There are certain scenarios that, at least on the surface, don't make sense.
For example, you wouldn't expect that retired Orange County Republican Party chairman Tom Fuentes–a rabid right-winger and determined anti-gay advocate close to Catholic priests–spent many a fun night over the years partying in San Francisco, even though the mere mention of the liberal location wins loud boos at OC GOP gatherings.
Now, we have an almost equally odd situation involving a liberal, pro-gay but heterosexual, San Francisco Democrat entering the notorious Orange Curtain and not just surviving but receiving–get this–a standing ovation.
But Gavin Newsom didn't address the OC carpenter's union or Hermandad Mexicana Nacional or the Laguna Beach chapter of the Human Rights Campaign.
California's lieutenant governor–a former San Francisco mayor and a man
hated in traditional values circles for his strenuous support of gay
marriage–this week spoke to an Irvine hotel room full of OC business leaders, a
crowd dominated by self-professed Christian conservatives who think
Ronald Reagan was a lefty.
If you think I'm making too much of
this, consider this: The Orange County Business Council even issued a
press release praising Newsom, hailing his ideas and promising to work
with him for legislative changes. What did they like? Newsom is
demanding a more pro-business climate in the state, including a
reduction in regulations and elimination of “redundant” state agencies.
“You cannot be pro-jobs and anti-business,” Newsom reportedly told the
“We support the Lt. Governor's plans and feel strongly
that it has the specifics needed to change the economic outlook in
California,” business council chairman Eddie Northen said in the press
Lucy Dunn, the business council's president and a
longtime, tireless flak for real estate development interests, echoed Northen's
sentiments, saying Newsom has “powerful” insights and the council is
prepared to assist his plans. (Go HERE to see his plan.)
Newsom may be best known for lecturing pro-Prop 8 right-wingers in California that gay marriage is “going to happen whether you like it or not.” What many in OC likely don't know is that he appreciates firsthand the arbitrariness of callous, anti-business government. Before he began his political career, he was victimized. San Francisco bureaucrats decided that his wine business was a food operation and ordered him to build a $27,000 sink.
Despite the experience, Newsom signed into law as mayor a bill that ordered restaurants to publish nutritional information on menus, advocated universal healthcare and focused local government on doing something abhorrent among OC's Republican business elite: aiding the homeless in meaningful ways.
Have Newsom's current pro-business stances served as a powerful dose of amnesia? Is his new support here real? We may not know until he runs for higher office.
But for now we know this: Nixon went to China. Fuentes went to San Francisco. And, perhaps the most startling development, Newsom went to OC–and left smiling.
–R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly
(rscottmoxley at ocweekly dot com)
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.