Calbuzz: The Next Generation – Plus Some Classics


A world leader in innovative management techniques, team-based new product strategies and future-focused organizational learning, Calbuzz Corporate is all about best practices business operations.

Consistent with that philosophy, our Department of Succession Planning and Forced Geezer Retirements today introduces Braeden Max Vegter (left) Benson Parker James Guron (below), executive vice-presidents in training and the most recently born key players in our Calbuzz 2050 Plan.

As we hunker down at our annual corporate retreat for some intensive staff mentoring and coaching, here’s a holiday offering of a couple of Calbuzz Classics, some prescient posts from one year ago that forecast outcomes for some of the biggest political stories of 2010:

Why iCarly Lost the Senate Race: On November 27, 2009 we took an early look at Carly Fiorina’s GOP bid for Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat, and took note of what would become a chronic problem for her – hoof in mouth disease. We also reported a major bonehead play that ranked right up there with Meg Whitman’s refusal to accept our invitation to dinner and doomed the Fiorina candidacy from the start:

“Two old white guys left standing at the altar: So Carly Fiorina was scheduled to call Calbuzz for an interview Monday, but her handlers stiffed us at the last minute with a murky explanation about some supposedly late-breaking, double secret probation type emergency development thingie.

We were pleased to see, however, that iCarly was not so in distress that she bypassed a Beltway breakfast session with the crew of the conservative American Spectator.  Philip Klein’s post on the affair is well worth reading, if only for the challenge of trying to follow the rococo twists and turns of her extended riff on abortion rights.

On other issues, primary foe Chuck DeVore, R-Sirloin, jumped all over her statement that she would have voted for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, while Mrs. Chuck tweeted exception to Fiorina’s comment that she’s a stronger GOP bet by virtue of not being “a white male.”

Asked why she is a better candidate than her Republican primary opponent Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Calif.), Fiorina said that a woman stands a better chance of defeating Boxer.

“With all due respect and deep affection for white men – I’m married to one – but (Barbara Boxer) knows how to beat them. She’s done it over and over and over again.” Uh, really?

Among those who might take offense at her comment are:

1-The entire base of the California Republican Party.
2-Michelle Malkin, shrill harridan of the GOP’s Glenn Beck wing, who bashed
for an “identity-politics driven campaign.”
3- Matt Fong, the former state controller who lost to Boxer in 1998 and is decidedly not a white male.

To summarize: Hurricane Carly would have been better off calling us.”

Murphy enters the fray: On November 24, 2009, Calbuzz scooped the world by being the first to report that Big Foot Republican consultant Mike Murphy was joining the already crowded ranks of operatives in the Legions of eMeg:

“Mike Murphy, the blunt-spoken, sharp-tongued, smart aleck Republican strategist who has advised such clients as John McCain, Mitt Romney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, is joining Meg Whitman’s campaign for governor, two reliable sources told Calbuzz.

Whitman, who has already spent more than $20 milllion, decided to shake up her campaign on  Friday, Nov. 13, one source told us, and add  another layer to her consultant-rich organization.”

BTW: There’s a rumor afoot that Murph won’t be showing up to participate in the quadrennial deconstruction of the governor and senate races sponsored at Berkeley by the Institute of Governmental Studies, this time Jan. 21-22, 2011.

This event is a junkie’s delight, as top campaign operatives and pollsters shed light on how the campaigns looked from the inside.  Murphy’s non-appearance is just a rumor, at this point, as Ethan Rarick, the point man at IGS, says he can neither confirm or deny the buzz. Calbuzz strongly urges Murphy to NOT be the first major consultant to duck the important retrospective.

What it all meant: A day later, we examined what the hiring of Murphy was likely to mean strategically to Her Megness, taking a look at both the risks and opportunities of the big move. Things played out pretty much as we foresaw with one key exception: it appears that in the inside game, Murphy never gained the upper hand over longtime Whitman sycophant Henry Gomez, whose clout with the candidate, coupled with his utter ineptitude, likely spelled failure for the obscenely expensive campaign from the start:

“Despite their partisan differences, count Democratic consultant Garry South, the party’s Duke of Darkness, as one of Republican strategist Mike Murphy’s fans: ‘He’s a great guy – one of the funniest and smartest people I know in politics. He brings a centrist perspective that befits the political climate in California pretty well.’

But South – who was S.F. Mayor Gavin Newsom’s consultant in the governor’s race until the Prince dropped out last month – also warned that by bringing Murphy into her campaign, Meg Whitman runs the risk that afflicts most wealthy candidates in California (viz: Simon, Bill and Checchi, Al).

