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Westly Camp Calls Angelides ‘Slimy Developer’

Times Staff Writer

Whoops: Call it an oversight. The campaign manager for state Controller Steve Westly said Friday the controller didn’t mean to imply that his chief rival in the race to become the Democratic nominee for governor in 2006 is a “slimy developer.”

Never mind that the Westly camp e-mailed to Democrats across the state an anonymous quote in a newspaper saying as much about state Treasurer Phil Angelides.

The e-mail has angered Angelides, who himself has been criticized for bare-knuckles campaign tactics in the past, prompting him to demand an apology. And Republicans are delighted to watch the Democrats beat up on each other instead of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The note at issue was distributed late Thursday and encourages Westly supporters to get the word out about a poll of “30 California political experts” published in the Capitol Weekly, a Sacramento publication for state workers and political insiders. The poll concludes that the controller is the toughest potential Democratic opponent for Schwarzenegger.

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The e-mail goes further than just spreading that news. It also urges Westly supporters to be sure to tell fellow Democrats about “some of the candid things” the anonymous “experts” had to say about the race in the news article. Among them: Westly “can say that he at first tried to work cooperatively with the governor. Angelides is a slimy developer.”

Chalk it up to a bad editing judgment, Westly campaign manager Jude Barry now says. He said he was merely trying to let the world know about all the positive things these experts had to say about Westly.

So why include the “slimy developer” swipe at the treasurer? A mere oversight, says Barry.

“It is a fairly harsh characterization,” Barry said in an interview Friday. “In retrospect, I probably should have edited or excised it out.”

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By Friday evening, Barry had edited the word “slimy” off the quote as it appears on Westly’s campaign website. Angelides, who earned his personal fortune building homes in the Sacramento area, is now branded simply with the tag “developer.”

Officials at the Angelides campaign were unimpressed. They declared that fellow Democrats were outraged over the controller’s tactics.

“We’ve received a bunch of calls and e-mails,” said Dan Newman, spokesman for Angelides. “Democrats are furious that Steve Westly has resorted to negative personal attacks against fellow Democrats at a time when the party should be united.”

Newman pointed to Crystal Strait, president of California Young Democrats, a group that is so far neutral in the race, as among those who are furious. In a letter to colleagues, Strait said the controller’s “actions have clearly crossed a line.... We need leaders that are interested in getting work done and NOT childish name-calling.”

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Barry said the Westly campaigning has received no such complaints.

Republicans, who have been trying to take the focus off Schwarzenegger’s steep fall in public opinion polls, are watching it all unfold with delight.

Especially Mike Murphy, one of the governor’s lead political strategists. The Westly camp inadvertently included him on the “slimy developer” e-mail distribution list.

“I chuckled when I received it,” said Murphy. “They are already handing the axes out.”

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Murphy said he was surprised to see the message appear in his inbox, “between ‘get rich quick’ and ‘order a Russian bride’ e-mails.”

But Barry said the e-mail went out to anyone who signed up for campaign updates on Westly’s website.

“I guess he’s a closet Westly supporter,” Barry said.


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