California Republicans have fighting chance to retake governorship ... if they can stop fighting each other
California's flag, with its Russian bear, little red star, and defiant 'CALIFORNIA REPUBLIC' written above the red bar at the bottom, isn't quite the work of commies, although these days it may seem so. It was just something created by early gold-rush pioneers with scraggy beards and maybe some whisky in flask who slapped together image that made sense at the time.
It does however reveal the quirky self-governance of the state, which right now, is a one-party state run by leftists whose political practices and results seem more redolent of 1970s Mexico's PRI than those of the world's seventh-largest economy. or whatever it has since fallen to under this bunch.
Not surprisingly, this much one-party-state rule has created conditions for a correction of course. Two Republicans are running in the upcoming governor's race and they actually have growing support. One is Travis Allen, a conservative assemblyman with a sunny demeanor, and the other is John Cox, an old Reagan guy with Jack Kemp-style free market ideas, but a very non-Kempian rough demeanor. Either of them would be a significant improvement as governor.
Together, they have the support of 34% of the voters (and I am sorry to say I can't find the link to the report from the political analyst who pointed this out). That's more than the support of any of the zoo-full of Democratic candidates trying to take the governor's spot, even put together.
Which means Republicans have it in the bag, right? Nope.
Back to California Republic's democracy (and yes, it goes as a democracy because anyone can gather petitiions to put to the voters to create actual law, which is why out-there laws get passed here). A few years ago, California instituted a runoff system. Top two vote-getters get on the final ballot for races such as governor (but also Senator, which is why we could not vote for a Republican in that one). While Cox and Allen together win hands down on the governor's race, apart, they lose even the chance to try. Two leftists will go on the ballot instead, probably former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The Sacramento Bee noted the problem here:
The California GOP is at risk of something unprecedented this year: With two serious candidates for governor competing for a shrinking share of the electorate, there may be no Republican standard-bearer on the ballot in November.
The distinct possibility has unnerved party officials and political consultants who worry that it could have severe consequences for down-ballot candidates in a year when Republicans are fighting to retain control of Congress and claw back from super-minority status in the Legislature.
"The first thing that people see when they open their ballot is the top-of-the-ticket race, and we don't want Republicans to be discouraged," said Dave Gilliard, who represents candidates in several House districts that national Democrats have targeted as prime pickup opportunities because voters chose Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
Seriously, imagine it. We Reagan-country Republicans have been voting Republican for years, knowing full well that our votes would probably just go into the ether as Democrats gerrymander things, and now we won't even have a chance to be counted as Republicans if two leftists make the top of the final ticket.
What Cox and Allen need to do is united behind one candidate, probably Cox, because he seems to have stronger support. He comes off as rough and aggressive, and perhaps Republicans are reading that as 'fighter.'
Last summer at the American Freedom Alliance's excellent conference on the state, titled 'From Gold to Dust,' I got to hear Cox and Allen speak. Allen came off as optimistic and sunny in his bid to run for California governor, and spoke of the well of support he had gathered, which was precisely what California voters might need to hear about to get motivated to vote. Cox spoke similarly but invoked a far sharper Reagan-Republican, Jack Kempian well of knowledge, conveyed more energy, and frustratingly, harshly attacked his opponent. It didn't seem to make sense to attack Allen at the time because the problem for those of us just paying attention was that the left was the problem and worse still, it had us under water. But it looks as though the method to his madness was that the GOP really did need to unite, and Cox seemed to be the stronger and more fighterly of the candidates, even if he came off slightly dinosaurish and using the templates of the past.
Bottom line here is that the Republicans do need to unite because the signs are out there that a red renaissance is possible. The local voters are upset about the illegals and polls show it, Just the fact that none of the Democratic candidates are bringing the matter up pretty well suggests they know it's an electric third rail that with their stances would cost them votes. Then there is the issue of the cities and counties rising up in rebellion at California's sanctuary state law. Again, another sign of a red revolution.
Now there's support for a Republican governor, an amazing thing, given the mess Arnold Schwarzenegger made durng his time as California governor, turning state almost seemingly permanently blue.
Democrats as I have noted here, have been very good at edging out unviable candidates from their primary lineups, that's what they do well as a well-oiled political machine with bad ideological ideas. Republicans, not so much. So now, we have this death-match, where the two candidates will only succeed in taking each other down. And here's another problem: The top Democrats in this race, Villaraigosa and Newsom, are coming off as friendly moderates. One, both have records of confronting leftist local lunatics and their mad schemes during their times as mayors, usually over fiscal discipline issues. That is going to help them. Two, both are genuinely nice people, and I say that from firsthand experience: Seriously, Tony Villar is a nice guy - he's always been extremely polite and respectful to me even though he knew I was a hard conservative editorialist who's written harsh things about him. If he's nice to me, you can bet he's nice to a lot of people. Newsom is very similar. This isn't to suggest that I would vote for either, only that they are capable of winning over wide swaths of the public, including dispirited Republicans, simply because they are not jerks.
That means the Republicans better get their act together, because either of these candidates will be a challenge. Victory is possible this time. But the Republicans have got to unite instead of take each other down like a couple of swamp things drowning in the deep.