Will Latinos prefer the “Governator” to the Bustamante/Davis machine?

Orange Juice: Will Latinos prefer the “Governator” to the Bustamante/Davis machine?

By: Art Pedroza

Although we now know who the candidates are in the upcoming recall election, there are many questions remaining. In this edition we will look at the recall yet again, from an Orange County perspective. Also, has Assemblyman Lou Correa put his career on the line? Read on and find out for yourself.

In this issue:

1. Will Latinos prefer the “Governator” to Bustamante/Davis machine?

2. CRA picks McClintock, as Simon begins to fade

3. Issa – Republican of the Year?

4. Correa risks it all in the name of politics

5. Orange County Republican Party breaks out the mariachis in support of the recall

6. Coronado campaign kick-off set for August

7. DeVore rips Cristich…again

8. Gibson feeds the masses at his campaign BBQ

Will Latinos prefer the “Governator” to the Bustamante/Davis Machine?

I admit it – I did not see the Arnold campaign coming. I thought he was going to announce his support for the Riordan campaign, on last week’s Tonight Show appearance, but instead he threw Riordan to the wolves and decided to run in his stead. Can Schwarzenegger prevail? I think he has a solid chance, and apparently so does retired Governor Pete Wilson. We have not heard from Wilson in awhile, but he is back in a big way as Schwarzenegger’s Campaign Co-Chair, and Wilson brought all of his old campaign workers with him. This is a solid crew, and they have been waiting impatiently to return to the spotlight.

Wilson’s support for Schwarzenegger may help the actor candidate with older voters, who will remember Wilson’s past successes, particularly the fact that he left Sacramento with a budget surplus, unlike the incumbent, Governor Gray Davis, who has ransacked the state treasury and delivered us into near-bankruptcy.

My friends in the Democratic Party are gleefully attacking Schwarzenegger for his connection to Wilson, as well as his admission that he voted in the affirmative for Prop. 187. Here we go again. The debate over 187 is a settled issue, but Democrats love to smear the GOP’s face in it. Will they succeed in making Schwarzenegger look like a racist? I doubt that very much. He is an immigrant, and his accent is thicker than that of most Latinos. He is also married to a Kennedy (Latinos love the Kennedy clan!) and she is a Democrat. Schwarzenegger also never misses an opportunity to talk about children and schools, issues that are dear to Latino parents. Moreover, Schwarzenegger is the only candidate talking about bringing business back to California, whereas his opponents are all too busy talking about him.

But wait – there’s more. Schwarzenegger’s Hollywood persona is one that we are all familiar with – he is usually the hero and he battles horrible evil against all odds, and wins. This will resonate with many voters who cannot be bothered with the facts, particularly young voters and those who rarely bother to vote. Latino males also will be attracted to Schwarzenegger’s machismo ethic. At the end of the day, Schwarzenegger might win because of his ability to bring new voters to the polls. None of his opponents can say that, although adult magazine publisher Larry Flynt might well attract a heretofore unseen male “comb-over” demographic.

What about Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante? In my opinion, he is, like Davis, “toast.” Bustamante is sending mixed signals to the voters, and that won’t work. He is asking us on the one hand to vote “no” on the recall, but to also, on the other hand, vote “yes” for him as a recall candidate. That is ridiculous. Voters will properly see though this as a way to keep Davis in power and that is something hardly anyone wants. African-American voters will also remember that Bustamante referred to them with the “N” word about a year and a half ago, in a Freudian slip of cosmic proportions. Furthermore, the great majority of African-American voters supported Prop. 187. That bodes well for the “Governator.”

Don’t misconstrue my words however. While I don’t think that Schwarzenegger’s past support for Prop. 187 will hurt him, and it might even help him with some core constituencies, talking about it won’t help him. Latino voters, particularly those who have been in this country for more than one generation, are ready, in my estimate, to move on with regard to Prop. 187, largely because it is a non-issue in a state in which Latinos are no longer the minorities we once were. There are dozens of Latino elected officials at the local and legislative level, and more on the way. We can comfortably vote for Schwarzenegger knowing full well that by 2004 the Republican Party will be looking for us to support the Bush reelection campaign, and the last thing that Bush wants us to do is to bring back Prop. 187. That will not happen with Schwarzenegger at the helm – I guarantee it.

Finally, my fellow Republicans are tired of losing. Schwarzenegger may not be anywhere near as conservative as McClintock or Simon, but he looks like a winner, and that is something we have not enjoyed in California for a long time. Many of my conservative friends have been in full smear mode since Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy. I hope they know what they are doing. It is one thing to advocate for a McClintock or a Simon. It is another thing altogether to spend time and money dragging a Republican candidate, Schwarzenegger, through the mud. What if their efforts result in a Governor Bustamante administration? We will be back to square one. The “Governator” may not be perfect, but he is not Davis, and he most certainly will not continue the union pandering that is a certainty under Bustamante.

