Eye on the East Bay: Richmond's rattlesnake plays second fiddle to Newsom
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 01/25/2015 12:00:00 AM PST
Relegated to second fiddle: Hours before he was scheduled to be sworn into office by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Richmond Mayor-elect Tom Butt got a call from NBC producers asking for an interview.
Naturally, as the man who overcame millions in Chevron Corp. spending supporting his rival in a race that drew national attention, Butt wasn't surprised by the interest.
"Suitably flattered and well-prepared," Butt later wrote on Facebook. "I show(ed) up at the appointed location, a local business where I was touring and having a meeting, along with my new staff members."
The surprise came like a splash of cold water. The reporter and camera crew seemed indifferent to the arrival of the local heavyweight, a man known both affectionately and derisively in Richmond as the "Arkansas Rattlesnake," a moniker that plays on his southern roots and cunning political tactics.
Turned out, NBC saw the white-haired rattlesnake as little more than bait to lure the debonair Newsom, thought by many to be a rising star in state politics.
"When we told them we were ready to begin, they said, 'Where is the lieutenant governor?' " Butt wrote. "When they found out he was not there, they quickly packed up and left."
Butt's bruised ego was soothed by a bevy of Facebook responses from local supporters.
"You are much more interesting than Gavin Newsom," local resident David Brown wrote.
Staff writers Robert Rogers and Rowena Coetsee contributed to this report.