OK, I have to give the bad news that California Republicans just plain sucked in this election cycle. We had barely adequate candidates and it is the one case that the Democrats were right. That there was an anti-incumbent mood in the electorate in this once Golden State.
Some of what made it bad is the trying to look at the mood in the rest of the country, clearly anti-Democrat, and transfer it here. It could not happen as it turns out because the incumbent was a Republican, Governor Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Let me be very clear. The so-called "post-partisan" governor did nothing to improve the lot of the Republican party in this state. Much as Benedict Arnold's hero, former president Richard Nixon, nearly destroyed the Republican party, Benedict Arnold and his lack of focus or sense of ideology has nearly done so here.
There is no real bench in the California Republican party. Sure, we have great national folks in congress like David Dreier, the up-and-coming Kevin McCarthy and veterans like Dan Lungren and the always for the tax payer Tom McClintock. But that is it as far as I can see. Who knows any of the reduced Republicans in the assembly? In the state senate? Who is open about being a Republican in California these days?
But, let me focus on the election and what went wrong there.
Let me be clear about the governor's race. I did vote for Meg Whitman once she became the nominee. But I just did not think she was the best candidate for Republicans in this environment. And I was proved right. So, I will say 'Don't blame me-I voted for Poizner'. I was proven right.
Mrs. Whitman gave no real rationale as the why she wanted to be governor. She did not seem to have a real focus. Any serious ideology. And we know why.
Mrs. Whitman spent $175,000,000 and still lost by about 12% to a has been, Gov-elect Jerry Brown. Well, some of that money, well over $1,200,000 went to incessant polling that proved to be totally wrong. And, paying a political consultant, Republican squish Mike Murphy over $90,000 a month for lousy advice. In other words, Meg Whitman was on her way to being an extension of Gov. Benedict Arnold. And if one does not have a clear vision, this is the end result. And, I have to be honest. Jerry Brown ran a helluva campaign on a lot less money and much more passion. And voters saw that. It also hurt Mrs. Whitman that his team produced a devastating comparison television commercial that put Mrs. Whitman and Gov. Benedict Arnold side by side seemingly saying the same things.
In the case of Meg Whitman, she just thought she could buy an election. And in California, whether one is a Democrat with a lot of money or a Republican, it just does not fly. In the end, Meg Whitman could not buy an election.
And because Mrs. Whitman did not do what she needed to do-run against Gov. Benedict Arnold and his "brand" of Republicanism, she lost.
And that dragged down the whole Republican ticket.
Carly Fiorina did not spend nearly as much to lose, I can not believe I am writing this, to Sen. Ma'am Boxer. And in her defense, she was much more comfortable expressing conservative ideas than Mrs. Whitman. But, again it was the issue I brought up long ago. The 30,000 people laid off at Hewlett-Packard under her leadership. And the fact that she was fired in the end. Yes, Mrs. Fiorina had to make tough decisions as the HP CEO, and in the long run they may have been the right ones. But, it was where Sen. Ma'am Boxer was able to slam Mrs. Fiorina and I think end up the beneficiary of Gov.-elect Brown's win. As all the Democrats in California.
And because California voters were upset with Gov. Benedict Arnold and the fact that, whether he liked it or not, he identified himself as a Republican, the whole party suffered.
And I want to recommend this two part interview with long time California Republican activist and strategist Arnold Steinberg as to what happened in this past election in California.
Part one is mostly a national analysis. But a nugget or two are these points:
FR: Fiorina versus Boxer? Other statewide?
AS: A sad loss. I wish the candidate could have made more news and relied less on paid advertising. How odd to see Sen. Boxer proclaim victory last night and talk about negative campaigning against her. The ads against Fiorina, taking her words out of context on American jobs going abroad, were unfair. Some of the ads against Boxer were overdrawn and not believable, suggesting that all our problems relating to her many years of incumbency. Well, the Attorney General race is close, mainly because Steve Cooley didn’t run much of a campaign. Mediocre television ads. And, if he loses, it’s the pension issue. This should have been a walk.
