Posts Tagged ‘Joe Trippi’

Jerry ‘Been There, Done That’ Brown Hits the Air

Monday, September 6th, 2010

After months of being pounded on TV by Meg Whitman and her allies, Jerry Brown takes to the airwaves this week, introducing himself to younger voters, reminding older voters of better times and reassuring them all – especially moderate and independent swing voters — that he will not raise taxes without a vote of the people. His first ad is here.

Krusty the General’s first 30-second spot – released at 7 a.m. on Labor Day — asserts that when he was governor in the 1970s and 80s, “He cut waste, got rid of the mansion and the limo; budgets were balanced; four billion in tax cuts; world-class schools and universities; clean energy promoted; one-point nine million new jobs created. California was working.”

Then Brown tells viewers, “California needs major changes. We have to live within our means. We have to return power and decision-making to the local level, closer to the people. And no new taxes without voter approval.”

The takeaway (we still wonder if it’s really sticky) is delivered by a voice-over: “Jerry Brown: the knowledge and know-how to get California working again.”

eMeg spent about $24 million over the summer portraying the attorney general and former governor as a failed and hypocritical tax-and-spend liberal. But Krusty’s allies in the labor movement spent about $10 million over the same period attacking Whitman to keep Brown from falling hopelessly behind — as Kathleen Brown and Phil Angelides did in earlier contests. As a result, the race has remained – in most reliable polls – nearly a dead heat.

The question insiders have been wondering all summer was this: Once Brown takes to the air, what will he say? What’s his message?

The release of his first TV ad (we hear the buy is more than $1.5 million for the first six days) begins to answer that question. Brown is in effect saying – especially to crucial swing voters – “I’m a safe alternative to that woman who has been assaulting your senses all summer. California was working when I was governor and I’ll make it work again. I’m frugal, experienced and I know what I’m doing.”

Made by longtime Brown ally and media meister Joe Trippi, the ad seeks to convince voters that Brown was and remains a tightwad with the experience and integrity to govern California at a time of crisis. Brown’s campaign brain trust – after much polling and many focus groups – understands that the No. 1 concern about him among independents is whether he’ll raise taxes and spend like a drunken sailor.

Calbuzz was only somewhat surprised that Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages” wasn’t the soundtrack, with Jerry twanging:

A self-ordained professor’s tongue, too serious to fool,
Spouted out that liberty is just equality in school.
“Equality,” I spoke the word, as if a wedding vow.
Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

While footage for this ad was shot in San Francisco, other footage, still to be stitched into commercials, was shot at director Francis Ford Coppola’s private facility in Napa.

What the Brown ad campaign still lacks is a tight, strategic message like “Change You Can Believe In,” “Compassionate Conservative,” or “A New Deal.” Brown’s bumper stickers just say “Jerry Brown,” suggesting that the man is the message.

Always seeking to be helpful, we’ve consulted Calbuzzers G.K. Chesterton, St. Ignatius, Pierre Teillhard de Chardin and E.F. Schumacher to come up with some proposals that are a bit snappier than “Let’s Get California Working Again”:

— “Jerry Brown: Been There, Done That.”

— “Too Cheap to Fail.”

— “This Time I’ll Get it Right.”

— “Jerry Brown: No Sale on My Watch.”

— “Too Old to Lose.”

— “Age Quod Agis.”

Update: A couple of other notes:

1-Krusty wisely got a serious eyebrow job before taping the spot. The e-blast press release that was sent out with the ad trumpets Brown’s “energy,” among several references aimed at heading off the Gandalf issue, a message that would be seriously undercut without the key cosmetic fix you read about here first, which takes about 900 years off his face.

2-The ad is narrated by actor Peter Coyote, a long-time pal of Brown’s whom he appointed to the California Arts Council in his first turn as governor, a board that became very controversial during the same era, after Krusty also  appointed Jane Fonda, then widely known as “Hanoi Jane.”

3-Don’t be shocked if the “no new taxes without voter approval” kicker becomes a point of contention between him and eMeg.

Along with his call for returning power to the “local level,” Brown appears to be offering the framework for a proposal, kicked around the Legislature in several forms, to return responsibility to cities and counties for some programs the state took over funding after passage of Prop. 13; the trade-off would be letting local voters decide about financing them.

When we asked Whitman about the idea during the Republican state convention last March, after it had been raised by state senate Democrats, she flatly opposed the notion, saying no taxes should be raised, whether local voters approved them or not.

Update II: Three hours after Brown’s ad was released, an under assistant deputy flack from eMeg sent out a response reprising her summer attacks on Brown, saying he “is the last person we can trust for ‘major change’ in Sacramento.”

After 40 years in politics protecting the status quo, it’s no surprise that Jerry Brown is kicking off his campaign with a misleading historic renovation of his own record.

And for anyone who’s ever remodeled their house, or even just seen “The Money Pit,” you know how painful those historic renovations can be.

