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BAXTER PRESSES THE FLESH WITH GEPHARDT IN DES MOINES Ralph Baxter Jr. got some practice in door-to-door politicking last week. The chairman of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe spent three days in Des Moines, Iowa, stumping for Dick Gephardt in his bid for the Democratic nomination. Baxter and his 12-year-old daughter, Lauren, were among about 2,000 volunteers that made a final push to get out the vote at the Iowa caucuses. “Our main activity was going door-to-door,” Baxter said. “We also worked on visibility,” he said, driving around in cars plastered with posters and standing at key locations with Gephardt signs. Baxter said he decided to campaign for Gephardt after meeting him at a reception last year. “I thought Gephardt had what it took to be president,” Baxter said. With his Washington experience he had a “proven ability to work to a collaborative solution” on domestic and foreign policy issues. While Baxter was disappointed by the results of the Iowa caucuses — Gephardt dropped his bid for the presidency after placing fourth — the Orrick chairman said it was a great experience to participate so closely in the political process. The experience may also provide some valuable lessons if Baxter should decide to run his own campaign. Long rumored to be interested in running for elective office in West Virginia, Baxter has indicated he may consider a career in politics at some point. Campaigning in Iowa gave him a chance to make contacts and hone his political skills. In a phone conversation with Gephardt, Baxter raised one of his pet projects: the firm’s Global Operations Center in Wheeling, W.Va., which houses Orrick’s information technology infrastructure and financial operations. “Gephardt is concerned about the flight of jobs overseas,” Baxter said. “He thought the Global Operations Center we operate was a terrific idea — an example of a company dealing with the economic times and keeping jobs in the United States.” — Brenda Sandburg BECAUSE LITIGATION ISN’T INTENSE ENOUGH If everything goes off without a hitch, there will be punching, shouting and a flattened nose or two at the Longshoremen’s Hall one evening next month. At least that’s what San Francisco attorneys Steven Martini and Robert Ryan are hoping. On the theory that a law degree is not incompatible with the sweet science of boxing, the two litigators are trying their luck as fight promoters. On Feb. 27 they plan to put on a five-bout boxing card, one of the rare fight nights to take place in modern-day San Francisco. “One of the things that San Francisco hasn’t had is lawyers and a law firm behind” a boxing enterprise, says Martini. “Legal expertise, along with some decent business acumen, we’re hoping translates into some economic gain.” The courtroom promoters face tough odds. A number of recent boxing cards in the Bay Area have been financial failures, including Martini and Ryan’s first event in Vallejo last summer. But the pair say they’ve learned from the experience. Martini and Ryan are partners at Bassi, Martini & Blum, a 15-attorney litigation boutique that focuses on toxic tort, product liability and environmental defense. The two attorneys share a long-running passion for pugilism. (Ryan negotiated the terms of joining the firm with Martini while the pair took in a fight in 2001.) Their recent venture heading up Prize Fights Inc., which they own along with a non-attorney, has forced them to take a crash course in the business side of the sport. The pair has visited gyms throughout the state, meeting with fighters, coaches and match-makers, while spreading the word about the upcoming event (billed as The Brawl at the Hall) to fellow attorneys, clients and judges. So far their efforts have borne some fruit. They secured the 1,800-seat Longshoremen’s Hall in Fisherman’s Wharf for the venue, and Miller Lite and Gorilla Sports are both on board as event sponsors. “We don’t know at this point whether there’s a legitimate market for this type of entertainment,” admits Martini. If the event draws a big crowd, he envisions regular boxing cards in San Francisco. “The proof in the pudding is whether the Feb. 27 show bears some success,” Martini says. “If it doesn’t, I think we’ll probably ride off into the sunset and say it was a good try.” — Alexei Oreskovic WHERE’S THE BEEF? Oakland City Attorney John Russo doesn’t want Mayor Jerry Brown’s job, at least for now. “I am not trying for mayor in 2006. I say that unconditionally,” Russo said, adding that he may run for mayor later in his career. The election rumor mill kicked into high gear earlier this month when a memo Russo sent to Jerry Brown that was critical of an Oakland police officer got leaked to the press. Russo blasted the cop’s promotion to sergeant, noting the officer made homophobic comments on duty. Political junkies speculated that Russo leaked the memo to discredit Brown and boost his own mayoral prospects. But Russo says the supposed bad blood between the two politicians has been exaggerated. Brown backed Russo’s initial city attorney bid, but they were never close political allies, Russo acknowledged. “Jerry and I are people with strong personalities,” Russo said. “Sometimes we disagree publicly.” T.T. Nhu, the mayor’s spokeswoman, says that there’s no Brown-Russo beef. “I can tell you that the mayor and Mr. Russo work together and they plan to continue to work together, and everything is fine,” she said. Although a 2006 mayoral run isn’t in the works, Russo — who will run unopposed in March — may not finish out his next four-year term. The city attorney is mulling whether to run for Wilma Chan’s state assembly seat in 2006. “I am looking at that race,” he said. — Jahna Berry

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