An Open Letter to Garry South


Please resign.

For the good of the progressive movement, for the good of the state of California, and for the good of your candidate, Janice Hahn, you should resign your post as chief strategist to the Hahn campaign.

In this time of profound economic and political crisis, California deserves a campaign that is focused on solving the issues that have brought our state to its knees, a campaign focused on restoring the California Dream. Petty attacks like those you have begun to level against other candidates — including attacks on Jerry Brown’s age — not only distract from those issues, but they undermine your own candidate.

Your attack on Gavin Newsom is highly unethical. (See below the fold.) By using against him conversations you held with Newsom while he was a client of yours you are not only breaching the trust you held as a senior advisor to Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign, you are also potentially making Newsom into a sympathetic figure, further undermining Hahn’s cause.

Janice Hahn has a lot to offer Californians — she is a successful local government official who has a long record of effectively implementing progressive policies. She has built a considerable amount of support across the state during her campaign because of her pledge to bring a local government perspective to a profoundly broken state government. You risk undoing that work by resorting to your typical, failed approach of attacking the opponent instead of showing the electorate why your candidate deserves their support.

We write not as supporters of any particular candidate or potential candidate, but as progressive Californians who are sick of watching you run promising campaigns into the ground with your destructive style of vicious personal attacks. All you accomplish is electing Republicans. Do the ethical and honorable thing and resign from the Hahn campaign immediately.


Dante Atkins

Calitics Editorial Board

Robert Cruickshank

Public Policy Director, Courage Campaign

Marta Evry

Venice for Change

Rick Jacobs

Founder & Chair, Courage Campaign

Brian Leubitz

Calitics Editorial Board

Julia Rosen

Online Political Director, Courage Campaign

Shayera Tangri

Dan Ancona

Joel Wright

David Atkins

Note: for an in-depth explanation of why Garry South is a disaster for Democratic candidates, peruse the open letter Calitics posted laying out South’s failures in January 2007.

Note 2: It should be emphasized that this isn’t really about Janice Hahn, we were impressed with her during our interview last year. But Garry South is really doing her a disservice over the last few weeks. Mudslinging just isn’t the way to win a Democratic primary.




I am surprised and perplexed that my friend and former client Mayor Gavin Newsom apparently has decided to jump into the lieutenant governor’s race at the last minute – especially against an already-announced candidate who would be the first woman lieutenant governor in California history.

In every one of several conversations we had about the job while he was running for governor, the Mayor expressed nothing but disinterest in and disdain for the office of lieutenant governor. In fact, he was derisively dismissive of Gray Davis’s decision to run for and serve as lieutenant governor prior to running for governor (“I’m not a Gray Davis,” he said). On a couple of occasions, he directed me to repudiate publicly in the strongest terms that he had any interest in ever running for lieutenant governor.

The Mayor himself told the Chronicle in October that rumors he may run for lieutenant governor were “absurd” and “a complete lie,” and angrily accused Jerry Brown of personally spreading false information to that effect. As recently as December, he himself said flatly “no” when asked directly on a San Francisco radio show whether he intended to run for lieutenant governor.

In addition, when he precipitously pulled out of the governor’s race in late October – against my advice – he said he couldn’t continue as a statewide candidate because he was a husband, a new father and the mayor of San Francisco. So far as I know, he’s still a husband, a new father and the mayor of San Francisco. So it’s pretty hard to see what’s changed over the last four months that would now allow him to run for another statewide office.

If the Mayor does run, it is his responsibility to explain why he now claims to want an elected office he summarily dismissed publicly numerous times over the last several months, and which just earlier this year he called “a largely ceremonial post” … “with no real authority and no real portfolio.”

Paid for by the Janice Hahn Lieutenant Governor 2010 Committee

777 S. Figueroa Street, Suite 4050, Los Angeles, CA 90017

13 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Garry South”

  1. And while I understand her concerns about Gavin jumping into the race, Garry South is only hurting her cause and campaign with these attacks. He should do the right thing and resign.

  2. I'm guessing Gavin feels a little like Julius Caesar right now as he watches Brutus Garry South pull the knife out of his back.  Ouch!

    After this little stunt, who in the world would ever want to be associated with this scumbag?  Janice Hahn really did herself a disservice by hiring South.  I have no reason to be against her, but I will do everything I can to ensure she's not elected based solely on her incredibly bad decision to hire Garrry and her seeming acceptance of his gutter tactics. 

  3. What’s getting lost here is who among the announced or prospective candidates for Lt. Governor would be the best for that job.  As someone who works on progresssives causes and lobbies in Sacramento on environmental issues, I am convinced that St. Senator DEAN FLOREZ is clearly the best candidate we have for that office.  

    He is progressive on most every issues–even though he comes from the more moderate Central Valley.  He is not afraid to stand up to powerful interest groups.  And he has had some genuine success in getting very important legislation passed in Sacramento.  

    For those of you who don’t know him yet, please take the time to get to know him.  You’ll be glad you did.

  4. There was a lot more to this comment before I edited it. What it all comes down to is Garry South was wrong, but he revealed some information that voters need to know about Gavin Newsome. I think this is less about South and more about the fallen idol Newsome than some are willing to admit.

  5. I am an activist who likes to get involved early in a campaign, but there is no chance that I will be involved with a Garry South campaign.  He can be clever but I never have the sense that he is completely honest.

    Perhaps I’ll end up voting for Newsom, but I’m not working for him and won’t give money.  No other choices?  Are we sure?

    I’m not sure if there is anything worse than a shitty little “I told you so”, but the above was my comment about Newsom hiring on South.  OK.  One thing worse than “I told you so”.  Garry South.  But that’s the only thing.

  6. Was it innapropriate for South to relate conversations he had with his client Mayor Newsome? You bet. And given the fact that South has information that he should not reveal on the subject, it would be best that he not even talk about  these issues. There are other people from the Hahn campaign that can speak for the campaign.

    While it may have been inappropriate for South himself to discuss the issue, was it inappropriate for the Hahn campaign to raise these issues? I think not. Given Newsome’s public pronouncements they are in play and legitimate issues for voters. If this was all Hahn was talking about than it would be a concern but I believe she is talking up all kinds of policy issues. Unfortunately, this is all Mr. South seems to be talking about.

      Issues like these and character issues are a factor in many voters minds, and you can rest assurred if Newsome does run for this office and wins the primary that the Republicans will raise these and other issues which Newsome and Democrats may not wish to discuss. Mudslinging may not be the best way to win a Democratic primary but it is frequently used with success in general elections by Democrats and Republicans.  Primary elections  can serve as a political innoculation for issues, policy or personal. Best to deal with them early. That being said, its a point well taken in the post that given the magnitude of the Golden State’s fiscal, jobs, water and educational problems, the focus of primary campaigns should be on how the candidates would help deal with these problems if elected. I suspect Newsome’s Hamletesque approach to statewide office will concern few Democratic activists, somewhat more of the less active rank and file members, but not enough to make a difference in the primary election unless otherwise very close. How Newsome responds to the attacks in the spring may(assuming he wins the primary) make a difference on how the public reacts in the fall if the election is otherwise close.

    Full disclosure: I am not supporting any of candidates for Lt. Gov. at this time.  

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