Posts Tagged ‘GOP’



Memo to CA GOP: Time to Do Something Different

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

After watching the California Republican Party implode in the 2010 election – spectacularly in the cases of Meg Whitman’s campaign for governor and Carly Fiorina’s run for U.S. Senate – Calbuzz has some unsolicited advice for the state’s Grand Old Party.

Just as Democrats in Washington are being urged to re-calibrate after the spanking their party got in some parts of the country, Republicans in California need to do a little re-calibrating themselves.

Before we offer our pearls of wisdom, however, let’s dispense of the howling response we expect from some of our friends in the right-wing peanut gallery (we name no names, Flash) who will surely hurl the “liberals” canard at Calbuzz and say we just want the Republicans to become Democrats.

Not true. We don’t want Republicans to become Democrats — we want Republicans to become relevant.

So that there is a vigorous contest of ideas in California politics. Right now, Republicans are so trapped in their ideological hall of mirrors that they have become a distorted caricature of themselves. They can thump their chests and win big attaboys at the California Republican Assembly convention. But they utterly  fail to reflect the impulses of the vast majority of California voters who tend to be fiscally conservative and socially moderate.

Republicans believe in smaller government, lower taxes, reduced regulation, economic growth, individual freedom and law and order, to name a few GOP values.

They should continue to stand and fight for all of those. But they need to build all that into a platform that begins with a realistic growth agenda. Investments in roads, bridges, dams and/or levees, water projects, schools and universities, redevelopment projects, ports – all these things and more – are wholly consistent with their philosophical world view. Their fixation on opposing everything the Democrats propose is hurting them more than it is helping them.

Republicans could become leading advocates of an economic rebound strategy that relies on Silicon Valley innovation, green jobs, high-tech research and development. They could integrate this with increased exports for a growing agricultural sector and a healthy and expanding service economy.

They don’t have to continually serve the interests of the wealthiest 2% of California families – they can focus of the struggling middle class. And they need to remember that California is not Kentucky or Alaska or any other state where the so-called “tea party” is a big deal. In California, tea party ideology is a non-starter.

It’s time for leaders of the California Republican Party to rethink their general strategy and the specifics of their agenda. Here’s where they should start:

1.  Change your position on a “path to citizenship.” You can and should strongly favor securing the borders against illegal immigration. That’s a matter of defending our sovereignty and integrity as a nation.

The political reason you fear changing on citizenship is that you’re afraid that if all those illegal Mexicans and other Latinos become U.S. citizens, they will bolster the Democratic Party. And that’s certainly a valid fear of a potential outcome.

But it needn’t be that way.

Just as the Republican Party was the Northern standard-bearer for the abolition of slavery in the 1850s and 1860s, so could the California Republican Party become the advocate for citizenship for honest working men and women who have come to the U.S. to make better lives for themselves and their families.

Nine in 10 Latinos in California — and a healthy majority of independent voters — support a path to citizenship for people who have been working here illegally for two years or more. Get on their side. Make them your allies.

You know who will be unhappy? Big labor, pro-choice forces and culturally liberal Democrats who want to keep Latino voters in their corner. Latino Catholic culture is quite conservative on family issues. You don’t have to moderate on too many of these. But you drive Latinos away with your anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric. Your current policy just panders to the politics of resentment and makes you look bad. Time to move on.

2. Get on board with green jobs and environmental conservation. By arguing that people must pick either environment or economic development, you’re creating a false choice. And voters know it.

Plenty of Republicans – from the late David Packard to George Schultz – have proved that you can be a rock-ribbed Republican and also in favor of preserving and enhancing the environment. Of course environmentalism has to be balanced against other competing interests – like healthy agriculture, water supplies to cities and reasonable, controlled growth in and around urban areas.

But you have made fighting environmental regulation a cause. Your political calculation is that the business forces in your camp cannot tolerate stepped-up regulation and enforcement. But that’s old-school thinking. Only retrograde – and politically poisonous – corporations are afraid of the New Environmental World Order. You should make this part of some sort of 21st Century capitalism project, or something. Don’t let old school enviros control this vote rich sector.

3.  Develop your bench. Start grooming young, bright, articulate Republicans in cities, counties, Assembly districts and elsewhere.

Send them off to advanced management training at Harvard or Stanford. Introduce them to business leaders, venture capitalists, university presidents, foundation chiefs, leading journalists and party funders. Get them involved in key issues and causes.

