Has Schwarzenegger Re-elected Senator Boxer?
Republicans must chooseRosario Marin as their candidate
A white male Republican with no national experience cannot unseat Senator Barbara Boxer in 2004, even in post-recall, still liberal California. Last weekend Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger, seemingly obtuse to that simple political reality, endorsed Bill Jones, ex-California Secretary of State and repeat political loser, as his recommended Republican candidate to run against Barbara Boxer in November.
Published on LatinoLA: January 24, 2004
All across California, the mostly pro-Democrat media, perhaps wishfully so, immediately anointed Mr. Jones as the "front-runner" on the Republican side. They may have called it correctly on this precipitate action by Arnold, which violates decades of GOP tradition. Sadly, though, it might have turned off tens of thousands of Latino Republicans who had, up until now, been excited about supporting, along with their Party, a potentially winning Latino candidacy in the Senate race. Except that now their Party seemed to be telling them who their candidate was to be!
By this politically illogical decision, the Governor has confirmed his ascendancy into the ranks of California GOP ideologues and true-believers who would rather be right than see Republicans in office. The California GOP establishment has dredged up as the potential anti-Boxers a pair of white male non-urban electoral has-beens with anti-Bush characteristics and "conservative" trappings ala California (unelectable!). An also-ran is a nice, white, female ex-small town mayor/minor D.C. bureaucrat named Tony Casey whose credentials south of the Tehachapis are nil.
Only the other prominent Republican candidate for the Senate, the Honorable Rosario Marin, appointed Treasurer of the United States by President George W. Bush, has a realistic potential of beating Barbara Boxer in November. Does this play the ethnic card? Absolutely! Is this a good idea where Boxer is concerned? Absolutely!
Boxer is a fanatically pro-abortion official "hero" of what was NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League, now "Pro-Choice America"). As a Marin County Jewish multi-millionaire, considered by many as one of the most liberal senators in Washington, her possible insensitivity to and questionable understanding of California's ethically diverse, mostly urban population, has never been questioned by the array of "Anglo" males that have run against her in the past. Exploiting this free ride, she has allowed California liberal Democrats always to complete the job of electing her; thanks to the GOP ineptitude in selecting competent and exciting opponents for her seat.
Ms. Marin is an immigrant, Hispanic, a mother, a distinguished public servant experienced for years at the local, state and national level, and a proven supporter of the President and his policies. She is pro-choice, articulate, with mature judgement and makes a most attractive candidate on the stump.
Ms. Marin, as a "minority" female, will give liberal Democrat Boxer pause as to how to attack her. Her urban experience and her small local government background is not duplicable on Boxer's wealthy suburban matron's resume. Her links to the Bush White House in terms of bringing federal support to California have been non-existent to California for years. Overall, Boxer cannot trash Marin on any issue with impunity. They share, like it or not, certain natural constituencies. Marin's candidacy against Boxer, unlike that of the other Republicans, is uniquely less vulnerable.
So how did the California GOP powers-that-be get into the fix they are in, ignoring Marin and backing two assured losers like Jones and Howard Kaloogian, immigrant bashing ex-Assemblyman (backed by Ron Prince, father of Proposition 187!)? What were they thinking when Governor Arnold's new post-recall buddy, 187-pusher Pete Wilson, linked his electoral arms with self-styled conservative rancher, Bill Jones, thus throwing a giant shadow on the possibility of Jones getting a significant Latino vote against Boxer? And what's good old George Duekmajian doing hobnobbing with these erstwhile political geniuses?
We may never know the whole truth. Rosario Marin is not a long-term card-carrying California GOP "conservative." So is she being "ignored" or overtly avoided in getting support from the GOP old-boy network? Does her gender or ethnicity condemn her to benign neglect by the cojones-challenged GOP "safe" players, hesitant to support her openly, even at the cost of six more Boxer years? God save us, she embodies the "i" word--an immigrant! How could she be our standard bearer? After Arnold, maybe the system cannot stand two in a row!
How this movie-like drama will play out is still up for grabs. There is still time for California Republican voters to decide if they want a shot at Boxer in November by choosing the non-formula candidate like Marin--or do they want to repeat their past primary behavior and let the Democrats again clean their clock in November?
One thing they may wish to consider is that Barbara Boxer has several megabucks already in the till ($5 Mil per the San Francisco Chronicle), ready to spend on ads trashing the sure-to-be colorless, ultra-conservative, anti-abortion, anti-affirmative-action, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-fun and very male GOP'er which the Democrats are almost sure will be sacrificed to them by the doctrinaire Republicans.
Further, still smarting from the humiliation of losing the Governor's office to Arnold, the California Democrats are as motivated as can be to keep Barbara Boxer in the Senate. Nationally, the Party is facing other possible Senatorial losses; Terry McAuliffe, DNC honcho, if he survives the presidential primaries, will do anything and everything possible to keep this precious Senate seat in Democrat hands. Boxer's opponent in November better be as politically strong and invulnerable a candidate as the California GOP can find.
One can only hope that wiser heads will now prevail at CAGOP headquarters in Burbank and, indeed, at the Karl Rove subsidiary ranch at 1600 Pennsylvania, whipping out with dollars and other support for the very electable Ms. Marin. The hypocrisy of the past of "no pre-primary endorsement" of a major candidate by the Party or the White House has been "outed" by Arnold's contempt for that allegedly inviolate tradition, through his incomprehensible endorsement of Mr. Jones.
On the wild assumption that Team Bush-Cheney 2004 is still going for and considers winnable all of California's electoral votes, can anyone postulate a defendable political rationale for not tying that campaign to an all-out Rosario Marin Senate campaign, thus double-teaming on getting independent voter, small-business, Asian and Latino votes for Bush-Cheney-Marin? Does anybody really believe, including our friends at 1600, that the half-ass "non-amnesty" project of the President's will produce more California Latino Bush votes in November than an enthusiastic support of a fine lady who could be the first Latino in the Senate since Dennis Chavez of New Mexico was elected in 1935?
For those Bill Jones or Howard Kaloogian or Tony Casey supporters who see this article as crass use of the ethnic card by an opinionated Marin supporter, perhaps they can offer a rational rebuttal that has Boxer-defeating potential. These are all decent, reputable Republicans, meriting support in most elective situations--except where Barbara Boxer is involved. Even a do-nothing Senator like Boxer will find viable modes of attack on such inviting targets like the rank beginner, Ms. Casey, or the inviting white-bread ideologues like Kaloogian or Jones. (Neither of these men even has a clean-cut pro-Bush posture!)
Couple their obvious issue vulnerability in a liberal state like California with the high priority that the national Democrats have placed on this re-election race for Boxer and there just is no room for error or miscalculation by the California GOP. Perhaps rank and file Republican voters on March 2, will see what the GOP leadership, including Governor Arnold, are seemingly oblivious to.
Aside from some incredibly vital Proposition decisions to be made, the March 2 Senatorial primary will offer Republican Californians a chance at again having one of their own representing them in the United States Senate. But they must choose Rosario Marin as their candidate, dropping GOP old-guard tradition on candidacies for a common-sense potential of winning the seat.
In electing Arnold, California showed a willingness to deviate from the expected when circumstances dictated it. Dumping the nay-saying anti-anything-Bush Ms. Boxer has to be almost as attractive to California Republicans as dumping Gray Davis was in October 2003. Tuesday night, March 2, will reveal if political wisdom has led the California GOP in its first step in that direction, picking a viable opponent to Boxer like Rosario Marin.
Fernando Oaxaca is a long-term conservative and community activist in Los Angeles. He has made no contributions to or has any connections whatsoever with any political campaign. He receives e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.