So Gavin Newsom made it all official yesterday and formally announced his campaign for governor on Twitter. So we thought we’d ask LA Weekly journo and local political wonk Patrick Range McDonald for his thoughts on the upcoming race:
FBLA: Do you think Antonio Villaraigosa is actually going to put in a bid for governor?
PRM: Some people in political/media circles don’t think he will run for governor, but I think he’ll do what he did in 2005. He surprised a lot of people by running against Democratic incumbent mayor Jim Hahn, and he’ll probably do something similar again. If he believes he can win for whatever reason, then he’ll run. He is very driven and he’s never listened to naysayers or common wisdom when it comes to decisions he’s made about his life.
FBLA:Tony is not exactly known for burning the midnight oil – why would he possibly want MORE work?
PRM:I’m not exactly sure what you mean, but running for governor won’t be work for him, in my opinion. He’ll probably see it as a challenge that’s actually fun. If you saw Villaraigosa at all when he was campaigning for Hillary Clinton, you saw a man who literally got off on campaigning. At times, he was very hyper and excitable. He loves it. For him, it’s fun.
FBLA:Does he have a shot in hell?
PRM:Villaraigosa always has a shot. He knows how to make things work, even when the odds are against him. Right here and now, the odds are against him. He didn’t perform as well as he would have liked with his re-election in March by only getting 55 percent of the vote when he was running against a weak field of no-name candidates. No disrespect to them, but they were not big names. And in California, winning L.A. County and the city is very important. He may not do well in his own backyard. Also, his record in LA isn’t as strong as he would like–there are a lot of holes in it that his opponents can use against him. He’ll trot out his work in crime and hiring more police, but right now people are more concerned about their jobs and homes. Maybe things will change in the next several months with the economy, but it doesn’t look that way. And if he angers the unions by trying to fix L.A.’s half-billion dollar budget shortfall, that’s not going to help him for his run for governor. He’s often relied on their strong support whenever he’s running for office.
Newsom definitely has a chance to win the Democratic nomination, which is all that I’m thinking about here. He was smart to right away, with his first political ad, to show his accomplishments in San Francisco. I haven’t examined them as a reporter yet, so I don’t know if those accomplishments are real, but it was a good political and p.r. move to frame the debate about what makes for a good governor with his own record. Now, Villaraigosa will be forced to talk about his record. Same goes for Jerry Brown and anyone else. Newsom has also been working the state by holding town hall meetings up and down California. He’s been contacting voters face to face. Brown and Villaraigosa haven’t really done that yet, and old time politics of going door-to-door, as it were, still works in this technological age. People were always blown away by Obama whenever they saw him speak in person, for example.
FBLA:Is Jerry Brown too old or too experienced?
PRM:I don’t know if someone is too old to run for office, but people may feel Brown had his shot as governor and now it’s time for someone new, not someone from the past.
FBLA:What about the Reps. – thoughts on Meg Whitman? Can you be a Republican and not be a CEO these days?
PRM:I honestly don’t know much about the Republicans. I suspect the public don’t know much about them either. That’s not a good thing. But you can always change that around if you have a lot of money and you’re willing to spend it. If Meg Whitman can prove that she was a successful businesswoman and her company was successful under her watch, then being a CEO may not be a bad thing. But if someone–the press or her opponents–find out that she took huge bonuses, that would really hurt her.
FBLA:Are you excited about the race? Will it be interesting or a snooze fest like usual?
PRM:The Democratic primary will not be a snooze fest. It’s going to be very interesting, especially if Villaraigosa runs. They’ll be slugging it out. It could be similar to the presidential Democratic primary, which was a wild ride for everyone involved.