Reilly, Clint

Clint Reilly was a leading political consultant for 26 years. His clients included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and former California State Senate President Pro Tem Dave Roberti. More recently, Reilly led a battle to preserve media competition in the Bay Area via two landmark anti-trust lawsuits (Reilly v. Hearst and Reilly v. MediaNews, et. al.). This article first appeared on and is republished with his permission.

The Death of Newspapers?

By Clint Reilly

A recent Atlantic Monthly article by James Fallows titled, “How to Save the News” offers a fascinating glimpse into the future of an industry currently beset by technological upheaval and rapidly evolving information consumption patterns.

At one point in the article, Google CEO Eric Schmidt states, “Nothing I see suggests the ‘death of newspapers.’”

The case of the San Francisco Chronicle would appear to be an exception.

The paper’s paid circulation numbers within the city itself have shrunk to 64,000 on Sunday and 58,000 during the week. If estimated Daly City subscribers – who are not really San Francisco residents – are subtracted, Sunday paid circulation falls further to 57,000 and weekday circ dips to 52,000.

San Francisco is a highly educated city of 808,000 residents. That means that only 6.4 percent pay to read the flagship daily newspaper each morning, about one in 16.

Those numbers aren’t encouraging.

Death of a Politician

By Clint Reilly

This November, California’s junior senator, Barbara Boxer, will face a stiff challenge from one of several formidable GOP candidates: Harvard pedigreed moderate Tom Campbell, wealthy former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, or Tea Party darling Chuck DeVore.

After three terms in Washington, Boxer must climb down from the senatorial throne and beg for votes in an angry state where unemployment has reached 12.5 percent and spiraling budget deficits have resulted in cutbacks to parks, transit, libraries, police and fire departments.

Eighteen years in the Senate might seem to entitle Boxer to an easy re-election. But easy elections in tough times are for dictators.

Obama in the Bubble

By Clint Reilly

Election cycles, like candidates, all seem to have their own slogan.

Congressional Democrats surged back into power in 2006 because of the “culture of corruption” Republicans had fostered in Washington. In 2008, after eight disastrous years of George W. Bush, the election was simply about “change.”

This year, with unemployment hovering around 10 percent and little hope for a quick recovery, conservatives and liberals alike have pre-branded this year’s mid-terms: This year, it’s about “ordinary Americans.”

Alms for Jerry

By Clint Reilly

Recent developments in the California gubernatorial race are giving me political flashbacks.

UC Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies, shortly after the 1994 elections. A political postmortem.

Several hundred political junkies and a smattering of candidates mixed freely with academics and media types, all eager to dissect the election.

As the losing gubernatorial campaign manager, I was on the hot seat. My candidate, Kathleen Brown, had lost handily to incumbent Governor Pete Wilson. Wilson’s team of consultants entertained the audience with detailed accounts of their own behind-the-scenes strategic brilliance.

Progress on Health Care

By Clint Reilly

Fantastic! Triple high fives to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi. Hail to Harry Reid, too.

Kudos to our Bay Area Democratic congressional delegation which has been out front on the battle for years – Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, Barbara Lee, Pete Stark, Mike Honda, Zoe Lofgren, George Miller, Lynn Woolsey and John Garamendi.

Thank you United States Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer!

A political war as bloody and monumental as the Battle of Gettysburg has been waged and won.

It’s about time Democratic leaders ignored GOP obstructionism and rejected the fiction of “post partisanship.” Health care reform is finally here.

It should have been here long ago.

Despite being the wealthiest country on earth, our embarrassing Rube Goldberg device of a health care system is ranked 37th in the world.

Drowning Democracy

By Clint Reilly

When it happened, no one is quite sure. But during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the stream of money flowing into our political system began to swell. Since then, the river has become a raging flood that is now drowning our democracy.

I remember managing my first victorious campaign in the 1970s. We spent less than $20,000 on a major race and won handily.

Another time, I was able to win a campaign for my client by spending less than $2,000. We placed brochures on the seats of every transit rider and delivered our literature door to door with teenage volunteers.

During those lean years, I needed a day job to support my forays into political campaigning. I opened a store on the San Francisco waterfront at 33 Filbert Street just to pay my bills.

I would have starved to death if I had tried to live on my pittance wages from running campaigns.

How To Beat A Billionaire

By Clint Reilly

Now that California Attorney General Jerry Brown has made his candidacy for governor official, does he have what it takes to beat back his likely Republican foe, billionaire Meg Whitman?

Sixteen years ago, I managed the gubernatorial campaign of Brown’s sister, then-State Treasurer Kathleen Brown, who was soundly defeated by incumbent Governor Pete Wilson.

Jerry was a quiet bystander during that campaign, contributing only $150 to his sister’s cash-starved campaign as a protest against the power of money in politics.

Now Jerry must raise tens of millions to beat Whitman, an adversary with unlimited personal wealth who is anxious to paint him as an over-the-hill 1970s retread.

Beware the “Geniuses”

By Clint Reilly

I recently attended a small party with President Obama’s deputy chief of staff, Jim Messina. Messina – a Huck Finn type originally from the office of Montana Senator Max Baucus – treated us to a Pollyannaish assessment of Obama’s first year.

According to Messina, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is the smartest political brain in America and Obama is the greatest political communicator of his generation.

That’s where I started to tune out. My BS periscope surfaces whenever I hear these superlatives used to describe politicians. After a lifetime in the game, I’ve learned that genius labels should be reserved for Nobel Prize winning scientists and mathematicians.

Break The Banks

By Clint Reilly

American banks love to affect a false pose of solidity and enduring strength. That’s why so much bank architecture mimics the classical columns of ancient Greece.

But the American financial system today is in ruins – much like the Parthenon.

So, how can it be that more than a year after the ignominious collapse of our financial system, banking reform still languishes in Congress?

A just-published book by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson – who wrote the trillion dollar checks – contends that taxpayers stand to make a profit on the bank bailouts.

Get Health Care Done

By Clint Reilly

Health care reform must pass, even in light of the changed political calculus on Capitol Hill. There’s too much riding on it for it to fail.

A generation of idealists inspired by Barack Obama in 2008 now teeters on the brink of disenchantment. Where Candidate Obama made millions of people believe that government could drive positive change, President Obama risks alienating those who believed in him. If he fails to achieve real results, Americans’ enthusiasm for civic engagement and trust in their institutions may be lost for a generation.

That’s why Obama can’t afford to let health care reform die on the operating table.

Every Democrat who believes in the power of government to improve society has a vested interest in the revival and passage of health care reform before the 2010 election cycle begins in earnest.

Let’s review the case for a cure: