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[whitespace] Mike Honda Pol Driven: The unexpected entry of Assemblyman Mike Honda into the 15th Congressional District race has been cause for celebration and panic among Democrats.


Public Eye

Panic Tack

The late entry this week of well-known Assemblyman Mike Honda (D-San Jose) into the race to replace departing Congressman Tom Campbell (R-San Jose) should have been cause for celebration among local Democrats. Instead, it has caused a mild panic among party notables who fear a contested primary will leave their newfound 800-pound gorilla badly bruised for the general election. While Republican candidate Jim Cunneen faces no major opposition from inside his party, Honda could face three Democrats in March: Venture capitalist Bill Peacock, former Sunnyvale Mayor Robin Parker (who got a call from San Jose rep Zoe Lofgren asking her to step aside) and college teacher Dick Lane. So far, Parker and Peacock say they have no plans to drop out of the race. "I can throw enough money into this race," boasts Peacock, who has already deposited $500,000 in his campaign account, "and win in the primary and the general election. End of story." ... Labor leaders, meanwhile, called an emergency meeting Wednesday morning to discuss, according to a source who was invited, "getting behind one candidate." That "one candidate," sources say, is Honda and not Peacock, whom labor apparatchiks endorsed in October. Because the meeting was held perilously close to press time, Eye could not ascertain its outcome. But party operatives predicted beforehand that Peacock won't be proud of the people who earlier promised him their support. ... A clear indication that Honda had no intention of running for Congress until this week: Honda spent Tuesday scrambling to gather signatures and turn in all the necessary election paperwork by 5pm to the Registrar of Voters so he could leave for a long-planned weeklong junket to Tokyo, the next day. ... One final footnote: San Jose City Councilman Manny Diaz is telling local party leaders he is running for Honda's Assembly seat. City Councilman George Shirakawa, who briefly toyed with running for Honda's spot, is instead supporting former council candidate Tony West. West tells Eye that he is "90 percent sure" he will be an Assembly candidate. And despite rumors to the contrary, Honda says hasn't endorsed anyone to replace him yet.


Gone Outside

This past Sunday, the Mercury News reported that Scott Herhold, the longtime author of The Insider column, is giving up his post as the paper's resident political gossip hound. After a "breaking-in period of several months," Herhold will write the technology-stocks column. ... It's unclear who will take over the anonymous political column. Sources familiar with the situation say that there has been discussion about making the column a team effort, rather than putting it in the hands of one person. There is also the possibility, sources say, that the Merc might ditch the column entirely. ... The Insider first appeared in 1987 in a format conspicuously similar to that of a previously established gossip column in San Jose's alternative weekly. Eye sincerely hopes Merc editors keep The Insider around. It's good to be a two-column town.


Gadfly's New Digs

For about three years, conspiracy theorist Cathy Brandhorst would come to San Jose City Council meetings and torment councilors during the public comment period with her wild, unsubstantiated accusations. City Hall sources say she regularly accused public officials of murder, vandalism and sacrificing babies to facilitate plastic surgery. Even other council gadflies found her shtick too extreme and would incredulously roll their eyes during her rants. Council members would often gaze down at their agendas in order to avoid eye contact. ... A few months ago, Brandhorst mysteriously stopped coming to council meetings in San Jose and no one seemed sure where she went. Until now. It turns out that Brandhorst has been practicing her unique brand of civic participation in the city of Sparks, Nev., just east of her new hometown of Reno. Though Brandhorst may have changed locations, it sounds as if she's up to her old tricks. According to Sparks Deputy City Attorney Greg Salter, Brandhorst started showing up at public meetings in late September and accused the mayor of murder. A story in the Reno Gazette-Journal says that police even escorted her away from a Sept. 30 Planning Commission meeting and took her to a doctor for an evaluation. One council member got so fed up with Brandhorst he tried to have her comments restricted during meetings because they were defamatory. But the city attorney later opined that doing so would violate Brandhorst's constitutional right to free speech. A bemused Sparks city employee asks Eye, "How did you all get rid of her?"


Heart Considerations

Ah, l'amour. Sometimes career opportunities must take a back seat to matters of the heart. Such is the case with Commonwealth Club chief Gloria Duffy. The former Pentagon wonk says she won't be one of the Democrats filing papers to compete for the seat being vacated by Rep. Tom Campbell. The impact on her love life is a primary concern, she acknowledges--specifically, her relatively new romance with former Supervisor Rod Diridon, whom she started dating earlier this year. "Being in a new relationship ... and commuting coast to coast right now just isn't the right thing," says Duffy, who decided not to run before Assemblyman Mike Honda made his surprise decision to jump into the congressional race. Politicos are speculating that there might be wedding bells in Duffy and Diridon's near future. Duffy would neither confirm nor deny the rumors. "We're not prepared to make an announcement about that," she says coyly.


Welcome Aboard, Jerk

Shortly after news of Honda's entry into the congressional race broke, Kevin Spillane, consultant to Republican candidate Jim Cunneen, took the unusual step of issuing a press release--in which Spillane quoted himself at length--"welcoming" Honda to the campaign. "Now, with three days to go until the filing deadline," Spillane wrote, "[the Democrats] finally found someone (who doesn't even live in the district) who's willing to make the race against Jim Cunneen." Spillane further "welcomed" Honda by describing him as "a very liberal, big labor Democrat with close ties to the trial lawyers." Spillane also makes the bold claim that Republican polling has shown Cunneen ahead of "all potential Democratic contenders, including Honda." Democrats claim that a recent poll done by Beltway operatives shows Honda ahead of Cunneen by 7 to 8 points. Whom should we believe?

Trust no one.


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From the December 9-15, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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