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Posts Tagged ‘Fox and Hounds’



Meyer on Meg & Goldman Sachs; Press Clips

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

All the news that fits: Today’s Tom Meyer take on ‘eMeg’s Goldman Sachs connection offers some insight into the potential of the campaign issue that the billionaire business background of Her Megness hands to Jerry Brown; one sign of how effective the matter may be is the energy that Team Whitman is devoting to flogging Dan Walters’s oldie but goodie saga of Crusty’s financial connections to Indonesian oil.  And speaking of money and politics, LA Timesman Michael Rothfeld’s examination of when, exactly, eMeg became a candidate and what spending she should be required to report is a first-rate piece of campaign enterprise reporting.

Is that a spoon stuck up your nose or are you just happy to see me? Chroniclers Phil Matier and Andy Ross did a fine piece of Actual Reporting that offers a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes political calculations of San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, whose aspirations to become attorney general are hardly helped by the widening drug lab scandal in the city, where hundreds of felony cases have been put at risk because a veteran police lab technician kept sniffing up all the evidence.

Harris, who insists she knew nothin’ about nothin’ for months after the top drug prosecutor in her office wrote a memo warning of the problems at the lab, has now booted the whole mess to AG Brown, because her ability to handle many of these cases has been compromised after many prosecutors were interviewed by the cops investigating the matter.

Harris is supposedly a strong front-runner in the crowded Democratic AG’s race, but the case of the mysterious disappearing cocaine, coupled with her starring role in releasing illegal immigrants charged with felonies into a jobs program  leads us to wonder if her campaign slogan will soon be:  “Kamala Harris – The Only D.A. FOR Crime.”

Don’t miss: Tony Quinn probably knows more about reapportionment than anyone else in California, and his splendid Fox and Hounds piece about the sleazy machinations involved in the Democrats’ attempt to repeal the Proposition 11 redistricting reform is a must read…Amid Abel Maldonado’s belated confirmation as lieutenant governor, it’s worth taking a second look at the well researched LAT op-ed by Garry South, who notes that it’s been 40 years since an appointed statewide official in California was elected to the office for which he had been tapped…We refuse to be the last to comment on our old friend Mark Leibovich’s superb profile of Mike Allen, star reporter for Politico , which has been dissected by at least 8 zillion blogs before it’s even been published as this Sunday’s NYT mag cover piece, but we do suggest you check out the yarn by Allen’s colleagues Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin deflating the media bubble around the Tea Party.

Sometimes a good read is just a good read: It’s got nothing to do with politics or media but N.R. Kleinfield’s piece on doormen in New York is just a lovely gem of feature writing that’s worth a read, as is Hudson Sangree’s atmospheric offering in the Sacbee on the Welcome Grove Lodge.

Just because: This is the greatest baseball play we’ve seen this season.

PPIC Poll: Poizner’s Immigrant Bashing Looks Lame

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

On the high-profile races for governor and U.S. Senate, the survey out Wednesday night from the Public Policy Institute of California breaks little new ground. But, combined with the Field Poll from last week, it does offer some insight into whether it makes any sense at all for Steve Poizner to be using illegal immigration to make himself the preferred candidate for conservatives in the Republican primary against Meg Whitman.

The answer? We don’t get it.

According to PPIC’s polling, 66% of registered voters believe illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the U.S. for two years or more should be given a chance to keep their jobs and apply for legal status. And that includes 78% of Democrats, 68% of independents and even 49% of Republicans, compared to 46% of Republicans who say deport ’em.

In other words, this is not a slam-dunk issue with Republicans. Apparently Poizner thinks he can goose the issue a bit (see Pete Wilson, 1994, “They Keep Coming”), feeding off a sentiment PPIC found: that while 64% of Democrats and 52% of independents say immigrants are a benefit to California, 68% of Republicans say they are a burden.

“It’s somewhat fertile ground,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “But it doesn’t have the salience and relevance that it had in earlier downturns . . . That’s not to say it won’t resonate with some of the more conservative voters, but it doesn’t seem like a topic that’s going to attract broad support among Republican voters this time around.”

True, the Field Poll found, illegal immigration is a top-tier issue for Republicans (fourth in importance after the state budget deficit, jobs/economy and taxes) compared to a lower-level issue for voters overall. As Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo noted of Poizner: “He’s singled out an issue that is of greater importance to Republican primary voters. It’s red meat . . . Whether it’s going to make a difference, I don’t know. He’s so far behind.”