Ted Kennedy: Remembering a Master Politician

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

TedKennedyBill Carrick, who once served as political director to the late Senator Ted Kennedy, recalls his former boss as a politician who “was obviously a master of big things – and so good at the small things, too”

One of California’s top campaign media consultants, Carrick worked in Kennedy’s failed bid for the presidency in 1980, then as his  political eyes and ears in the Senate office from 1982-87.

He was awakened early Wednesday by a phone call from another ex-aide, informing him the 77-year old Kennedy had died, succumbing to the brain cancer he had fought for more than a year.

“No matter how much you anticipate this stuff,” he said, “it never hits you until it happens.”

Carrick’s first gig in big league politics was running South Carolina and Texas operations for Kennedy’s 1980 challenge to Jimmy Carter, and he recalled how surprised he was upon meeting the Senator for the first time that year.

“The first thing I was struck by was how relaxed and easy he was to talk to,” Carrick said. “You grow up thinking of this iconic figure and then you meet him and think, ‘what a nice man.’”

When he went to work in the Senate office, “the workload was incredible,” he recalled, and no one worked harder than Kennedy.

“He had this big briefcase that everybody called ‘The Bag,’ he said. “And every night he would take home this huge pile of memos, draft bills, schedule requests, everything. And the next day, it would all come back with notes on it. I said, ‘wow, this is a different kind of deal.’

Carrick grew up in Aiken, South Carolina, where his parents were both Democratic activists. BillCarrickSenator Strom Thurmond lived there, too, and they would often run into him at the grocery store, where the ageless Republican would laugh and tell them,” ‘now don’t hurt me too much.’”

So in January 1983, when Kennedy grabbed him and told him to come along to a swearing-in reception being hosted by Thurmond, Carrick objected, saying that the arch-conservative Senator knew his family and that they had always opposed him politically.

“You’re my South Carolina man, you have to come with me,” Kennedy responded. “So what if you never voted for him – I never voted with him either.”

“Then he worked this whole room of South Carolinians, and Strom was, of course, incredibly flattered that “my friend Teddy” was there,” Carrick said.

While Kennedy was best known for big achievements – the Americans with Disabilities Act, his “the dream will never die” speech, his lifelong fight for health care legislation – his actions in more private matters showed his concern for people was not just a political pose, he said.

For example, when two colleagues, the late Senators John Sherman Cooper and Frank Church, were both suffering from long-term illnesses, “he’d drive out of his way into Georgetown and visit each of them once a week.”

“He had a special compassion for people who were sick or dealing with death,” Carrick added.

He got a first-hand taste of Kennedy’s personal touch in 2007, when a huge wildfire raged in Griffith Park, not far from Carrick’s Los Angeles home.

“I’m sitting there and the phone rings and he says, ‘I’m watching CNN – that’s a helluva’ fire – how close is it to you? I was getting worried.’”

kennedy brothersAs a political matter, the former Kennedy aide believes the Senator’s greatest strength was “his strong sense of the country” – a full understanding of the concerns and interests of colleagues from every state, forged by his personal background, his own presidential campaign and that of his assassinated brothers.

“He was always able to get everyone into the room and get them to talk together,” he said. “He had a real understanding of the country and I don’t think there’s a lot of that left.”

Another top political consultant we spoke to today — San Jose-bred Joe Trippi (who’s working with Jerry Brown on a possible campaign for governor) — also got his start in the big leagues working for Kennedy’s 1980 campaign and then at his Fund for a Democratic Majority. The last time Trippi  saw Kennedy was in his Senate office last Spring where, as he was leaving after a long visit, he turned and told his mentor, “You changed my life.” Trippi said he’s forever grateful he got that chance.

Who Would [Will] Get the Tony V Voters?

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

antonionewyorker[LATE BREAKING NEWS: Mayor Tony V announced today on CNN that he will NOT be running for governor. Calbuzz will have more on the impact on Tuesday. Meanwhile, here’s today’s post looking at the potential impact of that decision even before he made it.]

With time running short for Antonio Villaraigosa to enter the 2010 governor’s campaign, strategists for Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom are coveting the L.A. mayor’s political base in the event the Democratic primary race becomes a two-man contest.

In the looming competition to divvy up Tony V’s vote, Calbuzz thinks Attorney General Brown has the better chance of capturing the big prize — the large number of Latino and L.A. Democrats Villaraigosa would otherwise count on for support.

“Jerry runs the table – it’d be pretty monolithic” with Latinos if Villaraigosa stays out, said veteran consultant Richie Ross, who has run scores of campaigns for Latino candidates in the state.

“It’s a significant shift, and it shifts significantly in Jerry’s favor,” Ross added. “It’s not a commentary on Gavin Newsom, but Jerry’s got a real base – he was the first politician in California who recognized that Latinos were going to be a major force.”

jerryBeyond Latinos, a Villaraigosa no-go decision would also put his L.A. campaign contributors up for grabs, along with slices of labor, gay and environmental voters for Brown and Newsom to fight over.

Garry South, Newsom’s chief strategist, said that if Tony V stays on the sidelines, “it opens up his L.A. fundraising base – and we’re already doing very well down here.”

Villaraigosa, who will not be sworn into his second mayoral term until next month, has ngavin3ot yet made a final decision not to run, Calbuzz sources say.

