Oracle: California's Governor's and Senate Races

The election is one week away, but the conventional wisdom in California's two headline races is beginning to harden, if not curdle. Meg Whitman is going down in the governor's race, while Carly Fiorina is still in position to grab Barbara Boxer's Senate seat away.

The Republican woman who has the best chance to win in California on Nov. 2 is not billionaire Meg Whitman, who has spent more than $140 million of her own money to make sure every living thing knows who she is. It's Carly Fiorina, another former Silicon Valley CEO with thinner pockets but a looser campaign style who has drawn incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer into a dead heat.

The two Republican candidates have not campaigned together, but when they have appeared at the same event, it has been Fiorina who gets the attention, pounding a shot of Tequila and letting loose a rolled-r trill at the Hispanic 100 Lifetime Achievement Award dinner in Newport Beach (Orange County) this month.

Even as Fiorina piggybacks on Whitman's high-tech ground operation to mobilize voters, her campaign is betting that she won't be sucked down with Whitman should the former eBay CEO lose the race for governor to Democrat Jerry Brown.

Well, if I had to choose one, I would definitely take Fiorina beating Boxer over Whitman beating Brown. Sure, Jerry Brown is a doctrinaire liberal who has managed to hide his most liberal tendencies through a combination of strategic inaction and MSM cover, but Brown is also an impressive person: smart, thoughtful, and idealistic. Even the Free Will mother, a real Goldwater Girl and Reaganite, likes Jerry (she likes him personally, I hasten to add. She would never vote for him). There's an outside chance that Jerry very well could reform and shrink California government because he's too honest to keep papering over the state's unsustainable budgets. It could happen, but he's going to lack any real Republican foil with whom to strike any kind of grand bargains. Instead, Brown will be working to reform state government with the very interest groups, especially unions, environmentalists, and open borders types, who have done so much damage already.

Barbara Boxer, on the other hand? No redeeming qualities. Not only is she obnoxiously partisan. Not only has she embraced the farthest left-wing causes imaginable up to the unthinkable: assisting the treasonous Code Pink in their efforts to give aid and comfort to the enemy. Not only is she not nearly as smart as she thinks she is. She has done real harm to the state with her endless championing of hard-line environmental laws, often based on faulty politicized science. Defeating Boxer would not just be a necessary tonic for civil discourse. It can also provide the gentrified environmental movement with a rare, and much needed, defeat.

BTW, the pre-mortem on the governor's race is solidifying around something like this: sure Jerry Brown is a tired re-tread who will have trouble surviving the next 4 years, but it was fatal for Meg Whitman that the person presently in the governor's chair is a Republican widely seen as a failure. That only tells half the story and should be a real wake-up call to would-be moderate Republicans. The Governator - it can be hard to remember this - was the beneficiary of a recall campaign that was a real grassroots awakening in reaction to a liberal elite in Sacramento that was seen as too spend-happy and tied to the unions. While things weren't quite like the Tea Party, it was very similar both in enthusiasm and motivation. There was genuine excitement in state politics for a couple years, but ultimately Schwarzenegger lost his nerve. It was one of the great missed opportunities in living memory, and it hopelessly muddled if not ruined the GOP's reputation in CA, no matter how many times conservatives roll their eyes and make little rabbit ear motions with their fingers when they call Schwarzenegger a "Republican."

Government wants to grow and accumulate power to itself. When Republicans manages to win majorities on a promise to shrink government, the window is often pitifully small. And when they choose to moderate in pursuit of ephemeral compromise with foes who would never offer the same in return, they lose. November 3 Republicans would do well to remember that.

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