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Friday, January 22, 2010

The next political earthquake: California

Massachusetts isn't as true blue as many people think. That's one of the lessons driven home by the Brown upset.

One of the lessons I've repeatedly tried to drive home is this: There's a lot more red in California than non-Californians understand. We voted for Reagan, we voted for Schwarzenegger, we voted for Prop 8. The car radio tells the story: Once you drive outside of Los Angeles or San Francisco, there's nothing on the air but Limbaugh, George Noory, Mexican music (lots of Mexican music) and the Jesusland Jingle Hour.

Right now, we have two female Democratic senators. Dianne Feinstein is, well, pretty conservative. Barbara Boxer is the real deal. Not perfect, but she has stuck her neck way out there on enough occasions to gain my respect. The right has always felt a truly visceral loathing toward Boxer.

So how has she managed to keep her seat? For unfathomable reasons, the Republicans have always run stiffs against her. They may have a live one in place for the next election -- this year.

One possible opponent will be Carly Fiorina, who will run on a platform of fiscal conservatism, job creation and moderation on social issues. That's an attractive combo in California. On the other hand, the main item on her resume is her not-terribly-successful stint as CEO of Hewlitt-Packard, where she laid off 28,000 people, outsourced their jobs, and pocketed a $28 million "golden parachute."

Chuck Devore, the State Assembly rep from Orange County, scares me. In his own way, he too is the real deal: He's a militarist who has established a record of battling Schwarzenegger from the right. He comes from a defense and aerospace consulting firm called SM&A, which sounds kind of kinky. Essentially, they are experts in helping firms acquire DOD contracts, and I'm sure they would love to have one of their former executives in the Senate. Am I the only one getting a "Duke Cunningham" vibe from all of this? (Note to self: Check this guy's contributors...)

Former Congressman Tom Campbell has the greatest name recognition, which is why he does best in current polls against Boxer. He's ten points down, 48% to 38%. (Keep in mind Scott Brown's numbers.) He's considered a moderate Republican -- which means that he is considered a libertarian in all but party identification. He supports gay rights and unbridled laissez-faire. During the Kosovo crisis, he established what some will call an anti-war record. These things should make him somewhat popular, or at least not hated, with the big money Hollywood crowd. I don't think his previous loss to Feinstein will matter much in 2010.

Boxer is 70. She seems to have a lot of fight left in her, but this next election is the toughest one she has faced in ages.

Obama won California by over 6o%, but since taking office, he has extended the middle finger to this bleeding state -- even though Californians have, for decades, sent in far more federal tax dollars than we have received in goods and services. (The red states of the midwest and Bible belt, by contrast, are leeches.) We will remember. Obama's approval rating was at 56% before the Massachusetts upset; I expect it to dip below 50% within a few months. The California vote is not a lock for the Dems in 2012.

Some liberals -- including myself -- cheered Scott Brown because we wanted to send a message to Obama and the "new" Democratic party. Message sent.

But how far do we want to take this? I don't want to lose Barbara Boxer. Yeah, she has occasionally voted in ways that I don't like. But, in general, I would say that she is one the best in the Senate. Why? Here's why. And here's why.

She contested the certification of Ohio's votes in 2004.

She voted against the authorization of force in Iraq.

She has one of the best environmental records in the history of the Senate.

She has taken real steps to replace free trade with fair trade. She wrote an amendment to give tax advantages to to companies that keep jobs in America and tax penalties to those companies which ship jobs overseas. The contrast to Fiorina could not be more stark. Alas, I'm continually stunned by the voting public's willingness to be bamboozled by "free trade" politicians who want to ship out American jobs.

She has one of the best environmental records in the history of the Senate.

She fights hard for unemployment benefits in California and elsewhere:
Extending unemployment insurance also will help stimulate the economy. Every $1 spent on unemployment benefits generates $1.61 in new economic demand.
Oh...and the Hillary voters may want to note that Boxer's daughter married into Hillary's family.

I know that many disaffected Democrats want to punish the party for its gutless congressional behavior over the past three years, for its kowtowing to Wall Street and the health insurance industry, and for its death-grip embrace of a cult of personality centered around a Chicago huckster. But in our zeal to punish, are we going to abandon principle?
Comments:
I live in the solid red Central Valley of California.

