Brown winning war for Bay Area

Legal News Line Jan. 15, 2009, 2:15pm

Jerry Brown (D)

Gavin Newsom (D)

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - During the National Democratic Convention last year in Denver, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was everywhere, from the chic after-hour parties to the hip events designed to attract young voters.

He was on the radio, made public appearances and did everything possible to turn his white-hot image into a platform from which to launch his bid to become California's next governor.

This week, Newsom, 41, tried to recapture the moment that now seems like a distant memory by announcing his exploratory committee for governor had raised nearly $1.2 million from more than 1,000 contributors.

The amount pales compared to the unofficial $4 million fellow Bay Area gubernatorial hopeful California Attorney General Jerry Brown has in his campaign account.

"When it comes to money for the coming governor's race, state Attorney General Jerry Brown is cleaning San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's clock," San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross wrote on Tuesday.

Other analysts and political pundits have been equally direct when evaluating Newsom's chances of derailing Brown's bid to return to the governor's mansion.

"Hasn't Newsom shot himself in both feet now?" Mark Petracca, chair of the political science department at the University of California, Irvine, told Legal Newsline.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who writes a Sunday column for the Chronicle said Newsom's only shot for 2010 would be to run for lieutenant governor.

"Newsom has other problems too," Brown wrote. "The issues on which he's based his run so far, same-sex marriage and global warming, are becoming less pressing to the public as the economy worsens.

"Our good mayor might want to start thinking about running for lieutenant governor - although that even might be a tough challenge."

Newsom's rising star faded quickly following the election, when voters approved a ban on same sex marriage. The mayor, who was the central figure in the push to allow same-sex marraiges in California, was criticized for not campaigning against the measure around the state.

His political opponents used a speech he gave bragging that same-sex marriages were here to stay during a high-profile commercial push days before the election, making Newsom the posterchild for its failure.

Brown meanwhile turned Newsom's loss into his victory when he stunned the state by telling the state Supreme Court it should overturn the ban. Brown also has a nearly 40-year track record on the environment and global warming that virtually assures him the support of those constituents.

Much like Brown 30 years ago when he first become governor in the 1970s, Newsom's youth, good looks and star-power relationships - he is married actress Jennifer Siebel, Brown had a well-publicized relationship with rock star Linda Rondstadt -- has made him a rising star in Democratic circles.

But, in most ways that count at least so far, analysts agree the old veteran Brown is knocking out the upstart mayor this time around.

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