CA-48: ‘Minuteman’ Loses Big in Special Election

Anti-immigration loses again: If it’s Tuesday in California, there must be an election somewhere – or so it seems. Yesterday there was a special election in the 48th congressional district to fill the seat of Republican Chris Cox who was – not indicted! – but rather was named head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This district is centered around Newport Beach in Orange County and is about as white and moneyed, and therefore solidly Republican, as any in California. So it was no surprise that the establishment Republican, state Sen. Tom Campbell, won with 45 percent of the vote.

But the news out of the election is that the Democrat, Steve Young, came in second, besting the darling of the Pat Buchanan wing of the GOP, Tom Gilchrist, 28 percent to 25 percent.

Gilchrist is a co-founder of the Minuteman Project which encourages wingnuts to become vigilantes at the Mexican border, sitting in beach chairs and keeping watch for illegal aliens crossing in to steal our healthcare and Social Security.

Whatever they are, Gilchrist and his ilk are not students of recent California political history. If they were, they would remember that in the early 1990’s, anti-immigrant fever enflamed the GOP in California. The party rammed through Proposition 187, which would have denied healthcare and education to illegal immigrants and thereby flooded California with hundreds of thousands of sick and uneducated children. Although the GOP won the battle for Prop 187, it sent the party into the electoral wilderness by shifting millions of Latino votes from independent or Republican into the Democratic column, giving the Dems sizeable victories in every statewide election since.

So all we can say to Mr. Gilchrist is good luck – sorry you didn’t make it but, please, keep trying!

Repugs Misunderestimate People of Faith

Froma Harrop makes some bigger points worth noting after the Dover, Penn. elections.

Few disinformation campaigns have been as dishonest as the one over intelligent design…

We hear many stereotypes about religious conservatives, but Republican strategists are among the chief stereotypers

It’s a fraud, but the political wizards in the Republican Party seem to think that ruining the education of some kids in the sticks is a small price to pay for votes – which they’re obviously not getting…

We hear many stereotypes about religious conservatives, but Republican strategists are among the chief stereotypers. They assume that people of faith don’t think – that devout people are unable to see complexity in social issues and can’t reconcile science with religion.

The Republicans’ poor soundings on the mindset of religious people are adding up. Republicans made fools of themselves over the Terry Schiavo case. It turns out that the vast majority of even religious Americans did not see the matter as a simplistic right-to-life issue.

The Bush administration assumed that its conservative base was brain-dead on global warming. But now the National Association of Evangelicals – 45,000 churches, representing 30 million Americans – is working on a draft to demand that Congress put mandatory controls on carbon-dioxide emissions.

Bad science does not make good morals.

CA Special Election Cost $350 Million

A big waste: It’s okay. We’ll just borrow the money:

The total cost of Arnold’s California special election may top $300 million, according to this article. Gov. Schwarzenegger and his California Recovery Team have spent nearly $32.5 million, per the latest filings online, while the state teachers union has kicked in $55 million.

According to another article, total spending by “yes” and “no” campaigns is estimated at $220 million. Unions in California spent $100 million to defeat these initiatives.

I’m not sure if these numbers include the costs to each of the California counties for holding the special election.

Imagine something positive that could have been accomplished in California with $300 million . . .

The operational costs of the election are at least $50 million, upping the tally to $350 million.

Why Arnold Failed – And Why Team Bush Must Be in a Panic

Bad news for fakers: The leaders of the Republican Party must be quaking in their boots in light of the elections of Democrats as governors in New Jersey and, especially, Virginia. This can’t bode well for the federal elections next year.

The drubbing Arnold took yesterday must have Rove & Co. wondering how they can stop a similar backlash against the empty suit in the Oval Office from destroying the GOP nationwide.

But President Bush’s minders may have an even more serious case of agita over the collapse of the Schwarzenegger governorship here in California. Their concern isn’t that Bush and Arnold are close allies or share similar philosophies – or that there was ever any hope that Arnold could flip the state back to the GOP.

Rather, what must concern the White House messagemeisters is that Bush and Arnold share similar political and personal weaknesses that their handlers have, until now, hidden from voters in similar ways. California voters have wised up to Schwarzenegger’s act – and there is real danger (and polling to prove it) that voters nationwide are begining to see through Mr. Bush’s tired routine as well.

Both the president and the governor go to great lengths to conceal their “real” personas from public view – probably because in real life they are both self-aggrandizing jerks. Since both pols must rely on manufactured personalites when they are on the public stage, this limits them to tightly stage-managed and scripted appearances in front of handpicked crowds of sycophants.

Neither man is truly comfortable in his own skin – and neither can think on their feet – so their handlers have to go out of their way to avoid putting them into one-on-one interviews with reporters or live debates with other politicians.

