As much as voters seem to think politics is rigged in a massive Oliver Stone-esque conspiracy theory, usually it isn’t.
Sure, there are backroom deals, financial hookups, nefarious plots and K Street cabals, but mostly I suspect politicians are like most other people: bystanders.
My case in point was the mime show between Attorney General Kamala Harris and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. The Dark Theorists had conjured up an agreement between them where they and their handlers would decide who would run for Sen. Barbara Boxer’s seat in 2016. I am sure lots of phone calls flew back and forth between various camps, but no one really had the authority to say, “Hey, look: You sit this one out and I will run for governor.”
Harris and Newsom had been looking hard at the Boxer seat, probably since they were in ninth grade. As two natural student body president types, this is what these people do: work the angles, smile and look for the receiver downfield. But in this case, it looks like two people who arrived independently at their decisions.
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And, as natural student body president types, their ambitions probably don’t just stop at the U.S. Senate or the California Governor’s Office. Both aren’t just thinking about 2016 or 2018, they’re looking at 2020 or 2024, when the biggest student body presidency job opens up at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
If I were Harris or Newsom (not attractive enough, but still!), I would be thinking about which job gets me there faster: being Sen. Harris/Newsom or Gov. Harris/Newsom. U.S. senators run for president constantly and hardly ever make it. In Harris’ situation, she wants the two-foot putt, and that’s the Senate race. In Newsom’s case, unless he wants to be just another rich white guy in the Senate, he needs the governorship.
Newsom called Harris to inform her that he wouldn’t be running for the Senate seat in 2016. When he got her answering machine, I wonder what kind of message he left.
“Hey, Kamala, Gavin here. I was just going to tell you that I am really way more interested in eventually riding around in a black SUV with a bunch of CHP officers than sitting around in a cloak room waiting for Harry Reid to tell me how to vote on an amendment to the Omnibus Telecommunications Bill. Love ya, mean it. Oh, and hope you don’t get put on the Ag Committee. SNORE!”
I also wonder if he managed to leave other messages on other potential candidates’ answering machines?
“Hey, Antonio. Gav. Hey, listen. Just wanted to give you a shout-out and see what up for ’16 and ’18. I’m chillaxin’ on the Senate race, but might check out a corgi for 2018. I see you in DiFi’s shoes, baby. You’d look great in pearls – KIDDING! Plus, I want to run the Delta tunnel down Wilshire Boulevard. Oh, and Speaker Perez would make a terrific Lt. Governor. Just sayin’.”
“Yo, Darrell. Gavin. Dude, love you like a bro, and sure think you’d make a super Supreme Court justice. Like, chief. Lemme know.”
“Steyer! Newsom! Spare change? Kidding, Ace. Just wanted you to know that my plan is to turn the entire state into LEED compliance by 2019, and mandate that all Detroit cars run on recycled grass clippings and plastic bags. Maybe we can get a little poker game going with Charlie Munger and Tim Draper, and you and I can work out some hand signals. OK? Catch you later!”
OK. Maybe it is a little bit of a conspiracy.
But with Gavin and Kamala, it’s an attractive conspiracy.