FROM THE STATE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION IN SACRAMENTO --
Turning stuff into chicken salad: Both Gavin Newsom and Jerry Brown, top contenders for governor, inserted material into their speeches to the convention today that acknowledged -- and made fun of -- potential liabilities.
As many Californians will recall, Newsom's image was used to devastating effect in Yes on Proposition 8 ads last year that featured a clip of him defiantly saying that same-sex marriage was coming "whether you like it or not." Newsom opened by saying he appreciated the introduction given him by party Chairman Art Torres "a lot more than the introduction I got in a few of those TV ads last fall."
And then he introduced himself: "Well, whether they like it or not, my name's Gavin Newsom, and I'm here to get things started."
Brown acknowledged that some critics say he's been around politics for too long. "It is true," he said. "I've run for more offices than any other candidate who's still around."
On the AG trail: At times it seems there are more Democratic candidates for attorney general than there are delegates. San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris is here, with an entourage. Ditto for Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. Assemblyman Ted Lieu of Los Angeles has a booth. Assemblyman Alberto Torrico personally passed out press kits to reporters. Ventura County Assemblyman Pedro Nava has been busy handing out endorsement cards.
I asked Nava last night whether he had a booth or intended to host a reception. "No," he said, "I'm putting all my resources on the ground."
Torn between two lovers: Ventura County Democrats seem distraught at the possibility of a bruising primary race in the 35th Assembly District next year, in the campaign to replace the termed-out Nava.
Both likely candidates -- at least, at this point in time they say they are definitely going to run -- are here: Susan Jordan, the coastal environmental activist and Nava's wife, and Santa Barbara City Councilman Das Williams.
Privately, most county Democrats say they are distraught at the prospect of having two relative heavyweights run against each other, potentially creating friction in the trenches. Third-party interventions have been made to try to persuade Williams to back out, since he had originally said he intended to endorse and support Jordan. Publicly, however, party activists will only say, as Carmen Ramirez of Oxnard told me last night, "We have two excellent candidates."
The modern news conference: Not to sound like an ink-in-the-blood old fogey from the mainstream media, but I found some things disturbing about U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer's news conference at the convention today.
About half the two dozen or media people in attendance were liberal bloggers who asked Boxer such questions as how come other Democratic senators don't have the guts that she has to stand up the banking industry, and what can progressive senators like herself do to prevent moderate Democrats from leveraging their position by threatening to vote with Republicans on certain issues.
These are perfectly legitimate questions to be discussed in the liberal blogoshpere, and Boxer should be commended for providing personal access to the bloggers. But the questions detracted from the usual, somewhat adversarial atmosphere of news conferences, designed to try to probe information out of the speaker.
The softball questions alone would have been OK, but when the bloggers applauded as Boxer left the room -- well, that seemd a little unseemly from the perspective of a traditional newsman like myself who subscribes to that old adage among sports reporters: No cheering in the press box.