‘Having more consultants doesn’t necessarily mean a better campaign,” he added. “They put together these big campaigns but they don’t know who to listen to and there’s sometimes warring camps that take hold inside and give the candidates conflicting advice.’

As word spread, in the wake of our Tuesday post, that Whitman had brought Murphy into her campaign, insiders saw both opportunities and risks in the move, balancing the high-profile consultant’s talent for messaging and strategy against his take-no-prisoners style, which can be aimed both at his candidate’s rival – as well as his own rivals within the c

One Republican strategist who has worked with Murphy described his greatest value to Whitman this way: ‘He’s somebody with actual political experience and the stature to push back on the candidate and her non-political advisers when it’s necessary.’

While it appears that Whitman crony Henry Gomez, her former eBay colleague and closest adviser, was the one who reached out to Murphy, his presence in the campaign will also assure that ‘When Henry has an idea that’s dumb, there’s someone who can call him on it,’ the source said.

Like many business executives, Whitman has a low regard for political professionals, several sources said;  for this reason, she needs a strategist who is not intimidated by her, “someone who can get into her face and say ‘This is what we have to do,’” as one operative put it…

Murphy has a reputation for being disorganized, disheveled and sometimes difficult to get engaged. ‘“Organization is not his forte,’ said a former GOP colleague…

Murphy is said to have been genuinely impressed with Whitman’s leadership skills and – no doubt – her ability to pay whatever fee he’ll be charging for his strategic and message advice. ‘Fortunately, this is the type of campaign that has the luxury to keep adding talent,’ said one operative.”

Now that’s the understatement of 2009.

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There are 5 comments for this post

  1. avatar enbeuu says:

    Fiorina and Whitman had no message. I don’t have a job and limited resources, but I contribute to each of their campaigns and voted for them, too.
    Fiorina was unable to say anything that rung; she said something about being a woman and therefore had a better chance; something very much separating her from a bunch from the beginning; Can you imagine the Boys on the board of CPQ hearing this woman for the first time?

    The HPQ board rejected her, too.

    Whitman I just can’t figure out what she was saying and why se couldn’t make it heard.

  2. avatar Ernie Konnyu says:

    On the CalBuzz article in the L.A. Times about Republican Party reform I tried to post the following but the secret Times guardians stopped me so I’m sharing my insight here:

    It is humorous to see the L.A. Times pick a capable liberal Democrat, Phil Trounstein, the chief spokesman of Democrat Governor Gray Davis, to write an article on how to reform the Republican party into a successful operation. Sort of the blind…Phil does not really understand what makes Republicans successful…leading the currently lame Republicans.

    My 45 years of engagement with the Republican party and eight years of elected legislative leadership says that, unfortunately for him and the Times’ credibility, that’s not how parties are constructed.

    Further, the article is dead wrong on some suggestions such as on the Tea Party recommendation. The Tea Party was right on and the America responded favorably when they attacked the trillion dollar Wall Street bailout, the several trillions in deficit spending, and Obamacare. That’s why the 2010 Republican numbers grew among Republican governors, in the U.S. Senate, and in the incoming Republican majority in the U.S. House.

    In summary, for the sake of the Times’ credibility, the paper should not have picked a natural Republican “enemy” to suggest fixes for the Party’s problems.

    The long term issues of the California Republican party are sourced in the heavy growth of minority voters who are 4 to 1 Democrats. Ideological changes listed by CalBuzz will not really fix that.

  3. avatar Adelaides Lament says:

    Those are the two most handsome Executive VPs-in-training I’ve ever run across – and I’ve run across a number of them. Congratulations to both of you on your successful team building.

  4. avatar gdewar says:

    I would be happy to vote for someone who believes in encouraging and promoting entrepreneurial capitalism, lower the taxes on independent contractors (who always pay the most and get the least) , and keep the government off my case, and so on.

    When you find a party that believes in those principles, and you find someone that’s not a complete jerk-ass (and this missive is not limited to one party, look at some of the yahoos the Democrats voted in to some of the statewides) I’ll be happy to vote for them.

    So long as the GOP insists on jerk-asses like Whitman and Fiorina, however, they will not get my vote. They are no better than any one of an assortment of jerk-ass Democrats that are just as bad. The difference is that the jerk-ass Democrats are too disorganized to do too much damage before they’re voted out.

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