Of all the silly ape dances performed by California Republican apparatchiks in recent years, few have been as puerile as the tantrum they tossed over the state Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling upholding newly drawn senate districts.
At a time when the GOP’s ever-shrinking share of voter registration keeps shattering its own records for decline, the sputtering outrage of the big brains over at party headquarters would be entertaining if it wasn’t so pathetic.
1-A Republican-sponsored ballot initiative in 2008 creates an independent commission, which over-represents Republicans, to draw a redistricting plan aimed at reflecting the public interest in place of the incumbent protection schemes crafted for decades by hacks in Sacramento.
2-Republicans in 2011 discover to their horror that after exhaustive statewide hearings, the commission has done precisely what Republicans said they wanted it to do when they put their reform initiative on the ballot. Perish the thought!
3-Republicans, screaming to the heavens that life is unfair, launch a desperate effort to undo what their own initiative has wrought by gathering signatures for a 100% partisan referendum to prevent the new redistricting plan from taking effect.
4-Republicans call on the Republican-dominated state Supreme Court to block the duly constituted new districts from taking effect before 2014, pending determination of whether a) their funky, 11th hour referendum even qualifies for the ballot and b) voters fall for their partisan con in November.
5-Republicans get laughed out of Republican court by Republican appointed (6 of 7) justices who, joined by their lone Democratic appointed colleague, dismiss the ludicrous case on a seven-zip vote.
Bring on the dream team: And then the topper: The great minds of the California Republican Party double down on their sense of political entitlement and announce that the real problem is that the Supreme Court justices don’t understand the law.
“As a 24 year practicing attorney, I can tell you that the failure to honor the law as written undermines the rule of law and encourages detrimental litigation,” thunders CRP chair Tom Del Beccaro.
Seriously? “As a practicing attorney, I can tell you”? Really?
Following fast on this thoughtful denunciation by the Clarence Darrow of California politics, next up for the crack Republican legal team comes Donald P. (Perry Mason) Wagner, an obscure Orange County assemblyman, who takes to the home page of Flashreport, that noted journal of jurisprudence, to school the obviously unlettered justices on their utter ignorance:
“Lawless. That’s the right word for the Supreme Court’s decision last week in the redistricting case. Lawless, in that it ignored the law to reach a decision the Court was explicitly prohibited from reaching.”
Now the GOP stands at a crossroads: Keep enlisting high-powered legal talent – maybe Jack McCoy, Ally McBeal and Arnie Becker are free – or hunker down and start doing the hard political work needed to rebuild their stature and influence in California by putting forth some ideas that might appeal beyond the ranks of brain dead ideologues, as George Skelton argues in this smart piece:
But the California GOP’s problem is not the shape of districts, it’s the size of a shrinking membership. Republicans continue to hemorrhage voters. New registration figures released Tuesday by the secretary of state show the bleeding…
“If the Republican Party had taken all the money it spent on lawsuits and the referendum and put it behind some good candidates, they’d have a better chance of winning seats,” insists a Republican member of the redistricting commission, Vince Barabba of Capitola.
What a concept.
The fight for two-thirds: The most immediate result of the Supreme Court’s ruling is that campaigns will now begin in earnest in several newly redrawn Central Coast districts – the 19th and
24th 17th – where the GOP’s battle to deny Democrats a two-thirds senate majority will be waged.
It’s no surprise that GOP incumbents in both districts quickly bailed out of seeking re-election, since both had been gerrymandered to protect Republican incumbents in the 2002 reapportionment.
Sam Blakeslee, who replaced Abel Maldonado in a 2010 special after Maldo got briefly bumped to Lite Governor by ex-governor Arnold Schwarzipper, bowed out of the
24th 17th immediately after the court decision; with him gone, the San Luis Obispo Tribune makes Democratic Assemblyman Bill Monning of Santa Cruz Carmel the early favorite.
Also swiftly skedaddling was fellow Republican Tony Strickland, who was elected in 2008 to the four-county 19th originally customized for Tom McClintock; Taliban Tony now is running for the 26th congressional district seat being vacated by the retiring Rep. Elton Gallegly.
Strickland’s former district, now redrawn, will offer an intriguing test, not only of the newly drawn lines, but also of the new jungle primary rules.
With Democrats holding a substantial edge in registration, former Assembly member Hannah-Beth Jackson, who’s represented much of the district before, is considered the early front-runner, although she’s still tarred with the “Taxin’ Jackson” label Strickland hung on her to great effect four years ago.
Democratic rival Jason Hodge, a local official in Ventura County who made his bones as a political operative for the firefighters union, is also gathering significant support, with a major assist from spousal unit and plugged-in Assembly member Fiona Ma, D-S.F.
Hodge has enlisted the strategic services of the dexterous Richie Ross, who will face off against the estimable SoCal partnership of Steve Barkan and Parke Skelton in a race where the consultants may be more interesting than the candidates.
Also a factor under the new primary rules will be Republican Mike Stoker, a former SB supervisor, former McClintock operative and former Pete Wilson appointee, a familiar figure throughout the district.
Team Jason this week pushed out the results of a campaign push poll purporting to show all three wannabes closely bunched in the mid-20s. More interesting than the horse race numbers were some broader trends shown that could give the rookie Hodge some running room against the two political retreads.
P.S. Another Senate district on the two-thirds chessboard is the new 27th SD where shrinking Democratic registration could imperil incumbent Fran Pavley. Our pal Timm Herdt is all over that one.
Press Clips: Maldonado for months has been considered a strong challenger on behalf of national Republican efforts to pick off Democratic incumbent Representative Lois Capps in the new 24th CD, so insiders and other hacks were shocked when new reports showed Maldo only raised about $50K in the last quarter, while extending his bizarre pattern of flipping the same $250K personal loan in and out of his campaign fund. The Sacbee’s Michael Doyle has the story.
Interesting piece by CalWatchdog’s hard-working John Hrabe who details the all-politics-is-local down-and-dirty shaping both sides of the 26th CD race.
Rising star Mackenzie Weinger, the only former Calbuzz intern who appears to have a job, is prolific over at Politico, where her reprise of Mitt Romney’s dumbest hits and hard-hitting exloo on President John Tyler’s grandson calling Newt Gingrich “a big jerk” both hit the most-read list.
David we hardly knew ye: Nancy Pelosi’s long-shot bid to reclaim the House speakership crossed a crucial early hurdle this week when Democrats held on in a special election to keep the seat of resigned-in-disgrace ex-Rep. David Wu.
Before bidding farewell forever to the unfortunate Mr. Wu, here’s one more look at the only politician in history weird enough to be done in by a scandal over wearing a tiger suit.