Thursday, October 17, 2002

California Dreamin'

Two Op-Ed pieces today -- one from each side of the political aisle -- highlight the tight California gubernatorial campaign. From the Left, screenwriter Clancy Sigal in the New York Times (where else?) laments the choice between Democrat Gray Davis and Republican Bill Simon. Sigal compares Davis to a "Capone-era Chicago alderman" for his aggressive fundraising and cites Davis' mishandling of the state's energy crisis. But Sigal also calls Simon "doltish," and argues that he would have vetoed good bills that Davis signed, namely family leave law and mandatory mediation labor rights to farm workers. Democrats will have to hold their noses if they vote for Davis, and a significant number of them may vote for Green candidate, Peter Camejo, handing the election to Simon. The Left will have a hard time of it in California.

In the Washington Post, George Will predicts that Simon will win if the race is a dead heat 10 days before the election, making Davis the first California governor in 60 years to be denied a second term. Should Simon pull off the victory it will be in spite of Davis' calculated attempt to help him defeat the more popular Richard Riordan in the GOP primary and Simon's subsequent campaign gaffes. A GOP victory would also owe much to Davis' reputation for "monomaniacal" fundraising and mismanagement of electricity, water, and infrastructure crises. Finally, Simon enjoys the support of Rudy Giuliani and the benefit of an old GOP slogan in California -- "Had Enough?" -- dating back to 1946 and revived by another rookie named Ronald Reagan in 1966. Simon isn't attracting Democrats, but he's attracting a larger percentage of Republicans than Davis is Democrats. This is important in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 1.5 million and where George W. Bush fared as poorly as Bob Dole in their respective presidential bids.

Looks like this one will go down to the wire.


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