CRA picks McClintock, as Simon begins to fade

Many conservatives who supported Bill Simon last year were hoping that he would not run in the recall election. Fat chance of that. Simon spent a lot of his own money trying to beat Davis, and he suffered through perhaps the worst campaign I have ever seen. The icing on the cake was the dreadfully botched handling by the Simon campaign of the false allegations of Davis fundraising improprieties. Despite all of that, Simon is back and he thinks he is going to win. I don’t see how that is remotely possible, given that Simon’s competitor for the affections of the conservative base, State Senator Tom McClintock, has far more elective success on his resume, and his statewide network of conservative activists got out of the gates quickly. To wit, the California Republican Assembly (CRA), a powerful grassroots organization that supports conservative candidates, met this weekend and endorsed McClintock over Simon. I knew this was coming, as many of my friends in the CRA had announced their support for McClintock prior to the endorsing convention.

Simon is in the unenviable position of emerging from the recall election with less stature than he had going into it. What happened? I think that our collective memory of his truly awful campaign is just too fresh for us to adjust our perspective of him. He is a better candidate today then he was a year ago, but his lack of experience relative to that of McClintock is damning. There is a feeling that Simon had his shot, and many conservatives want to see someone new take a whack at Davis. For some, that means Schwarzenegger, for many others that means McClintock. For Simon, that means a single digit ballot result, and the inopportune end to a political career that never quite got off to the right start. And to think he almost won the governorship outright last year. I guess politics, like sports, is a game of inches, and the only thing that matters, is whether you win or lose. Coming close doesn’t get you anything but a healthy dose of regret.

Issa – Republican of the Year?

In stark contrast to Simon stands U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, the man who saved the recall campaign with over a million dollars of his own money. Issa stepped down last week as a recall candidate, but his selfless act will not soon be forgotten. Yes, Issa is a realist and he saw the writing on the wall, so to speak, when the “Governator” entered the fray. But Issa could have opted to hang in there. Instead, he pulled out and now his endorsement has huge value, although it would have meant more if he had offered it on the day he withdrew from the recall election.

If I had to guess, I would say that Issa will end up endorsing Schwarzenegger. Remember, Issa endorsed former L.A. Mayor Dick Riordan against Simon. I don’t see Issa changing his stripes. He is a pragmatic conservative, and I would be willing to bet that Issa will go with the choice that President Bush is already talking about. (That commercial should be on the way soon – I would imagine Bush has no love for Davis, nor would it be to his advantage to allow Bustamante to win).

Correa risks it all in the name of politics

Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Brett Franklin has asked Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to pursue a civil action against his opponent for the First Supervisorial District in Orange County, Assemblyman Lou Correa (D-Anaheim). Correa transferred $340,000 from his two State Assembly committees to his supervisorial campaign committee. Correa’s take on this is that he sought the opinion of State Attorney General Bill Lockyer as well as that of Rackauckas and Shirley Grindle, the author of the county’s campaign fundraising code. Lockyer decided that it was unconstitutional to prevent Correa from using the old contributions to further his latest campaign. But was it the right thing to do? If Correa doesn’t need the money for the purpose it was originally intended for, why not return it to those who made the contributions in the first place? If they still like him, couldn’t they give the money to him again, but this time to his current campaign fund?

If Correa is wrong, he faces stiff fines from the Fair Political Practices Commission, and he could be barred from seeking office in California for four years. That would be a big price to pay for what amounts to an Enron-style shifting of money from one account to another. Ironically, Franklin outraised Correa in the last filing period (from Jan. 1 through June 30). Franklin raised over $85K in that period versus just over $71K for Correa. Take away Correa’s shifty campaign transfer and we have a real contest on our hands.

One more thought: many Republicans are waiting to see if Kermit Marsh, a Council Member in Westminster, can raise enough money to challenge Franklin and Correa. So far, Marsh has not been able to raise much, but he has a lot of connections and is well thought of by conservatives. The nightmare scenario that I envision however is that we will split the Republican vote between Marsh and Franklin, and Correa will end up in a run-off election with the other Democrat in this contest, Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater. That would be bad news for the county, as neither Correa nor Broadwater will stand up to the labor unions that are even now rattling their sabers and collecting thousands of dollars in order to get one of their candidates elected.

