Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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California GOP’s Woes: Stars or Selves?

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It’s been two weeks since the election, votes are still being counted in California’s attorney general’s race, but otherwise here’s the face of Republican misery in the Golden State:

— Double-digit losses in both the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races;

— Not a single Republican elected to a statewide constitutional office (that may change, depending on the outcome of the Cooley-Harris contest for attorney general, but otherwise it’s a repeat of the California GOP’s top-to-bottom meltdown in 2002);

— No obvious next-in-line candidate to take a stab at the 2012 Senate race of a 2014 rematch with Jerry Brown (yes, I know the governor-elect is telling friends he’s gone after one term; still, the only way I can see Jerry leaving office before he finishes two terms is if they carry him out of the Horseshoe on a shield).

— The ignominy of a poor showing (you know it’s rough when Fox calls your top races 30 seconds after the polls close) while the rest of the nation was experiencing its second Republican “revolution” in the last 16 years.

— The Republican Governors Association meet in San Diego this week, then adjourn to the governors’ and governors’-elect 29 or 30 home states, depending on the outcome in Minnesota. For out-of-state Republicans, the definition of “nice place to visit, but . . .”

All of which begs this question for California Republicans, and it’s something of a Shakespearean question: to quote Cassius speaking to Brutus, does the fault lie in the stars or in ourselves?

The argument for the stars not aligned: there are approximately 2.3 million more registered Democrats than registered Republicans; the Golden State is more friendly to Obama and Obamacare; cap-ad-trade is not a wedge issue; and Arnold Schwarzenegger seems more interested in dressing down his party than building it up.

The argument that it’s the GOP’s own fault: start with second-guessing Meg Whitman’s and Carly Fiorina’s choices, toss in the party’s penchant for intramural squabbling that leaves primary “winners” bloodied and bruised heading into the general election, you have a sure-fire formula for repeat failure.

This debate won’t end anytime soon –at least, not until a statewide Republican candidate finds a way to crack the code.

But here’s one way to look at the 2010 election and the supposedly impregnable progressive, Democratic fortress that is California.

1) Proposition 19, legalizing recreational marijuana use. Should be a done deal in a left-of-center state. It lost.

2) Proposition 21, creating an $18 fee to fund state parks. Progressive touchy-feely, hug-a-tree politics. It lost.

3) Proposition 24, ending tax breaks for businesses. Should’ve passed because Blue California hates Corporate California. It lost.

4) Proposition 25, lowering state budget passage to simple majority votes. It passed. Big break for Democrats . . . but only possible because the “yes” campaign made it a referendum on “punishing” the Legislature.

5) Proposition 26, elevating new fees from a majority to two-thirds votes. Big conservative idea. It passed (and could end up leaing environmentalists a little green around the gills).

6) Proposition 27, killing both Prop 21 and 2008’s redistricting reform. Big wish for Nancy Pelosi, It tanked.

What this suggests is, to the extent that Republicans have any success in California, they have far more success with ideas than individuals. Something for the state GOP to think about as it looks up at the stars . . . and wonders who out there has political star power.


Written by Bill Whalen

November 17, 2010 at 8:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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