FR: What about Congressionals? Tran versus Sanchez?
AS: Next to Boxer, I wanted to see Sanchez go. Van Tran was an excellent candidate. I can’t understand why they made it such a Republican campaign, bringing Sarah Palin and party officials into Orange County for a rally. I don’t believe the Republicans in Washington understood this district.
The second part of the interview with Mr. Steinberg was overall a critique of the failed Whitman campaign. And one of the things that Mr. Steinberg says here is what your humble blogger has said all along:
But, she needed to separate herself from Schwarzenegger early-on.
She was adopting the Schwarzenegger rationale for her candidacy, and, once he was in office, he had discredited his own rationale.
Instead of separating herself, she had given the same pitch he had, to be elected.
And as Metallica sung, 'you know its sad but true'!
And I will add that this should send a clear message to California Republicans. Stop going back to the well of former governor Pete Wilson. He is just as much to blame for the overall problems of California as the Gray Era, former governor Gray Davis, and current governor Benedict Arnold.
Now, here is some advice to California Republicans. And one is where I will try to take a personnel role.
People need to stop the damn whining and get involved in the nuts and bolts. You know, party central committees. In California there is assembly district, county committees and state committees. Conservatives need to get in and get dirty. Many do but not enough.
We need to get the Republican party into the very places that we do not get votes but really can. I do not mean, oh like San Francisco. I mean areas that are say Hispanic but middle-class. Black and middle-class. Asian and middle-class. There are so many of these places that the party writes off before election campaigns ever begin. These are where the voters are. These are people that do not know the truth about the real principles of the Republican party. They get their info from their 861st generation Democrat relatives. And a media that is not wanting to be down the middle but sycophants for the liberal Democrat establishment that overwhelms the party at all levels. We can not keep thinking Orange County will save the state GOP. It can only get so large in a county that is under 1,000 square miles. Nor a Central Valley that continues economic hemorrhaging and thus flight. And yes, it is a long-term project. It will take several election cycles. But it needs to be done and yesterday.
Those that ran like Mrs. Whitman, Mrs. Fiorina, and others like John Colbert for the California 29th congressional district and Alvaro Day for the California assembly 44th district need to stay in the game. They need to write op-eds, give speeches, be a shadow on the Democrat party. They can not just slither off into the night. While I have my qualms with Mrs. Whitman, she can build up cred and run for office again. Maybe not governor or senator but a lower-level office like controller or treasurer. I have grown to like Mrs. Fiorina and think that if she stays involved in the arena, she may be able to make another big run. And for Messrs Colbert and Day, they are what is needed to create a bench in the California Republican party. Maybe one or both can run for a city council or a school board. It is a great way to get involved and put ideas in practicality. And in California, those offices are non-partisan. And with the new way primaries will be run, the top two go to the general, it may be a way forward for men like these. And women too.
Our party must stand in contrast and yes, conflict with the Democrat party. If we do not agree with their ideas, we have to say so and run on the principles of less government, true individual freedom, personal responsibility, lower taxes, creative ideas not tried and true failures.
To go back a few years, Ronald Reagan ran that way against Pat Brown, Jerry's father. He won. And yes, he was forced to raise taxes. But he ended up getting the first welfare reform of any consequence in the United States at the time. Mr. Reagan did not waver from the principles of what he believed. He had to meander off the trail every now and then, but it was always focused on the long term. Oh yes, and he became president and governed there the same way.
It can and must be done.
We can not listen to the consultants and the pundits. Look at what happened across the United States. And yes, despite Republican losses here in California, conservative ideas won. We have to connect the two. We can not end up being like the Republican party in Massachusetts or New York state. We must work hard, yet smart. We must have people become part of our party and ideas that never thought they were before. There is no magic wand. Or all the money in the world to make that happen.
Just ask Meg Whitman.