Nevertheless, Riordan is ultimately responsible for his own campaign. He hired the people he wanted, like top PR executive Ron Hartwig -- the political novice he installed as his campaign manager, a ”friend from the California Club,“ as one Republican put it -- and fired those whom he didn‘t want, blissfully sallying forth against the Davis buzz saw with a crew of handlers who knew remarkably little about their champion.
The last Republican slaughtered by the Davis team, then--Attorney General Dan Lungren, issued a fateful line in 1998 that serves well as his political epitaph: ”Californians are even more conservative than they know.“
Riordan matched that when in late January, explaining why he hadn’t watched the first Davis attack ad against him, he told the Weekly: ”I don‘t want to ruin my life.“ It was a telling comment, indicative of someone unwilling to leave his personal comfort zone and make the warrior commitment needed to contest for the top offices in the land.
Some Riordan friends say that lack of commitment makes him a good person, better than those who take big-time politics more seriously as the blood sport it is. Which may or may not be true. But what is certainly true is that Riordan wasted his time and the time of those who invested their hopes with him, an ignoble end to a late-blooming political career.