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A musical primary post-mortem

When I’m having a good day, or sometimes when I’m down, I sometimes give myself a gift on the limited budget available to me as a reporter: a 99-cent splurge on new iTunes song for my iPod. And so as the primary election winners strut and the losers lick their wounds, here are a few suggestions for songs they might want to add to their playlists:

Meg Whitman, the billionaire former eBay CEO who spent $71.1 million out of her own pocket to buy the Republican gubernatorial nomination: “Money” by Pink Floyd, or “Killer Queen” by Queen

Steve Poizner, buried under Whitman’s $71.1 million and a 37-percentage-point deficit in the election results: “Wipeout” by the Surfaris

Chris Kelly, who spent $12 million out of pocket to lose the Democratic primary for Attorney General to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris by 17 percentage points; PG&E President and CEO Peter Darbee, whose company spent $46.4 million on the unsuccessful Proposition 16; and Mercury Insurance Group President and CEO Gabriel Tirador, whose company spent $15.9 million on the unsuccessful Proposition 17: “Can’t Buy Me Love,” by the Beatles

Carly Fiorina, who as the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate has had the last laugh after people snickered at her “demon sheep” ad attacking rival Tom Campbell: “Sheep” by Pink Floyd

Abel Maldonado, the appointed incumbent who – despite winning the GOP’s nomination to try to keep the lieutenant governor’s office – knows his party wants him and needs him but there ain’t no way it’s ever gonna love him: “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” by Meat Loaf

Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco mayor who won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor but might have his own words from 2008 on same-sex marriage come back to haunt him in November’s general election: “Like It Or Not,” by Madonna

Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles District Attorney who broke from California tradition by being a moderate capable of winning a Republican primary: “Middle of the Road,” by the Pretenders

Tom Torlakson, the Antioch Assemblyman who placed second and so will go to a November runoff – at which time he’s likely to pick up a lot of the Democratic votes that went yesterday to third-place finisher Gloria Romero, along with stronger Democratic turnout overall – against former school district superintendent Larry Aceves for state Superintendent of Public Instruction: “Time Is On My Side,” by the Rolling Stones

Mike Villines, the Clovis Assemblyman and former Assembly Republican Leader widely berated within the GOP for OKing a budget deal with tax hikes last year, who now is eight-tenths of a percentage point – 11,204 votes – behind political unknown Brian FitzGerald, an Insurance Department attorney from Napa who raised no money, in the GOP primary for Insurance Commissioner: “Living on the Edge” by Aerosmith

Brian FitzGerald, who might want to ask himself, “Well, how did I get here?” : “Once in a Lifetime,” by the Talking Heads

Posted on Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Abel Maldonado, Attorney General, ballot measures, Carly Fiorina, Chris Kelly, Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor, Meg Whitman, Mike Villines, political humor, Propositions, Steve Poizner, Tom Torlakson, U.S. Senate | 7 Comments »

Hahn concedes Lt.Gov. race to Gavin Newsom

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, the scion of a political dynasty in her city, had seemed to have the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor wrapped up by early this year, standing well ahead of state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, in the polls. That is, until San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom jumped into the race, only months after having scoffed at the idea of doing so.

At this hour, with about a quarter of the state’s precincts having reported in, Newsom leads Hahn by almost 23 percentage points, and Hahn just issued this statement:

The last several months of campaigning for Lieutenant Governor have been an amazing experience. I have traveled up and down the state and met so many new people and heard so many great ideas. And I learned that all of us really want the same thing – a better California.

I was so humbled by all the support I received. And I really enjoyed using this experience to educate people about the role of the Lieutenant Governor in California. Together, we focused on how the Lieutenant Governor can really transform our state. We can make higher education affordable and accessible to every young person. We can continue to protect the environment, but also focus on creating new jobs and getting every Californian back to work.

At the end of this hard fought campaign, I think we have made a difference – thanks to you.

I want to congratulate Gavin Newsom on running a good, clean campaign. He has done some groundbreaking work as mayor of San Francisco and I know that he will bring that experience to Sacramento to shake things up. I will be supporting him in November, and I hope that you will join me.