Teach them about practical politics and polling and other insider skills as well. Train them in how to talk to reporters. Help them learn to think on their feet, to answer questions without betraying their ignorance and how to talk with ordinary people without sounding like they’re preaching or talking just from a list of talking points. Do what big-time college athletic programs do – recruit district by district.

4.  Reconsider your stance on abortion. There’s got to be a way to move to the center on this question where you support a woman’s right to choose in line with Roe vs Wade without endorsing or even supporting abortion.

Don’t give up your commitment to the idea that abortion is a moral choice. But recognize that it’s a moral choice that individuals have to make – not one that can be legislatively controlled.

You can be in favor of life and in favor of reducing the number of abortions. Be for, not against, family planning, like Barry Goldwater was. In a sense, become libertarian on the issue. You may never get the endorsement of the most ardent pro-choice groups, but you can neutralize the power of the issue. And if you can recruit pro-choice Republicans, all the better.

Your goal should be to build a coalition based on the overarching goal of reducing the number of abortions, but without all the wasted breath on  abstinence and all the hysterical opposition to teen sex education.

5. Sound sensible, not strident. The problem with the tea party rhetoric that some of you find so attractive is that it sounds like the ravings of a crazy old uncle who really ought to be locked in the attic.

The vast majority of California voters are moderate, independent-minded, pragmatic people. They don’t much care if an idea comes from a Democrat or a Republican. They just want it to make sense.

They’re not against government; they just want government to work on their behalf. They’re not opposed to all taxes; they’re opposed to taxes that seem unfair, onerous or overly broad. They want to control the borders but they also want to be fair to people who have worked hard to make a living, no matter where they come from.

They’re not pro-abortion but they want women and their doctors — not Assembly members and state senators — to make choices about the life and death of fetuses. California voters are tired of people running for office who sound like they think they know everything and whose answers are purely ideological.

You need to have a hard head. But you also need to demonstrate a soft heart. And maybe a touch of humility.

Epic Clash of GOP Titans – Giants Beat Rangers 8-5

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

After months of anticipation, build-up and trash-talking between the rival camps, Republican wannabe governors Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner met in their first critical face-to-face debate Monday night – and when the rubber met the road, the deal went down and the dust settled, 10 things were very clear:

1-She’s wayyyy taller than he is. Not since Mugsy Bogues took it to the hole against Manute Bol has there been such a vertical mismatch as that revealed by the shot of eMeg and The Commish shaking hands at the beginning of Monday night’s New Majority debate in Costa Mesa, which reminded us of that silly theory that the taller candidate always wins the election.

2-Ustream totally sucks. Okay, so Calbuzz admits we were a teeny bit late to the party vis a vis the whole debate thing, as we had a pressing engagement at Surprise Stadium to watch the Giants open a can of whupass on the Rangers, 8-5, with Fred Lewis going yard in the first inning to set the tone of the evening.

But, hey, we did the responsible thing and left in the top of the 6th, which was plenty of time to get back to the hotel, watch the web replay and come up with a host of characteristically blinding insights about the debate. But noooo…Ustream had to muck everything up so we could only watch the debate in four second increments, followed by endless stretches of waiting before the next four seconds of Meg saying “I’ve been in business 30 years,” and Steve yelling, “immigration, bold tax cuts, immigration” which got REALLY ANNOYING really quickly and left us reliant on the views of others, which actually turned out to be pretty uniform anyway.

3-The L.A. Times thought it was a snoozefest. How’s this for a grabber headline: “Poizner, Whitman cover familiar territory in debate.” And when Cathy Decker calls it “generally genteel” in the lede, you can be sure no one made news.

4-Poizner won. We know this because there was an email waiting in our inbox from his campaign that quoted communications director Jarrod Agen and said, “Steve Poizner Wins Debate.”

5-The San Jose Mercury-News thought it was a snooze fest. How’s this for stop the presses stuff: “Long anticipated first debate between Whitman and Poizner mostly echoes stump speeches.” Zzzzz.

6-Whitman won. We know this because there was an email waiting in our inbox from her campaign that quoted Tucker Bounds, her communications director, as saying, “This was an enormous victory for our campaign tonight.”

7-The Chronicle thought it was a snoozefest. “Poizner-Whitman: GOP Candidates’ First Debate.” This is what is known in the business as a “neutral headline.” Lock up the kids, Maude, those whacky Republicans are at it again.

8-The most entertaining webcast of the night was Flashreport’s guided tour of the food of the pressroom at the debate site. At least Fleischman’s video WORKED.

