For the first time in a long time, the California Republican Party is on fire. Fielding big-name (and less well known) candidates who actually have a wide spectrum of appeal, if the GOP plays its cards right, it may soon have another Republican governor and a Republican Senator.
Only one year ago, the thought of Republican Senators from California seemed absurd. Longtime Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) were seen as entirely entrenched leaders, immune to realistic challenges, and the GOP knew it, rarely offering candidates able to bridge the divide and appeal to a wide swath of independent/liberal-leaning voters. Today, Senator Barbara Boxer is up for reelection, and the odds of her getting reelected aren’t looking good. Amazingly, even the brass at the left-leaning Los Angeles Times couldn’t find the strength to hold their noses and throw lukewarm support behind Boxer or any of the Democratic candidates for the Senate.
In the May 7 edition, the LA Times made a point of “choosing not to choose” when it came time for early endorsements. The editorial made a point of criticizing candidates not only of the conservative persuasion, but of the liberal as well. “We Californians voted ourselves into many of the problems we face today, but it’s hard to believe that we deserve these dismal choices for the state’s top elected offices,” the scathing and surprisingly neutral piece opines. The piece did have a light at the end of the tunnel for state Insurance Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner (who, the editorial notes, was endorsed by the LA Times in 2006). The editorial also notes that “his brand of pragmatic conservatism … (reflecting) a Silicon Valley spirit of entrepreneurialism, public service, economic responsibility and social liberalism” are promising tools for a 2010 gubernatorial victory.
However, the paper tempers this positive support with concern that in his desire to win over a conservative base, his focus on illegal immigration, “state employees, human service recipients, and all the rest of the right’s imagined evildoers” could cost him in politically flexible votes: “If he has latched onto them (the aforementioned “negative focuses”) as part of a cynical bid for political advancement, we can’t support him now.” Whitman need not worry extensively about whether or not the LA Times backs her campaign: she is busy enough racking up plenty of unequivocal endorsements of her own. In campaign updates to her supporters from Tuesday, May 4 through Friday, May 7, Whitman wrote proudly of her additional endorsements from The New Majority California, the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of California, the Associated Builders and Contractors of California and the Long Beach Press-Telegram. The chairman of the Associated Builders and Contractors of America, Chris Lang, stated that Whitman “is committed to helping small businesses and she has a plan to keep our state at the forefront of economic development.”
Whitman also made history on May 4, when she racked up a first-of-its-kind endorsement. The Chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of California, Richard Loa, informed the public that the organization was giving the first endorsement Republican National Hispanic Assembly of California “has ever made in a California governor’s race.” Loa added his belief that Whitman “can address two of the principle concerns of the Latino community — jobs and education — and she has a plan to make California’s government more efficient and fiscally responsible.”
Regardless of clear endorsements and non-endorsements such as those of the LA Times, both Poizner and Whitman continue to batter one another on the airwaves, each attempting to one-up the other when it comes to proving who is the true ‘liberal’ in conservative’s clothing. In a state not known for its widespread conservative views, Poizner and Whitman would do best to focus on their positive achievements, their plans for turning around the ailing state economy, and how they have shown themselves to be effective bipartisan and pragmatic leaders.