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Tired Gore Wired Newsom

Jun
1
2006

Al Gore, once Silicon Valley’s political heart-throb is on the way out. Replacing him? Perhaps – if he plays his cards right – San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Newsom took to the stage at the Wall Street Journal’s “D – All Things Digital Conference” and pretty much told the tech types what they wanted to hear. Technology is a business development tool for all cities, not just for San Francisco, it’s shameful that tens of thousands of San Franciscans are without computers and Internet access. The federal government is of no help.

By contrast, Gore – who reaped the rewards of a Silicon Valley connection when he raised millions for his unsuccessful presidential bid in 2004 – lectured, hectored and annoyed his audience. Partisan Democrats, of course, love his hour-and-a-half chat on Connect, his “interactive” TV station, and his long, involved, complicated and detailed discussions of global warming. But the rest of the audience…uh, warm you say? Really?

It’s not entirely fair, of course, to compare Newsom and Gore. Newsom is only slightly older than Gore was when he took his seat in the U.S. House; Newsom’s never lost an election and he’s only run twice. His re-election effort next fall should – if his unbelievably good poll numbers hold – be a walk in the park. Newsom has more presence and, well, he’s not as intellectual as the former vice president so his answers often border on the practical. And they are somewhat – for a Democrat – not ideological. That’s not the case with Gore. It can’t be, of course, that he’s spent too much time in politics, too much time trying to become president and had too many disappointments.

It’s no secret that Gavin Newsom has national political ambition and lots of it. His plan to provide city-wide wireless Internet access for all of San Francisco is, in many ways, just as dramatic as his letting same-sex couples marry in the city. It’s a far-sighted decision and it puts him well ahead of Democratic Party leadership.

More important, for his next run at political office – which probably won’t be for anything with a seat in the California statehouse – he’ll need money. Silicon Valley is starting to rival Hollywood as the Democratic Party’s cash register. Newsom knows this – who doesn’t? – and he’s shrewdly taking advantage of a local resource.

That some of those local resources – among them top-level Democratic Party contributor John Doerr, a San Francisco property-owner – had to come to San Diego to meet the mayor, tells you how much San Francisco politics needs to really change to accommodate the new tech money. But at least someone’s turning on the lights.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 3:10 PM | Permalink

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