The harsh lesson Arnold’s handlers learned in the defeat of his “reform agenda” yesterday – and that must have Karl Rove in a panic – is that politicians in the spotlight cannot hide their true selves from voters forever. The tide of events has a way of unmasking even the most practiced fakers.

The drubbing Arnold took yesterday must have Rove & Co. wondering how they can stop a similar backlash against the empty suit in the Oval Office from destroying the GOP nationwide.

Here’s how the Los Angeles Times analyzed the defeat of the Das Guber’s propositions this morning:


All 8 California Propositions Voted Down

THE BIG NO! Arnold Schwarzenegger should just resign and get back to his movie career – or he could just go back to doing what he was doing before he decided to play at politics: counting his millions, smoking his cigars and fondling his employees. It doesn’t matter what he does because his political “career” is toast:

In a sharp repudiation of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Californians rejected all four of his ballot proposals Tuesday in an election that shattered his image as an agent of the popular will.

Voters turned down his plans to curb state spending, redraw California’s political map, restrain union politics and lengthen the time it takes teachers to get tenure.

The Republican governor had cast the four initiatives as central to his larger vision for restoring fiscal discipline to California and reforming its notoriously dysfunctional politics.

The failure of Proposition 76, his spending restraints, and Proposition 77, his election district overhaul, represented a particularly sharp snub of the governor by California voters. It also threw into question his strategy of threatening lawmakers with statewide votes to get around them when they block his favored proposals.

Also, Schwarzenegger’s defeat on Proposition 75 was a major victory for his rivals in organized labor. It would have required unions for public workers to get written consent from members before spending their dues money on politics.

On a Beverly Hills stage Tuesday night next to his wife, Maria Shriver, Schwarzenegger pledged “to find common ground” with his Democratic adversaries in Sacramento.

“The people of California are sick and tired of all the fighting, and they are sick and tired of all the negative TV ads,” he told supporters at the Beverly Hilton. He did not concede, saying instead that “in a couple of days the victories or the losses will be behind us.”



Dems Win In NJ and VA Governor Races

Associated Press:

Democrats swept both governors’ races Tuesday, with Sen. Jon Corzine easily winning New Jersey and Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine taking Virginia despite a last-minute campaign push for his opponent from President Bush.

[In Virginia,] Kaine had 860,719 votes, or 51 percent, to Kilgore’s 789,273 votes, or 46.8 percent, with 88 percent of precincts reporting.

In New Jersey, Democratic Sen. Jon Corzine trounced Doug Forrester, pulling in 54 percent of the vote to the Republican’s 42.8 percent, with 55 percent of precincts counted. Corzine had 605,915 votes, and Forrester had 480,477.

Poll: Redistricting, Power Grab Props Failing, Others Marginal

Results of SurveyUSA (SUSA) Election Poll:

Prop 73 — Parental Notification

Proposition 73 requires that physicians notify the parent of a pregnant minor at least 48 hours before performing an abortion. If the special election were today, and you were standing in the voting booth right now, would you vote Yes on Proposition 73? Or would you vote No?

Yes 51 (55)
No 47 (44)

Prop 74 — Micromanaging Teachers

Proposition 74 extends the probationary period for new teachers from 2 years to 5 years, and makes it easier to dismiss teachers with unsatisfactory performance evaluations. If the special election were today, would you vote Yes on Proposition 74? Or would you vote No?

Yes 48 (49)
No 51 (50)

Prop 75 — Union Dues

Proposition 75 prohibits public employee unions from using union dues for political purposes without the written consent of union members. If the special election were today, would you vote Yes on Proposition 75? Or would you vote no?

Yes 45 (50)
No 54 (49)

Prop 76 — Arnold’s Power Grab

Proposition 76 limits growth in state spending so that it does not exceed recent growth in state revenues. The Governor would be granted new authority to reduce state spending, [including school funding,] during certain fiscal situations. If the special election were today, would you vote Yes on Proposition 76? Or would you vote no?

Yes 39 (49)
No 59 (49)

Prop 77 — Redistricting

Proposition 77 changes the way California draws boundaries for Congressional and legislative districts. District boundaries would be drawn by a panel of retired judges and approved by voters in a s, Potatewide election. If the special election were today, would you vote Yes on 77? Or would you vote no?

Yes 41 (42)
No 56 (56)

The Mood in California One Day before the Special Election

Make him go away: When Arnold Schwarzenegger entered politics he cast himself as a latter day Ronald Reagan, the actor turned politician who went from governor of California to president of the United States. The flaw in this scenario is that while Arnold may be Reagan’s intellectual equal, he lacks even one-tenth of Ronnie’s political instincts.

