Another dramatic momentum shift in GOP gubernatorial primary?

Mike Murphy, the chief strategist for Meg Whitman’s gubernatorial campaign, has been itching to release his own internal polling showing that his boss has resumed her dominance over her GOP rival, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.

Campaign sources say that, with two weeks left in the race, he may gather reporters real soon for a conference call trumpeting Whitman’s internal numbers, now that polls appear to be consistently going her way.

Last week, Murphy had downplayed the Public Policy Institute of California survey showing Poizner closing to within 9 percentage points, saying it hadn’t captured a mood shift that was breaking Whitman’s way big time — after she’d blown a 50 percentage-point lead.

A SurveyUSA poll, released Sunday night, gave glimpse to that apparent momentum shift, with Whitman stretching her lead from 2 percentage points to 27 (54 percent to 27).

The SurveyUSA poll, which critics don’t much like because of the robo-call, push-button mechanics, had more certainty than one commissioned by Daily Kos, which gave Whitman a 10 percentage point lead and had more undecided voters. Murphy said the SurveyUSA poll matched up with numbers he’s seeing in other private polls. Republican primary voters, he said, are returning to Whitman after giving her a second look.

“Every private track and our own internals are showing similar numbers, give or take 5 or 6 points,” he said. “To me, that’s a confirmation that things are moving our way.”

Murphy said that a number of factors have turned the momentum around. First, Democrats’ attacks on Whitman have backfired. “Republicans are starting to understand that Jerry Brown is doing everything he can to help Steve Poizner. That’s the wrong kind of endorsement.”

Murphy said he is convinced that the much-maligned ad of Whitman speaking directly to the camera and complaining about Poizner’s attacks worked.

“It worked like a charm,” Murphy said. “People are starved for information. They like ads when candidates talk to the camera. So we did 60 seconds to break through the clutter and push back on two things bothering voters the most” about Whitman’s campaign, which were her position on immigration and her past endorsement of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. Here it is:

Pivoting off that ad, the campaign put up new 30-second spots tearing into Poizner as a liberal, as seen here:

And the ads were supplemented by a heavy voter-to-voter contact effort — unanswered by Poizner: through the mail and by phone.

Poizner’s “one-note” campaign — hammering the anti-illegal immigrant issue (seen here:)

helped raise his profile, but “he hasn’t done anything” to fill out a larger picture of who he is and how he’d govern, Murphy said.

He noted that Poizner’s team, which  touted internal polls a couple weeks ago when it was riding a strong anti-Whitman wave, hasn’t been so loud about its internals lately.

Jarrod Agen, spokesman for Poizner, said that polls — internal and public — are showing “this race is much closer and that we’re within striking distance. The reality is it’s going to come down to the last two weeks and which candidate can convince more undecided voters.”

Poizner’s tough, bracing talk on illegal immigration is “cutting through” to voters and works better with primary voters than the establishment backing Whitman has played up, Agen said. Whitman on Monday released an ad with Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential candidate (and her ex-boss), Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State, and Jon Coupal, president of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, showing their support:

“We think that’s a huge error on their part, showing other establishment Republicans endorsing Meg,” Agen said. “Last week, we saw everybody who used that method lost (in primaries around the country). We’re in a cycle of changing the status quo, reforming the establishment. And Meg is running as the establishment candidate.”

Poizner’s team doesn’t plan on showing internals any time soon, but not because they lack for confidence, Agen said. “When we released them last time, we were in a gap when there weren’t any polls out and we wanted to show people that things were shifting. With the PPIC poll just out and others to come out, there’s no reason to release another poll.”

Unless you’re Mike Murphy, and you have another momentum shift you’d like to share.


What will the governor’s next job be?



You read it here first: Former California GOP spokesman Patrick Dorinson, a communications consultant and author of the Cowboy Libertarian blog, predicts that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s next job will be that of national green jobs czar, the post held previously held by the fired Van Jones.

