By Tim Redmond
Gavin Newsom has always had sharp, well-paid political advisors, starting with consultant Eric Jaye. His public-relations operation has been well-honed, his every move designed to keep those popularity ratings soaring and keep him on the fast track to higher office.
But the wheels are starting to fall off this train.
There was, for example, the drinking issue, and his fight with Dan Noyes. That was just stupid: Newsom should have just laughed off the whole thing. Most San Francisco politicians drink; I would, too, if I were the mayor. (Well, I'm not the mayor, and I still drink.) Willie Brown, Newsom's predecessor, as known to enjoy an occasional glass of wine, even with lunch, and lord knows -- lord knows -- what kind of partying he was doing in the evenings. But he didn't care what people said about it; hey, whatever. This is a guy who impregnated his chief fundraiser and shrugged it off so quickly that it never became a political issue.
You get defensive about this stuff and it looks like you have a problem. That's where Newsom is right now.
Then there's the whole "question time" issue, which has become even more of a political embarassment.
I don't know which political genius on the mayor's staff told him it would be best ot ignore a vote of the public and refuse to comply with Proposition I. And I don't know if that same genius told him to hold a "town hall meeting" instead. But it wasn't a banner day for Team Newsom; in fact, the whole affair was a political disaster.
Randy Shaw thinks Newsom is acting on his own: "No political consultant would advise a Mayor to get on the wrong side of the popular foot patrol and question time issues, or to start battling with the media when facing re-election."
But I'm not so sure. Newsom doesn't do much of anything without political advice. I think he is, indeed, losing it -- but so is his hot-shot political team.