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The Wrong Stuff 

Candidate Newsom is “narcissistic,” “thin-skinned,” “disloyal,” and “friendless.” And that’s from his former supporters.

Wednesday, Sep 9 2009
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But the mayor handled what might have been a career-ending situation about as well as he could have. "I want to make it clear that everything you've read is true, and I'm deeply sorry about that," he told reporters at City Hall. "I hurt someone I care deeply about, Alex Tourk, and his family and friends, and that is something I'm deeply sad about and sorry for."

Newsom then checked himself into rehab for alcohol abuse, and came out the other side ready to run for his second term.

San Francisco voters may have been willing to let the mayor slide, but in this tough governor's race, it's likely that his home-wrecking will continue to be rehashed — if not by the Jerry Brown campaign, then certainly by the media.

In an apparent, ill-fated attempt to pre-empt this, Newsom himself has tried to recast the affair in the minds of statewide voters. In June, he told Fast Company magazine that part of the story had yet to come out. Days later, he repeated that to The New York Times Magazine, and added that the affair was much more "benign" than newspapers suggested.

Although Newsom eventually told a group of reporters that he had made a mistake in giving the mysterious statements, political consultants said it was almost certainly part of a strategy to downplay and repackage the affair. When a candidate for governor talks to the national media, there's no going off-script, they say. Everything is planned. Particularly if something is said twice.

The city's politicos have been puzzling over what Newsom could have been referring to, but one strategist close to the situation has a pretty good idea. When Newsom claims we don't know the whole story, the source said, he's referring to information embarrassingly submitted by his wife and then-girlfriend, Jennifer Siebel, in 2007. "The woman is the culprit," Siebel told the San Francisco Chronicle. Siebel also posted in the comments section of an SFist story, claiming that "unfortunately everyone near to [Rippey-Tourk] has stories and says she is bad news" and that the affair consisted of "a few nothing incidents."

No one has offered any specific information — at least in the press — to the contrary. The fact is, it's an open secret that the affair was far more than a few nothing incidents. It went on for months. While it may have been benign for Newsom, during the course of the affair Rippey-Tourk developed a severe drinking problem, which ended only after she checked into rehab.

Solomon, the former receptionist working on the tell-all, was close to Rippey-Tourk and said she has struggled immensely. "She lost her husband. Her job. Her identity," she said. "She's working on getting that back, and she's a beautiful woman, inside and out. She did get the shaft really bad."

Newsom, on the other hand, is running for governor. Although he has stopped telling the press about how there's more to the story, those close to Tourk and Rippey-Tourk are enraged.

In fact, a source close to Jaye says Newsom's statements regarding his affair played a significant role in Jaye's departure. The not-so-amicable parting, which went down on July 24 in Jaye's Storefront Political Media office at 250 Sutter, was a shock to politicos in San Francisco.

The reason Jaye gave was "a fundamental difference in how to run the campaign." Many assumed he was speaking of differences between the strategy he favored — touting new ideas through grassroots social media — versus bulldog strategist Garry South's slash-and-burn tactics.

A long interview with South involved plenty of Jerry Brown bashing, including reference to the attorney general as "a product of the past" without a credible record of leadership. "The best we can do is dredge somebody up from 40 years ago?" South asked. "That's pretty pathetic. Where's our talent pool?"

But another contributing factor to Jaye's departure, a source close to Jaye says, was Newsom's resurrection of the affair he had with the wife of his former campaign strategist. Jaye "was so personally appalled by the attempt to rewrite the history and to minimize the action that it affected his relationship with Newsom," the source said.

"Of course I was troubled by those comments," Jaye said. "I knew they were going to be very hurtful to the family involved."


Around 6 o'clock on August 5, people began trickling through the heavy wooden doors of the Bambuddha Lounge for "Gavin's Summer Soirée," a hometown fundraiser thrown by "friends of Gavin."

Attendees mostly fell into two categories — young, attractive women, and people working the fundraiser. Absent were any heavy-hitting Democrats who helped Newsom reportedly pull together $4 million in a few months during his first run for mayor.

There was, however, a VIP room, reserved for those who donated $1,000 or more. (That meant there were likely no more than four people in it; on the day of the event, only $4,180 had come in from just 69 donors.)

The low attendance echoed David Binder's recent poll, which revealed that San Francisco voters actually prefer Jerry Brown to Newsom by 51 to 34 percent. Statewide, according to a poll conducted by J. Moore Methods, Brown was leading Newsom by 49 to 20 percent.

Those numbers aren't helping with potential donors. So far, Newsom has raised $1.7 million compared to Brown's $7.3 million, which is sure to jump considerably when Brown formally enters the race.

Wade Randlett, an influential national fundraiser who brought in big bucks for Care Not Cash and Newsom's 2003 campaign, is one of those who has abandoned ship. He is concerned with how little progress has been made in the city, particularly in regard to cleaning up the Tenderloin and getting homeless people off the street.

"Philosophically, it's a hell of a long way from Care Not Cash to having city government enforce food scrap recycling in private homes," Randlett said. "If houseflies had a lobby, I'm sure they'd raise millions for him."

About The Author

Ashley Harrell

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