Phil Trounstine, who has terrified generations of politicians and once served as a top aide to tarred-and-feathered former Gov. Gray Davis, is himself eyeing a possible bid to become California’s elected chief executive, Calbuzz has learned.
The revelation follows publication of a must-read, epic world scoop in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday, disclosing that former Bay Area Goldman Sachs banker Neel Kashkari may run for governor and is engaged in a “stealth campaign” to challenge incumbent Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, Jr.
In the wake of that blockbuster, Calbuzz sought out Trounstine as part of a wide ranging investigation that involved calling everyone we knew, to ask if he or she is also pondering a campaign for governor.
Trounstine hasn’t held press conferences, appeared in TV spots or made formal announcements about a possible future race for California governor.
Not yet, at least.
But on the Internet, the 39-year old former editor of the San Jose State Spartan Daily may be laying out the next chapter in his story. Besides bestirring himself to write one or two pieces a month for a popular, authoritative and dingbat website focused on California politics, he has further proven his mastery of social media by spending countless hours on Facebook and Twitter, posting pictures of his dogs and grandchildren, plus him and his stunning wife, Deborah, copping promotional giveaways at a San Francisco Giants game.
Rating his rivals: Among those contacted by the plucky, prize-winning and powerful website were several clerks in Amador City Hall, a large number of felons incarcerated in California penitentiaries and the entire casts of both “Arrested Development” and “Game of Thrones” – the popular HBO fantasy epic that includes 257 characters in the third season alone.
In contrast to this group, Trounstine was the only one who refused to rule out a run: “I will neither confirm nor deny,” he said coyly under tough questioning. “I’ve learned to never say ‘never’ and I’m keeping all my options open.”
Still, Trounstine’s biggest challenge could be his wish to run as the nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party, where his history of Maoist politics and passions for higher taxes and coddling criminals would be a natural fit. Also mitigating against a possible run: his fierce commitment to playing golf seven days a week.
However, Trounstine would bring an encyclopedic knowledge of state politics and government that is a mile wide and an inch deep, which would make him fit right in at the Capitol (the lone exception to the characterization is Brown himself, who has been feeding at the public trough for nearly all of his life, now estimated at 97 years).
The prestigious Field Poll has not yet published a recent survey of gubernatorial wannabes, but a source close to our imagination told us that internal documents show Trounstine currently holding a commanding lead over fellow hopeful Kashkari, 0.0002% to 0.0001%. The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 71%, of course is a snapshot in time, and the new findings may merely represent the name ID of the pair, neither of whom anybody has heard of.
Bottom line: “Phil’s definitely an intriguing choice,” said one Democratic consultant. “At a time when the public is sick of slick, packaged and cautiously-spoken politicians, there aren’t too many candidates more suited than him.”
“Why not?” whispered a Republican insider. “At the rate we’re going, he’d certainly win more votes than anybody the GOP puts up.”