November is pivotal for Democrats. We must work together to elect Barbara Boxer, Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom and the entire Democratic ticket. This is our year. Let’s make California great again.

Posted on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Gavin Newsom, Janice Hahn, Lt. Governor | 3 Comments »

Lt.Gov.: Newsom holds lead, Hahn goes on TV

With a week to go before the election, the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor has San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom asserting a lead and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn taking to the airwaves.

Newsom’s campaign issued a statement today saying its pollster, Tulchin Research, has found Newsom holds a 17-point lead over Hahn – 46 percent to 29 percent, with 21 percent still undecided. The phone survey of 600 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted May 20-24 and has a four-percentage-point margin of error.

From the report prepared by pollsters Ben Tulchin and Julie Lein:

Since entering the race for Lieutenant Governor in March, Gavin Newsom has consistently led Janice Hahn by double-digits. With Election Day approaching, Hahn has been unable to close the gap with the Mayor. Even more encouraging for the San Francisco Mayor and troubling for his opponents is that Newsom leads by a wider margin among voters who have already cast their ballots as he garners a solid majority (53%) support compared to only 30% for Hahn.

Given Newsom’s consistently strong poll results among Democratic primary voters, his wide lead among voters who have already cast their ballots, superior name recognition and fundraising, the San Francisco Mayor is poised to win the party nomination for Lieutenant Governor.

Remember, that’s according to a pollster on the Newsom campaign’s payroll. However, the question asked apparently wasn’t leading or otherwise biased in Newsom’s favor: “In thinking about the Democratic Primary Election for Lieutenant Governor, if the election were held today and the candidates were San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn [the names’ order are randomly flipped], for whom would you vote?”

Meanwhile, Hahn announced today that she’s launching her first television ad:

Michael Trujillo, Hahn’s campaign manager, didn’t immediately return an e-mail and a voice-mail inquiring as to the ad buy’s dollar size and geographic scope.

UPDATE @ 3:56 P.M. TUESDAY: Newsom’s campaign just announced it’s going on the air, too:

No word yet on how much they’re spending on the ad buy, or where it’s airing.

Posted on Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Gavin Newsom, Janice Hahn, Lt. Governor | 1 Comment »

More campaign finance fun: Lt.Gov. and AG

In the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom far outpaced Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn in fundraising during this period from March 18 to May 22. Newsom raised $792,311 and spent $453,291, finishing the period with $770,776 cash on hand; Hahn raised $336,331 and spent $316,670, finishing the period with $315,430 cash on hand.

Mike Trujillo, Hahn’s campaign adviser, called me tonight to note that the two candidates are more evenly matched if you look at contributions since their campaigns began – it looks to me as if Newsom’s at about $1.06 million to Hahn’s $898,000, by that measure – and that about $200,000 of Newsom’s cash on hand is earmarked for November’s general election, while all but $9,000 of Hahn’s stash can be spent in the next 10 days.

In the GOP primary for Lieutenant Governor, appointed incumbent and former state Sen. Abel Maldonado smoked his more conservative rival, state Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley. Maldonado raised $318,898 during this period and spent $121,872, leaving him with $139,060 cash on hand; Aanestad raised $44,470 during this period and spent $44,441, leaving him with $43,297 cash on hand.

In the Republican primary for Attorney General, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley trumped the fundraising during this period, with $916,066 in contributions compared to $295,302 for former Chapman University Law School Dean John Eastman – including the $25,000 he loaned his own campaign – and $150,294 for state Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach. Cooley finished with the most cash on hand, too: $222,280 compared to Eastman’s $158,444 and Harman’s $112,644.

In the Democratic primary for Attorney General, former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly rules the campaign cash roost only because he put $5.6 million into his own campaign during this period (atop the $4 million he’d put in earlier). His new investment accounted for all but $79,679 of his contributions in this period and he spent $8,953,697, leaving him with cash on hand of $102,984.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris raised $810,884 during this period and spent $1,546,812, finishing with $636,471 cash on hand; former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo raised $268,995 and spent $1,251,446, finishing with $149,762 cash on hand; Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, raised $239,162 and spent $671,100, finishing with $577,002 cash on hand; and Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, raised $17,532 and spent $86,956, finishing with $24,534 cash on hand. Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, had $1,029,186 cash on hand as of March 17, the close of the last reporting period, but hasn’t yet filed this period’s report as of this time; Emeryville attorney Mike Schmier didn’t raise enough to require a report.

