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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Westly’



Costco Carla & Lady Gaga Meet PiWi & The Flash

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Knockdown of the Week: A big alleged story in the governor’s race bounding across the blogosphere this week had Meg Whitman pulling  behind-the-scenes strings that supposedly yanked Tom Campbell out of the governor’s race and into the Republican Senate primary campaign.

But while certain members of the pajama-clad, tin-foil hat brigade spun dark conspiracy theories, Chronicler Carla Marinucci did a bit of what you might call your old-fashioned shoe leather reporting: yes, she actually called Campbell on the telephone and asked him about it.

At which point, not only did Dudley Do Right categorically deny the purported story, but also his campaign put out a statement from super-Sacto consultant Bob White, a key, unindicted co-conspirator in the alleged Whitman plot, which dumped several hundred more gallons of ice water on the paranoiac yarn.

Costco Carla’s knockdown left Julie Soderlund, campaign manager for Carly Fiorina, Campbell’s leading GOP rival, looking silly. Soderlund earlier sent out a heavy breathing e-blast trying to advance the uncorroborated blog report that portrayed Campbell as doing everything but lurking around Dealey Plaza with an open umbrella:

What did Tom Campbell know and when did he know it?
What conversations did he have with the Whitman campaign/Whitman’s supporters?
Was there some sort of quid pro quo in this situation?
And, last but certainly not least, what was he promised for jumping out of the Governor’s race?

Puh-leeze. Putting aside the fact that California voters have zero interest in this  inside baseball narrative, rushing out with a bunch of unsubstantiated, stop-the-presses innuendo simply reinforces the widening perception of Demon Sheep Carly as a flake, especially coming on the same day she dug herself a nice big hole on the issue of California declaring bankruptcy, which required emergency clarification spin from the campaign.

Steve Poizner’s campaign looked only slightly less foolish, in also rushing to judgment on the Col. Mustard-with-the-candlestick-in-the-conservatory story line.  Memo to Commish: You got your 15 minutes attacking eMeg over the now-infamous Mike Murphy email so give this line of attack a rest, man.

He calls ‘em as he seez ‘em and he always call ‘em Right: This week’s Nestor Chylak Award for first-rate umpiring goes to Jon “The Flash” Fleischman for his on-the-money essay calling on all the candidates for governor and Senate — he names no names, Meg Whitman — to debate at the upcoming Republican state convention:

This election cycle we have candidates running for major statewide offices that have no history in politics – and therefore no specific way to judge exactly what they will do…

If you are a major candidate for the GOP nomination for Governor, and you’ve not yet agreed to participate in a debate at the Republican convention, the time to do so is now.  Show your support of, and respect for hard-working GOP volunteers (not to mention the other 39 million people in California -ed.) by appearing before them with your sleeves rolled up, ready to take whatever questions should be posited [at] the event.

All this, and he used the word “posited” in a sentence, too. Calbuzz sez check it out.

Virtual Steve vs. Virtual Meg: Just can’t wait to see eMeg and The Commish go nose-to-nose over who hates the Delta smelt more? Calbuzz Online Video Political Cartoon Consultant Don Ringe previews the GOP smackdown here. Spoiler alert: Watch for eMeg’s sucker punch at the end.

If he agrees with Calbuzz, he must be right: Former state controller and Democratic big stick Steve Westly, an eMeg eBay colleague in a past life, argues at Green Tech Media that the Great Woman’s rabid opposition to the AB32 greenhouse gas legislation is not only bad policy but bad politics as well. Whitman’s promise to suspend AB32 on her first day in office, according to the erstwhile Democratic contender for governor:

…would be a stunning step in the wrong direction. Most of the people I know throughout Silicon Valley realize that to be a colossal mistake. This is the highest growth job segment. This state’s job engine for the future is in clean technology. It is one of the key reasons you will see a Democratic governor in 2010.

As we’ve noted previously, her Smokestack Meg play may play well in a Republican primary, but it’s a loser as a general election strategy.

Oh, wait, we’re already in the general election campaign, according to Whitman campaign chairman Pete “PiWi” Wilson, who claims in a this-just-in eMeg eblast:

Jerry Brown and his allies are beginning the General Election today. We must respond…It is now very clear that the entire Republican Party must unite behind Meg’s campaign. We have an outstanding party standard bearer. Since last summer, Meg has led among GOP voters in every independent poll by enormous margins, and those same polls show that she is the strongest Republican candidate against Jerry Brown.

