Governor Dianne Feinstein?—The Horror!
March 13, 2009, 04:00 AM
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In my last two columns (here and here), I`ve thoroughly raked California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger over the coals for his failure to recognize the twin threats that illegal immigration and predatory banking represented to the state.

But there remains a single good news nugget about Schwarzenegger that I failed to mention.

In 2010, Schwarzenegger terms out. A California Governor can only serve two terms.

A long list of potential candidates stands in the wings to take Schwarzenegger`s place.

For some, their chances are so remote that they will certainly drop out early on. But either of two Democratic survivors versus a new GOP face may present Californians with a curious choice.

Let`s look at some of the most likely to throw their hat into the ring and assess their chances.

  • Steve Poizner, Republican, 500-1. Poizner holds California`s least sexy elected office: insurance commissioner. Even though Poizner has been campaigning for several months, no one knows outside of policy wonks know who he is. Poizner`s official website doesn`t mention immigration.
  • Lt. Governor John Garamendi, Democrat, 400-1. Garamendi has Poizner`s problem: Californians don`t recognize him. That`s too bad because, in fact, he`s one of Sacramento`s more engaging politicians. Garamendi owns a 1,000-acre ranch in the Sierra Nevada foothills where he raises Black Angus cattle.

But Lt. Governor is a bad place from which to launch a campaign. Disgraced former Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante had higher name recognition than Garamendi, but that didn`t save Bustamante from being buried by Schwarzenegger in the 2003 special Recall Gray Davis election. (Bonus points to any VDARE.COM reader who can tell me where Bustamante is doing today and what he`s doing. Answer at end of article!)

  • Tom Campbell, Republican, odds: 400-1. Campbell is better known on Capitol Hill than in California.

Campbell, who served five non-consecutive Congressional terms, lost to Dianne Feinstein in his 2000 bid to become U.S. Senator. His biggest albatross is that, as Schwarzenegger`s former budget director, Campbell has a lot of explaining to do about his role in the state`s current crisis.

Campbell has always been terrible on immigration. While in Congress, his grade was "F".

Say "San Francisco" anywhere outside the Bay Area and Californians think sanctuary city where violent illegal aliens can find safe harbor, gay marriage and California`s least affordable city. The concept of San Francisco just does not play well outside the city`s limits.

I don`t care what you may read to the contrary or how much you hear about the "influential" Hispanic vote, Villaraigosa will not be California`s next governor

Villaraigosa has Newsom`s image problems multiplied by ten. Exactly what platform would Villaraigosa run on: how effectively he`s managed the city, how brilliantly he`s restored educational excellence to Los Angeles` school system or how his moral code can serve as an inspiration to Californians?

Los Angeles is a crime-pit controlled by the country`s most violent gangs. The Los Angeles Unified School District, which Villaraigosa tried unsuccessfully to take over, is hopeless. And Villaraigosa`s long, public adulterous affair would be a nagging problem in a drawn-out campaign.

When you add to Villaraigosa`s problems his MEChA-driven ethnic identity politics, his unimpressive re-election earlier this month, Los Angeles` sprawl, its traffic congestion, the city`s notorious disinterest in politics (in last June`s state primary elections — primaries are the first crucial gubernatorial hurdle — just 14 percent of the Los Angeles County adults who were eligible to vote cast ballots), it`s impossible to envision what platform he would campaign on.

Two previous LA mayors who tried to bump up to governor—Tom Bradley and Richard Riordan— were derailed largely because voters associated them unfavorably with Los Angeles.

The inescapable conclusion is that Villaraigosa`s gubernatorial prospects are dim, at best.

Among voters, Whitman isn`t well known yet. But eBay, the company that created her billion-dollar wealth, is. VDARE.COM contributor Rob Sanchez told me that Whitman`s riches were, in part, earned off the sweat of cheap labor. When I asked Rob how many H-1B visas eBay employs, he answered: "A lot!"

Whitman has a ton of problems. Not only is she a political rookie, Whitman has been a Republican for less than two years.

And until the idea of becoming California`s governor struck her, Whitman demonstrate little interest in politics.

