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[whitespace] Upward Mobility: Santa Clara Mayor Judy Nadler is contemplating running for Congress against Tom Campbell, who doesn't seem as vulnerable as he did three months ago.

None of the Above

Near the end of January, a Democratic consultant conducted a poll testing whether Republican Congressman Tom Campbell was politically vulnerable in his Silicon Valley district. With the impeachment trial of President Clinton still fresh in people's minds, 38 percent of those polled said they would vote to re-elect Campbell, while 37 percent said it was time for someone new--an extremely high negative rating for an incumbent. In the months since the January poll, the movement to oust Campbell seems to have lost momentum. Three of the area's more prominent Dems--former San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer, Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist and Assessor Larry Stone--all have told the party they aren't interested in challenging Campbell. "I know they [Democrats] are looking for someone," acknowledges a former Beltway operative, "but they haven't found anyone suicidal yet." ... Last week Cathy Duvall from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was in town making the rounds interviewing the next tier of potential candidates: Assemblyman Mike Honda, Supervisor Jim Beall and Santa Clara Mayor Judy Nadler. None of them rejected the possibility of running, but they also didn't commit to it either. Of the three, Honda seems the least likely to make a go of it. He would have to give up his Assembly seat to do so. Beall and Nadler--both in the middle of their four-year terms--would have the luxury of losing but remaining employed in their current jobs. But both apparently want a firm commitment from the D.C. Dems that party nationalists intend to fully support any campaign against the Campbell from Campbell. Any Democratic candidate must, of course, be mindful of what happened to Jerry Estruth in 1995. The Beltway Dems promised Estruth the world and left him beaten and broke (stuck with a six-figure campaign debt). ... Local Democratic Party chairman Steve Preminger was quick to counter any suggestion that the effort to unseat Campbell was losing steam. "We feel good about our chances of finding a great candidate," he maintains.

Profile Stop

Most people who attended the summit in City Hall between African American leaders and Mayor Ron Gonzales and police chief Bill Lansdowne earlier this month consider it a positive affair. Lansdowne even pledged his support for a pilot program installing video cameras inside cop cars. So why did Aminah Jahi, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, walk out of the meeting in disgust? ... Eye's sources say the drama stems from a rift in the black community left over from the SJ mayoral campaign between people who supported winner Gonzales and loser Pat Dando. Privately, Dando-backers were grumbling that they had been purposefully excluded from the invitation-only gathering, organized by Pastor Oscar Dace and Tony Alexander. ... According to sources present, Jahi objected when Dando's uninvited associates--including Nedra Jones of the Democratic Club and NAACP police watchdog Darryl Williams--were told at the door by the mayor's office that they weren't on the list. Someone not turned away was Craig Mann, who was representing the Democratic Coalition. ... Pastor Dace says that he wanted to have one person from each major African American organization represented, though he concedes that a few people might have been "accidentally" left out.

Neutral Bomb

Scott Strickland, the finely coifed chief of staff for Councilwoman Cindy Chavez, called Eye this week to set the record straight. Despite rumors to the contrary, Strickland insists that Ms. Cindy has not endorsed Maria Fuentes in the District 8 council race. In fact, Strickland notes, Chavez told Fuentes that she was going to remain neutral during the primary, though she might take sides later. "We'll see who's in the general [election]," Strickland says. ... One reason Chavez will be staying out of the race is to avoid offending anyone. And, it turns out, her ally Eddie Garcia is also thinking about running in the Evergreen district. Speaking of Garcia, incumbent Alice Woody has some nice things to say about him. "[I] am encouraged that Eddie Garcia is considering running for the District 8 seat," Woody replied via email. "I am encouraged that Eddie might run due to the fact that I am very discouraged that two people who have been mentioned running for the seat have never done anything in the District 8 community." (Is that the sound of the Jeopardy "wrong answer" horn Eye hears?) ... The other person running for the seat is Dave Cortese, whom Woody chastises for "running on his name." But as Elaine Alquist can attest to, name ID is a potent tool. As for Garcia, he'd better hope three's a charm. He's run for school board twice, losing both times.

Job Search

Judging from the long list of high-profile Democratic endorsements incumbent state Sen. Byron Sher has secured, few are taking the insurgent noncandidacy of Palo Alto Assemblyman Ted Lempert too seriously. The state party leadership, Sacto snoops whisper, is busy trying to find a way to appease Lempert and prevent him from taking on Sher, whom they don't want bloodied for a general election showdown against Reep Jim Cunneen. The phrase "gubernatorial appointment" is being mentioned quite often these days in connection with Lempert, who will be termed out of office next year and looking for work. The catch is that the state constitution bars Lempert from leaving office mid-term to take a job in the administration. That means Lempert couldn't accept any cronyist charity from Gray Davis until 2001, and even Davis should have finished making his appointments by then. Party peacemakers have also thrown around the idea of a judicial appointment for the lawyerly Lempert. The lame-duck assemblyman has "a lot of different opportunities to serve the public," a Sher partisan snickers slyly.

Date Runner

At first, when Eye asked to have a look at the mayor's appointment calendar for his first few months in office, mayoral gatekeepers refused to release it. But then after some internal debate, Gonzo mouthpiece Leslee Hamilton handed over the incriminating schedule with scandalous entries like these: Jan. 8, 11 am--Palm Pilot training (former Mayor Susan Hammer despised the digital doohickeys); Jan. 31, 2­4pm--Super Bowl party at the Ramada Inn in Sunnyvale; April 19, 7­11pm--Rolling Stones concert; April 22, 10:30am--meeting w/redevelopment director Frank Taylor's granddaughter, Iris (who was there on "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day"). Among the lucky few who have been able to get more than one sit-down with the mayor are developers Kim Small, Rich Cristina and hopeful theater-wrecker Jim Fox; lobbyist Ed Alvarez, Gonzo's top appointee to his advisory task force on redevelopment; Mercury News opinion leaders Rob Elder and Barbara Vroman; and, of course, the mayor's wife, Alvina.

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From the April 28-May 5, 1999 issue of Metro.

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