Berryhill throws out a real bum
The congressional campaign of Ceres Republican Mike Berryhill, running against Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Pimlico Kid-Annapolis, is not a thing of beauty. In a year when voters are so frustrated -- especially in Cardoza's congressional district, wracked with some of the worst foreclosure and unemployment rates in the nation and housing prices that still cannot find a bottom -- all they want to do is throw the bums out, at least Berryhill threw one bum out, John D. Villarreal, his campaign manager for a couple of weeks.
McClatchy reporter was able to summarize Villarreal's argument in a couple of sentences. But Villarreal took about 40 minutes on YouTube to rave, simply rave -- there is no other word to describe it -- about his relationship to the Berryhill campaign.
Two possibilities for the performance on YouTube (searching under "Villarreal Berryhill" will get you to the four-part series) are: 1. Villarreal was putting something other than sugar in his Starbucks; or 2. conservative political operatives have gone completely insane.
Badlands editors, some of whom are veterans of Valley political campaigns, are no strangers to abusive campaign managers. But with jaws dropped watching Villarreal's mad ravings on YouTube, they quickly agreed that if that guy had come into any campaign they were working in, it would have taken them less time than the 40-minutes on YouTube to pack their briefcases, clear their desks and draw their pay. This guy appears to be a campaign manager from Hell's Cellar.
He touted his degrees from UC Berkeley in political science and law, but so incomprehensibly inarticularly that we felt embarrassed for UC, not a familiar feeling around here. Campaign management requires short bursts of exact communication at break-neck speed. This jackass, Villarreal, doesn't belong anywhere near a political campaign. Firing him may be the only intelligent decision the Berryhill campaign makes. Those of us committed to throwing the bums out in 2010 are savoring the moment. Villarreal raved on about "my (campaign) donors" and "my campaign," as if Berryhill, member of a distinguished Valley Republican family, was an unnamed cipher with an R after his name. He claimed repeatedly that before he came to Berryhill's campaign and now that he has left it, the campaign was and is "sunk." He claimed the reason he quit was because the campaign refused to give him the total control he demanded to "turn it around."
Some experience in campaigns that have been "turned around" by new managers indicates that the new managers were mostly quiet, polite, extremely hard-working people who gave order and direction to the work and unified the staff. Villarreal's approach to campaign management seems to be a campaign of two: himself and a candidate whose name appears on the ballot, who is nothing but a puppet on Villarreal's cables.
It takes quite a lot of ego to run for office. It is rough on candidates all around, particularly in the time like this when respect for government has reached levels so low that a less apathetic nation would be on the march, here in the Era of Barak O'Hoover. Berryhill, however, appears to be a numbnut knucklehead playing games with his campaign finances.
The only chance Berryhill could ever have had would have been if Pete McCloskey, a life-long Republican who became a Democrat after beating up Richard Pombo so badly in the Republican primary that even Jerry McNearney could beat Pombo in the General, had entered the primary against Cardoza and done to the rear-end of the Endangered Species Act-hating Pomboza, what McCloskey did to its head in 2006.
Villarreal utters his prolonged rant with great confidence. He may be right. Perhaps he is the future of politics. If so, we are entering a very, very bad chapter in Aristotle's Politics, in which the passions of illiterate, enraged mobs rule the day.
The Berryhill campaign is a terrible waste of political energy. Intelligent Republicans might have used it -- if not to win -- at least to beat up Cardoza so badly that he was politically crippled for life. Cardoza is a target of such rich opportunity, only a congressional district whose plutocrats are as corrupt as ours could successfully thwart the opportunity.
If Republicans take Congress in November, do people realize that veteran Blue Dog Cardoza will be more powerful than George Miller, Pete Stark, Alan Graham, Henry Waxman and others, the people who stood up in the darkest days of the Bush administration to oppose ruinous foreign and domestic policies? People do realize that the Blue Dogs only have one political move: betrayal, don't they? People do realiZe, of course, that Dennis Cardoza is not a sell out for political expediency; he is a sell out by disposition, a disposition that fits will with the plutocrats of the district, financial cannibals to a man.
