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[whitespace] Campbell Flying High Again: Dems seem increasingly skeptical that they can bump off Republican Congressman Tom Campbell (above), despite his vote to impeach the president.

Unimpeachable Character

Once Santa Clara Mayor Judy Nadler put away her running shoes and called off her unofficial quest for Congress last month, it looked as if venture capitalist Bill Peacock would run away with the Democratic nomination for the 15th District. Local Dems had already scratched off innumerable would-be contenders from their candidate shopping list, like retired San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer, Assemblymembers Elaine Alquist, Mike Honda and Fred Keeley, Supervisor Jim Beall and SJ Sharkie (killer name ID!). The only Dem left to ruffle Peacock's feathers was perennial also-ran Dick Lane. But more than a few valley Dems aren't sold on the idea that Peacock can make the party proud and evict Republican incumbent Tom Campbell from his Capitol roost. Thus, a prominent Bay Area operative--a disappointed Nadler supporter--and others are still looking under the seat cushions to find another candidate, preferably one who orders nonfat, no-whip mochas and answers to "ma'am" when buying java at Starbucks. ... Peacock also isn't the first choice among the Beltway boys. Insiders suspect that the carpetbagger label could hurt him. He doesn't live in the district--he calls Portola Valley "home"--and earlier this decade he unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in Missouri. During that campaign he expressed skepticism about the virtues of the Brady gun-control bill. Perhaps as a result, Washington Dems don't seem to be as interested in ousting the impeachment-backing Reep as they were earlier this year. A Beltway insider tells Eye that the Campster didn't even show up on the party's latest California hit list. Nonetheless, Peacock still has wooed a few notable honorables into his corner--Tax Assessor Larry Stone among them--with his impressive credentials. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Peacock served as an assistant secretary of the Army in the Carter administration. And word is that he deposited $250,000 in his campaign account to show everyone he is really serious.

Wonder Years

When approaching middle age, the male half of the species has been known to indulge itself in extravagances--like, say, an expensive sports car--in a desperate effort to hold onto its youth. Indeed, 38-year-old John Gibbs, chief of staff to Supervisor Don Gage, did something out of the ordinary recently by splurging on a brand new $40,000 car to replace his 1989 S10 Chevy Blazer. Some readers are probably envisioning a sleek Corvette or maybe an extravagant SUV with off-road capabilities, or some other midlife-crisis car model. But those readers have Gibbs all wrong. The notoriously cautious pol--not known for throwing cash around--instead indulged himself by buying a sporty Volvo S80. Volvo, of course, is reputed to make the safest cars in all the world. And just to prove he isn't trying to flash his wealth, Gibbs doesn't drive the Volvo to work every day. He occasionally takes light rail from his Willow Glen home and at least one day a week shows up in his old truck "just so the battery doesn't die." Well, at least the eligible bachelor didn't buy the station wagon model.

Fair Game

As San Joseans, we are accustomed to feeding off the scraps flushed by our glamorous cousins to the north. While San Francisco cheers 49er Steve Young, San Jose applauds Sabercat Mark Grieb. While San Francisco gets major-league baseball, San Jose watches the Giants' Class A farm team. ... Now, San Jose has a chance to host the X-treme western version of world's fairs, the so-called Pan Pacific Exposition, in 2002. Proposals for the World's Fair-like event--as everyone seems to call it--have already been rejected twice by fog dwellers to the north. And now the organizers have their eye on us. "We're interested in San Jose," explains expo leader Art Blum, a San Fran public relations specialist, "because it's the capital of Silicon Valley, because of its growth and because" and because...We like you. ... Last week mayoral chief-of-staff Jude Barry made a presentation to the city's economic development team about attracting the World's Fair-like event. Barry tells Eye that the city would like to hold the expo--which city officials say could draw 8 million people over several months--near downtown. And though negotiations are in the early stages, Barry says he is optimistic that the city can work out a deal. But vendors shouldn't start ordering Eiffel Tower replicas just yet. Blum cautions that it's very premature to say whether such an event will come to San Jose. "We haven't even found a site down there that would work," Blum snaps.

No Reunion Tour

Who will be San Jose's next city manager? It's a question that out-of-the-loop councilmembers and aides can't answer, thanks to the encryption-protected recruitment process being controlled by Mayor Ron Gonzales and his staff, who have been sworn to secrecy. But after a little snooping, Eye has at least been able to determine who won't be San Jose's next city manager: Tom Lewcock, the erstwhile top administrator for Sunnyvale, the nearby land where Gonzo once served as mayor. A reunion of the two wonks had something of a romantic symmetry to it. While in the city of the sun, Gonzales--an up-and-coming pol--became a rabid convert to Lewcock's conservative fiscal approach, which earned Sunnyvale kudos as one of the best managed cities in the country. Even now, Gonzo repeats the performance-based budgeting mantra he learned during his Sunnyvale years with the bureaucratic budget guru. But, alas, such a storybook reunion is not to be. "I've decided not to go work for another city," yawns Lewcock, now a well-paid consultant who teaches public administration part time at Hayward State University.

Tube Boob

The last time Eye caught Capitol Cowboy Pete Frusetta (R-Hollister) on the boob tube riding his rent-a-horse it was during his 1998 re-election campaign. And considering that the septuagenarian rancher is termed out next year, Eye figured that the gaffe-master's days on the airwaves were over. But this week, there he was--rent-a-horse in hand--peddling a new ballot initiative to cut legislative salaries (quite a bold move for a lame-duck legislator) from $99,000 a year to $75,000 a year. Frusetta's ostensible connection to the initiative: He previously sponsored pay-cut legislation that failed. "Let the voters decide," Frusetta urges on the commercial, using the name of the initiative committee. Interestingly, the "Let the Voters Decide" committee didn't pay for the commercial. It was paid for by Frusetta's own campaign committee. Of course, this could be sincere altruism on the cowboy's part to support a cause he believes in. But then again, it doesn't hurt Frusetta to connect himself to a populist issue at the same time he is exploring a bid to unseat Democratic Congressman Sam Farr.

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From the August 12-18, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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