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Villaraigosa abandoned by Ace Smith?

Has Antonio Villaraigosa fallen so far back in the 2010 race for California governor that his former consultant and negative research hound Ace Smith, who dug dirt on Villaraigosa's mayoral rivals, is migrating over to help Attorney General Jerry Brown become governor?

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting today that Ace Smith joined a "Jerry Brown for Governor" Facebook page, and that Smith responded to the Chron that his joining doesn't mean anything -- he signs up for lots of stuff.

But what a slap it was at Villaraigosa, as was the furtive Malibu meeting last week between top California Democratic hatchet man Garry South and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Relentlessly persistent and increasingly noticed blogger Zuma Dogg got that scoop -- and the video to prove it.

There's only one reason Newsom would hire South the Mouth (if that's what the Malibu meeting, featuring the brand-new Mrs. Newsom, was about), since South is probably the most effective Democratic henchman-for-hire in California. And that's to concoct a plan to taint and undermine anyone who threatens Newsom's plan to be governor in 2010.

With the 2010 race heavily favored to go to a Democrat, it's going to be an ugly slam-fest driven by crass pros like Smith and South to convince voters which of the three top Dems is the least deserving of the governorship.

And really, who is the least deserving?

Is it Attorney General Brown, the not-so-successful governor of California back in the 1970's, who has been using his lofty top cop office to produce flurries of JerryCentric press releases that seem designed to promote Jerry?

Or is it Mayor Newsom, who is getting hammered in the San Francisco media for his disastrous "catch and release" policy that released violent illegal immigrant Edwin Ramos on the streets recently -- where it's alleged that he brutally murdered three members of the Bologna family as they drove home from a family picnic?

Or is it the often absent Mayor Villaraigosa, who seems to have a horrible time telling the truth, and has foundered and floundered in almost every initiative and project he undertakes, from improving the Los Angeles high school dropout rate to relieving terrible local congestion to planting trees in an overbuilt city?

It's the job of people like Smith and South to win the office for their man, and they do that by answering those questions in the nastiest way possible. And that means the list of unhappy things we know about these three guys is about to grow longer.

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