We must unite. Meg and our campaign team are beginning the General Election today, and we are not wasting time.

Geez, who’s gonna tell Poizner? I know, let’s get Murphy to do it!

Life in imitation of art: Loyal Calbuzzers will recall that not long ago, we offered a learned discourse on the theory of political reporting known as Dull But Important, with a glimpse at the fictional magazine of the genre known as “DBI.” Imagine our surprise to learn that the eggheads and chrome domes at UC Bezerkely have broken the frame and are actually producing DBI for real.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Lady Gaga – she’s just like you and me.


Press Clips: And Now, the Calbuzz “Little Pulitzers”

Friday, September 4th, 2009

leomccarthyChecking Arnold’s respirations: The late, great Speaker Leo Tarcissus McCarthy, who also served three terms as Lieutenant Governor, used to joke, sort of, that his chief duty was to get up in the morning, make sure the governor was still breathing, then go back to bed.

With incumbent Lite Gov John Garamendi apparently headed for Congress after skunking the field in the 10th CD special the other night, speculation abounds about who the Terminator might pick to replace him (of which the weirdest is the strange-bedfellow suggestion by state Demo chair John Burton that Republican and ex-L.A. Mayor Dick Riordan would make a fine seat-warmer).

For our money, however, the estimable Joe Mathews is on the right track, in this piece excavated from the files of Fox & Hounds, to wit: Does California really need a lieutenant governor? The 30 employees of the office are no doubt Fine People and Great Americans, and the $3 million they cost is a decidedly modest amount, but bottom line? How much would taxpayers really suffer from cutting back our delegation to the Shanghai Wine and Cheese Exposition ?

suehortonThree Dot Awards: This week’s Calbuzz “Little Pulitzer” prize for High-Impact Performance goes to Sue Horton, indefatigable editor of the op-ed page at the By God L.A. Times, who scooped the world by landing a piece by online TV journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, their first since being released from captivity in North Korea…

Best of  Show for the week’s political reporting goes to Merc Newsman Mike Zapler for his sharp piece on how Hewlett-Packard peddled millions of dollars of electronics to Iran, in violation of U.S. trade policy, under the fine leadership of Hurricane Carly Fiorina…

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Top Honors in the investigative category go to the Contra Costa Times for compiling and publishing a data base with the salaries of 134,000 public employees in the Bay Area, including a whopping $876,831 paid to one Nancy Farber for running the tiny Washington Township public health care district in southern Alameda County; turns out the district employs four of the top 10 salaried folks in the survey. Talk about your Cadillac health care – now there’s the place you wanna get sick.  Or hired.

And the coveted “If It’s News, It’s News to Us” prize to the Sacto B-, for waking up from a long and snuggly nap to breathlessly report that Steve Westly “unequivocally” isn’t running for governor, more than two weeks after the Calbuzz knock down of that silly rumor peddled by Willie Brown in the, um, news pages of the Chron. This just in to the Bee: World War II Unequivocally Over!

george_lakoffAnd another thing, Barack: We’re drowning in blog posts offering earnest, unctuous and cheap, bad advice to the president about what he should, shouldn’t, did and didn’t do in selling health care reform to the nation. As he prepares to deliver a crucial speech on the subject at a special joint session of Congress next week, one of the few pieces worth perusing comes from George Lakoff, noted  Bezerkley chrome dome and author of several books on how language shapes perception. The piece by Lakoff, who’s the (all rise) Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at Cal, is even longer than his title, but well worth the effort.

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Context on context: David Dayen, world’s most prolific blogger, takes a brief time-out from accepting online journalism awards to message from his perch at Calitics that he’s certain we misstated the context of now-infamous comments by Bert Stead, self-proclaimed “right-wing terrorist” at Rep. Wally Herger’s town hall meeting. Says the Dayen of Delphi:

“The right-wing terrorist” comment is a ‘vamp’ – but on a report delivered by the Department of Homeland Security back in April on right-wing terrorism, which conservatives howled about and eventually forced a retraction. Because conservative extremists have never resorted to violence to make their political points (Holocaust museum, Jim Adkisson in Tennessee, Tim McVeigh). Conservatives have been wearing the label as a badge of honor since April. Here’s a site that started in May. ”

So noted.

