The Wrong Stuff

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

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."

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.

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