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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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Making a transition from local to statewide office is extremely challenging, Randlett said, and those who make the jump are often surrounded by what he called "lifers," longtime friends of the candidate, "the kind of supporters who will crawl across broken glass to help their guy."

"There is no question that Jerry Brown has that core," he said. "The big question is whether Newsom's 2003 core became casual observers because of his handling of the nuts and bolts of running the city where they're trying to raise families."

Ken Cleaveland, the director of government and public affairs for the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco, has also noticed that Newsom is lacking in loyalists. "People that have been his supporters should rally around him," said Cleaveland, who is supporting Newsom for governor. "But perhaps people turn on people like Gavin when they think there are no repercussions."

One donor who continues to support Newsom but asked to remain anonymous says he admires the mayor's refusal to do favors for those who filled his campaign coffers. "People who supported him really hard are now saying, 'Why would I go out and fight battles for him when he did nothing for me?'" the donor said. "A lot of people think that way."

Oz Erickson, a Newsom donor and president of the real estate development firm Emerald Fund, said he believes the fundraising effort has been thwarted by outside factors. "I truly believe that the economy has affected everybody's ability to give generously to campaigns," he said.

Back at Bambuddha Lounge, people who had donated the suggested $35 entrance fee were discussing the election. One woman said she strongly believed Newsom was a good mayor, and would probably beat out "Villagrossa" (she meant Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who dropped out in June) and Dianne Feinstein (who has not entered the race). Another young woman, when asked whether she preferred Newsom or Jerry Brown, admitted she had never heard of Brown.

About an hour into the event, Newsom finally swept into the bar, setting off a frenzy of handshakes and white-toothed smiles. Tonight, he said with characteristic effervescence, he would explain why he wanted to run for governor, and it basically amounted to this: He really loves California.

In talking about California, though, it almost sounded as though Newsom were talking about himself. "People have written off this state on many occasions, but California's best days are not behind us," he said. "They're in front of us."

He championed California's diversity, and "our capacity to live together and advance together." He spoke of "the magic of our state that defines our greatness." All eyes in the room were glued to Newsom — a politician adept at charming strangers, but considerably less skilled with those who know him best.

Newsom promised he would do what was right, regardless of the consequences. He said that California needed a leader who doesn't say one thing privately and do another thing publicly. Then, finally, he acknowledged the truth about his campaign. "We recognize we are underdogs," he said. "But the gift of being an underdog is that you can truly be yourself."

That will certainly be interesting, Newsom's critics say, because as of yet they have no idea who he really is, other than a fundamentally disloyal guy with extremely high ambitions and dwindling support. The kind of guy who sleeps with his campaign strategist's wife. Who will do anything to ascend the political ladder. Whose word means little.

Newsom, for his part, is clearly less than pleased with his dissenters. "He blocked me on Twitter," Brigham said. "I'm thinking of unfriending him on Facebook."

About The Author

Ashley Harrell

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