Dorinson says he was watching the governor make the post-National Governors Association conference talk-show circuit, where Schwarzenegger  criticized Republicans for failing to cooperate with President Barack Obama and the jobs agenda. Schwarzenegger also had a private meeting with Obama.

“It came to me, Arnold wants the green jobs czar job,” Dorinson says. “He can travel around the country saying ‘That’s faaahntahstic!’ There are no responsibilities.”

Dorinson predicts an announcement around Christmastime or just after the first of the year. I’ll put it on my calendar and put Dorinson’s predictive powers to the test.

Do you have a prediction? Send it to me at lvorderbrueggen@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Meanwhile, Jones has landed on his feet.

As my colleague Josh Richman wrote today, Jones has a new job. The 41-year-old will serve at Center for American Progress as a senior fellow to lead its new Green Opportunity Initiative. He also has been appointed distinguished visiting fellow in the Center for African American Studies and in the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Jones is the Oakland social- and environmental-justice activist and author who went to Washington last year as Obama’s “green jobs czar,” only to be let go in the face of conservative criticism.


East Bay legislators dubious about state water deal

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

I talked with three Contra Costa state lawmakers via telephone this morning about their views on the Big Five water talks under way in Sacramento today. I did not hear much optimism about a the chances of a deal by tonight’s deadline.

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier and assemblymembers Joan Buchanan and Tom Torlakson view the closed-door talks on the controversial and complex subject as unlikely to produce a package that will attain either legislative or public support, and urged the resumption of public hearings.

DeSaulnier of Concord, who scuttled his planned trip to Spain this week in order to participate in the California water negotiations, called Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s move to hold hostage 700 bills on his desk pending a water deal counter-productive.

“The governor’s unique talents are unsuits for this time right now in Sacramento,” DeSaulnier said. “He just not very good at negotiation.”

“What’s the rush?” he added. “Are they worried it will start raining and with the drought over, the pressure will be off to pass reforms? I think we can get a deal but we need to do it with continued public hearings and public discussion, not artificial deadlines.”

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch

Even if the Big Five emerge today or Saturday arm-in-arm with a package, the East Bay legislators say the question of how to pay for it remains a huge sticking point.

All three say they oppose financing the estimated $8 billion to $12 billion package through general obligation bonds. Repayment of general obligation bonds comes right of the top of the state’s general fund, which means the money cannot be used elsewhere.

They favor the use of revenue bonds, which are repaid by water users including residents, businesses and farmers.

“It the midst of these horrible deficits, and we’re facing additional horrendous challenges next year, do we want to cut more from schools or higher education?” said Torlakson, D-Antioch.

“The payment on a $12 billion bond is $700 million a year,” said Buchanan, D-Alamo. “If we are going to pass legislation and ask voters to pass a bond, we need to ask how we’re going to pay for it.”

Buchanan also says that she and other Delta area lawmakers will demand sufficient time to evaluate any proposal and talk with their constituents.

“A half a million people live in the Delta and the impacts of new policies could last decades,” Buchanan said. “You can bet that I and my staff will be reading every word.”

Postscript: DeSaulnier’s trip to Spain was, ironically, a Senate-sponsored event to study the country’s national water system. “I learned more about water by staying home,” DeSaulnier said.


Arnold: It’d be easier if you’d just do what I say.

Though building support for the special-election budget reform agenda was his main goal, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger touched on other topics in a Q&A session with the Bay Area Council on Thursday in San Francisco – and one of those topics is how hard it is when people disagree with him.

The governor went on a bit of a tirade against dissent, first talking smack about U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger’s 2007 order reducing the operation of pumps in the Delta to protect the endangered Delta Smelt, then about a three-federal-judge panel’s moves toward ordering the release of certain inmates to reduce California’s chronic and unconstitutional prison overcrowding, and then about Clark Kelso, the receiver empowered by a federal judge to demand $8 billion from the state to correct unconstitutional, decades-long underfunding of prison health care.

“It’s not productive for the state to have so many chefs in the kitchen,” the governor grumped. “Those are the kinds of things that make it very difficult.”

