I have been in boring faculty meetings all day, between interviewing high school juniors who are applying for the Fall 2004 Ashbrook program. Tough day, hence no blogging. Running now to a talk to the board of directors of an agricultural cooperative. So here is a quick response to Mickeys blog below. I do, of course, in the end admit uncertainty about this, despite my seemingly strongly held opinions. Can a good conservative like McClintock pull this off? Can Simon? Does answering these questions have anything to do with whether or not there is enough of a real Republican Party in California? Can Arnold (despite of his philosophical imperfections) help re-create a more conservative Republican Party, and maybe even a more conservative California? That the Democrats are suffering seems clear, and that is a good thing. Note that the California Dems are coming out for Bustamante. Can Bustamante end up winning it (because the GOP votes will be divided)? Yes, of course. Yet, the great unknown is whether Arnold will bring in enough new voters to beat Bustamante even as the GOP vote is split. If he does, then Arnolds positioning of himself against the political class will mean something. Thats what I am betting on. But Im not betting the ranch.
Youve put your finger on one of the unfortunate truths about Republicans in California. Holding Arnold aside for the moment, Simon, McClintock and even Ueberroth are excellent candidates.
a) That makes four candidates to split the (minority) Republican vote, and
b) The party itself is poorly organized to mount a grassroots campaign.
The Democrats are organized. The interests backing them can mobilize their core voters, can talk up the recall in their communities, and have the tacit support of all the big media in the state. In the next week or so, the major money interests will decide whether to commit their resources to trying to preserve Davis, or to backing Cruz Bustamante. My money is on the latter, as that is the way the winds are blowing now.
The unfortunate other truth about the California electorate, at least the majority not identifying as strong Democrate, is that we are uninformed and apathetic. This is the real reason the state has come to its current sorry state of affairs.
That brings me to Arnold. He is not the ideal candidate from a policy standpoint, although it remains to be seen which of his new inner circle he chooses to listen to. Warren Buffett was an unfortunate choice, to be sure, but Arnold has conferred with others who are solidly pro-growth. Ultimately, he has two advantages in our current situation:
1) He is the candidate most likely to increase turnout for the recall, which is vitally important.
2) Whoever is elected must contend with a liberal and (if a Republican is elected) a hostile majority in the state legislature. Arnold at least has the advantage of being able to attract media attention, and not just from those on the Sacramento beat.
The real battle for the "soul" of California is the 2004 elections that could begin to weaken the control of the hard left. The key will be, again, to engage the segment of the electorate that has traditionally stayed away from the polls, or who has voted reflexively along party lines. Arnold may be the person who can spearhead the effort to sustain the outrage that has led to the recall.
Los Angeles, CA