The day after the bitterly fought Democratic primary for governor, defeated
Steve Westly joined hands with party nominee Phil Angelides.
In a carefully scripted Los Angeles event, Westly called Angelides–whom he
had just thumped with millions of dollars worth of negative advertisements–a
“brilliant man” and pledged to throw his full weight behind Angelides’
Apparently, Garry South, Westly’s chief strategist, didn’t get the
For the last several weeks, South has been posting doom-and-gloom comments
about Angelides, his campaign and his chances in November on the Web site of
political blogger Bill Bradley.
“Angelides looks wrong, sounds wrong, is wrongly positioned on some major
issues, [and] is running the wrong kind of campaign,” South wrote on July
15, more than five weeks after the primary. “No amount of rescue artists, no
matter how talented, can save Angelides from himself.”
Dubbed the “King of Mean” by Angelides earlier this year, South is not the
only prominent Democrat taking swings at Team Angelides. Los Angeles Mayor
Antonio Villaraigosa has snubbed Angelides by refusing to endorse the
treasurer, making appearances instead with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. And
last week, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, on his Bay Area radio
program, said Angelides was in need of a “transfusion.”
“If he tries to go one on one with The Terminator, he’s terminated,” Brown
But South has become Angelides’ most vocal Democratic critic. One of the
most common threads of South’s posts–and a theme Westly harped on during the
primary–is what South perceives as Angelides’ lack of electiblity.
“In the face of what should have been a sobering contrast in viability, the
big-shot Democratic politicians and interest-group poobahs continued to
cheerlead for Angelides and badmouth Westly,” South wrote on July 11.
Regarding the state party endorsement at the convention, South continued,
“67 percent of the delegates! The level of self-delusion about Angelides in
that hall was so high you could drown in it standing on a step-ladder.”
South’s comments underscore the awkward balance for past political foes
trying to unite after intra-party battles.
“Of course you have mixed feelings after a primary. You can’t just turn it
off-and-on on a dime,” says Jude Barry, Westly’s campaign manager. “Garry is
just more passionate and more public.”
Another former Westly adviser put it this way: “Garry has a visceral dislike
of Angelides and I don’t think he has any intention of keeping his mouth
shut even if it causes Angelides problems. Garry feels like it is a matter
of consistency and integrity. If he spent the last year saying bad things
about Phil, he can’t just change that.”
The Angelides campaign calls South’s online outbursts a case of sour grapes.
“Garry is a professional political consultant who just lost badly in a race
and I am sure his ego is a little bit bruised,” says Angelides adviser Steve
Maviglio, who worked with South during the Davis administration. “Garry’s MO
is being brash and a contrarian, and you gotta love him for it, but there is
a time to put a cork in it, too.”
South defends his comments and his loyalty as a Democrat.
“I am not paid by the party to be a party flack or a party loyalist. I make
up my own mind,” South said in an interview. “I have never voted for a
Republican for public office my whole life. I think that speaks for itself”
Art Torres, chairman of the California Democratic Party, says, “I think
everyone is entitled to their First Amendment rights and Garry can say what
he wants to ours but the fact of matter is that Phil is going to win.”
South, who previously served as a senior political adviser to Gov. Gray
Davis, peppers his posts with history lessons. He chastises anonymous blog
posters for questioning his party loyalty and boasts of his long CV in
Democratic politics–particularly his role in helping elect and re-elect
“You wanna get together and compare Democratic credentials?” South taunts
“I’ve actually run the last two winning Democratic gubernatorial campaigns,”
South says on the phone. “I think I have just a modicum of a track record on
South does reserve some of his fire for Republicans.
“Arnold will come and go, and the state Republican Party will still be
reveling in its own off-center ideological blather and exclusionary,
middle-aged white guys’ policies that put an all-white and all-male face on
the party,” South wrote on July 11.
There is a long history of animosity between South and Angelides. Dating
back to 1993, South and Angelides have jousted politically. That year,
Angelides, then chair of the state Democratic Party, was considering a bid
for lieutenant governor against Gray Davis, a South client. South circulated
poll numbers to help shove Angelides out of the race early, but accuses
Angelides’ campaign of countering by spreading salacious rumors about Davis.
As a result, South says Angelides is the only Democrat for to run statewide
office since 1994 that he has not voted for.
As for whether South will vote for Angelides in November, he said that “is
my own business.”