Angelides says he’s ‘battered’ but still fighting for governor’s seat

Dean, Newsom speak at political pep rally held in San Francisco

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides told his supporters at a political pep rally in San Francisco on Friday that “the bell just went off for the 11th round of this fight and I am ready to score a knockout.”

Conceding that he was “a little battered, a little bruised,” Angelides, the current state treasurer, told the crowd of several hundred that he was still confident he could unseat Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in November despite lagging in the polls.

Held in a local union hall, several state Democratic heavyweights, as well as Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, expressed support for Angelides at the staged event.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, one of the first speakers, roused the crowd with raised voice and rhetorical cheerleading.

“Good morning San Francisco! Are we going to win in November? Are we going to take back the House? Are we going to take back Sacramento? Are we going to elect Phil Angelides?”

Dean, who lost the Democratic nomination for the 2004 presidential election, wryly told the applauding crowds as he stepped up to the microphone, “If only I’d started in California, maybe things would have turned out differently.”

In his speech, Dean praised Angelides and took shots at the current Republican administration.

“The biggest difference is they believe dividing people is the right way to do it,” Dean said. “They put blame on the immigrants. It’s the Democrats. It’s liberals. It’s Hollywood people. We believe, in this party, that we’re all in it together.”

Angelides, who had walked out onto the stage to the strains of rock band U2’s “Beautiful Day,” portrayed himself as a politician more in touch with the working class than his celebrity opponent.

“Millions of hardworking Californians, they’re counting on us,” Angelides told the crowd, who were recruited from local unions, as well as from organizations that included the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Planned Parenthood, Equality California, Democracy Action and the League of Young Voters. “They want a champion in the governor’s office that will stand up for them, not for the wealthiest of corporate interests.”

After the rally, Newsom said the campaign’s biggest challenge was to remind voters of the Schwarzenegger’s failed special election last year, which the mayor called “an assault on our values.”

Matt David, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger’s re-election campaign, called Angelides’ campaign “flailing” with less than three months before the election, and charged that even some Democrats, afraid of possible tax hikes, aren’t getting behind the candidate.

beslinger@examiner.comCaliforniaCalifornia NewsLocal

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