the GOP a top-drawer candidate with a good chance to win statewide office. Cooley also offers a sharp contrast to Democratic front-runner Kamala Harris, the San Francisco district attorney who’s against the death penalty and  embroiled in controversy over a program to funnel illegal immigrant felons into a jobs program instead of prison.

Add rumors: We got no inside info on this one, but we won’t be surprised if GOP wannabe governor Tom Campbell announces a switch to the Senate soon after his impending return from his Panamanian vacaciones. Bill Whalen’s got a good post looking at the implications of such a move.

Quote of the week:* Our pal Alan Mutter, noted media analyst and Chicago deep dish pizza aficionado, was interviewed by the New York Times for a story about the struggle of newspaper owners against the rise of the web, and replied:

“One of the problems is newspapers fired so many journalists and turned Mutterthem loose to start so many blogs,” Mr. Mutter said. “They should have executed them. They wouldn’t have had competition. But they foolishly let them out alive.”

*Calbuzzer Alert: Send us your nominees for Quote of the Week, which we’ll run each Saturday. Winners get two free Calbuzz buttons; second place gets three.