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The Horror. The Horror. The Repeating Horror


Forget all that stuff you’re hearing about 6/6/06 and the re-release of The Omen (unless the publicity shots of Mia Farrow’s unnaturally unlined face and fuller-than-she-ever-had lips in Rosemary’s Baby are freaking you – which they should). If you’re a Democrat, the devil who rises today from the sheer ugly silliness of the Democratic Primary is named Arnold.

That’s right. Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneger is on the way back. Tomorrow he starts a two-day bus tour softly kicking off his re-election campaign, a campaign that won’t center entirely around his strong personality (which is a little like Farrow’s borrowed lips – fascinating in a “how does she stand it?” kind of way) but around the ballot initiatives he’s supporting to shore up California’s dilapidated physical infrastructure.

A few months of lying low, watching Democrats Phil Angelides and Steve Westly throw mud at each other and Kindergarten Cop Gov. Terminator looks just fine, thank you very much. And make no mistake, Arnold Schwarzenegger – who’s talked repeatedly about how he likes selling his movies – is a smart, good and enthusiastic campaigner.

Democrats can’t say the same thing for very many of the folks running for office. And this isn’t just a California problem. Roughly speaking, the best-known and probably best-liked Democrat running for office is former Governor, former mayor and soon-to-be state Attorney General Jerry Brown. His campaign appeal to besieged Democrats can be summed up in his pitch to party regulars last month in Sacramento: “They didn’t call me Gov. Moonbeam for nothing.” That’s not exactly what presumptive Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton, former first lady, current U.S. Senator, will say when she runs but the nostalgia appeal – to a time when we clear-headed, responsible Democrats were in charge, when the economy was strong and Republicans knew their place – is a good comparison.

It’s easy for Clinton, of course. She’s got no competition and if things in California hold across the country, she may never get a run – literally – for her money. Looking at a less than 40 percent expected voter turn-out today in California, it’s obvious that Democrats have failed to get anyone interested in this election. The pollsters say this is because voters are undecided. Baloney. They’re bored and disappointed. Why? Well, there are fewer and fewer partisans in California so the usual pitches don’t work. Angelides has the unions and, as a result, the party leadership, Westly, the business-minded Democrats (who are probably Independents, anyway). If you’re not in one of those camps – and enthusiastic about beating Schwazenegger – you’re sitting this one out. The growing popularity of “none of the above” as a party selection hurts Democrats, particularly in a state run by an oversized personality like Schwarzenegger.

Making things worse? The game that so many in state politics like to play every election cycle: Term Limits Musical Chairs. It’s a dull game. Nothing seems to change no matter how fast they play the victrola.

Term limits means voters end up with the same old names running for the same old gigs. There’s Brown, of course who is running against state-wide newcomer Rocky Delgadillo (who has really obnoxious audio on his site). But that’s about the only new name near the top of the ticket. Current California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who will probably be replaced by Brown, is himself trying to replace Angelides as state treasurer.

Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante is also trying to swap jobs with another Democrat. He’s running for state insurance commissioner and the seat he’s “termed-out” of is being fought over by Jackie Spiers, a state senator and John Garamendi, the current state insurance commissioner. Whomever wins the Lt. Gov’s primary will face Tom McClintock, who ran against Schwarzenegger for governor and, before that, against Westly for state controller. State Senators Debra Bowen is running against Sen. Deborah Ortiz for the Secretary of State’s job and, of course, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is running for re-election but without much opposition.

Thrilling, huh?

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 9:42 AM | Permalink

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