Calbuzz instant quiz: What political group’s membership constitutes the biggest bloc within the California Republican Party?
The Chamber of Commerce? The California Manufacturers Association? The bloggers of Flashreport, who consider anyone in favor of child labor laws or the 40-hour work week a dangerous socialist?
Not even close.
Dave Kieffer, the new executive director of the Service Employees International Union in California, did a bit of research and discovered that 87,000 of SEIU’s 700,000 members are registered Republicans – which he figures makes it the single largest political organization within the state GOP. And that, Kieffer says, gives the union a golden opportunity.
“SEIU needs to build a Republican program to play in Republican districts for our Republican members and for our broader self-interest,” Kieffer told Calbuzz, offering a glimpse of his strategy for an SEIU presence in GOP legislative districts in 2012.
This is a big deal for SEIU, long one of the most liberal forces in the Democratic Party, and it could become an equally big deal for any hardcore right-wing legislators who get reapportioned into new districts where moderate Republicans become competitive under the top-two primary system.
Beginning of end for knuckle-draggers? Although Kieffer isn’t sharing any budget numbers, SEIU spent $2.5 million in a half-dozen swing districts in 2010 and, he said, plans to get involved in 2012, not only in open seats but also in Republican seats that are in play.
The current SEIU seven-figure TV campaign, encouraging voters to call Republican lawmakers Bill Emmerson, Anthony Cannella, Tom Berryhill, Katcho Achadjian and Cameron Smyth to move forward on the budget without massive cuts is a taste of what’s to come, he added.
“Every senate district has at least 3,000 SEIU members in it,” Kieffer said, adding that the union has done polling showing that, when confronted with the option of keeping tax rates the same as they are or cutting services, those members are among the majority that don’t want teachers, cops, firefighters and nurses laid off.
“The tensions between the public sector unions and the Republicans are at an all time high but there’s nothing that says we can’t work with them,” he said. SEIU might support Republicans who vote for or support a budget that includes taxes at current levels in order to avoid more cuts, either with outright help or by going negative with an independent expenditure against “unreasonable” GOP candidates in the district.
Berryhill vs. Olsen: For example, while Assemblyman Bill Berryhill hasn’t yet helped move the budget along, should he do so, and should he wind up in a contest with Kristin Olsen in the 25th AD (or whatever district it might be), SEIU might end up helping Berryhill or attacking Olsen.
Same thing if Paul Cook, who’d be more likely to get SEIU support, has to square off against Mike Morrell. Or any Republican with a brain who goes up against Minuteman Mike Donnelly. (Memo to wannabes’: Calbuzz is not covering any of these races).
While right-wing types might label as a union tool a candidate SEIU supports – directly or through an IE – there will still be a lot of cops, firefighters, teachers and nurses voting in the district; in addition, Kieffer said, it’s likely that business interests would be on the same side as the “responsible” Republican.
All of which reminds us of that old Mel Blanc radio commercial: “Farms in Berkeley? Mooooo.” Unions in Apple Valley? Oooooh. (Cheap whoop: Mouse over Mel’s Mooooo at http://www.berkeleyfarms.com/).
A bigger jerk than even we thought: It’s interesting, if fruitless, to speculate what might have been in California politics if the L.A. Times had kept pressing its investigation of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sexual perversions in the fall of 2003.
Not long before the gubernatorial recall election that year, of course, the Times churned out some terrific yarns detailing the Barbarian’s serial gropings of women.
Its reporting was important in shedding light on the character of the soon-to-be governor – how important no one really knew until now — but all the paper got for its trouble was the shit kicked out of it; Arnold and his legions of apologists and dimwit admirers responded with a white hot eruption of furious outrage and cancellations that quickly made the stories, instead of Schwarzenegger’s aberrant behavior, the story.
One key element in turning the tide was the public bearing of Maria Shriver, who stood by her man to validate his rectitude and integrity, not knowing that her class-act husband had been hideously betraying her for several years, keeping secret his paternity of a child he’d fathered with their longtime housekeeper.
Coincidence or not, the Times reporting on the subject trailed away not long after, and Schwarzenegger’s pathological lies and behavior stayed hidden through his governorship.
Better late than never: Now comes old school, mad dog political writer Mark Z. Barabak, who’s finally and fully redeemed his paper, revealing for all the world to see the narcissistic derangement at the core of a morally corrupt charlatan who conned, not only the voters of California, but also his family and his wife of 25 years:
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, separated after she learned he had fathered a child more than a decade ago — before his first run for office — with a longtime member of their household staff.
Shriver moved out of the family’s Brentwood mansion earlier this year, after Schwarzenegger acknowledged the paternity. The staff member worked for the family for 20 years, retiring in January.
Somewhere, no doubt, some J-school chin-stroker right now is tut-tutting deep thoughts about the Arnold love child story being, harrumph, race-to-the-bottom celebrity journalism…a personal matter, not of political importance…blah, blah, blah, harrumph, harrumph…
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Why it matters: For starters, Schwarzenegger still harbors pretensions of political leadership, as he jets around the world passing himself off as an expert on global warming, while making kissy-poo noises to the White House and dreaming of being offered a Cabinet spot.
More: with his lovable big lug public persona, he seems to fancy himself as some kind of cultural role model for kids, most recently evidenced by inking a deal for “The Governator,” a cartoon series based on the fabulous story of himself.
And always far more concerned with image than with substance, he now aspires to idealize his lousy performance as governor, trying to concoct and spin a fictive “legacy” from the true facts of his abject political failure.
No, this is one global public figure whose exposure as a total fraud, cheat and hypocrite is way overdue.
Barabak’s shoe leather reporting on the story may never garner huzzahs from the journalism bubblehead chrome dome community, but he’s sure the hands-down winner of the Calbuzz Gold Medal for Public Service in California Politics.