Speaking of labor unions, I read through the Correa campaign records of the money he has transferred to his supervisorial account and found that the IBEW (the electrical workers union) gave him $9,000. I fully expect them to give him a lot more. Correa has already been endorsed by incumbent Supervisor Chuck Smith (a turncoat Republican), and as my readers might recall it was Smith who forced a project labor agreement down our collective throats a few years back, effectively shutting non-union contractors out of bidding on county public works until 2005. Correa will no doubt vote to renew that PLA, which will result in local taxpayers having to pay more for less for years to come, not to mention the disenfranchising of local non-union workers. Smith will be holding a fundraiser for Correa on August 23, and sure enough the event is sponsored by several labor unions, including: the Cement Masons Local 500; the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association Local 3631; the Los Angeles County Firefighters Association Local 3631; the Orange County Employees Association; and last but not least, the United Domestic Workers.

Orange County Republican Party breaks out the mariachis in support of the recall

Last week a new television series based in Orange County debuted, but that soap opera will be hard-pressed to match the stranger-than-fiction event that has been dreamed up by our local GOP. This Monday, August 18, the party bigwigs will be enjoying the sounds of Mariachi Tlaquepaque de Antonio Ramos from 5:45 p.m. to 7 p.m., prior to the OC Republican Party Central Committee meeting. The scheduled speaker is Tirso del Junco, the former Chairman of the California Republican Party, and past Governor of the United States Postal System.

I once had a weird run-in with del Junco. At the time I was managing the Assembly campaign of Lou Lopez, a retired police officer who was the first Latino elected to the Anaheim City Council. Lopez had also served on two Anaheim area school boards. I ran into del Junco at a fundraiser and asked him if he might consider backing Lopez and perhaps contributing to the campaign. All I got from del Junco was a dirty look. Moral of the story: just because a guy is a prominent Latino Republican doesn’t mean that he is looking to help other Latino Republicans.

Coronado campaign kick-off set for August

Speaking of Latino Republican candidates, one of my favorites is Alexandria Coronado, who is bravely taking on the eternally goofy U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez for the 47th Congressional District. Coronado will be launching her campaign with a press conference on August 20, at the former marine base in Tustin, located at the corner of Redhill and Valencia. The time of the conference has not yet been announced, but you can refer to Coronado’s website for more information, at http://www.coronadoforcongress.com/.

DeVore rips Cristich…again

Chuck DeVore announced this week that his opponent for the 70th Assembly District, businesswoman Cristi Cristich, may have been planning to move her company to Arizona. Can you blame her? Doing business in California is horrid and getting worse. Our workers compensation dilemma is costing businesses thousands, while the Democrats in the State Legislature announced today that they are now willing to cancel the car tax increase in return for raising taxes on the wealthy.

DeVore quoted an Arizona newspaper article that featured a few comments by Cristich’s husband regarding the move, which the Cristich campaign is saying was never going to happen. Whatever. I would be more interested to know how DeVore and Cristich plan to fix the mess in Sacramento that is driving businesses out of California at a record rate. To be fair, Cristich has written about the workers compensation mess in her campaign newsletter and DeVore’s website does include his thoughts about taxes (he says they are too high).

DeVore is also touting an upcoming fundraiser with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and radio personality Hugh Hewitt. The event will be a Hawaiian Luau (I guess the mariachis were booked elsewhere) and will take place on August 21, at the home of Tom Phillips (if memory serves correct I think he is a publisher) in Newport Beach. To RSVP, call Bruce Matthias at (714) 281-1560. The event costs $250 a person, but that is a small price to pay if Rohrabacher and Hewitt put on Hawaiian grass skirts and break out in an impromptu hula.

Gibson feeds the masses at his campaign BBQ

Jim Gibson, a conservative school board member and Republican candidate for the 73rd Assembly District, reports that his campaign kick-off and BBQ last week was attended by over 150 supporters. That’s impressive. Assembly members Mark Wyland and George Plescia, as well as former Assembly member Howard Kaloogian, showed up to express their support and Kaloogian, who is the co-chair of the Recall Gray Davis Committee, gave everyone an update on the recall effort.

One of Gibson’s opponents, O.C. Supervisor Tom Wilson, also announced this week that he has raised over $135K in the last filing period. I guess Wilson will be able to feed a whole lot of folks if he decides to hold his own BBQ. Or, he can always call in the mariachis…

That’s it for this issue. Remember, you can read this column online at http://o-juice.blogspot.com/.


Author’s Bio: Art Pedroza became involved in local politics in 1996, when he was tabbed to serve as the inaugural Hispanic Outreach Director for the Republican Party of Orange County. Pedroza has served as a city commissioner in Santa Ana, and on the Central Committee for both the local GOP and the California Republican Party. He currently represents the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, in Orange County.

About Art Pedroza