Indeed. Poizner is in a huge hole: PPIC found him 50 points behind Whitman at 61-11% — about the same as the Field Poll’s 63-14%. It’s hard to see how he can gain enough ground on Whitman on this issue. On the other hand, maybe the Commish is part of a secret GOP plot to make eMeg look more moderate in the general election: if Poizner comes up short, he will have succeeded in making Whitman look more reasonable to Latino voters in November.

Heavens knows she needs some help on that front: while PPIC has her ahead of Brown 44-39% overall, he’s beating her 45-35% among Latinos (it was 54-25% for Brown in the Field Poll). Even before Brown makes a serious case to Latino voters, as Calbuzz noted the other day.

BTW, in case you missed it, catch Tony Quinn’s bitch-slap of Poizner at Fox & Hounds under the headline “Poizner’s Suicidal Mission” in which he argues:

Facing political collapse, he has resorted to the historic tactic of a political scoundrel, race baiting, in this case making immigrant bashing the central theme of his faltering campaign . . . Poizner has accomplished one thing; he’s made himself unelectable in November, and further damaged his own party.

PPIC, meanwhile, found that Whitman now leads Attorney General Jerry Brown 44-39% among likely November voters. Partisan support moved just a skosh between January and March – Democrats now 65-17% for Brown, were 69-12% for Brown in January; Republicans now 77-10% for Whitman, were 73-10% for Whitman in January.

But independents – those who have no roots in either party and who are most susceptible to Whitman’s TV ad campaign – moved big time. They were 36-28% for Brown in January and by March they had lurched to 43-37% for Whitman – a net 14% shift in two months. In other words, eMeg’s positive ads for herself, her attacks on Poizner and his attacks on Whitman have helped boost Meg with independent voters.

Looking at the electorate by age, Brown runs best – 71-17% — among Democrats age 55 and older, compared to 61-17% among Democrats age 18-54. But Whitman creams Brown among Republicans, 76-8% among Republican age 18-54 and 79-11% among Republicans 55 and older.

All of which suggests Brown’s challenge is to move independents of all ages back into his column and knock Whitman down among the nearly two in 10 Democrats who are currently enamored with her. This is where – if Calbuzz is reading the tea leaves correctly – Brown will use eMeg’s stand against AB32, the pioneering climate change law, to drive her supporters to him.

Other findings, lifted straight out of PPIC’s press release:

Fiorina, Campbell vs Boxer

“The Republican primary race for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat has tightened since January, when Tom Campbell led both Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore among Republican likely voters (27% Campbell, 16% Fiorina, 8% DeVore). Today, Campbell and Fiorina are in a close race (24% Fiorina, 23% Campbell), and DeVore’s level of support is unchanged (8%). In this campaign—which has seen little advertising—the largest percentage of likely voters (44%) is undecided, similar to January (48%).

“In hypothetical November matchups, incumbent Boxer is deadlocked with Campbell (43% to 44%) . . . A plurality of independents support Campbell (48% Campbell, 32% Boxer, 20% undecided). Since January, support for Boxer has dropped 10 points among independents, and Campbell’s support has increased 11 points . . . “Boxer is in a similarly tight race with Fiorina (44% to 43%) . . . Among independents, Fiorina leads Boxer (41% Fiorina, 35% Boxer, 24% undecided).”

First ever: half the voters favor same-sex marriage

“Among all Californians, residents are more likely to favor (50%) than oppose (45%) same-sex marriage for the first time in the PPIC Statewide Surveys. Support among all adults has never surpassed 45 percent since the question was first asked in January 2000. There are clear partisan divisions: majorities of Democrats (64%) and independents (55%) are in favor, and most Republicans (67%) are opposed.

“There is much more consensus on the issue of gays and lesbians in the military. In the wake of Obama’s announcement that he would like to repeal the federal “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy passed in 1993, 75 percent of Californians say that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military.”

Should the FPPC Regulate Tweeters, Facebookers?

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

By Steve Maviglio
Special to Calbuzz

In the Age of the Internet, when campaigns, advocates, consultants and engaged citizens are using all forms of social media — Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Gmail Buzz, etc. — to communicate about politics, the Fair Political Practices Commission is struggling to figure out what in all that constitutes political communication that ought to be regulated — like paid advertising — and what is purely a function of free speech.