UPDATE @ 10:33 A.M. FRIDAY: Torrico raised $180,371.79 in this period, spent $676,560.78 and finished with $522,334.73 cash on hand.

UPDATE @ 9:30 A.M. TUESDAY 6/1: Sorry, my bad: Schmier says he has raised $12,450 to date and has $3,166.88 cash on hand remaining.

Posted on Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, Alberto Torrico, Attorney General, campaign finance, Chris Kelly, Gavin Newsom, Janice Hahn, Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor, Pedro Nava, Sam Aanestad, Ted Lieu | 1 Comment »

Hahn ad knocks Newsom on SF crime lab

Thought the San Francisco crime lab scandal would be an issue only in the state Attorney General’s race, where San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris is taking heat on it from former Facebook chief privacy officer Chris Kelly? Think again!

Posted on Friday, May 7th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Attorney General, Gavin Newsom, Janice Hahn, Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor | 1 Comment »

Breaking down the Maldonado confirmation vote

The state Senate this afternoon voted 25-7 to confirm Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger’s nomination of state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, as lieutenant governor; the governor will swear him into office tomorrow.

As I’d said Friday on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California,” don’t mistake this for an instance of politics being put aside. Democrats supported Maldonado only because they want him out of the Senate so they can try to win his 15th State Senate District seat, and only now because confirming him earlier wouldn’t have allowed the SD-15 special election to be consolidated with November’s general election, when Democrats believe heavier turnout will give them an advantage.

That’s what California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring alluded to in his statement today:

“On behalf of the California Republican Party, let me be the first to congratulate State Senator Abel Maldonado on his successful confirmation as Lieutenant Governor today. It’s gratifying that after five months, Sacramento Democrats could finally muster up the votes needed for a decision that should have taken them 10 minutes to confirm a clearly qualified candidate appointed by the Governor within his constitutional authority.

“Considering the legislature’s deadline for passing a state budget is less than 60 days from now, the California Republican Party hopes that Speaker Perez, Speaker Pro Tem Steinberg and the Democrat caucus are ready to stop wasting more time calculating what’s best for their party and start taking responsibility for finding fiscal solutions that don’t put more of a burden on California taxpayers.”

But five of the seven votes against confirmation today were from Republicans. The seven were:

  • Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, who’s also running in the GOP lieutenant governor primary in June;
  • Jeff Denham, R-Merced, who withdrew from the GOP lieutenant governor primary race soon after Schwarzenegger nominated Maldonado late last year;
  • Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego;
  • Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach;
  • George Runner, R-Antelope Valley;
  • Mark Wyland, R-Escondito; and
  • Leland Yee, D-San Francisco
  • (UPDATE @ 6:06 P.M.: It occurs to me that, for context’s sake, I should note that of the four Republicans besides Aanestad who opposed Maldonado’s confirmation, three might’ve had electoral motivations as well. Denham is running against Richard Pombo for the GOP nomination in the 19th Congressional District; Harman is running against Steve Cooley and John Eastman for the GOP nomination for Attorney General; and Runner is running against Barbara Alby, George Nakanishi and Edward Streichman in the GOP primary for the state Board of Equalization’s District 2 seat. Each would want to outflank his primary rivals on the right and so, one presumes, would be quick to criticize Maldonado’s past willingness to vote for tax hikes.)

    Also, neither Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto (who preceded current Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, in that leadership role) nor Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga (who will succeed Hollingsworth in that role) cast votes today, though they were reportedly present. So, not an awe-inspiring show of GOP support, all told.

    Last week’s Assembly vote, in the final reckoning, was 53-21. The only East Bay Assembly member voting in favor of confirmation was Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo. Voting against confirmation were Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley; Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda; Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch; and Alberto Torrico, D-Newark. The only Assembly Republican to vote against Maldonado’s confirmation was Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, who is currently a GOP U.S. Senate primary candidate.