But his ire wasn’t just directed at the federal courts. Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, he said, opposes him on fiscal policy at every turn, he said: “He’s running for Congress now, so that’s good.”

And he cited state Controller John Chiang’s and state Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s opposition to his plans to cut state salaries last year. “How does a coach win a basketball game when all of the players are running off in different directions?” Schwarzenegger asked.

Maybe that’s why he’s so hot for Proposition 1A, which would give the governor new authority to unilaterally reduce some spending for state operations and capital outlay and eliminate some cost-of-living increases, all without legislative approval – shoo, you pesky compromises; begone, consensus! Also, maybe he’s forgetting that these federal judges’ job is to hold California to its obligations under federal law and the U.S. Constitution, and that the Democratic statewide elected officials he’s knocking are with this state’s majority party while he’s in the minority.

More, after the jump…
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Governor announces local appointments

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced a handful of appointments of East Bay residents to local boards:

Robert Brown, 42, of Pleasant Hill, has been appointed to the Contractors State License Board. He has been a member of the board since 2005. Brown has worked for California State Automobile Association as director of corporate affairs since 2005, senior manager for governmental affairs from 2000 to 2005 and media relations manager from 1999 to 2000. From 1994 to 1999, Brown served as the assistant secretary at the State and Consumer Services Agency and, from 1996 to 1999, he served as the deputy director for communications and education at the Department of Consumer Affairs. From 1993 to 1994, Brown served as a legislative aide to California State Senator Frank Hill. He worked as a field representative to U.S. Senator John Seymour from 1991 to 1992 and was an assistant to the director at the California Arts Council from 1990 to 1991. From 1989 to 1990, Brown worked as a research policy consultant for the U.S. Department of Education. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Brown is a Republican.

Steven Limrite, 44, of Concord, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Fair Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). He has served on the board of directors since 2001. Limrite has worked for Contra Costa County as a fire district dispatcher since 2005, sheriff’s supervising dispatcher from 1992 to 2005, sheriff’s dispatcher from 1989 to 1992, call taker from 1988 to 1989 and a reserve sheriff’s deputy from 1986 to 1988. He is a member of the Cal-Western Appaloosa Show Horse Association, Incorporated Board of Directors and the Ewa-Tom-Likhim Appaloosa Horse Club Board of Directors. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Limrite is a Republican.

Louis Mangini, 84, of Pleasant Hill, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Fair Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). He has served on the board of directors since 1983 and has owned Mangini Farms since 1941. Mangini is a member of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Posse Executive Board of Directors and serves on the Contra Costa County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and Rogers Ranch Board of Directors. He is a member of the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Mangini is a Republican.

Byron Parsons, 76, of Antioch, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Fair Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). He has served on the board of directors since 2001 and currently serves as president. Prior to retiring, Parsons worked as a senior buyer for E.I. DuPont de Nemours from 1956 to 1996. He currently serves as the chair of the East Contra Costa Transit Authority Board of Directors, is a member of Kiwanis Club of the Delta-Antioch and is a charter member of the Antioch Historical Society. Additionally, Parsons is past president of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce and former mayor of Antioch. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Parsons is a Democrat.

Per Peterson, 48, of Berkeley, has been appointed to the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee. He previously served on the committee from 2004 to 2007 as an appointee of Attorney General Bill Lockyer. Since 1990, Peterson has worked as a professor for the Nuclear Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, he has worked as a mechanical engineering faculty member for the Accelerator and Fusion Research Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 1999. Peterson served the University of California, Berkeley as chair of the Nuclear Engineering Department from 2000 to 2005 and the Energy and Resources Group from 1998 to 2000. He served at the Nuclear Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley as an associate professor from 1994 to 1998 and as an assistant professor from 1990 to 1994. From 1988 to 1989, Peterson was an assistant specialist for the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of California, Irvine and, in 1988, he worked as a guest researcher at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. From 1985 to 1988, Peterson served as a research assistant in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley and, from 1982 to 1985, he worked as an engineer at Bechtel National, Incorporated. Peterson serves as the current chair of the Gas Turbine-Modular Helium Reactor Academic Advisory Group for General Atomics, the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Initiative Advisory Committee and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Additionally, he serves as co-chair of the Generation IV Proliferation Resistance and Physical Protection Experts Group and is a former member of the Fusion Power Associates Board of Directors and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Peterson is also a fellow of the American Nuclear Society. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Peterson is a Democrat.

