** Steve Westly has seized a 13-point lead over Phil Angelides in an LA Times poll for tomorrow. The state controller leads the state treasurer, 33% to 20%. In general election match-ups, as usual, Westly fares better than Angelides against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, holding a sizable lead over the former action superstar, 48% to 39%. Angelides is tied with Arnold, 43% to 43%. More to follow.
** A not infrequently tedious afternoon of intel gathering in and around the Sacramento Convention Center. Treasurer Phil Angelides kicked things off with a spirited Young Democrats rally in a convention center conference room. Then Controller Steve Westly walked off an elevator to the accompaniment of screams from his supporters. The two candidates then worked their way through a series of party caucuses — labor, women, ethnic, etc. — throughout the afternoon.
Each man was accompanied — in much the manner of a medieval potentate — by colorfully uniformed supporters waving signs and chanting their names both to herald their presence and imminent arrivals and to ward off the evil spirit of doubt about the leader’s prowess in battle. (The Angelides workers wear blue t-shirts, you know, Blue state. The Westly devotees wear bright orange t-shirts, which are very distinctive but also, frankly, hideous.)
Westly’s and Angelides’ caucus appearances were of course distinctive and different from each other’s … Well, actually, as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom quipped, each man’s spiel for each interest group caucus could be boiled down thusly: “I’m for what you’re for.”
Newsom, one of the party’s rising stars, was on hand to speak at the party chairman’s welcome reception tonight and meet various people. He also sat down in the back room of a capital eatery for a small group session with journalists which rather definitively answered the question of why there is a buzz about him. More about Newsom later.
Meanwhile, this year’s candidates were working the vineyards. Angelides started off snarling, saying that without his Silicon Valley fortune, Westly “wouldn’t even be a candidate for governor, probably not even a legislative race.”
Later, as he was somewhat unaccountably stopped in the hallway, he mock instructed his senior staffer, national advance ace Ed Emerson: “Don’t be nice to the press.” Within two minutes, the few reporters around had departed.
Westly countered by saying Angelides should be “ashamed,” given the “millions” he has spent on his own campaigns. At each of his stops, a staffer dutifully carted a giant “Positive Campaign Pledge” sign to the front of the room, marking Westly’s vow not to launch the first negative TV ad.
It was a theme that Newsom, who has not endorsed in the race, echoed in his own separate remarks, saying that the Republicans’ best hope is for the Democrats to devolve into “a divisive, negative campaign.”
In his other, more futuristic remarks, Newsom sounded more than a little reminiscent of former Governor Jerry Brown. Which is not entirely surprising, since his family is close to the Brown family, and his father was appointed a justice of the state appellate court by Jerry Brown. (More about Newsom later.)
For his part, Brown, the frontrunner for state attorney general, was also making the rounds of the caucuses. At the senior citizens caucus, Brown drew laughter from the attendees and from a waiting Westly when he quipped that he was the only candidate on MediCare.
More intel gathering and conversation tonight at a private dinner of consultants and journalists and a round of parties hosted by Angelides, Westly, and many others. The two candidates address the full convention tomorrow morning.
FLASH: A NEW POLL IS COMING OUT TOMORROW. It is similar to the private Democratic poll I reported this morning.
NOTE: I’ll start writing from the Democratic convention site in the afternoon.
** The Alliance for a Better California (ABC) labor coalition embraced NWN’s “Village People” moniker yesterday at their anti-Arnold rally outside his hotel home across the street from the State Capitol. I’ve taken to calling the iconic firefighter/cop/teacher/nurse lineup which confronted the former action superstar in last year’s special election the Village People, after the old disco group. So there was a little NWN homage at the ABC rally yesterday. Writes ABC’s Robin Swanson: “I decided we had to play a little ‘YMCA’ to pay tribute. I’m liking the Village People analogy – and maybe next time, I’ll expand our repertoire and play a little ‘Macho Man.’ … In any case, our Alliance Village People seemed to have fun with it, although they are going to be hating me tonight when that song is stuck in their head.”
Who says liberals don’t have a sense of humor?
UPDATE: ABC’s Julia Rosen has posted links to rally photos in the comments section below.
** Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez has been tapped to deliver the national Democratic radio address tomorrow. (LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gave the Spanish language Democratic response to the State of the Union.) What will Nunez talk about? Immigration and gasoline. Might Nunez, a backer of Monday’s controversial May Day Boycott, throw a little gasoline on the immigration issue? Stay tuned.
** So Angelo Tsakopoulos, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides‘ longtime patron and partner, biggest fundraiser for his campaign, and funder of the independent expenditure campaign pushing his election, has the title of Angelides campaign co-chair. Angelides campaign manager Cathy Calfo says he’s not a campaign co-chair like Nunez, Senators Feinstein and Boxer, or House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Because he’s on the fundraising side.
Clearly, he is campaign finance co-chair. But it’s not unknown for a campaign finance co-chair is who is close to the candidate to ask for and get a straight campaign co-chair title. I remember it happened in the Gary Hart for President campaign. The senator had a major supporter who was also a personal friend, a Hollywood studio chief named Mike Medavoy. He’s a very smart guy who didn’t just raise money and help line up movie stars, he gave advice, frequently good advice, to the candidate as well. Just as, surely, Tsakopoulos has given advice to Phil Angelides in this campaign as he has for decades. Medavoy got the title, though he wasn’t viewed as a campaign co-chair in quite the same way as folks like JFK speechwriter Ted Sorensen (“Ask not what your country …”) and Congresswoman Pat Schroeder. Medavoy wasn’t, with all due respect, actually Hart’s most important Hollywood backer. That was Warren Beatty, who was so deeply involved in the campaign that he never had any title. Although Hart sometimes referred to him as “The Phantom,” which I suppose is a title of sorts.
We would never have dreamed, incidentally, of allowing Medavoy to do an independent expenditure campaign on Hart’s behalf. For the simple reason that — aside from the fact that it would have been wrong — no one would have believed it was independent. The aggressive national press corps would never have gone along. And he did less for Hart than Tsakopoulos has done for Angelides. He also wasn’t the one with the jet.
Oh, and to further close the circle of synchronicity here, it was Mike Medavoy who greenlighted a little movie called The Terminator. Which is when I first encountered California’s future governor from, you know, the future.