California has a high concentration of media-savvy voters, and one gripe pollsters often hear is that Arnold’s stage managed “fake news” events have worn well past thin.

A closer model for the Schwarzenegger governorship would be the Jesse Ventura administration in Minnesota. The former wrestler won the governorship in an upset, only to watch his popularity among voters decline until it all but ceased to exist.

A poll published last week showed that Schwarzenegger’s approval rating is 33 percent (which is three percentage points lower than President Bush). The remnants of Arnold’s credibility hang on the election tomorrow. But even if all four of his initiatives were to win, all it would buy him is another chance to win back a few Independents – the rest of us are lost to him forever.

It is also very unlikely to happen:

Schwarzenegger is backing four out of eight initiatives on the ballot Tuesday in a state that since 1911 has used initiatives as an end-run around its legislature. If approved, the measures would give Schwarzenegger an enormous boost, granting him the power to cut the state’s budget unilaterally and hobbling his biggest foe, organized labor.

But three recent polls, by the Public Policy Institute of California, the Field Research Corporation and the Los Angeles Times, seem to suggest that the governor is headed for a political Judgment Day. Of the four ballot measures Schwarzenegger is backing, only one — [Proposition 74, which seeks to micromanage teacher tenure,] is the weakest in terms of policy consequences — seems primed to pass, according to the polls.

Among those trailing is a measure that would strip the authority from the Democratic-controlled legislature to draw lines for legislative and congressional districts, and shift it to a panel of retired judges…

In California, Democratic Party and union activists — who have outspent Schwarzenegger by tens of millions of dollars in the campaign to defeat his measures — are almost giddy when discussing Tuesday’s vote. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” quipped Gale Kaufman, one of the lead strategists. And then she cackled loudly.

It may be too soon for giddiness – and if just one of the propositions passes we should be prepared for Arnold to take a victory lap around the state.

Not that it will help him much. California has a high concentration of media-savvy voters, and one gripe pollsters hear from them is that Schwarzenegger’s stage managed “fake news” events have worn well past thin.

Reagan, as dim as he was, had a true trouper’s sense of when to reign in the schmaltz. Schwarzenegger cut his teeth as a body builder, which is entertainment mostly played out in front of a mirror. His connection with the public is all show and no heart. He can’t stop preening and flexing his muscles even after the crowd has moved on.

California Props: Just Vote No

Uncomplicate it : “Just Vote No” appears to be the trend that is surging here in California as Tuesday’s vote in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s special election approaches. Of the eight propositions on the ballot, Schwarzenegger is only promoting four, but the election itself is widely unpopular, and there is a growing “pox on all your houses” sentiment among voters that may well lead to the defeat of all the measures.

One of the proponents of “Just Vote No” is state Treasurer Phil Angelides, one of two declared Democratic candidates for governor next year. (The other is state Controller Steve Westly.) Angelides, who has the lead in establishment endorsements, including that of the state’s most popular Dem, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, discussed the campaign on the air on Air America’s “Al Franken Show,” when Franken visited San Luis Obsipbo:

One audience member said the most enlightening part of the show was when Angelides compared Schwarzenegger’s propositions to the federal government.

“It was clear through the discussion how the governor is extending the Bush agenda,” said David Drake, a San Luis Obispo resident and former Cal Poly graduate student.

During his talk with Franken, Angelides said that although Schwarzenegger campaigned as a moderate, he is pushing Bush’s agenda in California.

Angelides compared Proposition 74 — which would lengthen teachers’ probationary time and make it easier to fire them — to the No Child Left Behind Act.

He said those laws front as education reforms but don’t help improve schools.

Proposition 75 — which bars government-employee unions from spending members’ dues for political purposes — weakens working people’s say in government, Angelides said.

He noted it would allow big businesses to continue giving large contributions to politicians.

California Under Assault from Banana Republicans

Steve Lopez:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger insisted we had to have this special election next week. Despite a huge budget deficit, it couldn’t wait until next year, which would have saved millions. It had to be now, because his “reforms” were too vital to delay another minute.

So the governor got his way, ramming the election down our throats. And now what does he want? He wants most of us to stay home next Tuesday.

That’s right, he’d like us to skip the election he called for. Why? Because Big Boy knows the polls say that three of his four reforms are tanking and a fourth is a tossup, so his best chance of winning is to rally conservatives in a state with a vast Democratic majority. Prop. 73 could help his cause, since the parental notification proposal “defines abortion as causing the death of the unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born.”

You’ve heard of democracy run amok? This would be direct democracy run amok, and if Schwarzenegger prevails, I believe California would officially become a banana republic.