My Breakfast with Willie
In my book, the concept of “breakfast” consists of a weekend day, an hour with double digits and beverages which contain both tomato juice and vodka.
There are very few people for whom I will break my fast -- fully showered and dressed -- at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. Except for my mother; Daniel Lurie’s Tipping Point Breakfast and, of course, former Mayor Willie Brown.
Bright and early Tuesday morning, I managed to make it to Moscone West (on time) for Brown’s annual Election Day Breakfast Club which benefited the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Institute on Politics and Public Service.
The cavernous room was filled to the rafters with a sold-out crowd of 850-plus politicos -- current, former, on-the-make, project planners, on-the-outs, inside trackers -- all of whom comprise the colorful carnival that is EssEff politics.
Among the party leaders? Former Sec. of State George Shultz and his missus, Protocol Chief Charlotte Shultz; SFFD Chief Joanne Hayes-White; City Attorney Dennis Herrera (who handily won his unopposed re-election that day); WLB Institute Executive Director Eleanor Johns; Mayoral Chief of Staff Steve Kawa; Supervisors Michela Alioto, Carmen Chu, Board President David Chiu; haute haberdasher Wilkes Bashford; Giants’ Poobah Larry Baer; UC Regent George Marcus; former Supervisors Angela Alioto and Tony Hall and City Treasurer Jose Cisneros (another of the day’s un-opposed, re-elected winners).
As well as new SFPD Chief George Gascón, dapper in a business suit. Which while wonderfully Bond-ian makes him more difficult to spot in a huge crowd.
And though we’re forced to issue Brown a party demerit -- the caffeinated coffee ran out before we could down some -- he served up a delicious cherry on this particular sundae: A surprise appearance by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“I’m really excited to be here,” enthused Schwarzenegger. “I've been standing here at the podium four whole minutes and no one, has yet, screamed out, “Kiss my gay ass.”
On the main docket, Brown organized a panel of short talks from some of our gubernatorial candidates: economics-law professor and former Rep. Tom Campbell and CA Insurance Commissioner and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Poizner.
Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman was a no show -- a fact which Brown delighted in pointedly pointing out. And with last week’s exit of Mayor Gavin Newsom from the race, there was, technically, no Democratic representation at the breakfast.
Because as Attorney General Jerry Brown explained to the crowd, he’s not yet “officially” running.
“There’s no need to get going too soon,” said Brown, whose big-bucks war chest continues to swell. “Unless you’re one of the more obscure personalities.”
But it was Mayor Brown who first got this barbed ball rolling.
“Please be advised: I’m recording everything that you say today,” he teased, referring to the recent telecommunications "snafu" in the office of the Attorney General. “So be very careful: I want to be sure and misquote you later.”
But the candidates held their own, regaling the crowd with Republican-themed ripostes.
Wondering how to distill 22 years of government service into the format’s alloted time constraints, Campbell created a comedic list titled, “25 Favorite Whoppers I’ve Learned in Public Office.” Most of which were aimed at his fellow candidates. Actual, and presumed.
No. 4: “It’s really better to not have government experience when you’re running for state office.”
No. 25: “You can raise seven million dollars without ever deciding to run for governor.”
Poizner recalled for the crowd the time he spoke at a school and was introduced by a student who described him as, “an engineering geek who’s now into insurance.”
“When I got home,” he joked, “I asked my daughter, ‘How could you introduce me like that’?”
After much merry-making, Brown turned serious and thanked the crowd for its support of his non-profit institute which educates students in public policy issues and non-partisan debate.
“This morning you got the first opportunity to observe our candidates for governor,” intoned Brown. “And I hope you will not stand on the sidelines.”
Exiting the hall, we bumped right into Supervisor Bevan Dufty who’d obviously taken Mayor’s Brown’s message to heart.
Strategically positioned on the sidewalk in front of Moscone, Dufty was handing out donation envelopes upon which were printed his image (in a tie and dress shirt with rolled-up, action-hero sleeves) and the phrase, Bevan for Mayor.
Check out more photos below
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Former Sec. of State George Shultz and his wife, Charlotte Shultz, gubernatorial candidate Tom Campbell and former Mayor Willie Brown
Gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner makes a point to the press
City Attorney (again) Dennis Herrera
Supervisorial aide Boe Hayward and his boss, Supervisor Bevan Dufty
Political-media consultant PJ Johnston and Chronicle columnist Phil Matier
HMS lobbyist Karin Johnston and Sonya Molodetskaya
SFMOMA Trustee Elaine McKeon and her daughter, Cathy Topham
SFPUC Asst. Gen. Manager Harlan Kelly, PUC Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon and consultant Richard Rubin
SFFD Deputy Chief Gary Massetani and SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra
BMWL consultant Chuck Finnie, Tipping Point founder Daniel Lurie, Mayoral Press Secretary Nate Ballard and SFMOMA Trustee Becca Prowda
Warren Hinckle, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and Linda Corso
Post-event, Supe. Dufty deftly dials for dollars on the sidewalk
Later that night: City Attorney Dennis Herrera and his wife, Ann, celebrate his (un-opposed) victory at Tosca Cafe
Representing District 3 at Herrera's party is talented tailor Al Ribaya, Tosca owner Jeannette Etheredge and Dist. 3 Supervisor and Board President David Chiu