Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
When I wrote a piece (5th item) about San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's potential electoral problems, I erred on the side of good taste and decided not to mention his divorce or his dalliance with a 19-year-old. Between the time we sent that issue to press and the time it actually came out, the story broke about Newsom having an affair with his campaign manager's wife, which made the mayor fodder for comedians nationwide.
Now the big story is that Newsom is angry almost beyond words at Supervisor Chris Daly, who on Wednesday publicly denounced the mayor for cutting substance-abuse funding. "Where does Gavin Christopher Newsom get his substance abuse services," Daly said, "and how much do they cost the city and county of San Francisco?"
That use of the middle name is a nice touch -- just in case you thought maybe Daly had slipped and had someone else in mind.
Newsom denies that he has ever used cocaine. I'm willing to take him at his word, despite his admitted addiction problems (remember that he checked himself into alcohol rehab after the story about his affair broke). But his outright denial does leave him open to embarrassment -- will there be no one in the city of San Francisco willing to come forward and claim that he once saw the mayor tooting at a party?
Newsom had already made his personal problems the centerpiece of his public image with his affair with his campaign manager's wife (who happened to be a City Hall aide herself). Now there will always be this "when did you stop beating your wife -- er, I mean mistress -- Mr. Mayor?" quality hanging over Newsom, hampering any ambitions he still harbored for higher office after his gay-marriage experiment.
It may be unfair, but Newsom obviously finds himself vulnerable to any sort of accusation at this point, no matter how outlandish or untrue.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.