Jerry Brown and the Woman With a Glass Eye

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

jerrybrownprofileEvery time we see a suggestion that millionaire former Controller Steve Westly might jump into the 2010 governor’s race (which – Yo Willie! – isn’t happening*), we’re reminded of the last time he and Jerry Brown sought the same office. The year was 1988, and Brown big footed his way into the race for California Democratic Party Chairman,  which had been looking like a sure thing for Westly.

The former governor parachuting into the contest was a huge disappointment for party Vice Chairman Westly, who, back then in his pre-eBay days, was an earnest grass-roots activist.

Before grabbing the party chairmanship in the winter of 1989, however, Brown ran into a bit of trouble with liberal party regulars on a key Democratic issue: abortion. The matter is unlikely to come up specifically in the 2010 governor’s race primary because, as a public official, Brown has been an unwavering supporter of pro-choice policies.

But back then, Brown professed that he was personally opposed to abortion and acknowledged he had recently urged clemency for one of the nation’s most visible and fanatical anti-abortion activists.

joanandrewsA few weeks before the election for state party chairman, the San Jose Mercury News revealed that Brown had written to Florida state officials earlier in the year on behalf of Joan Andrews, a pro-life crusader from Delaware. She had been sentenced to five years on burglary charges for her part in the 1986 storming of a Pensacola abortion clinic in which equipment was damaged and two workers were slightly injured.

”People are shocked and very dismayed,” the lefty field director of the 24,000-member California Abortion Rights Action League said at the time. Her name was Susan Kennedy, and she’s since evolved into Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hard-nosed, cigar-smoking chief of staff.

“Jerry Brown stated that his private position on abortion would not affect his ability to lead the party,” Kennedy said at the time. “But the very fact that he wrote this letter on behalf of Joan Andrews clearly steps across the line of having personal beliefs into the public and political realm of crusading for those beliefs.”

At the time, Brown said that ”My position is just what it was before.”

“I am against abortion and I feel more strongly than ever about that,” he said. “But I also deeply respect the autonomy and integrity of each person and that means to me that you trust women to make these judgments on their own and not to call upon the coercive power of the state.”

That, however, was a far cry from the statements attributed to Brown earlier that year by Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the National Catholic News Service, who had written that Brown said he sees “the killing of the unborn as crazy.”

Even more upsetting for some Democrats was Brown’s intercession on behalf of Andrews, then a 40-year-old Roman Catholic activist who had been arrested more than 130 times. Arch-conservative former Republican Congressman Robert Dornan of Garden Grove, had praised her as “a new martyr on the world stage of human rights causes.”

”To me, this is a clear civil rights issue,” Brown said back then, explaining his support for Andrews.

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He said Mother Teresa first told him about Andrews’ case when he was working at her House of the Pure Heart in Calcutta. “I told her I did not believe that there was any woman incarcerated for five years for a non-violent, trespass offense. And I said I’d look into it for her.”

Sentenced to five years for the Pensacola case after refusing to pledge not to break into the clinic in the future, Andrews caused a furor when she arrived at the Broward Correctional Institution. She resisted a mandatory strip- search, jumping off an examining table, banging her head on the floor and throwing her glass eye across the room, according to news reports from Florida.

Prison officials said Andrews was an uncooperative prisoner and kept her segregated from other prisoners.

‘The issue was,” said Brown, “should a person convicted of non-violent crimes, who’s not cooperating with the prison authorities, be in solitary confinement for five years?”

Andrews, who was married years later and became Joan Andrews Bell, has been arrested and jailed scores of times in the intervening years, including most recently in May 2009 at Notre Dame, as part of an anti-Obama anti-abortion demonstration.

In April of 2006, LA City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo tried to use the issue against Brown in his campaign for attorney general, arguing: “He says he is pro-choice, but he wrote a letter on behalf of an abortion terrorist for clemency, to get out of jail early, which she did, and then went on to attack more abortion clinics across the United States.”

“It’s absurd,” Brown told the LA Times. “When Mother Teresa asks you to do something that is fairly reasonable, most people would do it. [Andrews Bell] spent 2 1/2 years in solitary confinement. The sentence was longer than a lot of robbers were getting at the time. I said it was wrong, what she did, but the question was, was 2 1/2 years in solitary confinement enough?”