Badlands Journal editorial board
Ex-campaign operative says Berryhill's race is hopeless, takes complaints to YouTube...Michael Doyle, McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON -- Republican Mike Berryhill's struggling San Joaquin Valley congressional campaign is now being body slammed by the man who says he was supposed to run it.
In an extraordinary political flip, GOP political activist John D. Villarreal is declaring Berryhill's campaign a lost cause less than a month after being hired as a top Berryhill campaign operator.
"I'm not trying to sink his campaign. I don't need to," Villarreal said in an interview Wednesday. "It's already sunk."
Hammering the point home with unusual aggressiveness, Villarreal on Tuesday posted about 40 minutes of videos on YouTube denouncing his one-time allies on the Berryhill campaign.
Villarreal says he posted the video explanations to protect his own reputation.
A former Turlock Irrigation District director and a member of one of the Valley's most prominent political families, Berryhill is challenging Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced. Cardoza has held the 18th Congressional District seat since 2003.
The district is split roughly evenly between San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties, with a sliver inside Fresno County.
Though Democrats enjoy a voter registration advantage, Republicans note the district has a distinctly moderate cast.
The nephew of a former state senator, Berryhill has two cousins serving in the state Legislature. His name identification and community involvement helped initially boost his prospects, but he has since lagged far behind Cardoza by all traditional measures of political momentum.
Berryhill reported raising only $49,667 from others since his campaign began, according to his most recent campaign filing. Cardoza reported raising $805,409. The national Republican Party has essentially steered clear of the Berryhill effort.
"I don't think they have a chance," Villarreal said Wednesday. "That campaign is going nowhere." Berryhill could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Randy Brown, who described himself as the communications director for the Berryhill campaign, said Wednesday that "overall, I'm kind of" managing the campaign now, but he deferred to Berryhill for further comment.
Carl Fogliani, Berryhill's consultant, said Villarreal's outburst online reflected poorly on the consultant.
"It's not like he had a reputation to begin with. It is what it is, you're a professional in this business and you conduct yourself in a certain way, not slamming your clients," said Fogliani, who frequently works on San Joaquin Valley campaigns, including for Berryhill's cousin, Assemblyman Bill Berryhill of Ceres.
Mike Lynch, a Cardoza political adviser, declined to comment on the record about the latest shakeup in the Berryhill campaign, though he did not seem displeased.
"The best measure of a candidate is when they face each other, one on one," Lynch said. "By that standard, Dennis is doing very well."
By the standard of keeping a campaign on track, Berryhill is doing poorly.
Berryhill's first campaign manager was Fogliani. During Fogliani's tenure, Berryhill repeatedly loaned his campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars immediately prior to a campaign reporting deadline; once the deadline passed, Berryhill paid himself back.
Fogliani left the campaign. Berryhill then signed a contract to have Villarreal run the campaign on Aug. 6, Villarreal said. On one of the four YouTube videos he posted Tuesday, he displays the contract.
A combative 39-year-old graduate of UC Berkeley and UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, as well as a former rugby player and judo practitioner, Villarreal says he expected to take full control of the Berryhill campaign.
He says he wanted to emphasize new social media, instead of "the same playbook" such as mass mailings and phone banks.
On Aug. 12, Villarreal said, the Berryhill campaign advised him that Randy Brown would be the campaign manager. Villarreal said this amounted to a breach of contract. He says he has since been in e-mail contact with Berryhill about settling pay and expenses for his work in August.
"I like Mike and I like his wife," Villarreal said, adding, "It's just sad."
Video: 18th Congressional District candidates Mike Berryhill and Dennis Cardoza meet with the Modesto Bee Editorial Board...8-20-10...Video