View from Lodi, CA: Another Golden State Disaster Looms For GOP
August 09, 2002, 05:00 AM
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Back in March, I predicted that Gray Davis would beat political neophyte William Simon in the November gubernatorial race by 30 points.

On the strength of his rout I further predicted that Davis could possibly emerge as a leading presidential candidate for the Democratic Party in 2004.

In political prognosticating, .500 is a good average.

As of today, 30 points would seem to be the smallest margin of victory that Davis could come away with against Simon. The irony is that almost no one in California wants to vote for either Simon or Davis.

Davis, always lacking in charisma, has been hammered by his ineffectiveness as an administrator.  Had he been half-awake or half-interested, Davis might have been able to help California avert its energy crisis. But Davis has developed the reputation of a manipulative, insensitive leader who doesn't think beyond his own interests.

As evidence, critics point to the inverse ratio between California's budget deficit and Davis's campaign coffers.

Any ground-swell in support for a Davis 2004 presidential run currently seems as unlikely as a November win by Simon.

But as far as the governor's race is concerned, Davis has gotten a real shot in the arm from the unbelievably inept Simon. Things are so grim in the Simon camp that President Bush is said to want to pull out from an upcoming California trip.

Simon's failure to submit his tax returns for public scrutiny, his close business association with former drug dealer Paul Hindelang, and the $78 million fraud conviction of William E. Simon & Sons made Chris Lehane, former crisis manager for Bill Clinton cry out, "It's a hat trick. You've got it all in there."

[Special Note for VDARE.COM Readers: Simon has literally run away from immigration even though he got a bump in the polls early in the primaries when he suggested he supported Proposition 187. But Simon didn't have the courage to go forward. On a recent radio talk show, Simon was asked to comment on Steve Lopez's July 26 Los Angeles Times column, "The Immigration Bomb, Bill Simon, Are you Listening?" Simon danced around the issues of immigration and population, the deepening disasters detailed in Lopez's article.

Strategists know that Prop 187 would pass today by an even greater margin than in 1994. Yet Simon crawled away with his tail between his legs.]

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra J. Saunders, in her column "Bill Simon should bow out", offers a good solution for Simon—make a grand gesture on behalf of the Republican Party, declare himself a hopeless candidate and throw his support behind Secretary of State Bill Jones.

Jones couldn't win at this late date, of course, but he might be able to mount a noble charge.

In California, the Republican Party is in the pits. The last time the state voted Republican for President was 1988. The Democrats hold the two U.S. Senate seats, the governor's office, the legislature and every statewide office except Secretary of State.

Will the doom and gloom continue for the Republicans in the 2004 Senate race against incumbent Barbara Boxer? Or are there any fresh faces that might make things interesting?

If I were the Republicans, I would start to bang the drum for Congresswoman Mary Bono from the 44th District of California's Inland Empire.

A quick review of Bono's credentials suggests that she might do well against Senator Boxer.  [Another Special Note for VDARE.COM Readers: Her position on immigration is unknown, but her late husband Sonny was famous for his opinion that illegal immigration is ILLEGAL.]

First, to that which always counts most with today's voters: the superficial. Congresswoman Bono is young (41), attractive and a mini-celebrity. Feature stories about her have appeared in PEOPLE, Good Housekeeping, Esquire and Elle as well as in the Washington Post, the New York Times Magazine and USA Today. Name recognition is not a problem for Mary Bono.

And Congresswoman Bono projects the healthy California look that would help as she stumps through the state. She's an accomplished gymnast, a student of Karate and Tae Kwan Do and a graduate of the University of Southern California.

On the more important matters, Congresswoman Bono sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee, issues key to Californians. By the time 2004 rolls around, Congresswoman Bono will have six years of legislative experience. That's six more years than Senator Hillary Clinton had when she was elected.

As always, Republicans think that Senator Boxer is vulnerable. The problem with that analysis is that it has never been accurate.

Senator Boxer won five straight elections to the House of Representatives between 1980-1990. In the Senate primary in 1992, the favorite was then-Congressman Mel Levine.

After Senator Boxer upset Levine, she was posted as an underdog to Republican candidate Bruce Herschensohn. But Senator Boxer defeated Herschensohn.

Again in 1998 Senator Boxer, who won re-election going away, was considered no better than even money against California State Treasurer Matt Fong.

The Republicans during these dark hours are desperate for a winner. As of today, Congresswoman Bono looks like a strong candidate for 2004. But the Republicans should keep in mind that no one has ever had a payday wagering against Senator Boxer.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.