Brown scooped up endorsements from abortion rights leaders, including Nancy Casady of the California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, among others, and the issue did not  surface again.

As a political matter in the 2010 governor’s race, the episode is unlikely to pose  trouble for Brown on the policy issue of abortion — but it could be used to illustrate and underscore his reputation as a political chameleon who has re-invented himself countless times.

“It wasn’t a problem for the Democrats. It wasn’t a problem in the Attorney General’s race. What’s the point? It’s old news,” Brown told Calbuzz with a hint of irritation.

Brown’s stance in favor of choice is second nature to him, he said – like being in favor of the minimum wage, collective bargaining or the right of people to get married. He said he put funding for abortion into MediCal back when the Legislature was opposed to it and he still supports funding in MediCal and for family-planning clinics. “It’s a level of obviousness that you cannot convert it into an issue,” he told us.

Perhaps. But Brown’s clemency letter for Andrews just might qualify as one of what Garry South, rival Gavin Newsom’s consultant, refers to as the “huge number of contradictions, conflicted positions and controversies that Democrats are going to have to consider” about Brown.

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“When you get the full grasp of Jerry Brown’s record over 40 years, it’s an embarrassment of riches,” said the Duke of Darkness. “He’s not going to be able to cherry-pick what he wants people to know about his record,” South said, pointing, for example to Brown’s support for the flat tax during his 1992 campaign for president.  Said South:

“This guy’s had more incarnations than Zelig and he’s taken more positions than there are in the Kama Sutra.”

* With Willie Brown and others peddling stories about Steve Westly running for governor, Calbuzz figured, hey, since we’ve done all this “actual reporting” anyway, why not just call the guy and ask him if there’s any chance he’d get into the 2010 governor’s race.

“I’m completely focused on being the best father I can be and building one of the best clean-tech venture capital funds ever created,” Westly said.  Of course, he added, he’s hoping to run statewide some time in the future. But now’s not the time.

Friday Fishwrap: Polls, Pols, Snoozers and Gems

Friday, August 14th, 2009

MarkosScrewEmMoulitsasThe most intriguing point in the curious new  Daily Kos survey  is the odd finding that half of California Democrats say they are undecided between Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom in the 2010 primary for governor — a reported factoid that is likely to fuel speculation about a third candidate entering the race.

The survey of 600 likely voters (400 Democrats, we think*), done for the influential lefty web site by Research 2000, shows that  General Jerry  leads Prince Gavin, 29-to-20. (Note: the survey also shows gay marriage in a dead heat, with a whopping 54% of independents in favor — another puzzling result.)

Half the voters are also supposedly undecided on the GOP side (400 of them, too?*), where Meg Whitman leads Tom Campbell, 27-to-21 and Steve Poizner brings up the rear at 9. In general election match-ups, Brown leads all three Republican wannabes, with margins between 6 and 9 points, while Newsom ties all the GOP contenders.

With some Democratic insiders unhappy about the choice between Brown and Newsom — “What’s that old Leiber-Stoller song: ‘Is That All There Is?’” one grizzled SoCal pol told Calbuzz –- there’s been a spate of stories in recent days about a late entrant into the race, with the names of rich techie  Steve Westly and Rep. Loretta Sanchez thrown around most often.

But Westly couldn’t beat Phil Angelides, fercrineoutloud, and Sanchez has about 12 cents in the bank despite the good optics her campaign could present. If forced to name a long shot, Calbuzz would grudgingly go with Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who’s at least sitting on a wad of campaign cash. But we lean towards today’s conventional wisdom, propounded by our friend John Wildermuth that “the speculation is for entertainment value only.”

“Like them or not, the folks out there on the campaign trail right now — and that includes you, Jerry Brown –- are the ones you’re going to see on the primary ballot come June,” John Boy posted over at Fox and Hounds Daily.

Calbuzz has some questions about the poll’s methodology, but it reports data about both the race for governor and Barbara Boxer’s re-election bid, so at the least it’s fun to talk about. While Newsom and his faithful cheerleaders will doubtless trumpet the survey as proving that the race with Brown is tight, they’re unlikely to mention that the poll shows Prince Gavin is viewed negatively statewide: 42 percent have an unfavorable opinion while 40 percent view him favorably, which compares poorly to Brown who has a 48-to-37 percent positive image.