Records from her home San Mateo County showed that Whitman didn`t vote in more than half the federal, state and local elections since 2002 including every primary vote since along with such important GOP elections as the 2003 recall that ousted Davis and the 2005 special election that Schwarzenegger had billed as crucial to reform California`s government. [Whitman Boosts Her GOP Credentials, by John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, September 4, 2008]

Still, the Republicans have to nominate someone. And as of today, Whitman is the GOP candidate creating the most buzz. But if Republicans think that a political neophyte—no matter how much money she has— could beat an experienced Democrat, they`re whistling past the graveyard.

  • Jerry Brown, Attorney General, former governor and former Oakland mayor, Democrat, 6-1.

Here`s where it gets interesting. Brown has experience, name recognition, charisma, money and campaigning skills.

Since Brown`s previous terms in office are not covered by the term limits that came into effect in 1990, he is not barred from running for Governor again.  He recently admitted that he`s "plotting" about how to get back to Sacramento.

Brown`s political resume is long and he could appeal to a large voter base, especially in this motley field. Brown`s career spans terms on the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees (1969-1971), as California Secretary of State (1971-1975), as Governor of California (1975-1983), as chair of the California Democratic Party (1989-1991), the Mayor of Oakland (1998-2006), and the Attorney General of California (2007-present).

Notice that depending on where he`s stumping, Brown`s curriculum vitae conveniently allows him to be "from" either northern or southern California.

Even though Brown unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nominations in 1976, 1980, and 1992, and was also an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 1982, losing to Pete Wilson, he`s an effective campaigner.

Brown can point disgruntled voters to two prudent incidents that would resonate with today. After being elected governor, Brown declined to host an Inaugural Ball and dinner, choosing instead to take an intimate group to Man Fook Low, a Los Angeles Chinese restaurant. And while governor, Brown refused to ride in chauffer-driven in a limousine. Brown got around Sacramento either on foot or in his 1974 Plymouth sedan.

And in 1971—long before they became the pariahs they are today— Brown sued oil companies for illegal campaign donations.

On immigration, Brown has shown some indications of awareness. As our James Fulford wrote, "Brown has gotten saner as he`s gotten older."

Feinstein represents the big "if" in the governor`s race. "If" she chooses to run, Feinstein would be the favorite, according to the Field Poll that put her "favorable" rating among Californians at 50 percent. 

But "if" Feinstein stays in the Senate, then Brown jumps into the lead. [Feinstein An Early Favorite For California Governor, KCBS, March 5, 2009]

Here`s a four-part scenario: 

  • For Feinstein and Whitman, neither of whom has officially declared themselves candidates, the gubernatorial nomination is theirs for the taking.
     
  • Should they both enter the race, both will win their party`s primary. And Feinstein would be the odds on favorite to win the general election.
     
  • If, however, Feinstein and Whitman come to their senses, realize that being California`s governor is not worth the endless headaches and drop out, the Democratic nomination will go to Brown. Brown would then go on to win comfortably against one of the lesser light Republican candidates, probably Campbell.

In short, everything revolves around Feinstein. If she enters the race, she`s probably the next California governor.

I cannot think of development that should terrify Californians more than the prospect of Governor Feinstein.

When I lived in California, I wrote often and at length about Feinstein`s failures as a Senator. She`s strongly pro-immigration (recent grade, F-), promotes amnesty, favors more free trade and encourages the importation of more foreign-born workers.

Feinstein`s policies have devastated California.

And last week, Feinstein delivered another haymaker to reeling Californians.

Although the state`s unemployment rate is 10.1 percent, one of the nation`s highest, Feinstein turned her back on U.S. workers when she voted to table an amendment that would have extended for five years E-Verify—a program that assures that prospective employees are legal residents.

There`s one more "if" in the equation, however—possibly the most important one.

"If"—Brown, in the primary, or Whitman, during the in election, attack Feinstein and hammer away at her immigration, free trade and foreign-born worker favoritism records, then either one could possibly pull of a stunning upset.

But if worst happens and Feinstein prevails, then expect terrified Californians to jump into their vans and join me in Pittsburgh.

*

(P.S. Answer to Cruz quiz: after his scandal-tainted loss in 2006 to Poizner for California`s Insurance Commissioner, the shamed Bustamante became something of a health guru. Referring to himself during his campaign as "obese," Bustamante lost about 50 pounds to get his weight down to 225. Bustamante developed low-fat recipes like "Cruz`s Healthy Breakfast Frittata".

I have no idea what Bustamante`s frittata future may bring him. But his political career is toast.

Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.