View From Lodi, CA: McCain Boxed In On Immigration
February 29, 2008, 04:00 AM
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The California GOP is in total denial.

As it wrapped up its convention last weekend, delusional delegates predicted that Sen. John McCain would not only battle on even footing whichever Democratic candidate emerges but also stands a decent chance to carry the state. ["GOP Dares To Think McCain Can Win State," Kevin Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, February 24, 2008]

Blind optimism is to be expected. California party leaders have to stir up the troops to make sure the faithful vote. If they told the truth—that McCain doesn`t have a snowball`s chance—then the Republicans would stay home and his beating would be worse than anyone could have imagined.

Among McCain`s many problems in California is the state`s voting pattern over the last two decades. Twenty years have passed since a Republican presidential candidate carried California—George H.W. Bush in 1988.

The last California Republican in the U.S. Senate was Pete Wilson, elected in 1982. Coincidentally, Wilson was also California`s last Republican governor, a position he served in after he left the Senate.

My recap ignores Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie star/politician elected more because of his Hollywood image than his loose ties to Republican standards.

The majority of the California Republicans who have run in the last twenty years for either president or statewide federal office have been buried at the polls.

Included among those humbled by the voters is none other than Bill Jones who chairs McCain`s California effort.

You have to laugh at Jones`s appointment. While the former California Secretary of State is a respected figure in some conservative circles, Jones was last seen getting steamrolled by Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2004 by a 20 percent margin.

If Jones knows anything about delivering California votes, why didn`t he get more of them himself?

No matter how you analyze it, McCain comes up short against either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Looking at most key issues, McCain is out of step with Californians. McCain is pro-life; the state—and its elected officials— leans heavily toward choice.

Obama and Clinton want to start an Iraqi troop reduction; McCain has consistently supported the war, a stance that doesn`t play well in California.

On non-immigrant employment visas, the source of thousands of lost California jobs, no one in the Senate has a worse voting record than McCain`s endorsement of foreign-born workers.

Only on amnesty for illegal immigrants, which McCain favors, can he go toe to toe with the Democrats. But, bad luck for him, he can`t out pander either Clinton or Obama—their position is the same as his.

The irony is that, and this is what hurts McCain with his party, amnesty is the biggest reason that Republicans view him with such disdain.

What McCain does have going for him with Republican voters is that he`s not a Democrat. That`s simplistic. But it`s the reason behind whatever votes he will get-although it will not be enough to pull off an upset or come anywhere close.

In a January News-Sentinel column, before McCain pulled away from the Republican pack, I wrote that a CNN political analyst summed the 2008 election up by saying: "What strikes me is the lack of sincere enthusiasm for any of the candidates." The key word: "sincere".

He was referring to Clinton and Obama but we can safely include McCain.

And back in September I wrote that if a third candidate enters the race, "anything is possible."

At the time, I had in mind New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who has since declared that he will not run. But a third candidate, Ralph Nader, has emerged.

Despite what you are reading about Nader being a non-factor, I expect him to collect many more votes this year than he did in 2004. His support will come from disgruntled and disgusted middle class voters, Democrats and Republicans alike who see through and are repulsed by the three current leaders

Nader`s candidacy makes what I said last fall a certainty: "anything is possible."

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.