On the matter of higher office, I gather he was under consideration re a future gubernatorial run...
Quoting a section of a SF Chronicle article yesterday by Carla Marinucci -
The strategists said that though Newsom has high approval ratings and so far faces no major competition in his re-election campaign, his admission of an affair with the wife of his close aide and good friend is likely to be lethal to his aspirations for higher office -- even in an age when voters are no longer shocked by sexual political scandal.
"This guy is no longer a credible candidate to be governor of California,'' said one of the Republican strategists. "It's an extraordinary good day for (Los Angeles Mayor) Antonio Villaraigosa and (former state Controller) Steve Westly," who are considered potential Democratic candidates for governor.
While voters might be generally unconcerned with the private life of a single man in office, Newsom's affair is likely to be perceived as a betrayal of a friend, which raises crucial questions of maturity, character, judgment and loyalty, the strategists said.
The potential impact could be greatest with men, who tend to forgive such dalliances more easily than women -- but are likely to be harsher in their judgments of Newsom because he double-crossed his best friend, several of the strategists said.
"That's the end; even in California, there are some things you can't get away with," one of the Democratic strategists said. "He might get re-elected as mayor of San Francisco, but any hope of being elected statewide is done."
The Democrat noted that the scandal came on the heels of headlines that have put an unflattering spotlight on Newsom's personal life -- from coverage of a messy divorce to public displays of affection and dalliances with a series of girlfriends, including a 19-year-old restaurant hostess, to sightings of the 39-year-old mayor drinking at bars and bistros across the city.
"He's got great marquee value; he's young enough to be around politics for another 30 years if he wanted," said a party strategist who has watched Newsom's rise. "But what's wrong with the guy?''
If those questions weren't tough enough, some political insiders said Newsom's affair has the potential to have ripple effects far beyond the Democratic bastion of San Francisco.
"The only person who gets hurt more than Gavin Newsom is (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi," says Dan Schnur, a GOP strategist who was the spokesman for former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson.
As Fox News and other national cable outlets seized on the scandal Thursday, Schnur said the story will resonate among conservative talk outlets precisely because Pelosi "spent the last 30 days surrounding herself with every child on the Eastern seaboard to put to rest the discussion of 'San Francisco values.' So this is one more talking point for people who want to criticize her on her home turf."
Pelosi, who has known Newsom since he was a child, was in Williamsburg, Va., at a retreat for House Democrats on Thursday and was unavailable for comment. "Speaker Pelosi is saddened by this and is concerned for everyone involved and their families," said a statement from her spokesman Brendan Daly.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, questioned on the affair at a news conference in Washington, D.C., declined comment.
Democratic strategist Don Solem, a longtime city insider, agreed that "there will be attempts by bloggers and others" on the conservative talk circuit to fire up the values issue and use the mayor's affair as a political club. "But I don't think it connects to Pelosi as much as to 'San Francisco, that strange city,' " he said.
Indeed, San Francisco insiders are speculating about whether the mayor's heart is still in politics.
They cite an interview in The Chronicle recently in which Newsom, saying the intense public spotlight has taken a harsh toll, acknowledged thinking about not running for re-election. And in Davos, Switzerland, last week, he appeared to dismiss a future run for statewide office by noting that his position in support of same-sex marriage has made him a pariah to some party moderates.
Outside City Hall, where influential donors and backers can make or break a political future, there have been more signs of trouble. Local business leaders in recent weeks have been buzzing about the mayor's personal distractions; complaints that their calls are not being returned have become increasingly vocal around power lunch tables.
"If the business community is dissatisfied, if there are continuing high-profile problems with sports teams, with Muni,'' voters may conclude he is no longer up for the job, and "that's when he'll be in big trouble," said one of the strategists.
But top crisis-communications expert Chris Lehane -- who was White House spokesman for President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal -- cautioned that it is premature to write political obituaries for Newsom, who has garnered rave notices in his short career.
Clinton, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Sen. Edward Kennedy and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani -- now considered a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination -- all survived sex scandals in their careers.
"The first 48 hours is critical in terms of containing (the story), and you recover over the long haul," Lehane said. "Assuming you properly apologize and show people you are contrite, the people will judge whether you do a good job day in and day out on decisions that affect the city."
But "it will require extra discipline and applying lessons learned -- and the recognition that you are going to be measuring progress in inches," Lehane said.