Antonio Spampinato, 60, of Richmond, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Fair Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). Since 2005, he has served as an independent medical interpreter. Additionally, he owned ChoriPan King Catering Service from 2004 to 2006. From 1997 to 2004, Spampinato co-owned and was the training director of the Healthflow Learning Center. Previously, he worked as a consultant for the California Office of AIDS from 1986 to 2000. Spampinato worked for the California Department of Health Services as a public health consultant in the Rural Health Division from 1984 to 1986 and as a public health consultant in the Hypertension Control Program from 1982 to 1984. He is a member of the Federation Wado Kai San Francisco. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Spampinato is registered American-Independent.

Paul Spinola, 40, of Brentwood, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Fair Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). Since 1997, he has owned Spinola Farms. Additionally, Spinola has worked as a journeyman ironworker through the Iron Workers Local #378 since 1987 and is currently the general foreman for GSE Construction at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. He is a member of the Contra Costa County Farm Bureau and currently serves as president. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Spinola is a Republican.

Louis Stout, 73, of Pleasant Hill, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Fair Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). He has been self-employed as a consultant doing business under Louis E. Stout Consulting since 2007. Prior to retiring, Stout worked as a senior manager and director of federal programs for Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure from 1999 to 2007. Prior to that, he was a senior vice president for Inner City Fund Kaiser International, Incorporated from 1997 to 1999 and was general manager and director of government programs for International Technology, Incorporated from 1989 to 1997. From 1986 to 1989, Stout worked as the western regional director for URS Consultants environmental remediation programs and, from 1983 to 1986, he worked as a senior program manager of government environmental remediation programs for Black and Veatch Engineer Architects. From 1980 to 1983, he worked as a program manager for Collins and Ryder. Stout served in the U.S. Army from 1960 to 1980 and served as a combat engineer and public works engineer retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He is a member of the American Public Works Association, a life member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a senior fellow in the Society of American Military Engineers. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Stout is a Republican.

Lynette Tanner-Busby, 59, of Martinez, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). She has served on the board of directors since 1996. Since 1989, Tanner-Busby has worked as the executive director for the Contra Costa Centre Association. Prior to that, she worked as a community relations director for TCI Cable from 1988 to 1993. Tanner-Busby is a member of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, the Contra Costa Council, the Martinez Planning Commission and the John Muir Health Women’s Group. Additionally, she is chair of the Contra Costa Centre Area Municipal Advisory Council. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Tanner-Busby is a Republican.


California Democratic Party takes initiative positions

The California Democratic Party’s executive board met a few days ago and voted on its positions on the ballot measures on or appeared headed to the Nov. 4 general election ballot: (The Democratic Party sent out a corrected list today, which is reflected below.)

YES – Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century.

YES – Treatment of Farm Animals. Statute.

YES – Children’s Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program. Statute.

NO – Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy. Constitutional Amendment.

YES – Nonviolent Offenders. Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation. Statute. *

NO – Criminal Penalties and Laws. Public Safety Funding. Statute.

NO – Renewable Energy. Statute.

NO – Limit on Marriage. Constitutional Amendment.

NO – Criminal Justice System. Victims’ Rights. Parole. Constitutional Amendment and Statute. *

NEUTRAL – Bonds. Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy. Statute.
NO – Redistricting. Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

*NOTE: a press release sent yesterday incorrectly stated the CDP’s position on two propositions.  On the Criminal justice system, victims’ rights initiative, the correct position is NO.  And on the sentencing of violent offenders initiative, the correct position is YES.