    Maldonado issued a statement today:

    “I am humbled and honored to serve the people of California as their 47th Lieutenant Governor.

    “I’ve spent my career focused on what’s best for the people of this state – not political bosses or special interests – and I vow to continue my commitment to California’s people in this role.

    “As your Lieutenant Governor I will work hand and hand with the Governor as his promoter-in-chief of California to create and retain jobs while partnering with the education community to plan for our future workforce needs.

    “I will continue my work as a reformer while keeping an eye on government waste to ensure elected representatives are not abusing the trust of the people who put them in office.

    “The California dream is alive and well and it’s time for Sacramento to re-earn the trust of the people – I will be the people’s voice in the Capitol.”

    Replied Aanestad:

    “Today, the Governor and his politicians chose their Lt. Governor. This June, however, Republican voters will have their say.

    “Voters can either choose Abel Maldonado, who broke his promise to the voters by making a deal in exchange for his vote for the largest tax hike in California history; or they can choose Sam Aanestad, who is endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Congressman Tom McClintock because he has kept his promise to not raise taxes.

    “The choice is up to the people, not the politicians.”

    Posted on Monday, April 26th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, California State Senate, Lt. Governor, Sam Aanestad | 2 Comments »

    Maldonado, crime lab, Salinas gangs on ‘TWINC’

    I was on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California” last night to talk about the politics behind state Sen. Abel Maldonado’s confirmation as lieutenant governor, as well as the latest poll numbers in a few hot primary contests. The panel also featured the Chronicle’s Rachel Gordon on the San Francisco crime lab scandal, and the Monterey Herald’s Julia Reynolds on this week’s big gang sweep in Salinas.

    Posted on Saturday, April 24th, 2010
    Under: Abel Maldonado, California State Senate, Lt. Governor | 1 Comment »

    Campaign finance: Brown, Perata, Duvall, Newsom

    Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state Attorney General Jerry Brown received a $10,000 campaign contribution Monday from Forest City Residential Group, the developer of Oakland’s Uptown Apartments – a project of which Brown, then the city’s mayor, was an avid supporter who helped land $54.4 million in city subsidies.

    In other campaign finance news, former State Senate President Pro Tem and current Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata’s Hope 2010 ballot measure committee dumped another $20,000 Monday into Californians for a Cure, the committee run by the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association to support a proposed measure that would raise tobacco taxes to fund cancer research. That brings Hope 2010’s total ante since November for this ballot measure to $410,000.

    Disgraced former Assemblyman Mike Duvall, R-Yorba Linda, who resigned last year after his boasts of extramarital affairs were caught by an open microphone at a legislative hearing, gave $2,000 Wednesday to the re-election campaign of Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, R- Lake Elsinore.

    PayPal cofounder Elon Musk, now CEO of Hawthorne-based space-transport company Space X, gave $6,500 Monday to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s campaign for lieutenant governor. This item is mainly just an excuse to re-run this photo:


    On the celebrity watch, movie mogul Steven Spielberg and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw-Spielberg, each gave $1,500 Tuesday to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris’ campaign for state attorney general; Jeffrey Katzenberg, Spielberg’s partner at Dreamworks, and his wife, Marilyn, each gave Harris $6,500 the same day. And radio icon Casey Kasem gave $1,000 Tuesday to Brown’s gubernatorial campaign.

    Posted on Thursday, April 15th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Assembly, Attorney General, campaign finance, Gavin Newsom, Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor, Oakland | 1 Comment »

    Campaign finance: Self-funders, Gray, celebs

    Republican Jack Sieglock anted up $100,000 last Wednesday for his rematch with incumbent Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills, who defeated him in 2008’s general election. Andy Pugno – chief counsel for the Yes on 8 campaign against same-sex marriage – put up $100,000 the same day for his own bid in the 5th Assembly District, where incumbent Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, is term-limited out.

    Former Gov. Gray Davis, now of counsel at the firm of Loeb and Loeb in Los Angeles, contributed $2,500 last Thursday to the Democratic gubernatorial campaign of California Attorney General Jerry Brown.

