Two weeks before the June 8 primary election, the fight for the Republican nomination for governor has come down to this: Raising Arizona vs. Big Love.
As Meg Whitman rolled out a new ad, featuring her Mormon mentor Mitt Romney and a cast of thousands attesting to her conservative bona fides, Steve Poizner doubled down with his own spot, whacking his rival for not backing The Grand Canyon State’s illegal immigration crackdown law.
After more than a year of campaigning, and in excess of $100 million in collective spending, eMeg and The Commish have begun making their final arguments to GOP voters, each trying to define the election with the same basic message: I’m the true right-winger in this race.
Two moderate Republicans trying to tart themselves up as right-wingers, Her Megness and Poiz have both sought to expose their rival as a liberal-in-drag , pointing fingers and hurling mighty oaths at the other over character – You’re a non-voting, Wall Street scumbag pornographer! No, you’re a partial birth abortion-loving, lying hypocrite! – and ideology – You’re a Jarvis-hating, solar panel-hugging union tool! No, you’re a tax-loving, smelt-smooching, Van Jones fellow traveler!
Because both are hobbled in making their case to the right-wing voters who dominate Republican primaries in California by the lack of a long or consistent conservative record, it’s not surprising, as they enter the stretch run, that the latest ad for each rests on third-party validators – and invalidators – to establish movement authenticity cred.
Whitman’s latest ad takes the more direct approach.
She trots out a trio of iconic conservative Republicans to testify on her behalf. Mindful that Poizner has undermined her with his Goldman Sachs attacks, presidential wannabe Romney praises her “integrity,” while Condoleeza Rice lends her hard-line rep as George Bush’s National Security Advisor and Secretary of State to endorsing eMeg’s “values” and “strength” and Prop. 13 guru Jon Coupal blesses her as the “only one real fiscal conservative” who will protect taxpayers.
“Strong…fiscal conservative…leader,” the three say serially to end the spot.
Poizner takes an oppositional approach, employing anti-endorsements to send a message on immigration as a signifier of his conservative credentials.
Not since John C. Fremont opened a can of whupass on the forces of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna has anyone taken a bigger swing at Mexico: using a news clip of Felipe Calderon’s speech to Congress last week, during which he bashed the new Arizona law, the ad directly links Whitman and the Mexican president as backers of amnesty and anything-goes immigration policy on one side, and Poizner squarely on the other, as it builds on a previous spot connecting eMeg to the alleged policy of President Obama.
“Do you want a governor who has the same position on illegal immigration as the president of Mexico?” the announcer intones.
Messaging aside, three more key points:
1-From what we can glean, eMeg is still out-spending Poizner about 2-to-1 heading into the final days; he’s already got a decidedly uphill fight and, without forking out significantly more cash, it’s hard to see how he pulls it out.
2-Whatever else the ad war has accomplished, it’s a safe bet that it’s driven the negatives of both Republicans way up. We’ll know more after seeing the USC/LA Times and Field polls but we hear that favorability ratings among general election voters for Whitman and Poizner are both under water – about 3-to-4 negative – while Brown’s is up to about 5-to-3 in positive territory.
3-If that’s the case, whoever wins the GOP nomination may want to spend some time digging out of their negative favorability hole before attacking Brown. And that would be a huge relief to Krusty who’s been able to save cash and political capital while lambasting his GOP rivals as “apostles of ignorance and darkness.”
“ I don’t think they’re even healthy for the mind,” Brown said of the two ad campaigns last week. ” I think they’re contaminating the children who may see these things.”
Jerry’s Cash Cache
Back in the first week of May, when Calbuzz first reported on the California Democratic Party’s Goldman Sachs anti-Whitman TV ad masquerading as an “issues ad,” we had what we thought was solid information from Democratic sources that the CDP’s initial buy – of just under $1 million – would be followed by a couple more weeks.
Since Attorney General Jerry Brown had raised the money for the CPD’s ad buy, it made sense that the ad would keep running for a while in hopes of weakening Whitman’s favorability among Democrats, independents and perhaps even some Republicans. (BTW, it was when we tried to discuss this with CDP Chairman John Burton that he said fuck you told us to go fuck ourselves.)
Well, something happened that our sources didn’t anticipate: with the CPD ad in the mix while Steve Poizner was unloading ads on Whitman about Goldman Sachs, illegal immigration and her voting record, eMeg’s favorability ratings got so bad so fast, Krusty the General Brown – a renowned cheapskate – decided he didn’t need to spend all that money on the Goldman ad.
Which is where the $2.25 million came from that Brown received on Friday from the California Democratic Party. Which is part of the reason we won’t be too surprised if, when Brown’s next money report is filed, he has about $20 million on hand.
Stupid Poll Tricks
Remember when we mentioned that the Survey USA poll on May 10 that found Whitman with a mere 2-point lead over Poizner was most likely a pile of horse manure? Well lo and behold, Survey USA, with its fancy schmancy robotic pre-recorded calls, now says Whitman leads 54-27. Of course, there’s no explanation why Poizner would have dropped 10 points or why Whitman would have picked up 15. But who cares? It’s all just numbers, right?
The Daily Kos poll, by Research 2000, which has Whitman leading Poizner 46-36%, sounds more sound to us.
Get a room, willya?: Mickey Kaus, the blogosphere’s favorite son candidate for U.S. Senate, wants Barbara Boxer to meet him at the Holiday Inn.