Walking Backwards In Indian Wells
In 2006, the Schwarzenegger campaign uncorked an ad almost immediately after the primaries showing Phil Angelides walking backwards, the assumption being that he would take the state backwards as well. One of the ads liberally quoted Angelides' rival for the Democratic nomination, Steve Westly, using the bruising primary against the winner. “What if Steve Westly was right?” the announcer says, after citing Westly's rhetoric in claiming that Angelides favored $10 billion in new taxes. Steve Westly wrote most of Arnold Schwarzenegger's early strategy and even his campaign spots, as Angelides was defined by his opponent swiftly.
Steve Poizner basically bestowed the same gift on eMeg Whitman over the weekend. The ads about Whitman's failure to register to vote for 28 years write themselves, but Poizner took the liberty of making the ad. If Republicans know how to do one thing well, it's go hard negative, and this ad will probably be very effective to the GOP primary audience. It will also be effective as a "here's what Republicans say about Meg Whitman" ad next year, should see prevail in the primary. Poizner actually reiterated his call for Whitman to drop out of the race "for the good of the party" over the weekend at the Republican convention in Indian Wells. The issue received major pickup throughout the media.
And Whitman did herself no favors at all with some of the worst damage control you'll see in politics, as she repeated like a mantra this line about how "there is no excuse for my voting record," completely avoiding any specifics about why. If she manages to win the primary, expect to hear this audio right through to next November. It's cringe-worthy.
I'm guessing the Republican Governor's Association just tried to pull back their invitation to Meg Whitman to come to any of their gala events.
This is terrible crisis management, of course. And it suggests that the general election would be no kinder on eMeg. But it's not like the split in the US Senate race, with serial non-voter Carlyfornia going up against wingnut conservative Chuck DeVore (The LA Times gets this wrong by trying to impose a blanket comparison). The Yacht Party grassroots has figured out that they have no candidate in the Republican primary, and regardless of who wins they probably won't be all that excited to work for the top of the ticket.
For activists such as Mike Spence, past president of the conservative California Republican Assembly, such centrist talk inspires unease following what they said was Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's betrayal of the Republican base.
Spence called the Republican governor a failure and blasted him for breaking his promises to conservatives by, among other things, approving the biggest tax increase in state history earlier this year. Schwarzenegger has also championed traditionally liberal causes such as Assembly Bill 32, which requires the state to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by about 25 percent by 2020.
"After the governor, people are cautious about who they support," Spence said.
Of course, this could be true of the Democratic grassroots as well, depending on circumstances. I think the only certainty in next year's elections will be the low turnout, as a slice of both sides stay home for their own reasons. But the Yacht Party's cast of characters look particularly uninspiring.