    On the celebrity watch, actress Reese Witherspoon gave $1,500 last Wednesday to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris’ campaign for the Democratic nomination for state attorney general. Harris also got $1,000 each that day from Double Features Films producers Michael and Carla Shamberg, whose company’s credits include movies such as “Garden State,” “The Skeleton Key” and “Reno 911!: Miami;” $2,000 from “Lost” co-creator and co-executive producer Damon Lindelof; and $1,000 each from MGM executive Mary Parent and chairman Harry Sloan. Also, director/producer Brett Ratner gave $1,000 Tuesday; Golden State Warriors co-owner Angela Cohan gave $1,500 Thursday; and NFL Network host Richard Eisen gave $1,000 Friday.

    Also, film director/producer Rob Reiner gave $3,000 last Wednesday to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. Newsom also received $6,500 each that day from Starz LLC CEO Christopher Albrecht and from from real estate heir/movie producer Steve Bing, California’s top individual political spender of the last decade. ($6,500 is .0112 percent of $58,050,783, in case you were wondering.)

    Posted on Monday, March 22nd, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Assembly, Attorney General, campaign finance, Gavin Newsom, Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor | No Comments »

    Hahn complains to FPPC about Gavin’s fundraising

    Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Janice Hahn, a Los Angeles City Councilwoman, filed a complaint today with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission claiming San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who jumped into the lieutenant governor’s race last week, has violated the Political Reform Act:

    Under the unique circumstances resulting from his actions as a former candidate for Governor in this same election, Mr. Newsom, who recently announced his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor, is violating the PRA by raising and spending money in contravention of the contribution and voluntary expenditure limits imposed on candidates for Lieutenant Governor.

    The clear intent of Proposition 34, the voter approved initiative in 2000, is to limit the amount of money used to influence candidates. State law imposes a higher $25,900 limit on contributions to candidates for Governor, compared with the $6,500 limit on contributions to other statewide candidates. By raising and spending large contributions up to $25,900 through his gubernatorial committee, spending all of that money, dropping out of the race for Governor, and then raising additional contributions from the same contributors for a down ballot office in the same election, Gavin Newsom has flouted state law in an unprecedented manner.

    It’ll be up to the FPPC to decide, but on its face this looks like a technical tactic for a candidate who’s running scared, and something that’s not going to matter a whit to most voters. Until Newsom got into the race last week, Hahn had seemed to have the edge in this race, raking in all the right endorsements and contributions over the other guy in the field, state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter. But polling last month (albeit a poll conducted by a Newsom ally) showed Newsom would lead the pack if he got in, and when he did so last week, Florez dropped out and endorsed him.

    UPDATE @ 2:09 P.M.: Attorney Tom Willis responds on behalf of Newsom’s campaign:

    “Janice Hahn’s complaint to the FPPC ignores two important things: the law and the fact the FPPC has already rejected her argument.

    “When Hahn’s campaign first floated this idea in the press a month ago, a reporter asked the FPPC’s Executive Director Roman Porter whether there was any merit to it. Mr. Porter said no, stating that the Political Reform Act’s contribution limits apply “per candidate, per election – it’s a separate election.” (See CalBuzz,

    “The law and facts could not be more clear: Under the Political Reform Act, a candidate can open separate committees for different offices being voted on at the same election, and each of those committees is subject to separate contribution limits. There is no such thing as an aggregate contribution limit that restricts a contributor’s ability to give to more than one committee of a candidate. If the law where written as Janice Hahn suggests, many past and present candidates and officeholders would have violated the law.

    “The fact is that the funds raised by Mayor Newsom for his gubernatorial committee were spent supporting his run for Governor, an election from which he withdrew from in October 2009. Now, five months later, he is running for a different office, involving different issues and different opponents. In fact, as Janice Hahn’s campaign often likes to point out, Mayor Newsom had no intention of running for Lieutenant Governor when he was a candidate for Governor. That puts the lie on her argument that Mayor Newsom was somehow using his gubernatorial committee to advance his Lieutenant Governor campaign.”

    Read Hahn’s letter in its entirety, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, campaign finance, Gavin Newsom, Janice Hahn, Lt. Governor | No Comments »