When then-gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom in September dropped the news that President Bill Clinton was endorsing him
, local political analysts told SF Weekly
"this doesn't suck!" And yet, within a month and a half, larger problems led to Newsom abandoning the race. Politicos told us the big splash of the Clinton announcement was a desperation move made to bolster Newsom's flagging campaign and, ideally, it would have come months later to accentuate a thriving campaign.
Well, that was then and this is now. Yesterday's public endorsement of Newsom for lieutenant governor by Sen. Dianne Feinstein
also doesn't suck -- it gives Newsom a lot of what he needs politically and at a crucial time with the state's Democratic Party Convention coming up later this month
Feinstein "is the most beloved politician in the state and the party. She probably has the best brand ID among California Democrats," said professor Barbara O'Connor, the director of Sacramento State's Institute for the Study of Politics and Media. "And it doesn't hurt to have the senior senator, a female, saying he' a feminist."
That gets to the heart of what a Feinstein endorsement -- no surprise by the way; she used to be mayor here, too -- does for Newsom. It helps him out statewide, while his name recognition flags outside the Bay Area. It also gives him a boost in a race against a female opponent, Janice Hahn
As well as being female, by the way, Hahn hails from a Los Angeles political dynasty. People know who she is down there. "I got that Dianne e-mail," said San Francisco political consultant David Latterman. His first thought: "It's a state-wide play."
If Newsom were able to outmuscle Hahn for the party endorsement at the convention -- held in Hahn's hometown of Los Angeles, to boot -- that could be the knockout blow. "If Newsom gets the endorsement, I think the wind goes out of Janice Hahn's sails," says Jim Ross, Newsom's former consultant.
Former city supervisor and state senator Carole Migden referred to Feinstein tapping Newsom as "predictible, powerful -- but not a vote-grabber per se."
"Will she fund-raise and attend hoe-downs in the Central Valley?" Migden continued. "Gavin's cahllenge will be becoming more likable than [presumptive Republican lieutenant governor nominee] Abel [Maldonado], who is naturally friendly and maintains the moral high-ground in this race."
Oh, not to be overlooked: O'Connor points out that Feinstein is a prodigious fund-raiser in-state and "this allows [Newsom] to raise money."
You can read Feinstein's letter to her "friends" in support of Newsom here:
Feinstein's Newsom letter.doc