Ex-Clin­ton ad­vi­sor is top New­som aide

Gov.-elect names Ann O’Leary as his chief of staff and Ana Matosan­tos as his Cab­i­net sec­re­tary.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Taryn Luna and Me­lanie Ma­son

SACRA­MENTO — Mov­ing swiftly to fill the high­es­trank­ing spot in his nascent ad­min­is­tra­tion, Gov.-elect Gavin New­som named Ann O’Leary, a long­time pol­icy ad­vi­sor to Hil­lary Clin­ton, to serve as his chief of staff and a leader of the tran­si­tion team this fall.

The gover­nor-elect also se­lected Ana Matosan­tos, an ex­pe­ri­enced Sacra­mento hand, as his Cab­i­net sec­re­tary — the per­son who will serve as key li­ai­son to the sprawl­ing state bu­reau­cracy of de­part­ments and agen­cies New­som will over­see. Matosan­tos served as bud­get di­rec­tor to Gov. Jerry Brown and for­mer Gov. Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger.

“I pledged an ad­min­is­tra­tion that would dream big and de­mand more — and draw on the tal­ents of some of the most ca­pa­ble pub­lic ser­vants in Amer­ica,” New­som said in a state­ment. “That’s what Ann and Ana rep­re­sent — lives of un­ri­valed pro­fes­sional ac­com­plish­ment paired with a per­sonal de­ter­mi­na­tion to serve the pub­lic good.”

O’Leary, an at­tor­ney and vet­eran po­lit­i­cal aide, does not have ex­pe­ri­ence in state gov­ern­ment. But the 47year-old Demo­crat has a rep­u­ta­tion among Clin­ton alumni as a coali­tion builder and jack-of-all-trades pol­icy wonk with a pas­sion for early ed­u­ca­tion and work­ing fam­i­lies.

New­som needs a deep bench and smart team to de­liver on am­bi­tious cam­paign prom­ises to of­fer uni­ver­sal preschool, free com­mu­nity col­lege tu­ition for two years, a gov­ern­ment-spon­sored health­care sys­tem and other big-ticket ideas.

With O’Leary be­ing a rel­a­tive un­known to state gov­ern­ment vet­er­ans, Capi­tol watch­ers have looked for in­for­ma­tion on New­som’s new chief wher­ever they could find it. Pol­icy doc­u­ments in hacked emails sent be­tween mem­bers of the Clin­ton cam­paign, which were made pub­lic on Wik­ileaks ahead of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, have been passed around by in­ter­est groups seek­ing to gain in­sight about O’Leary.

While some po­lit­i­cal in­sid­ers won­der whether an out­sider to the in­su­lar state Capi­tol com­mu­nity is the best fit for a gover­nor with lit­tle leg­isla­tive ex­pe­ri­ence,

al­lies of O’Leary and for­mer se­nior of­fi­cials re­ject­the idea that she needs Sacra­mento on her re­sume to be ef­fec­tive.

“I’ve seen Ann build coali­tions where she didn’t have them be­fore,” said Amanda Ren­te­ria, Clin­ton’s na­tional po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor who was briefly a Demo­cratic can­di­date for gover­nor last year.

Ren­te­ria and oth­ers say the in­com­ing gover­nor can off­set the lo­cal in­ex­pe­ri­ence by adding other sea­soned Sacra­men­tans to his team, such as Matosan­tos. She ar­gues that O’Leary’s back­ground may help New­som build na­tional coali­tions for some of his tough­est goals.

Brown has warned, for ex­am­ple, that land­ing a sin­gle-payer health­care sys­tem in Cal­i­for­nia will re­quire the help of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

“To­day, in or­der to be big and bold and also be able to ex­e­cute, this gover­nor is go­ing to need to be able to grap­ple with both of those worlds,” Ren­te­ria said.

O’Leary served as Clin­ton’s se­nior pol­icy ad­vi­sor in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and as her leg­isla­tive di­rec­tor in the U.S. Se­nate. She was also a spe­cial as­sis­tant to for­mer Pres­i­dent Clin­ton dur­ing his time in the White House.

