With the California Democratic Party gathering in Sacramento this weekend and the Republican National Committee meeting in Los Angeles, it’s a good time for more normal human beings to consider some practical politics, to wit: why Abel Maldonado won’t be California’s next governor.
First of all, there’s Jerry Brown. Who — if he opts to run again, which virtually everyone expects him to do — will be re-elected.
Even if Maldonado comes in second in an open primary — which is possible – he would lose among Latinos because Brown marched with Cesar Chavez, dated Linda Ronstadt, named Cruz Reynoso to the California Supreme Court, made Mario Obledo his Secretary of Health and Welfare and signed into law the Agricultural Relations Act.
Oh, and he’s a Democrat who, like his party, supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Maldo’s line — “the son of immigrant field workers versus the son of Sacramento” – doesn’t cut it when he’s up against a guy who can mail out prayer cards with a snapshot of himself and Mother Teresa.
So even with his team of nationally-known consultants – including adman Fred Davis of “Demon Sheep” fame – the 45-year-old former Lite Gov from Santa Maria is up against a governor whose portrait is up there on the wall behind the counter in loncherias and cantinas alongside JFK and the Pope.
With the Grover of Norquist and other right-wing ideologues lined up against him for giving former Gov. Arnold Schwartzmuscle a key vote to raise taxes (in exchange for the open primary), Maldonado would also have a hard time pulling a big vote from Republicans.
And forget independents: Gov. Gandalf speaks to their unaligned hearts.
Also, it’s worth noting that in his last electoral outing, in the 24th Congressional District race of 2012, where Democrats only outnumbered Republicans 38% to 35%, Maldonado lost to U.S. Rep Lois Capps 55-45%. Oops.
Sure, Maldo could help move his party into the 21st Century, especially if he comes out squarely for a pathway to citizenship that includes a process that the average Latino in California finds reasonable – for their parents or children or cousins or neighbors.
But he’s not going to knock off Jerry Brown. Who’s only 75.
Now, if Brown were to decline to run for a fourth term and Maldonado were up against Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris or Antonio Villaraigosa, he might have a chance of getting closer. But as a Republican, he still would lose.
“I believe it’s time for the (Republican) party to go in a different direction,” Maldonado said last week. ”We need a new way, he said. The California GOP – with official registration now below 29% — must be “inclusive and optimistic and inspiring.”
That’s true. And the drive by Ruben Barrales with his Grow Elect organization – seeking to rebuild the GOP from the ground up – offers some promise for the California Republicans. But electing Latino Republicans to local non-partisan office and building the GOP bench is a long-term process.
Not one that Abel Maldonado can breeze past – especially not against Gobernador Brown.