Panetta Disaster Plan Disastrous for Dems -- and California

After numerous recent conversations with high-placed Democratic party officials all over California, Points West has verified that former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta is all but certain to put his name on the ballot in the recall election to replace soon-to-be dead-duck Governor Gray Davis. In the last week, he has gone from quiet political posturing to not-so-quiet power-broker ballet. But before you stand up and cheer, you have to face one simple fact: Panetta would be a disaster for California Democrats and for the state in general. Further, Panetta must be loopy to think that one of the statewide constitutional officers is not going to run. His dreams of being the "consensus" candidate are nothing short of delusional. In no small part this is due to his anemic name ID, which is far lower than any of the statewide officers, all of whom just won election last November.

First, a little background. DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe recently stated: "I want the folks here in California to know that we are not going to have another Democrat on the ballot. I think that is the single biggest message I can give today. So if you're a California voter and you want to vote to recall Gray Davis, you are not going to have an option but a bunch of right-wing conservatives on the ballot," McAuliffe said.

Really, Terry, is that so? Sorry, but now the cat's out of the bag. Based on multiple conversations, PW has learned that these two Clinton buddies have been cooking up a plan to spook every other Dem out of the race early so that Panetta can implement his "white-horse" strategy when the time is, as one source said, "appropriate." Well, it will never be appropriate. A hardcore partisan beltway brawler is exactly the wrong prescription for what ails California. Any Panetta-brand outsider will drag the already polarized state government to new lows in non-cooperation, and Panetta himself would be the worst choice of all.

Though I'm strongly anti-recall, the Gang of Four had better do something -- and quick. Davis is going down, and the Dems must have an option on the ballot. It's a short list. One incredibly popular California Senator and three of the five state constitutional officers are the Dem's only hope: Senator Diane Feinstein, State Attorney General Bill Lockyer, State Treasurer Phil Angelides and State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi. These four need to sit down and make a decision. A decision not if, but which, one of them is gonna run.

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley and Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante have constitutional responsibilities in the recall itself that preclude them from running. Legally they could run, but it would be unseemly. Barbara Boxer needs to worry about saving her Senate seat and cannot consider such a move. Controller Steve Westly (whom I like immensely) is simply too new to statewide government to throw his hat in the ring. And that leaves four. Oops, sorry. Four -- and Panetta.

Even if Panetta were somehow to win, California's problems would become far worse, not better, on his watch. His autocratic White House ways ain't gonna fly with either the minority Republicans or the majority Dems. You think budget woes are bad? Try pitched battles that would make Davis giggle and blush. So Gang of Four, put your heads together and make a decision which of you will run, make that rough call to Terry, and Bill Clinton, and State Chair Art Torres -- and tell them to get Panetta out of this race. Now. Because if Panetta wins, we can kiss majority Democratic rule in the State of California goodbye, probably sooner rather than later. And if Panetta insists on running, then one of the Gang of Four better step into the fray anyway and save us from ourselves. Enjoy your legacy Leon, because we need a public servant to get us out this mess, not a DC-style partisan disaster.



Open Your Golden State

Dean Leads in California: The former Vermont governor has more than doubled his support since April, to 16 percent among likely Democratic voters.

Well, this is great news! Results from the last Field Poll on April 16th appear in ():

Dean: 16 (7)
Kerry: 15 (16)
Lieberman: 14 (22)
Gephardt: 7 (14)
Edwards: 4
Graham: 3
Kucinich: 3
Sharpton: 3
Moseley-Braun: 2

We have momentum, folks, and huge Meetup numbers statewide. Dean has been tied for 1st in San Francisco for well over a month, but now we are cooking with steam! But really the credit goes to Dean himself. He sent the delegates out from the CA convention talking "Dean Dean Dean" and they simply haven't stopped.

I (and a few of my buddies) have been positing a "backwards cascade" theory in the primaries: if Dean seems poised to decisevely win CA, it will affect the primaries in other states that come before. Certainly, this is a huge step in the right direction, and much earlier than anticipated. But the best thing of all is that our name rec was zero in January, and now Dean is tied for 1st PLACE!!! This increase is largely due to word-of-mouth, forwarded e-mails, and local press stories about Dean Meetups. Not bad for a couple of months work!

Okay, take a moment, center yourself, and scream Woohoo! Also, check out this article form the San Jose Mercury News here. Results in PDF format of the complete Field Poll can be found here.



Make That A Double

Dean donations will qualify for approximately 3 times more in matching funds than John Kerry and other Democratic rivals! Donations are only matched up to $250 per donor, and Dean has many, many more small donors. This item from Bloomberg:
About 48 percent of the $10.2 million Dean has raised this year came from donations of less than $200, the highest percentage among the major Democrats running. Such contributions made up 14 percent of the $87.8 million raised by President George W. Bush and all the Democrats in the first half of the year, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
Now, if we can exponentially increase the total number of givers for Howard Dean, Bush is T-O-A-S-T.

Vote With Your "Backbone"

Quick note for Dean supporters (especially if you can't stand the autocratic Bill Thomas): Please see the Dean Nation "Backbone" Award post linked above. At the bottom of the post you'll find contact info for Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Charles Rangel -- send them an e-mail and let them know how proud you are of Democrats who stand up and fight! (By the way, you'll need to scroll down -- the archive link for this post is acting screwy...)

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