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Happy birthday to polar political opposites

Two well-known figures in California politics celebrate their birthdays today, but I figure that’s about all they have in common.

Bob Mulholland, 65, of Chico, served almost two decades as a senior advisor to the California Democratic Party, bringing to the job a broad depth of political knowledge as well as an attack-dog demeanor that sometimes had members of his own party disavowing his actions.

Jon Fleischman, 44, of Rancho Santa Margarita, is a political consultant and former vice chairman of the California Republican Party who publishes FlashReport, the state’s most prominent news and commentary clearinghouse for GOP politics.

Both, I believe, are good men – affable, knowledgeable, principled. And both regularly engage in the kind of hyper-partisan hyperbole that polls show voters blame for the state’s seemingly intractable fiscal and governance woes.

Each is admired by his own political tribe, and reviled by the other’s. Each hews to his own uncompromising ideology, which under many other circumstances would be considered a sign of character – but is it bad for California? Do we blame the individuals who won’t bend, or the system that allows this to paralyze the state?

I’d love to imagine the two of them getting together somewhere to drink to each other’s health today, but I think imagining is about as far as that would go. So, I’ll raise a glass to both of them from here and continue mulling what they and those like them mean for our state and its future.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Never heard of ’em.

  • Josh, thanks for the happy birthday greetings.

    Though hopefully that is the last time I get compared to Bob Mulholland in any way!

  • Bob Mulholland

    The best birthday present I can get is the Republicans nominating the corrupt former Speaker Newt Gingrich. I still have the headlines- “Gingrich admits to ethics violations”; “I WAS NEWT’S LOVER”;”CRY BABY” and many more. The Republican establishment deserve him. Bob Mulholland