Af­ter the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, O’Leary re­turned to Cal­i­for­nia and be­came a part­ner for the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner in Palo Alto. She also co­founded the Berke­ley-based Op­por­tu­nity In­sti­tute, a non­profit group that works to im­prove so­cial mo­bil­ity through ed­u­ca­tion.

O’Leary grew up in a small town in Maine as the daugh­ter of an AFL-CIO la­bor leader. Karen Skel­ton, a Cal­i­for­nia po­lit­i­cal strate­gist and friend who worked with her in Wash­ing­ton, said O’Leary’s ca­reer is in­spired by strug­gles in her up­bring­ing.

“Ann was lucky to be able to get an ed­u­ca­tion and leave Maine and fly at the high­est lev­els of gov­ern­ment,” Skel­ton said. “Yet she has never for­got­ten that there are peo­ple like her sis­ter and her fa­ther and her mother who strug­gled fi­nan­cially and with their health. She tries to make the world a bet­ter place for all those peo­ple.”

O’Leary’s ex­pe­ri­ence on Clin­ton’s tran­si­tion team is ex­pected to help New­som as he pre­pares to take over. And her ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with other high-pro­file na­tional Democrats such as Tom Steyer will cer­tainly stoke spec­u­la­tion about New­som’s am­bi­tions be­yond Cal­i­for­nia.

She at­tended law school at UC Berke­ley and was a deputy city at­tor­ney in San Fran­cisco. She has two chil­dren with her for­mer hus­band, Cal­i­for­nia Supreme Court Jus­tice Good­win Liu. Friends say she plans to move to Sacra­mento

She will be the sixth con­sec­u­tive woman to hold the top staff job — al­though some shared the du­ties with a man — for a Cal­i­for­nia gover­nor. Lynn Schenk served un­der for­mer Gov. Gray Davis. Pa­tri­cia Clarey and Su­san Kennedy worked for Sch­warzeneg­ger. Af­ter the death in March of Nancy McFad­den, Brown’s most trusted ad­vi­sor, Diana Doo­ley filled the role for Brown.

“Noth­ing thrills me more,” said Cas­san­dra Pye, a po­lit­i­cal strate­gist and for­mer deputy chief of staff to Sch­warzeneg­ger. “I re­ally be­lieve that women bring so much to the con­ver­sa­tion.”

New­som’s choice for his No. 2 aide, Matosan­tos, has a deeper Capi­tol re­sume. She served as the top bud­get of­fi­cial un­der Brown and his pre­de­ces­sor, Sch­warzeneg­ger. She was also a deputy leg­isla­tive sec­re­tary in Sch­warzeneg­ger’s of­fice and worked in the state Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Agency.

“He couldn’t have picked any­one bet­ter. Ana is the great­est,” Sch­warzeneg­ger said.

Matosan­tos has ex­pe­ri­ence over­see­ing the state bud­get in dire times; she was at the helm when Cal­i­for­nia faced a $27-bil­lion short­fall.

“My or­ga­ni­za­tion — we were pretty pissed at her dur­ing the Sch­warzeneg­ger days,” said Alma Her­nan­dez, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the in­flu­en­tial Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees In­ter­na­tional Union Cal­i­for­nia. “But there was never a mo­ment where we didn't think she wasn't try­ing to take care of those that needed the most.”

Her­nan­dez said Matosan­tos’ Capi­tol ex­pe­ri­ence would help off­set O’Leary’s new­ness to Sacra­mento.

“You have some­one who was think­ing re­ally big and bold on a na­tional level for Hil­lary, and you cou­ple that with some­one who knows how state gov­ern­ment works, how bud­gets get made, how we ac­tu­ally gov­ern,” Her­nan­dez said. “I think they're go­ing to be an all-star team.”

New­som also an­nounced that Cal­i­for­ni­ans could go to gavin­new­som.com for up­dates on the tran­si­tion and to ap­ply for ad­min­is­tra­tion jobs.

Rich Pe­dron­celli AP

ANA MATOSAN­TOS was the top bud­get of­fi­cial un­der two gov­er­nors.

Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

ANN O’LEARY, shown in 2010 hold­ing her in­fant son, is an at­tor­ney and vet­eran po­lit­i­cal aide with a rep­u­ta­tion as a coali­tion builder.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.