Senate Witness Protection
In case you missed it, the three Republicans vying to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer took part in a face-to-face debate last night — significant in that it was the first time all three were in the same room, on the same stage, at the same time.
Part of me wonders: what do Californian Republicans have against ice hockey? Last Sunday’s gubernatorial debate coincided with the second game of the San Jose Sharks/Detroit Red Wings series (literally, down the street, as both events took place in downtown San Jose). Last night’s Senate debate coincided with game four of the series, in Detroit.
Think this has something to do with the healthcare? Republicans hate Obamacare and Canadian healthcare . . . so, by default, they must hate Canada’s favorite past-time.
Or maybe it’s as simple as unfortunate timing — and a good argument for getting a DVR (not that the Senate debate was televised anywhere last night; it will be aired Sunday statewide on local ABC stations).
As for the GOP primary, the emerging this week was electability, at the expense of ideological purity.
First there was there the California Pro-Life Council’s surprise endorsement of Carly Fiorina — a surprise in that the choice wasn’t the more conservative Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.
The rationale: “Our duty is to elect pro-life candidates,”said CPLC board member Mike Spence. “The world ‘elect’ is as important as the word pro-life.”
Translation: we’re tired of losing to Boxer, and we think Fiorina has a better chance of changing that.
But what to make of Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Fiorina, which occurred thisweek? The former Alaska governor chalked it up to Fiorina being “a commonsense conservative that California needs and our country could sure use in these trying times.”
Translation: unclear, as it’s such a benign statement.
Still, I wonder if Palin’s decision not to go with DeVore shows that the right — well, at least one of the leading voices of the right — is willing to settle for a little less purity in its litmus tests if it means better results come November.
If so, this is a huge advantage for Fiorina, in that “electability” is not a great message for a candidate in an ideological primary — given the choice of winning or sticking to beliefs, a great many conservatives will take the Goldwater road.
But by having third parties such Palin and the CPLC put the issue in play, it bolster’s Fiorina’s candidacy — and allows her to stay out of the tall weeds of absolute ideological rigidity that GOP candidates oft-times find hard to navigate.
With only a month until votes are cast, none of the three candidates has much of a television presence — nothing remotely close to the big-bucks shootout between Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. So endorsements like these, plus whoever of the three contenders has the resources and organization to make a final push, could be the difference.
And that bodes well for Fiorina.
The bottom line in this less visible primary: one of these three candidates has a chance to go to Washington and serve in the United States Senate.
The other two contenders also have a future in Washington: teaching the FBI a thing or two about witness protection.