The Battle for America 2010: 20 Days to Go

CALIFORNIA

Key Races: U.S Senate, Governor

Tim Daniel reporting:

The biggest news of the week in California was Jerry Brown's "whore-gate." Consider it one of those amazing "if someone in a Republican campaign said that..." moments.

The story hinges on a message left by Jerry Brown on the voicemail of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the labor union that represents rank-and-file LAPD officers. Brown is heard asking for the group's endorsement in the message, but the interesting exchange kicks in when Brown apparently thought he had hung up the phone:

Transcribed from the tape:

Jerry Brown -- “Do we want to put an ad out? … That I have been warned if I crack down on pensions, I will be – that they’ll go to Whitman, and that’s where they’ll go because they know Whitman will give ‘em, will cut them a deal, but I won’t."

Brown associate -- “What about saying she’s a whore?”

Jerry Brown - “Well, I’m going to use that. It proves you’ve cut a secret deal to protect the pensions.”

Meg Whitman's campaign manager Sarah Pompei said the "whore" comment was "an insult to both Meg Whitman and to the women of California" and an "appalling and unforgivable smear against Meg Whitman."

Jerry Brown's campaign insisted that Brown was responding to the notion of accusing Whitman of cutting a deal to gain endorsements, not to the use of the word "whore." But Brown campaign manager Steven Glazer seemed to contradict this, saying, "This was a jumbled and often inaudible recording of a private conversation. At times, our language was salty. We apologize to Ms. Whitman and anyone who may have been offended."

Where is the feminist outrage? As Dan Riehl noted, when a staffer to Alaskan GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller likened rival Lisa Murkowski's potential Libertarian party bid to the "oldest profession in the world," the feminist reaction was swift, just, and vocal. Not so with "whore-gate."

Faster than a battered wife could say "but he's a good man," the National Organization for Women in California endorsed Jerry Brown. Brown waved around the endorsement as his spokesman denied any connection to the timing. As the controversy broke, the start page at the National Organization for Women site pointed to an article condemning senator Jim DeMint. There was nothing on "whore-gate."

Beyond the salacious story, Sam Foster, writing at Left Coast Rebel, noted that CNN scrubbed the Jerry Brown whore reference. An article first published as "Whitman campaign upset with whore remark" was changed to an ambiguous "California governors spar over 'whore' remark."

One can only speculate as to who called CNN from the Brown campaign. Does anyone remember that earlier this year Jerry Brown called Meg Whitman a Nazi? Probably not, as the press ignored that as well.

Fox News is reporting that an anonymous source with direct knowledge behind the taped conversation claims that the individual using the whore slur is actually Jerry Brown's senior adviser -- his wife.

Which proves that the theater of the bizarre in California politics can indeed become all-the-more bizarre.

Quicklinks:

RNC's Steele and Rudy Giuliani for Tran -- More big-guns showing up in Orange County to support Assemblyman Van Tran.

Me-too in the Nannygate-spotlight -- Whitman's ex-nanny believes Nicky.

Pre trick-or-treat in the OC -- Van Tran and Loretta Sanchez to debate on October 13.

Greta V. Allred, Round II - Greta Van Sustern: "You know what, Gloria? The first thing for a lawyer to do is to protect the client, not throw the client out to the wolves. If you can’t protect the client you shouldn’t do the job. ... You can’t just keep making this stuff up.”

Indeed, a Legal Insurrection -- Professor Jacobson thinks that Allred's legal jeopardy put nanny Nicky Santillan on ICE.

More serious than Oz -- Libertarian Republican Bay Area businessman John Dennis's campaign just produced an effective new ad. While far more serious than the "Wicked Witch of the West," the ad brings home essential points.

El Presidente to California, "please don't legalize" -- Via Mexico's Informador.com, the president of Mexico is sounding the alarm against California's pot-legalizing Proposition 19 measure.

Felipe Calderón :

If the U.S. state of California legalizes marijuana in November, “it’s going to put Mexican authorities in a serious bind. It’s going to put us in a difficult problem to solve. It’s going to have an impact on the Mexican market, and I don’t know in what sense, frankly, it’ll have to be examined. It’s really very difficult for a government to jail a farmer who is growing marijuana for sale to the Californians.”

CONNECTICUT

Key Race: U.S. Senate

Jane Genova reporting:

The Connecticut U.S. Senate race between state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and former WWE executive Linda McMahon could be decided primarily by the media. The national media attention it’s receiving is resonating here throughout the state’s media. CT broadcast, digital, and print outlets are covering it with the intensity and frequently they have the Petit “In Cold Blood” murder and trial.

Currently, a recent poll shows that Blumenthal may indeed have the upper hand with media. According to the latest Rasmussen Reports, a telephone survey of likely voters shows Blumenthal has 54% of the vote to McMahon’s 43%. The previous poll had him at 50%. The headline in Connecticut Watchdog by George Gombossy reads: “Linda McMahon’s Senate Race and WWE Losing Steam.”

As most of us know, the media jumped on McMahon’s “misspoke,” as she called it, on the federal minimum wage. During a national press conference she recommended that it be reviewed. That was interpreted by some as meaning “lowered.” In addition, afterward when interviewed by a reporter, she revealed she didn’t know what that wage was. Given these hard times, the minimum wage is considered to be sacred, just like Social Security. As the media heat was turned up, McMahon used the same term which got Blumenthal in hot water. Blumenthal’s “misspoke” about his military service in Vietnam had been handicapping him since last May. Finally, he seems to be out of the penalty box. Now McMahon is handicapped with the perceptual baggage of being against the struggling working class.

Another problem for McMahon may be a backlash against her heavy television advertising in general and anti-Blumenthal more specifically. To some it seems obscene that she, just like Meg Whitman in California, should be spending so much to attempt to be elected to office.  Has becoming a public servant become a game only for those with their private war chest of funds? It doesn’t seem to be on the radar for The Man on the Street whom I regularly speak with that McMahon is supposedly insulated from special interests because she is only accepting the maximum of $100 donations.  After all, the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring anti-Blumenthal television advertising in CT.

On Sunday both candidates appeared on ABC’s This Week with Christine Amanpour. Blumenthal hammered McMahon’s ability to self-fund non-stop television advertising which, since Labor Day, has turned very negative against him. He calls it a “$50 million negative attack machine.” On that show, McMahon said that she would only serve two terms, and cut that to one if she assessed her performance wasn’t effective.  That did get a lot of coverage by media and could represent a step back to a position of strength for her.

Next week, on October 18, Michelle Obama is coming here to stump for Blumenthal.  You bet his campaign headquarters sent a notice about that to the media. He needs something to regain the momentum: McMahon has cut four points off his lead in the past week.

Jane Genova is a political blogger and communications consultant in New Haven, CT