* Pollster weedwhacker questions: Research 2000 says, “A total of 600 likely voters who vote regularly in state elections were interviewed statewide by telephone. Those interviewed were selected by the random variation of the last four digits of telephone numbers. A cross-section of exchanges was utilized in order to ensure an accurate reflection of the state. Quotas were assigned to reflect the voter registration of distribution by county. . . There was an over sample conducted among Democratic and Republican primary voters totaling 400. The margin of error is 5% for both.”

Calbuzz, with considerable experience at statewide polling in California wants to know: 1) If the survey had 600 “likely voters who vote regularly in state elections,” was the sample drawn from the voter list or was it a random distribution of telephone exchanges (RDD)? If the former, what’s the deal with a “cross-section of exchanges”? If the latter, how were likely voters identified? 2) Were voters called who only have cell phones? 3) If quotas were assigned, what’s with the “over sample” and how did the survey come up with 400 Democrats and Republicans from a total of 600 likely voters? 5) The demographics say there were 271 Democrats, 180 Republicans and 149 Independents (600) and also that there were 172 Democratic men and 228 Democratic women (400) and also 208 Republican men and 192 Republican women (400).  We don’t get the math. 6) How did the surveyors decide that 21% of the sample should be Hispanics? 7) Why are voters age 60+ only 19% of the sample? 8.  Were independents included in the primary match-ups?

If it’s news, it’s news to us: In what we thought at first was an exercise in  self-parody, the By God L.A. Times ran a Monday piece discovering the Parsky Commission, which has been laboring for months to rewrite California’s tax code, amid widespread reports and analysis of ideological battles within the group.

Earnestly hewing to the Times’ unwritten code – OK to write it last, as long as you write it long – Eric Bailey churned out a 1,000 word snoozer including such astonishing scoops as this:

“A 14-member panel of political appointees dubbed the Commission on the 21st Century Economy has been meeting quietly since the start of the year to ponder potentially revolutionary changes.”

(Uh, actually, not all that quietly, bro).

“As envisioned by Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders, the notion was to bring together a collection of mostly apolitical wonks to settle issues that deeply divide the Capitol.

It has not been easy.”

Stop the presses, Maude – the Times says there’s politics afoot at the Parsky Commission!

Why Tterry grosserry Gross should be enshrined: Calbuzz pick for smartest political piece of the week is Geoffey Nunberg’s NPR essay on Terry’s  “Fresh Air” about the Republican success in reframing political debate by reinventing  usage of the word “government.”

Nunberg, a professor of linguistics at UC Berkeley, said the GOP is winning the fight over health care reform primarily by deriding Democratic proposals as medicine-by-government:

“In sickness and in health, Republicans have always been better than Democrats at singing from the same hymnal, and right now they’re all turned to the page that’s headed “government takeover.” The charge makes supporters of the Democrats’ health care plans apoplectic. There’s nothing remotely like that in the plans, they say — it’s like equating the provision of public toilets with a takeover of the nation’s bathrooms. Even so, the supporters would as soon leave the word government out of the conversation, which is why they describe the proposed federally run insurance program as the “public option.” Public is the word we use when we want to talk about government approvingly, by focusing on its beneficiaries -– as in public schools, public servants, public lands, and public works.”

Nunberg traced the roots of “government” as epithet back to Wendell Wilkie, but credited Ronald Reagan with finishing off the partisan task of turning it into a curse word:

“Reagan’s real contribution was to shrink the cast of characters to a simple opposition between government and “the people.” Big business was eliminated from the political landscape, absorbed into “the market,” where everyone was free to shop around for the ripest tomatoes. You could no longer ask the question, “Whose side is government on?” — government simply was the other side.”

The transcript of the piece is here and a podcast is here.

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Not so fast there: Chronster Carla Marinucci had the best second day story on the decision by Equality California, the state’s leading gay rights group, to delay until 2012 a new gay marriage initiative, reporting on the anger amid more populist gay groups determined to push a measure for 2010.

Equality California set forth all the political reasons for waiting until 2012 in an analysis you can download here and took a bunch of incoming fire for their trouble.

Equality California “is following the wishes of some of its donors who have cold feet, and not the wishes of the grassroots and the common man and woman in the community,” John Henning of an L.A. group called Love Honor Cherish told Ms. Carla. “They’re ignoring an enormous amount of momentum that is out there. People want this to be voted on and they expect it to be — and soon.”

