** IT’S WILLIE TIME. Legendary Democratic power broker and bon vivant Willie Lewis Brown, Jr. will emcee the second inaugural of centrist Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger next month. Brown, who recently served eight years as mayor of a small city by a Northern California bay, had a record-setting 15-year tenure as California Assembly Speaker. His hold on legislative power in California was so pronounced that it sparked the narrowly successful term limits movement. NWN will get to the various Willie Brown-Arnold Schwarzenegger stories as the holidays approach.
Incidentally, NWN will also get back to health care. California Senate leader Don Perata introduced a proposal today that seems to require employers and (uninsured) employees to pay to provide health insurance to the uninsured. But expanding health care in California is going to be a long and winding road, on which a lot of boring analysis can be expended to little effect. Hmm, maybe Willie Brown will help with that. Not the boring analysis part.
** NEVADA PRESIDENTIAL CAUCUSES TAKING SHAPE, CALIFORNIAN SALAZAR IN KEY ROLE. Nevada Democratic Party Chairman Tom Collins has just announced the formation of a team to work with the Silver State’s party leaders in organizing the 2008 Nevada presidential caucuses, which will be the second-in-the-nation event in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, following Iowa and preceding New Hampshire. Former Iowa Democratic Party executive director Jean Hessburg will provide overall coordination for the Nevada Caucuses, assisted by former Iowa Democratic Party field director Jaysom Sime.
Three Democratic PR experts will also work on organizing the Nevada contest. Roger Salazar of the rising Acosta Salazar firm was a strong campaign press secretary for former California Governor Gray Davis‘s winning 2002 re-election campaign, as well as national spokesman for John Edwards‘ 2004 presidential campaign. A co-publisher of the Democrats’ California Majority Report web site, he’ll work with Jamal Simmons and Bill Buck, who were top aides to General Wesley Clark, former Florida Senator Bob Graham, former Georgia Senator Max Cleland, and former Vice President Al Gore.
Nevada has had presidential caucuses for years, but never in this sort of power slot, hence the emphasis on getting them organized with some people who’ve been through the process. I have some fun Nevada stories for the future, including winning there with Gary Hart and many years later spraining my knee in the Vegas airport on Valentine’s Day after covering John Kerry, but we’ll put those off for now.
** NATIONAL JOURNAL INSIDERS PICK CLINTON AND MCCAIN. The National Journal poll of political insiders overwhelmingly picks New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Arizona Senator John McCain as the favorites to win the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations. Two-thirds of Democratic insiders think Clinton will win the Democratic nomination. Over 70% think McCain will win the Republican nomination. Among Democrats, Clinton is trailed by Illinois Senator Barack Obama, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, former Vice President Al Gore and others. Among Republicans, McCain is trailed by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and others.
It’s striking that Giuliani is so lowly rated, since in polls he has to be rated a co-frontrunner with McCain among Republicans. But the insiders have doubts about his running, and feel that if he does run his New York background will cause trouble for him in Republican primaries. Interestingly, Republican insiders seem to think that Clinton has a good chance of winning the presidency.
Of course, insiders are not exactly always right. Last year, this poll had outgoing Virginia Senator George Allen as the insider favorite for the Republican nomination. And it ranked him second earlier this year. Allen, of course, got into big trouble running for re-election, losing in the end to former U.S. Navy Secretary and Vietnam War hero James Webb.
** GRITTY CASINO ROYALE‘S GLOBAL TAKE. The much grittier and darker new Bond film, Casino Royale, is doing roaringly well around the world. After just three-and-a-half weeks in release, the Daniel Craig-starrer has grossed $375.5 million in global box office. That puts it in the Top 100 of all-time, at number 92. Casino Royale has already passed three of the four Pierce Brosnan Bond films, which were very successful. While the film is doing extremely well in the US, nearly two-thirds of its take comes from foreign markets. It’s already the highest grossing Bond film in Britain.
This is probably of great interest to the guy who is perhaps California’s number one Bond fan, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The former action superstar did his own version of a Bond film, True Lies, which opened with an homage to Goldfinger, replete with Schwarzenegger emerging from the water in a wet suit with a tux underneath. Actually, True Lies is about to be passed on the all-time global box office list by Casino Royale. Schwarzenegger has three films in the Top 100, Terminator 2, Terminator 3, and True Lies.
** MORE REPUBLICAN ANGST. Our conservative Republican Flash Report friends are obsessing again about why most of their statewide candidates lost. California Republican Assembly (the party’s far right wing) head Mike Spence bangs the drum again. Let’s recall that ALL of the Republican candidates lost four years ago. And that Republicans lost the House and the Senate in this national election, marked by Congressional corruption scandals and the collapsed war policy in Iraq. Oh, and that California is a mostly blue state.
A get out the vote operation is effective only on the margins. If you are in a close race, it can make the difference. This is why Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger raised $20 million for it, anticipating at the beginning of this year that he would be in a close race against a Democratic candidate. Which of course did not happen. The point is, unless a candidate is right there in the ballpark in a close race, GOTV doesn’t make much difference. Aside from Schwarzenegger and new Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, the moderate Silicon Valley entrepreneur, California Republicans simply don’t have many good candidates. I’ll get into this more at another time.
** COURT ORDER OR NO? The LA Times says that a federal judge has ordered the Schwarzenegger administration to immediately reduce prison overcrowding or face mandatory releases. The San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee say that advocates of mandatory releases were disappointed. What actually happened is that Judge Lawrence Karlton punted, for six months, saying the court will revisit the question in the middle of next year and might consider actions at that time. The court has not imposed a population cap. It’s pretty hard to see a court taking the action that prisoner rights advocates want.
** AMERICANS WANT OUT OF IRAQ. A striking new Gallup Poll indicates the depths of American dismay with the U.S. intervention in Iraq. 75% say they support the main directions of the Iraq Study Group — a pullback of combat troops, engaging with Iran and Syria, and focusing on the Israeli/Palestinian crisis.
** Monitor computer memory prices on a daily basis. Prices are stable.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Crude oil prices have risen slightly above $61 per barrel on word that OPEC may institute more production cuts at its December 14th meeting in Nigeria. But producing countries appear pretty happy with $60 per barrel, and Bloomberg says the last oil production cut has turned out to be less than half the amount publicly agreed to.