Willie Brown opines on Obama v. Clinton, 49ers

Former San Francisco Mayor and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown talked to the Bay Area Council‘s 2008 Outlook Conference today, aboard the U.S.S. Hornet in Alameda, about the presidential race.

On Barack Obama‘s controversial comments at an April 6 fundraiser in San Francisco, suggesting working-class people are bitter about their economic lot and “cling to guns and religion” as a result, Brown said this “frankly was probably an accurate comment.” But he said Obama should’ve realized a poor choice of words to express his sentiment, even if spoken before a small, no-press crowd in a private home in California, could be broadcast worldwide.
Brown said the race for the Democratic nomination is “still open season… At the moment, I don’t think you can pick a winner.” But “if you were a betting person, at this stage of the game, you’d have to be on Obama,” who is in the lead after coming from behind a presumptive frontrunner, and who offers a vibrant, future-oriented message.

Brown said he thought when the race began that if Hillary Clinton remained respectful of Obama and her other rivals for the nomination, she would win. “I did not beleive it made any sense to assume that instead of primary campaigns there would be coronations.” Obama, he said, has proved to be “a fabulous, qualified human being who also has lots of flavor about him;” his campaign proved to be savvy by not immediately gravitating to traditionally black forums and communities, but rather appealing from the start to as broad a demographic base as possible.

A ticket with both Clinton and Obama is “not possible at all,” Brown opined; their policies and approaches to politics are too different. “Obama is really part of a whole new thing that’s going on out there in the world of politics.”

More from Willie Brown, though not about the presidential race, after the jump… Continue Reading


Blasts from the past

dukakis.jpg1988 Democratic presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mike Dukakis will speak on this year’s race for the White House at 4 p.m. today, Monday, Feb. 25, in the Soda Activity Center at St. Mary’s College, 1928 St. Mary’s Road in Moraga; admission is free.

Gosh, has it been 20 years already? Seems like Democrats still feel the stinging.

But hey, while you’re out that direction later today, why not make it a double-header? Former Assmembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown will be in Lafayette tonight — a 6 p.m. wine-and-cheese reception and a 6:30 p.m. program — at the Bentley School‘s Student Performing Arts Center, 1000 Upper Happy Valley Road, to plug his new memoir, “Basic Brown.” Sponsored by the Commonwealth Club of California, it’s $15 for club members, $30 for non-members and free for students with valid ID.


SF’s Whitehurst spins off campaign firm

whitehurst.jpgSan Francisco-based Barnes Mosher Whitehurst Lauter and Partners — one of California’s foremost political consulting and lobbying firms — will spin off a separate, new company to deal only with managing ballot measure, Democratic candidate and independent expenditure campaigns. BMWL will continue focusing on lobbying, public affairs and issues management, while founding partner John Whitehurst launches the new firm, Whitehurst Campaigns.

“The partners have spent more than a year discussing the most effective way to organize the firm for the future to best serve the needs of our clients and also grow our business,” BMWL principal Sam Lauter said in a news release. “Creating a separate firm with largely separate disciplines will really allow us to do those two things.”

This is sort of a back-to-basics move for Whitehurst, who’d founded a firm called Whitehurst Campaigns in 1990 before forming BMWL in 2000. He got his start back in 1983 working on U.S. Sen. Gary Hart’s first presidential campaign in Iowa, Pennsylvania and California. After that, he became executive director of the Democratic Foundation of Orange County, managing fundraising and voter registration drives. Then he went to work for Clinton Reilly Campaigns in San Francisco, gaining experience in overall management, advertising and other areas for statewide campaigns.

In all, Whitehurst has run more than 100 campaigns and racked up an impressive record of wins; he’s particularly into public finance issues such as bond and tax measures for schools, transportation and hospitals. Among politicians he has helped elect are state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland; former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown; former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown; and Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.