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[whitespace] Mild Bill: Demo contender Bill Bradley induced sleep at last weekend's convention, but he had his defenders--John Vasconcellos for one.

Public Eye

Naught Nice

THE MOST DRAMATIC MOMENT of the State Democratic Convention came Sunday morning when a 53-year-old delegate suffered a heart attack and collapsed on the San Jose convention center floor. Fortunately, paramedics were able to restore the fellow's heartbeat and he's in stable condition at San Jose Medical Center. Now, if only a defibrillator could restore a pulse to Bill Bradley's presidential campaign. ... Seated neatly behind modesty panels and Demo party boy Al Gore for his fire-and-brimstoned speech were California's governor, two senators and a U.S. cabinet secretary. Bradley, on the other hand, had cobbled together a motley crew, consisting of gun-control supporter Chris Moscone, whose father was shot and had the San Francisco convention center named after him, and Tom McEnery, who had a convention center named after him but was not shot. Also among those left standing to shift from foot to foot as Bradley droned on with Midwestern homilies and basketball stories was state senator John Vasconcellos. After the speech, Vasco spotted Metro editor Dan Pulcrano and San Francisco Bay Guardian Executive Editor Tim Redmond comparing notebooks in the hallway after Bradley's performance. Redmond managed to push sensitive John over the edge by reading off a list of Big Bill's rather predictable choice of quotations (from Martin Luther King Jr., FDR and Woodrow Wilson). "Fuck you guys," Vasco scolded, "you never have anything nice to say about anyone." Hey, at least he didn't give us the finger, like he did to Pete Wilson. ... Meanwhile, hometown Mayor Ron Gonzales found himself sidelined on the Gore dais for sitting on the fence too long. The mayor might be conflicted by the fact that Big Bill once threw a Gonzo fundraiser at the home of Palo Alto Mayor Liz Kniss. With Bradley in freefall now, the Ronster is just another big-city mayor with his hat out hoping for some transit project dollars in a Gore administration. Information superhighway, anyone? Better settle for a BART pass, Ronny-come-lately.

Fear and Loathing

While the mainstream media understandably focused on the two presidential candidates this weekend, locals kept their antennae tuned to the machinations in San Jose's 23rd Assembly District race. Assembly aspirants Tony West and Manny Diaz were vying for the party's official endorsement--and thus the imprimatur of real Democrat--on Saturday. ... Early Saturday morning at 8:30am, while convention-goers were still suffering from hospitality-suite hangovers, Diaz held a press conference at Horace Mann Elementary School in which he appeared alongside Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante among others. Diaz's handlers released selected portions of a recent poll showing their candidate ahead of West 28 percent to 10 percent (but with more than half of the voters polled undecided). West's team quickly counterattacked, accusing the Diaz campaign of conducting a so-called push poll which skewed the numbers. One West backer who was polled told Eye that questions described West as an opportunistic carpetbagger who just moved into the district from Oakland. "They tried to paint Tony as out of touch with the district," protested West campaign manager Tom Sagau. Eye-watchers, of course, know that West did indeed move back to San Jose from Oakland in December. ... Later in the day, Eye's spies spotted Attorney General Bill Lockyer and San Jose City Councilwoman Cindy Chavez having an animated exchange regarding the 23rd Assembly District in the convention halls. (Chavez is backing her council compadre, Diaz, while Lockyer is helping West, a top assistant to the AG.) One eavesdropper claims that expletives were even traded during the conversation. Not so, says Chavez. She acknowledges that they indeed had a "heated" talk, but neither she nor Lockyer uttered a four-letter word. "He said, 'It's going to be a tough race and I will be supporting Tony,' and I said, 'Yes, it's going to be a tough race and I'm going to support Manny.' That was about the extent of it," Chavez assures Eye. ... When the local caucus finally voted Saturday afternoon, neither West nor Diaz earned the necessary 60 percent majority to win the party endorsement. That didn't stop both sides from claiming victory. West's propagandists claimed Diaz--who has the backing of the influential South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council--lost by not winning outright. "When the odds are stacked against you," Sagau argued, "I think we did pretty well getting a no endorsement." Meanwhile, state Sen. Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the powerful Latino Caucus, issued an accurate but misleading press release proclaiming, "Honorable Manny Diaz picks up victory! ... [Diaz] won the most delegate support of any candidate!" ... Sunday morning, West and his troops rushed to the convention center--some carrying walkie-talkies--after hearing rumors of a surprise floor-challenge to Saturday's caucus vote being planned by the Diaz camp. But as it turned out, a challenge never materialized. One reliable source blames geographically challenged state Sen. Liz Figueroa, a West backer and a dear friend of Bill Lockyer, for mistaking a challenge in the 43rd Assembly District for a challenge in the 23rd District. Figueroa couldn't be reached for comment. Sagau says the incident "was a good fire drill for us."


Conspicuously absent from the weekend festivities was congressional candidate Bill Peacock. Of course, considering the fact that the local Democratic establishment ditched Peacock in favor of Assemblyman Mike Honda (D-San Jose), it makes sense that Peacock was a no-show. Friday night, Eye bumped into a Teamster--who is backing Peacock--at Assembly Speaker-elect Bob Hertzberg's hospitality hoedown suite. Between swigs of MGD, the Teamster explained that the Billster was too busy walking precincts to waste his time at the convention. (Hmmm, walking precincts at 10:30pm in the middle of a rainstorm?) The working stiff also let slip that U.S Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-Mass.) has assured local Teamster officials--who have been lobbying for labor honchos and party bigwigs to remain neutral in the 15th Congressional District race--that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee won't be intervening in the March primary. That would be a major blow to Honda, who, at last count, had $450,000 less than Peacock in his campaign coffers. No such blow is forthcoming, insists Jennifer Van der Heide, Honda's campaign manager. According to Van der Heide, Honda has received $5,000 checks from Kennedy, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and, yes, the DCCC. "They've been very helpful," Van der Heide boasts. "We've been in close contact with them."

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From the February 17-23, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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