Calbuzz says:  Careful what you wish for.

Why Rich Guys Don’t Win Top Offices in California

Monday, May 4th, 2009

poiznerAs the 2010 field for governor takes shape, the top Republican contenders are a pair of successful former Silicon Valley businesspeople, each armed for the campaign with a self-made fortune.

megcropBoth Meg Whitman, who scored big at eBay, and Steve Poizner, who made his pile as a high-tech innovator, begin the race with the wherewithal to spend whatever it takes to win. If past is prologue, however, Whitman and Poizner will both end up political losers.

Pity the poor billionaire seeking high office in California : Not once in modern political history has a self-financed candidate captured a top-of-ticket party nomination and gone on to be elected governor or U.S. senator in the state.

This historic trend again marks California as a great exception, in contrast to states like New Jersey and Texas , where multimillionaires routinely prevail.
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Industrialist Norton Simon set the bar low for wealthy candidates in California when he tried and failed to oust Senator George Murphy in the 1970 GOP primary. Liberal shipping magnate William Matson Roth kept the losing streak intact when he lost the 1974 Democratic gubernatorial primary to a guy named Jerry Brown.

Since then, three wealthy businessmen who would be governor – Al Checchi (1998) Bill Simon (2002) and Steve Westly (2006) spent big but finished out of the money. So did Michael Huffington, who spent $100 million in losing to Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 1994, and Darrell Issa, who forked out millions of his car alarm fortune to stumble in the 1998 GOP Senate primary.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only self-funded candidate who’s made it to a top slot. However, he short-circuited the odds by avoiding a primary, where the Republican right wing would have battered him, to capture the governorship in the anomalous 2003 recall (funded largely by Issa) of Gray Davis.

“The problem is that there’s an innate suspicion about people running without a history in politics,” said Bill Carrick, a California-based political strategist who crafted Feinstein’s 1994 campaign defense against Huffington’s millions.

It is instructive that Feinstein prevailed with a bit of political ju-jitsu, transforming Huffington’s limitless resources from an asset into a liability, with TV attack ads that labeled him “a Texas oilman Californians just can’t trust.”

“There’s a group of voters who find the outsider, business candidate attractive,” Carrick said. “They’re white men over 50, with anti-establishment political views, who don’t like the status quo. But it never gets beyond that universe.”

Garry South, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s chief strategist — who helped Davis defeat former Northwest Airlines CEO Checchi in the 1998 primary, and Republican financier Simon in the 2002 general election — cited several reasons for the failure of Golden State silver spoon candidates.

“They have too much money,” South said, noting that without normal budget constraints, rich candidates often fail to develop a coherent message or target it to voters. Checchi’s consultants, for example, produced a staggering 102 TV spots in 1998, airing 42 of them. Said South: “They think they can say everything about themselves to everybody.”

Unlike professional politicians, wealthy rookies lack a group of seasoned advisers, “so they go out and hire everybody in the Western Hemisphere and wind up with a big bloated campaign team with no real chain of command,” South said, adding that successful executives often underestimate the difficulty of running for office.

“They think because they’re successful in business, they’re smarter, better and more clever than anybody in politics,” he said. “They honestly don’t get that the things that they’re most proud of in their business life don’t compute in the political world.”

But Republican consultant Rob Stutzman, who works for Whitman, the richest of the current candidate crop, argued that as political reforms have squeezed contribution limits, individual wealth is almost a prerequisite for running in California .

“You have to have self-funding in order to run credibly statewide,” he said. “You can’t raise enough money at a fast enough clip to compete.”

Whitman strategists emphasize that she (like her rival, Insurance Commissioner Poizner) is aggressively raising money to supplement self-donations.

“Meg believes there have to be investors in the message and the mission,” said spokesman Mitch Zak, predicting that she will raise $5 million in outside contributions to go with $4 million she’s kicked in herself, by summer.

Although a third wealthy candidate – Guess Jeans co-founder Georges Marciano – plans to run as an independent, polltaker Mervin Field foresees that the economic meltdown will create a daunting political climate for rich candidates of every stripe.

“The state is in one hell of a mess,” Field said. “I believe voters will be looking for someone with a different resume.”

This article is also scheduled for publication in the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday, May 4.