But several recent actions, including his acceptance of a leadership post in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and a splashy love affair with an L.A. TV reporter, strongly suggest that a run for governor is not a top priority.

L.A. voters are not too keen on the idea of a Villaraigosa campaign for governor either: a new L.A. Times poll found 48% of voters saying Tony V should not run, compared to 42% who said he should.

Moreover, the Times Poll found that Villaraigosa’s lead among L.A. Democratic primary voters is only 7 percentage points over Brown – 38-31% — with Newsom a distant third at 13%.

In fact, Brown leads Tony V among white voters 41-22% in L.A. and among all voters 50 and older by 45-31%. Newsom sucks wind in L.A., with just 19% of whites and 11% of voters 50 and older.

Advisers to the L.A. mayor have argued privately that Villaraigosa would begin a gubernatorial campaign with a stronger base than either Brown or Newsom, estimating that Latino Democrats would represent as much as one-third of the primary vote, and claiming that more than three-fourths of them would support Villaraigosa.

Latinos, at 36 percent of the state’s population, are the largest and fastest growing minority in California, and overwhelmingly favor Democratic candidates over Republicans in statewide races.

But Ross and other consultants say the one-third estimate is greatly inflated, and that Latinos will more likely represent about 18-20 percent of he Democratic primary electorate. (Tony V’s spinners concoct that big Latino vote estimate by likening the projected turnout in June 2010 to what occurred in November 2008 — a presidential general election.)

Moreover, in the L.A. Times Poll, while Villaraigosa does indeed capture the lion’s share of Latino voters in a three-way race for governor – it’s not three-fourths – it’s 68%. And nearly one in three Latinos say Tony V shouldn’t run for governor at all.

Brown has long ties to California’s Latino community, including having had a close relationship with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, historic appointments like Cruz Reynoso to the state Supreme Court and Mario Obledo as Secretary of Health and Welfare, and his early recognition of the looming influence of the Latino community.

But Newsom strategist South said the Latino vote is “not monolithic – it’s very diverse.”

“The Latino electorate tends to be younger than the white and black electorates,” South added. “Will these voters be impressed with appointments Brown made and bills he signed in the ’70s?”

Joe Trippi, who is expected to run Brown’s campaign, thinks the attorney general would benefit in a variety of ways from Villaraigosa staying out.

“How’s Gavin going to pick up much of Antonio’s vote?” Trippi wonders. “He’s not going to beat Jerry among Latinos and blacks.”

And even if Newsom is able to make a generational appeal — which Trippi thinks is going to be much more difficult than South thinks it is — and even if Brown were to concede six in 10 voters under the age of 40 (which Trippi does not think will happen) — “there still aren’t enough voters for Newsom to overcome Brown’s appeal across demographics and geography.”

But South argues that Newsom’s appeal to younger voters and progressive Democrats, the very people who vote in primaries, is far more powerful that Brown’s old-school appeal so that Newsom benefits far more from a two-way race.

“It clearly sets up the one-on-one race against Jerry Brown that we have wanted from day one,” the Newsom strategist said.

The L.A. Times Poll, however, suggests Newsom has a long way to go. Not only does Brown win the older voters in Los Angeles (as noted above), but even among those under 50, while he trails Villaraigosa’s 44%, Brown draws 20% compared to Newsom’s puny 15%.

South may be right that a Brown-Newsom one-on-one would give the San Francisco mayor his best strategic shot at capturing the Democratic nomination, but it would also be a decidedly uphill battle for him to pull it off.

— By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine

Stop The Presses: Jerry “Serious” About Gov Bid

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

jerryTo the surprise of no one, Attorney General Jerry Brown has sent out a fundraising pitch on behalf of his undeclared campaign for governor, seeking to “build a large base of supporters from every part of the state and even beyond.”

Brown has not exactly been coy about his ambition to become both the oldest and the youngest person ever elected California’s chief executive, but his new solicitation puts front and center the concern that he might have to face off against a Richie Rich Republican like Meg Whitman or Steve Poizner.

Says General Jerry:

“…when I see the mess in Sacramento and think about all the people who are suffering as a result, I think seriously about running for governor again…

“But before I make a final decision, I would like to know if it’s possible to build a large base of supporters from every part of the state and even beyond. Two of the Republican candidates for governor are talking about spending their own wealth on hundred million dollar plus campaigns. To counter this private assault on our democracy, people will have to join together in a grassroots effort by the thousands and then by the tens of thousands. We need to fight back to overcome what will literally be a hostile takeover of the airwaves during the next governor’s campaign.”

If all this assault on our democracy talk rings a bell, let us recall that it was the onetime Winter Soldier  himself who practically invented the art of small donor fundraising (with the help of visionary consultant Joe Trippi) that was later perfected by Obama.

Running for president in1992, he famously used the then-cutting edge technology of an 800-number both to raise money and to emphasize that he wouldn’t accept contributions larger than $100, which just happens to be the maximum amount he’s still asking for.  Carla Marinucci has the complete text posted on her blog.

— By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine