Winners and Losers

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This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed for KCRW.

After every election there's a useful media tradition of going beyond the vote totals and assessing the real winners and losers.

Cliché as it sometimes seems, the ritual serves a good purpose. It helps the reporters and pundits themselves – as well as their readers and listeners - recalibrate their perceptions of who's hot and who's not.

This time, the obvious big losers are Governor Schwarzenegger and the legislators who call Sacramento home.

Not only did the Governor and the Democratic leadership have their budget agreement repudiated, they're now going to have to make some brutally unpopular cuts just to avoid the state's default.

Then there's the probability of another months-long impasse over the next state budget. It makes the politicians up there look like fools – and on top of that, they're going to have their own salaries cut by about 18%.

Locally, the big winners are the backers of political newcomer Carmen Trutanich. He's the San Pedro lawyer who put together a coalition of conservatives and alienated Democrats to win the office of City Attorney.

And that means, as we forecast in this space last week, that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's run of political bad fortune continues.

Trutanich ran against what he called the Villaraigosa machine and beat the mayor's friend in Jack Weiss. His kitchen cabinet included some former Villaraigosa allies, including Bob Hertzberg, who just four years ago chaired the mayor's transition team.

It's hard to know what Trutanich will actually do with his power as the city's top lawyer. The media's campaign coverage didn't spend much time on that kind of detail.

But you can bet he'll be a thorn in the mayor's side. He might even turn into the watchdog that city hall had when Laura Chick was the City Controller.

Her replacement starting in July, Wendy Greuel, is another friend of Antonio and isn't likely to play the maverick role that Chick took on.

As for Villaraigosa, having Trutanich looking over his shoulder has to be one more bullet point on the side of not running for governor.

Last week here, I mentioned the Los Angeles Magazine cover that declared Villaraigosa a failure. The magazine called on him forget the governor idea and instead try to salvage some major accomplishments in his second and final term as mayor.

Occidental College Professor Peter Dreier, an author and leading progressive activist who has advised Villaraigosa, rose this week to take exception.

He calls the cover irresponsible and says that no big-city mayor has done a good job and been a fervent champion for the working poor.

But Dreier has been mostly alone. Meanwhile, here's another indicator that Villaraigosa offers himself statewide at his peril.

Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco who is running, has already attracted 433,117 followers on his Twitter page.

The Jerry Brown campaign's Twitter feed has 196,000 followers. Both candidates use Twitter actively to bond with voters, part of a social media strategy that has worked well for Democrats like Barack Obama.

So how does Villaraigosa look in the Twitter standings?

He's a long way from their territory in the six figures. Or even five figures. All I could find were just 1,700 followers, less than even some of the worst bloggers out there.

I guess I should give him this, though. He has more Twitter followers than I do at LA Observed. But we just started and we're gaining on him.

We post updates every day now and he – or his ghost Tweeter – hasn't posted since April 16. Both Gavin Newsom and Jerry Brown's accounts have new items up today. They're even listed as recommended friends of Twitter.

So let's call this the end of another bad week for the mayor. But remember, you can follow us all over at Twitter.

For KCRW, this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.