Ex-mayor unites political bigwigs

At Moscone West breakfast, Willie Brown predicts that governor will be re-elected

A who’s who of state politicians filled a convention hall at Moscone West on Friday for a pre-election breakfast hosted by former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who Brown predicted would win a second term in office next month, sat at a front-row table, next to financier Warren Hellman. Sen. Barbara Boxer was there, along with state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, state Sen. Jackie Speier and state Assemblyman Mark Leno.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, Brown’s City Hall successor, was a featured speaker. Other local politicos in attendance included interim schools Superintendent Gwen Chan, Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin and Supervisors Tom Ammiano, Bevan Dufty, Sean Elsbernd, Sophie Maxwell and Ross Mirkarimi, as well as City Attorney Dennis Herrera and City Treasurer Jose Cisneros.

Brown, now the head of an eponymous public policy institute, held the breakfast to draw attention to election-year issues. The challenge for the political heavyweights was to discuss politics, but not attempt to influence the outcome of next month’s election, a no-no for nonprofits due to their tax-exempt status.

Boxer said to the crowd, “Willie’s people said don’t be political,” before jumping into an impassioned pitch for the Democratic Party. At the end she said sarcastically, “I’m not asking for your help, just to make that clear to the attorney general.”

Schwarzenegger followed, noting that Boxer had managed to squeeze in numerous jabs at the Republican Party in her five minutes at the mic.

“I’m going to obey all those rules exactly like Barbara Boxer did,” he joked, before launching into his own stump speech about California’s renewed fiscal health and his own oft-told tale of immigrant success.

Newsom, whom Brown introduced as an “international mayor,” made no pretense about his effort to be politically persuasive. Not bothering with partisan swipes, the mayor used his time to implore the audience to defeat Proposition 90, a property rights measure that he said would have costly consequences to state and local governments.

The absence of some politicians also drew attention at the event, with many wondering why Phil Angelides, Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial rival, was a no-show. According to Brown, an invitation was extended and according to Angelides’ office, a scheduling conflict prevented the candidate from making the event.

Willie Brown closed the event by reeling off his predictions of who he thought would be victorious at the ballot box, noting the absence of Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who is making a run for attorney general.

“Jerry Brown, until this morning, was going to win,” said Brown, garnering laughter from the crowd. “He stiffed me for this breakfast, his race may be in jeopardy.”

beslinger@examiner.comBay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPolitics

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