Whatever the loss of Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat means for the Democrats nationally and for President Obama – and they have no one to blame but themselves — this historic and politically crippling massacre (see Jon Stewart’s takedown, the best political analysis out there) carries huge potential implications for California.
While no one expects U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer to make the kind of rookie, dumbass, arrogant mistakes that Massachusetts Attorney Gen. Martha Coakley made (she’d better not suggest, for example, that Willie Mays played for the Dodgers)*, the election of Republican state legislator Scott Brown in a true-blue state like Massachusetts, suggests that anyone who looks or smells like an incumbent could be in trouble in 2010.
No doubt, Republicans Hurricane Carly Fiorina and Caveman Chuck DeVore would have a harder time against the Democrat Boxer because as pro-life conservatives they’d have more trouble connecting to California independents.
But Tom Campbell is a horse of a different color. If he were to somehow pull out a victory in the GOP primary, the pro-choice, pro-gay rights, somewhat green, social moderate and fiscal conservative would be a genuine threat to Boxer – especially in light of the pitchfork-bearing quality of the Massachusetts vote.
Taking nothing for granted, Boxer has been raising money at a record pace for her: she brought in $1.8 million in the last three months of 2009, the campaign announced Tuesday, leaving Babs with $7.2 million in the bank at the end of the year.
The dynamics of the Massachusetts race have some potential implications for the California’s governor’s race as well. Whoever emerges from the Republican side – eMeg Whitman or Steve Commish Poisner – their goal will be to portray Attorney Gen. Jerry Brown as the insider who must be thrown out. Of course Jerry, the incumbent attorney general and former two-term governor, will do everything he can to portray himself as an outsider, newcomer and insurgent.
And in both the Senate and governor’s race, we expect the Democrats to sound a lot like one of the roving 1886 lecturers cited in “The Populist Movement” by Duke historian Larry Goodwyn:
We have an overproduction of poverty, barefooted women, political thieves and many liars. There is no difference between legalized robbery and highway robbery . . . If you listen to other classes, you will have only three rights . . . to work, to starve and to die.
Boxer and Brown — we predict — will run against the banks, the corporations and the oil companies — all of which will be lashed to their GOP opponents. Whether voters will buy it is anyone’s guess. The Coakley defeat will be massively overinterpreted by the national media (the best evidence is that it was mostly a case of a truly crappy Democratic campaign). But still, the Boston Massacre should be a cautionary tale for California Democrats.
Here’s the secret agreement: Some of the sharpest react we heard from Monday’s story about the behind-the-scenes maneuvering over the Tranquillon Ridge project came over the Environmental Defense Center’s agreement to advocate for the PXP oil company project, while receiving a $100,000 payment for reimbursement of legal fees from the firm.
“I’ve never heard of any environmental non-profit doing anything remotely like this,” said Mark Massara, a former longtime attorney-advocate for the Sierra Club.
By popular demand, we’re posting the text in pdf of the April 2008 EDC-PXP agreement here, for those who want even more detail than we gave you in Monday’s 3,000-word opus.
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch: While the rest of the world was pondering the fate of Haiti and the future of the Democratic Party and health reform, the folks over at Jerry Brown headquarters were consumed by the great debate that’s ragiing from Hollywood to Brentwood: Conan vs. Jay . . . And Steve the Commish Poizner popped a bit of good news: He’s won the endorsement of former Gov. George Deukmejian, who is much preferred among GOP conservatives to former Gov. Pete Wilson, who has endorsed eMeg. Said Deukmejian: “Steve is the only candidate in this race with the right mix of experience, leadership, and vision to lead California back to economic prosperity.”. . . Minorities Need Apply: Good piece by Pete Carrillo and Orson Aguilar in the Mercury News noting that while “California reform-minded voters gave themselves the power to redraw legislative lines in California when they passed Proposition 11, the Voters First Act . . . an alarmingly low percentage of people of color is included in the pool of applicants from whom the 14 commissioners ultimately will be chosen. Less than 20 percent of that pool now is people of color, even though they make up 60 percent of California’s population.” . . . Condolences: We note with sadness the passing of Margaret Whitman, 89, of Lexington, Mass., mother of Meg Whitman.
* Some of Coakley’s mistakes: She said the Taliban were gone from Afghanistan. She said Red Sox hero Curt Schilling was a Yankee fan. And when asked why she was not spending more time with voters (Brown had stood outside Fenway Park greeting hockey fans who attended a special outdoor game between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers) Coakley said, “As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?”