Last week, in a conversation about the absence of Tea Party activism in California, a number of my liberal friends got to talking about California's leadership of the country. I recalled an old lesson about leadership from my Air Force Academy days - every now and then the leader needs to look back to see if anybody is following. A few observations about the current state of California politics:
1. The governor and senate races are toss-ups - an accomplishment for Republicans in a state that is 45% Democrat, 31% Republican, and 20 % Independent/other - but Tea Party activists are nowhere to be seen. Steve Poizner (the more conservative Republican) got crushed by Meg Whitman's money in the primary; Chuck Devore (who had national support from some Tea Party leaders) came in a distant third to Carly Fiorina in the senate primary.
2. Of the 53 congressional seats, the split will likely remain 34 Democrat and 19 Republican - the result of extreme gerrymandering to create safe districts for all incumbents. The national tsunami stops at the Nevada border.
3. While the Republicans stand to pick up at least eight governorships nationally, California's accidental Republican governor, Arnold Schwartznegger, may well pass the mantle to a Democrat.
5. A few of the down ticket races are also instructive:
- Democrat San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom of gay marriage and personal infidelity fame is leading in his race against Abel Moldonato for lieutenant governor, despite his association with a "sanctuary city", hundreds of "medicinal marijuana" outlets, and local purchasing rules which violate state laws against preferences for minorities. Rock on.
- Early Obama supporter Democrat San Francisco DA Kamila Harris is competitive for the state AG role (down single digits to Los Angeles DA Steve Cooley), despite total opposition to the death penalty, the lowest conviction rate of any DA in the state, and a series of amateurish scandals in the medical examiner's office.
- And a bit further down the card, Republican Damon Dunn - African American, born dirt poor, Stanford grad, NFL player, dynamic speaker - is still likely to lose the Secretary of State race to Debra Bowen (no relation.)
Interlaced through these campaigns are a relative indifference to public employee pension problems (Democratic governor candidate Jerry Brown's campaign has been led by the unions); a continued desire to lead the country in environmental restrictions; quiet refusal to accept teacher accountability in a feeble Race to the Top application (despite the current bottom-of-the barrel education results); and near-uniform condemnation of Arizona's efforts to curb illegal immigration. With 55% approval ratings, President Obama can continue to enjoy visits to his California ATM.
It would be interesting if national polling data were presented with and without "national leader" California's 38 million "steady as she goes" voters. Fortunately for the nation, nobody is following. I can still hear my old drill sergeant's voice ... "To the rear, ... haarch!"
And a reminder about my new nuclear terrorism thriller, The Target, available in paperback or Kindle formats at Amazon.com and by order from most book stores.