It’s a fair question.

Last week, I testified (and Tweeted) before the FPPC’s Subcommittee examining electronic communication in political campaigns as part of a panel of political consultants (also at the table was Julia Rosen, the Courage Campaign’s Online Political Directorm and Bryan Merica from ID Media and Fox & Hounds Daily). We were followed by Kim Alexander of the California Voter Foundation, Derek Cressman of Common Cause, Tiffany Mok of the ACLU and Professor Barbara O’Connor, Sacramento State University.

The subcommittee wanted to hear from us if it should develop, in the words of Chairman Ross Johnson, “appropriate responses to new political realities.”

My advice was straightforward: do no harm. Don’t regulate independent bloggers. Don’t do anything that will stunt the growth of the Internet to attract and involve voters. But do provide clear guidelines for disclosure if there’s campaign money involved. And while you’re at it, provide clarity on the advice campaigns are getting from the commission, and conform to Federal Election Commission requirements.

Halfway through my testimony — where I was trying to detail the multiple changes on Facebook that would make it difficult for the FPPC to mandate where disclosure requirements might be posted — I looked up and saw all three commissioner’s with “what the hell are you talking about” faces. They were clearly baffled by technology they’d never dealt with personally (indeed, there was no wifi in the room, the hearing wasn’t webcast and the three commissioners admitted to never having used Twitter). That wasn’t encouraging.

But while three commissioners were dazed and confused by comments about pixels and Google Adwords, they seemed get what all the panelists were saying: proceed with caution. As  commissioner Tim Hodson told me afterward, the hearing “underscored both the perils of addressing such wide open and ever changing area and the need to ensure minimal disclosure.”

Hodson and his fellow commissioners are picking up on FPPC’s decade-long review of political campaign activity on the web. Back in the stone age of internet campaigning, Assemblyman Keith Olberg penned AB 2720, which created a Bipartisan Commission on Internet Political Practices. The Commission’s job was to determine if and how web-based communication could confirm to the mother of California’s campaign law, the oft-amended Political Reform Act, which was authored in 1974, well before Al Gore invented the Internet.

After toiling for a year, the Internet Commission reported “we do not think it would be wise or necessary to adopt new laws or a new administrative vehicle specifically aimed at  limiting or regulating the use of the Internet by political actor.”

The December 2003 report also presciently warned of regulating ever-changing web campaign technology:

When government attempts to regulate the use of technology, what we do not know can indeed hurt us. The speed of technological change and the ability of practitioners to adapt to new rules make regulatory efforts in these areas difficult. Swift changes can make old rules inoperable or inappropriate.

Technological changes that affect how hyperlinks are generated, how content from one Web site is framed by another, how online advertising is delivered to users, and how lists for unsolicited email campaigns are constructed, for example, could all change the meaning and the impact of regulations written prior to these innovations.

And things did change. Twitter, Facebook, viral YouTube videos, and Google email blasts all have become de rigueur elements of modern campaigning. First Democrats Howard Dean and then Barack Obama, set the pace for developing innovative electronic communications. In January, Scott Brown dumped more than 10 percent of his advertising budget in online advertising, and credited it, in part, for his win.

This may be just the tip of the iceberg, as campaigns get smarter about microtargeting on the  web. A recent study by Tulchin Research found that 57 percent of Californians access political news and information via Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Some 40 percent of social media users are following or supporting candidates for office via Facebook and Twitter. One in five voters use their smart phones to get political news and information.

FPPC Chairman Ross Johnson seems to be hinting that he’s not inclined to do anything to hamper this rapid growth electronic communication. And that’ s good.

“The Commission is not interested in requiring individuals to report as committees when they are merely exercising their First Amendment rights, but if this is paid political speech, then perhaps tighter regulation requiring greater disclosure and transparency is in order,” he said in a press release before the hearing

That’s the path I’d expect the FPPC to go: requiring greater disclosure, somewhere, somehow on all campaign-paid electronic communication. That’s not as easy as it sounds, though, and the commission has its work cut out for it to make that regulation work.

Later this year the subcommittee will present its findings to the full Commission for consideration of whether new rules are necessary to require the disclosure of who is behind electronic messages advocating for or against the election of California’s state and local candidates or ballot measures.

