Bad company

They say politics makes for strange bedfellows. That’s rarely been more true than in this year’s mayoral race. No, Bites isn’t talking about those bedfellows. Geez, mistakes were made. Let it go!

Let’s back up. Bites was intrigued last week by an item on the Democratic Party insider-blog the California Majority Report, posted by one Steve Maviglio.

Maviglio, for those out there who don’t know because you have real lives, was head flak during the Gray Davis administration and is now point man for Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez.

These past few weeks, Steve’s been keenly interested in the mayor’s race, bagging on Heather Fargo and gushing over Kevin Johnson. Last week, he called the two-term incumbent “Feather Cargo” and, worse, “Arnold’s favorite mayor.” Ouch.

Bites didn’t at first understand what Mayor Cargo—er, Fargo—did to deserve that last diss, and so queried Maviglio, “What gives?”

“Fargo stood by Schwarzenegger‘s side repeatedly during the 2005 special election—lots of press conferences in the Capitol and elsewhere,” Maviglio explained via e-mail.

Whoa. That’s a serious charge. After all, the 2005 special election was the ugliest Republican and big-business power grab this state has seen in a long time. Schwarzenegger went after the unions hard with Propositions 74 and 75, which would have undermined teacher tenure and curbed union political spending.

The governor got his butt kicked on those measures and two others. And no self-respecting Democrat—especially one running for mayor of a solidly Democratic town—would want to be associated with the people behind the 2005 bucket of corporate ballot slime.

But, um, Steve? Turns out, Fargo didn’t actually support the guv’s ballot measures during the special election that year. So again, what gives?

“In 2005, when Democrats were attacking and running away from Arnold, Heather cozied up with him. It was noticed by a lot of Dems,” Maviglio replied. Well, she “cozied up.” Why didn’t you say so the first time?

Maviglio is such a big fan of Kevin Johnson’s and so anti-Fargo that he and some friends are hosting a big private fund-raiser for K.J. this Sunday.

Let’s take a look at the co-hosts listed on the invitation to the fund-raiser. There’s Maviglio, of course, a true-blue Dem. Who else wants to take out “Arnold’s favorite mayor"?

Well, there’s Rob Stutzman, who served as Arnold’s communications director for a while. He also ran the Proposition 22 campaign in 2000, which banned same-sex marriages in California.

There’s Joe Rodota, Republican political strategist going back to the Bush-Quayle days, who also helped run Arnold’s campaign during the 2003 recall. There’s Beth Miller Malek, deputy press secretary for Pete Wilson. And don’t leave out Marty Wilson, a Schwarzenegger’s fund-raiser for years. In fact, Wilson was Arnold’s main money guy during—you guessed it—the special election of 2005.

Gee, other than Maviglio, all of the hosts lining up to fill K.J.'s campaign coffers this weekend are seasoned GOP and big-business operatives—many of them major players behind the recall and Arnold’s special-election campaigns.

Now, if you’re a Democrat supporting Johnson, don’t get spooked by all this. After all, it’s not like K.J. was caught “cozying up” to the governor at some press conference. That would be icky.

Speaking of major endorsements, Bites’ co-worker and favorite muckraking poet, Kel Munger, is being honored by Planned Parenthood this month. The Mar Monte chapter (which covers parts of California and Nevada) was mightily impressed by the smart reporting on reproductive rights that Kel has brought to these pages over the years. (See “Preg knot,” SN&R Feature, January 24, 2008, for a good example.)

She’ll be feted, along with fellow reproductive freedom-fighters Mary Shallenberger and Judy Cunningham, at a fancy awards banquet on May 15. Oh, and there are a couple of dudes getting prizes, too—some guys named Dave Jones and Darrell Steinberg.

The group is calling Kel this year’s Courageous Communicator. They’ve sure got that right. The old Bitescave is mere feet from Kelspace, and Bites can tell you, there’s nothing shy about the way she communicates.