Republican former South Bay Congressman Ernie Konnyu said Friday he’s considering a run against Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom because Newsom is “fundamentally untrustworthy.”
Newsom as San Francisco’s mayor violated state law by authorizing marriage licenses for same-sex couples in 2004, Konnyu said, and violated his own Catholic beliefs both by having an affair with his campaign manager’s wife in 2007 and by remarrying in 2008 without having his first marriage annulled.
“The analysis I did – just Internet research – on the lieutenant governor found him, in my opinion, vulnerable despite the Democratic nature of California,” Konnyu, 76, of San Jose, said Friday afternoon. (He might want to step up that research a bit, given that he misspelled Newsom’s name – putting an “e” at the end – in emails he sent Wednesday and Friday.)
That analysis has led him to reconsider his earlier decision not to run. “I’ve been discussing this with some of my friends for several months but it never got past the discussion stage – I had actually said this was a crazy idea, and I had dropped it.”
With the candidacy filing deadline coming up March 7, “I have to make up my mind probably in a week, two weeks at the most.”
No well-known Republican challengers have materialized to take on Newsom as he seeks a second four-year term as lieutenant governor. Newsom raised about $511,000 in campaign contributions from July through December, finishing the year with about $1.7 million in ready cash, according to a campaign finance report filed last week.
Konnyu represented California’s 12th Congressional District from 1987 to 1989; he spent much of that term embroiled in controversy over accusations of sexual harassment, and was defeated in his bid for a second term by a more moderate Republican, Tom Campbell. Earlier, Konnyu represented western and southern Santa Clara County in the Assembly from 1980 to 1986.
Both in the Legislature and Congress, he worked well with Republicans and Democrats alike, he said Friday.
Asked whether he has the money and other support to mount a statewide campaign, he replied, “that’s the reason I didn’t say I’m running yet – that’s the big fly in the ointment.”
The state’s GOP leaders “don’t have the money to support this campaign. They’re targeting re-capturing more than a third of the Assembly and the state Senate … so most of the money they have is going to be spent there, and not on statewide offices.”
He said he’s hoping to “capture enough Lincoln Club types… and see if I can finance the race that way;” he said he also has talked with Santa Clara County Republican Party Chairman Charles Munger Jr.
Konnyu said as lieutenant governor he would push for California to emulate some of the tax breaks for businesses that have been proposed or enacted by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “If I bring that as lieutenant governor to the Legislature, we have something positive to talk about because it’s a Democratic law created in New York.”
Asked why he described Newsom as “fundamentally untrustworthy” in his email, Konnyu replied “this guy promised as mayor to uphold the laws of the state of California, and the U.S. Constitution and of course the California Constitution. Also, he’s a self-declared practicing Catholic, and he also promised to the church and to the Catholic community that he would abide by the laws of the Catholic church.”
“He doesn’t give a damn when he feels differently,” Konnyu said, citing both Newsom’s support of same-sex marriage rights in violation of what then was state law as well as his personal history.
Newsom probably isn’t too fearful of a potential Konnyu candidacy.
“Democracy is a wonderful thing, and as candidates from Gary Coleman to Arnold Schwarzenegger have shown, anyone can run for office in California,” Dan Newman, Newsom’s campaign consultant, said Friday.