These changes could require the adoption of regulations by the Commission, or entirely new state laws, which must be adopted as a bill by the Legislature, or as a proposition by a vote of the people.

The Commission is right to investigate this new landscape as long as it first does no damage.

(The FPPC will hold another subcommittee hearing from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. , March 24  at the University of Southern California Law School, Ackerman Courtroom, Room 107, located at 699 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles. Full information can be found here.)

How Poizner Could Still Win; Memo to Joe Mathews

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Over coffee and muffins last Saturday morning, Stuart Stevens, Steve Poizner’s media strategist, predicted to a handful of California political reporters that this week’s Field Poll would show his guy further behind Meg Whitman than ever.

And, Stevens quickly added to the incredulity of the journalists, it would prove ultimately and totally irrelevant, after Poizner confounds conventional wisdom and defeats eMeg in the June 8 Republican primary for governor.

“Once Steve Poizner goes on the air,” the lean and laconic Washington-based consultant said, “the entire issue is going to be:  how does she reduce her rate of loss?”

With eMeg now smashing Poizner 63-to-14, according to the Field survey released Wednesday, Stevens’s two-part prediction has proven to be at least half right. What remains to be seen is whether the claim that his client is poised to pull off one of the biggest upsets in California political history turns out to be more than spin and smoke-blowing.

The basic assumption underlying Team Poizner’s stated confidence aligns with the Calbuzz argument that 2010 is – first, last and only – a change election. With this as a point of departure, their insistence that The Commish has eMeg right where he wants her proceeds on three key arguments:

1-Whitman’s massive, early TV buy is Christmas advertising in August.

Poizner strategists believe that Whitman’s huge current lead is extremely soft, built on name identification that she has built over several months of being the only candidate on the air.

But, they argue, she has peaked too soon and once Republican primary voters learn more about her – with a major assist from Poizner comparative ads – that support will quickly erode and all the movement and momentum will be on their side. “Campaigns have internal rhythms that are unalterable,” said Stevens. “You don’t have to win many days to win an election.”

2-Poizner, not Whitman, has the right message.

With his emphasis on sweeping tax cuts, a hard line on illegal immigration and expressed opposition to public financing of abortion, Poizner has not only staked out the ideological conservative ground in the Republican primary, his handlers argue, but also positioned himself as the candidate who most dramatically represents change.

Stevens argued that while  Whitman’s message has been largely biographical – she is the former, successful head of eBay who will bring her business skills to bear in Sacramento – and aimed at establishing her as a political outsider, she has not advanced the argument to define herself as an agent of change.  “We like the idea that Meg has become the effective incumbent in this race,” said Stevens, “and the campaign will become a referendum on the incumbent.” (NB: this conversation took place before this week’s release of eMeg’s 48-page plan of policy proposals).

3-Poizner has the resources to deliver his message.

While Team Whitman has adapted the military doctrine of overwhelming force to surge to an unprecedented early lead – creating the unlikely perception that Poizner is the poor guy in the race who needs to put on bake sales to fund his campaign – he has at least $19 million available for TV advertising, an amount that would seem extraordinary in any other year.

To the Poizner camp, the fact that Whitman has spent a considerable amount of money attacking him is evidence of a lack of confidence among eMeg’s strategists that she has the election in the bag. And they scoff at the argument, made repeatedly during last weekend’s GOP convention, that the party should unite behind her because, as Mitt Romney put it, she “is the only Republican who can be elected governor of California.”

“As Jack Germond used to say,” Stevens told reporters over breakfast last weekend, “’Those who depend on winnability seldom do.’”

Say it ain’t so, Joe: Joe Mathews’s take on California politics and government is usually smart and well-reasoned, but the argument underpinning his recent ad hominem attack on Calbuzz over at Fox and Hounds is all but incoherent.

Mathews bashes us for leading the months-long charge that resulted in Whitman finally becoming accessible to the press corps, on the grounds that what she said when she finally spoke to reporters wasn’t very interesting.

Here’s a hint about covering politics from a couple of “aging” reporters, Joe: What politicians say matters.

Whether it’s mush or the sharpest and most specific policy prescriptions, the words and arguments they use in campaigns are important signifiers of how they’ll govern, and part of the job of being a political reporter is to present those words and arguments to voters so they can make the decision.

Here’s another hint: Put aside your oh-so-world-weary condescension to those voters, get up off your ass and do some actual reporting instead of just sucking on your thumb all the time.

