As The Gov’s Race Turns: Jack O’Connell Surfaces


The real battle during spring training season in the Democratic primary for governor is between all the candidates not named Jerry Brown who are seeking to emerge as the new wave, Obamarama foil to the Oracle of Oakland.

At the moment, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has that position all to himself, and he’s taking advantage of it, scurrying around the state, Facebooking deep into the night and hobnobbing with big-foot DC journalists while holding forth on the virtues of new clean energy, as opposed to old dirty energy. (And, we hear, he’s burning through cash like Sherman through Georgia.)

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (who’s actually No. 2 in the Field Poll behind EGB Jr) is currently hamstrung by the inconvenient truth that it would look unseemly to launch even before getting sworn in for his second mayoral term in July.

Then there’s Jack O’Connell, the Superintendent of Public Instruction and former two-term state senator and six-term Assembly member.

You Don’t Know Jack has been below the radar for months, but we caught up with him to ask about the state of his gubernatorial ambitions Wednesday, when he checked in by cell after a school tour he was doing in Shasta County.

From this, Calbuzz concludes that O’Connell may be the first politician in history to say he’s “exploring” a possible race for governor who actually is, um, exploring, rather than junketeering and basking in the alleged cheers of unbridled encouragement from The People.

“I’m not going to run for the exercise,” O’Connell told us, adding candidly that “funding is a big obstacle.” (The termed-out O’Connell also flatly denied a rumor that he may run for lite gov; he said he wouldn’t seek any down-ballot office).

The position of schools supe has not exactly been a traditional springboard to top-level statewide office (see Rafferty, Max and Honig, Bill). O’Connell nevertheless said he’s actively “trying to get commitments” from donors, though he has yet to file a declaration of intent that would allow him to start raising money. He said that in making the rounds to assess how much dough he could raise he’s getting one of two basic answers: 1)Count me in or 2)I’m with Jerry.

Well, duh.

No offense Jack, you’re a handsome fella and all, but at 2% in the Field Poll (without Dianne Feinstein in the field), it doesn’t make a lot of sense at this point to compete with Herself for the Window Shopper of the Year Award. If you’re running, it’s generally a good idea to let the voters in on it.

We’re just sayin’.

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There are 7 comments for this post

  1. avatar Bill Bradley says:

    You know that all the candidates not named Jerry Brown actually opposed Obama.

    Which I think Obama knows …

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    R&T: Didn't O’Connell get an early $1 million pump-primer from Reed Hastings?

  3. avatar Anonymous says:

    Reed Hastings pours nearly $1 million into O’Connell for governor campaign

  4. avatar Roberts and Trounstine says:

    Thanks for the link about Hastings giving $1 million to independent expenditure committee to boost O’Connell chances.

  5. avatar Bill Bradley says:

    Reed Hastings did that a very long time ago, in 2007, as a means of boosting O’Connell as a contender. It didn’t work.

  6. avatar Anonymous says:

    The tribes are said to have put another $1.2 million into a committee, with another million coming. That with the Reed Hastings money should give O’Connell all the confidence he needs that money will be there.

  7. avatar Anonymous says:

    O’Connell might have a tough go in the Dem primary, but he would be the strongest general election candidate in the field—and the best gov.

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