Newsom ignores risks, campaigns against Prop. 8
Posted on October 29, 2008
Filed Under Uncategorized
In the last week of what could be one of the most important political fights of his career, Mayor Gavin Newsom is campaigning heavily against Proposition 8, turning to his supporters with pleas to vote and convince their friends and relatives to oppose the same-sex marriage ban.
The mayor is hosting a private fundraiser at his Russian Hill home tonight and has already picked up $125,000 in contributions from those attending the event. This afternoon, he’s holding a forum with employees at Google, and over the next several days he’ll be hitting nearly every major Bay Area radio station and staging rallies around the city.
Newsom says he owes it to his constituents in San Francisco to do everything in his power to fight the initiative. But political analysts note that the outcome of Tuesday’s election could weigh heavily on Newsom’s future in politics, and specifically his potential bid for governor.
At a No on 8 rally at UC Santa Cruz on Tuesday, Newsom told students that he recognized that the outcome of the election could hurt his career – but he wasn’t losing sleep over it.
“The biggest problem in politics today is that we’re risk-adverse. We’re afraid of tomorrow’s headlines,” Newsom said. “I couldn’t care less if the rest of my life I’m only known as the ex-mayor of San Francisco. I will regret nothing about standing up on this issue. I get to go to sleep at night having done the right thing.”
Tuesday’s Santa Cruz event was among more than a dozen Newsom has scheduled over the next several days, all of them focused on viral campaigning, which involves spreading a political message from person to person, these days often via e-mails and text messages.
Newsom is talking almost exclusively to voters who are already on his side, a move that some political observers say could be very effective, but is also convenient because it’s both high-profile and fairly risk-free.
That’s an important distinction for the man who has in recent weeks been the primary target in the campaign in favor of Proposition 8, playing a starring role in the biggest Yes on 8 commercial. Just two weeks ago, political strategists were recommending that Newsom lie low for the rest of the election season to avoid casting a shadow on the campaign against Prop. 8.
“The fact that they’re letting Newsom out of the barn signals that the No on 8 forces are feeling more comfortable. It signals a strategic shift in how the No folks think their campaign is going,” said David McCuan, an associate political studies professor at Sonoma State University. “His role in the No on 8 campaign is cheerleader now.”
Newsom’s main political consultants say it’s been the mayor’s own strategy to reach out to voters. His scheduled events this week are targeted at young voters and people who are heavy Internet users – Google employees, for example.
Eric Jaye, Newsom’s chief political strategist, said it’s extremely rare for the mayor to host fundraisers in his own home and unusual for the mayor to make personal phone calls pleading for help from friends and advisers.
“This isn’t just any campaign,” Jaye said. “This is a direct attack on the fundamental rights of so many of his constituents and friends. He’s doing everything in his power to help defeat this measure. It will mean hundreds of appearances and events and activities in the last 10 days of the campaign.”
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