Difi Detritus Meets Campbell Jihad Fall-Out

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Are you going to believe us or your lying eyes? Our aging tickers have almost, finally, chilled out from all the excitement of the big finish to Dianne Feinstein’s epic Dance of the Seven Veils (free at last, free at last!)

So it’s time to shoot the wounded among the insiders and other hacks who kept retailing the rumors that she was about to jump into the governor’s race – Psst! We hear it’s any minute now! – months after all right-thinking people agreed that this would never happen.

Few find themselves in a state of such embarrassing exposure  as Sherry Greenberg, who blogs occasionally over at California Majority Report.

As grizzled, veteran, long-time Capitol Hill Outsiders, Calbuzz was most impressed with Greenberg’s blog credentials as “a long-time Capitol Hill insider.” And her connections came in pretty handy when she wrote, on Feb. 15, that Indiana Senator Evan Bayh’s surprise retirement was a clear signal that DiFi was about to flee Capitol Hill for our parochial governor’s race.

So, what does (Bayh’s move) have to do with California?  Quite possibly a lot…I can’t help but think that faced with serving in the minority in the next Senate, Dianne Feinstein might decide that trying to cure California’s many ailments is more desirable than remaining in the Senate.  Certainly, the gridlock in California is no worse than that in the US Senate and the opportunity to cap her career by becoming California’s first female governor and the savior of the state might outweigh remaining in a likely hostile Senate.

While Feinstein just missed making history as the first female Vice Presdiential candidate in 1984, she has the opportunity to become a role model to young girls by showing that a woman can be a tougher and more effective governor than a film action star…

The record will show that:

a) Generally speaking,  “I can’t help but think” is not what you want to lean on for your Well-Informed, Reliable Source.

b) Difi “just missed making history as the first female Vice Presidential  candidate in 1984” by a considerably greater amount than former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who actually did make history as the first female Vice Presidential candidate in 1984.

c) To the surprise of no one, Feinstein officially announced she wasn’t running for governor. Less than 48 hours after Greenberg’s 7:10 p.m. post.

Considerably more effective at covering his tracks was Willie Brown, who had at least stopped flogging the Feinstein rumors a couple of weeks earlier.

Faced with the fact-based reality that she wasn’t running, despite his best and repeated efforts to sell it in the news pages of the Chronicle, Mr. Speaker at least had the grace to construct an entertaining narrative to explain away his energetic bid to keep the DiFi speculation alive for the past year.

The first indication I got that she was cooling to the idea was when Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust, were seated front and center at her 30th wedding anniversary party at the Fairmont a few weeks back.

For some of us, politics is a bit like the Mafia: Kiss you one day, kill you the next. Not Dianne. She would never invite someone she was planning to run against.

As Mrs. Humphry Ward famously said: “The first law of story-telling – Every man is bound to leave a story better than he found it.”

He told me he taught The Political History of the Mideast: Tom Campbell was doing some serious whistling past the graveyard Friday, hyping a new poll from something called M4Strategies that was featured in a Fox & Hounds piece proclaiming he’s widened his lead in the GOP Senate primary.

Team Campbell was doubtless glad to have something to talk about other than his past ties to Professor and Islamic jihad figure Sami Al-Arian, a nasty little controversy that suddenly gave Dudley Do Right foes Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore a hammer with which to bash him over the question of how good a friend Campbell is to Israel.

Conservative blogs were smoking for several days with tough attacks on Campbell over the Al-Arian connection before LATer Seema Mehta put the legal and policy issues in context. As for the politics of the matter, check out Politico’s reprise of how a Senate candidate in Florida lost his race amid a similar controversy involving the good professor.

How about 10 cents on the dollar? DBI honors to Chronicler Wyatt Buchanan, whose piece on whether California can/will/should go bankrupt  was excellent. Buchanan also gets credit for capturing the quote of the week, from L.A. Assembly member and newly-minted congressional candidate Karen Bass, who’s pretty darned pleased with herself for her not-very-impressive term as Speaker:

“I am one of those that serves out of a calling and not out of a personal ambition,” she said. And I guess I’d add that my biggest weakness is really my incredible humility.

Please don’t call my wife: Don Ringe takes a hard look at the candidacy for governor of alleged Prince Frederic von Anhalt, ninth husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor.