The Poizner For Governor Campaign Is Done
I don’t know about other readers, but I haven’t heard a good thing about the Poizner campaign’s erratic charges that Meg Whitman was Sopranos style threatening him in order to make him drop out of the race. Want to have some fun? Do what I did yesterday and call a few local Poizner supporters and ask them what they think. They are mortified. Frankly, I think this whole mess is important, and a good thing. The GOP came within a few months of potentially nominating a candidate, Poizner, with this kind of lack of common sense. But we didn’t. He blew up early. The campaign is now over for him – the only thing he can spare us is the endless tv ads and himself further embarrassment. Got this article from Poizner’s hometown newspaper several times in the email this morning and last night:
San Jose Mercury News: Poizner’s Press Conference Made Him A Laughingstock
By Scott Herhold
Give it up for Steve Poizner. He’s revealed his essential self in the Republican race for governor. He’s desperate, so desperate that you have to wonder whether his reservoir of common sense has deserted him completely.
The state’s insurance commissioner summoned reporters in Sacramento Monday to one of the strangest press conferences in California political history. He accused the campaign of his rival, Meg Whitman, of threatening him and making “improper” promises to get him out of the race.
Poizner demanded an investigation from the FBI, the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, the California Secretary of State and, hold the laughs, Attorney General Jerry Brown, the likely Democratic candidate for governor.
It was sensational stuff if you paid attention only to the headlines. But if you saw the press conference, or read the key e-mail from Whitman political strategist Mike Murphy, three words rang out about Poizner: Wimp. Weakling. Wuss.
The former Silicon Valley businessman, a smart guy, was once on an upward path in politics. In his losing race for Assembly in 2004, he deluged people with too much mail. He got smarter when he was elected insurance commissioner in 2006. This year, I thought he was ready to play with the big dogs.
Monday’s press conference stripped me of those illusions. It was a performance that reminded one of my friends of Ross Perot’s famous charge in 1992 that the Bush White House had planned to sabotage his daughter’s wedding.
The e-mail from Murphy, while indiscreet in written form, was no different from conversations that occur all the time in American politics.
In a note to Poizner pollster Jan van Lohuizen, Murphy wrote, “I hate the idea of each of us spending $20 million beating on the other in primary, only to have a damaged nominee. And we can spend $40M+ tearing up Steve if we must; bad for him, bad for us, and a crazy waste to tear up a guy with great statewide potential — really the only guy on the CA GOP bench for the future.
“We could unite (the) entire party behind Steve right now to build a serious race against Diane F in 2012,” he went on, referring of course to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat. “Could be a strong GOP year and DiFi will be 78 or 79 years old.”
Poizner’s argument was that the words “tearing up” had crossed a bright line of ethics. His spokesman likened it to a threat from the Sopranos.
Really? This is a criminal threat? A bribe? You want to shake Poizner and say, “Steve, you need to get out more. Go to the bowling alley. Get out of that hermetically sealed environment that’s making you sound like an idiot.”
In much more polite words, the executive director of the FPPC, Roman Porter, said as much. “It appears there are no alleged violations of the Political Reform Act,” he noted.
The kind of political accommodations Murphy mentioned are reached all the time. In 1952, when California Gov. Earl Warren decided not to run for the presidency, he was widely reported to have settled for the promise of a Supreme Court job from Republican nominee Dwight Eisenhower.
Steve Poizner still has much to offer. But he ought to be thinking of a city council job or school board. Somewhere he doesn’t have to face the slings and arrows of big-time politics.
He’s done his campaign the most serious damage he can: He’s made himself laughable.