My congressman is a blue-dog (Cardoza) and his predecessor (Condit) was one of the original BD's. The districts to the north and south of mine are solidly in GOP hands.

Our last Democratic Governor (Gray Davis)was recalled and we had two two-term GOPer's between him and Jerry Brown.
 
I voted against Feinstein in 2006, but that's because she voted wrong too many times. Boxer votes right almost every time, but I must send a message to the Democrats in Washington, and my vote against Pelosi will be a lost message. She'll be elected with or without my vote. Boxer on the other hand is now in play, and I want to vote against the Democrats in Washington. If Boxer is the sacrificial lamb, so be it. But continue to talk about it -- maybe you'll convince me.
 
If you can squeeze the time in you should listen to John and Ken on KFI-AM 640 radio. I think they are the number one rated talk show program in the Los Angeles and surrounding markets.

Even though it appears they are ultra conservative, they actually are ultra too many people from government wanting more and more stuff year after year.

I thought your article was going to be about how the growth of pension obligations may cause California even bigger problems as time goes on.

I thought your story might focus on the overly lavish and bought out lifestyle many CA politicians appear to be enjoying.

Instead your article is about, oh no, some of the overspending politicians who do it to curry favor from their constituents might lose their upcoming contests.
 
I am concerned about the atmosphere that has sprung up around some liberal blogs that are now pushing ahead with GOP themes and talking points. Like the years between 2001 and 2009 under the Repubs never happened.

Brown may be a "protest symbol" overall, but the simple fact that his proposed candidacy for president is now being pushed and considered when he has yet to be sworn in is frankly disturbing.

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater, in this case Boxer, may have dangerous repurcussions that may go unexamined in a rush to find an opponent to unseat Obama.

I may not like Obama but I am less than willing to take a chance on some Right Wing religious agenda that exists in most of the possible candidates coming from the Right.
 
I've sent Boxer money and will again. She's one of the best we have in the Senate. Not perfect, but pretty good. Any state that could take the raping administered by Enron and then install its (Enron's) friend as the Gubenator is capable of all kinds of political self-mutilation. Good luck!
 
I hope to hell you lose Boxer, Mr. "Scott Brown is a message" cheerleader.

In fact, I will cheer Carly on. See how you like it.

How far do we want to take this indeed. Let me put it this way. Scott Brown cheerleaders are going to rue the day they took glee in this devastating loss to the people of Massachusetts. He's the GOP's male answer to Palin, so he's soon gonna be everyone's problem, him and his vapid American Idol daughter.
 
But in our zeal to punish, are we going to abandon principle?

Yes. Unless the principle is inchoate rage. Then no.

XI
 
I agree with you on Senator Boxer, Joseph. She was one of the few who stood up occasionally against the Bush 43 administration. I am voting against incumbents, unless a Congress-critter is exceptional. I would put Senator Boxer in that category. I can't vote for her but do send donations. If Californians are angry (and who could blame them), there are better (worse) incumbents to throw out.

djmm
 
If she puts DISTANCE between her and the ultra right wing policies of Obama, I'll take your advice under advisement.

By DISTANCE I mean DISTANCE
 
Boxer would be huge loss -- she's the real anti-corporate deal. As far as anyone can be in the corporate state. RE: Coakley -- horrific campaigner, uninspired career at every level. Brown is a Mass version of W; feisty, slack-jawed, dim, bigoted and pliable. Perfect front for the T-bags...
 
Dunno anymore. I used to admire Boxer a lot. But then again, I admired Coakley too - before being coopted by the machine, she spoke against war, for single payer, against women's rights being chipped by HCR. It's when she betrayed all of it she lost me (and the voters). Barbara was part of that infamous agreement on HCR - Nelson amendment. It hurt me greatly - because I expected better from her.
I don't have a vote here, but Schumer, Gillibrand will not get votes from me for that very reason.
 
Cannon, you are so correct in your analysis of California. It's practically impossible to get in ESPN radio out here in the Red boonies!

Seriously, Boxer is in trouble. I am still very upset about her tripping all over herself to support BO in '08, but she's solid on the liberal agenda, and to lose her seat to the enemy would be baaad.
 
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