9-Meg looked silly forgetting her mic. From the pieces of the damn thing we actually got to see, Her Megness was  so excited to start ripping Poizner’s face off that she started delivering her mandatory thanks to the organizers and opening lines without remembering that she needed to hold a microphone to do it. Sheesh.

10-Meg won. As Ken McLaughlin pointed out in his piece, eMeg’s big challenge of the night was to prove she was “ready for prime time.” By at least holding her own with Poizner, not committing a major gaffe or falling off the stage, she clearly accomplished that, while The Commish fell short of forcing a turnover, which is what he needed to change the campaign narrative with the debate. Did we mention that she’s a lot taller?

GOP Extra II: New Boffo Hit By Demon Sheep Auteur

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Cue the dancing bears: Wannabe Senator Carly Fiorina rolled out a full-throttle, multi-media extravaganza for her turn in the limelight Saturday, the Republican state convention’s most boffo box office so far.

Taking full advantage of her scheduled time on the convention program, Team Carly essentially relaunched her campaign, with a production that included music by Van Halen, a free-swinging speech delivered by the candidate channeling Miss Scarlet, and a new, mad genius video by gonzo media consultant Fred Davis.

“We call it the announcement on steroids,” Davis told Calbuzz.

In contrast to Meg Whitman, whose Friday night speech to delegates may be found in the dictionary under “somnolent,” Fiorina’s talk was energetic, punchy and well-crafted.

Wielding a hand mike, she paced a small stage erected in the middle of an audience of 500, wearing a bright red pencil skirt and matching ruffled jacket as she punctuated a rip job attack on Barbara Boxer with steady chops of her left hand (NB: Opposed on principle to all forms of sexism, Calbuzz mentions her wardrobe choice solely as a contextual element in describing the production values of her convention appearance).

Assailing Boxer on issues from abortion to the Delta smelt and the 1992 House banking scandal, and never mentioning her primary rivals, Hurricane Carly insisted she is the only Republican who can defeat the 18-year incumbent.

She portrayed Boxer as a narcissistic, ineffective captive of Democratic special interests, from unions to “radical environmentalists,” as she generated the only spontaneous enthusiasm in the room thus far in the convention (not counting the boos when GOP moderate Sen. Abel Maldonado was introduced).

“Isn’t it ironic that Barbara Boxer would work so hard to protect a two-inch fish, but not lift a finger to protect the unborn,” she said at one point.

“Bring ‘em on,” she thundered at another, after cataloging liberal special interests that will fight to defend the incumbent.

All the fiery rhetoric aside, and notwithstanding the full ear blast of Van Halen’s “Jump” which closed the Hurricane’s star turn, the highlight of her coming out act was “Hot Air: The Movie,” a 7 minute-30 second acid flashback web video produced by Davis, the auteur of Fiorina’s now-infamous “Demon Sheep” ad attacking GOP foe Tom Campbell as an ersatz conservative.

“I thought of (Boxer’s) head inflating, getting bigger and bigger, until it burst through the top of the Capitol,” Davis said by way explanation of his latest oevre, which must be seen to be genuinely appreciated.

This just in: The “Tea Party Rally,” which promised a big blast of  anti-government populist anger, turned out to be a big bust, a bunch of standing around by maybe 150 people, most of them appearing to be guys named Eugene who formerly populated the high school radio club.

BTW, the NYT’s Kate Zernike has an excellent takeout on why the movement is focused on economics to the near exclusion of traditionally right-wing social issues.

Overheard: “It’s very important for us not to peak too soon.”
–A spinner for wannabe governor Steve Poizner, tongue firmly in cheek, to a gaggle of wretched ink-stained types.

Old conventional wisdom: Meg Whitman is a super-wealthy political novice who’s trying to buy the election and won’t even talk to reporters.

New Conventional wisdom: Meg Whitman is a super-wealthy political novice who’s trying to buy the election but who talks to reporters.

We read this stuff so you don’t have to: The Calbuzz Press Clips scores are in for next day coverage of eMeg’s surprise press session on Friday, which yielded the most information to date on where she stands on a host of substantive policy issues:

Chroniclers Carla Marinucci and Joe Garofoli had the best bullet-point overview (from policy to politics), while Jack Chang at the Bee produced the most detailed piece on where she stands on pension reform (which should have public employees waking up in a cold sweat and SEIU leaders going deeper into their wallets on behalf of Jerry Brown), as Timm Herdt of the Ventura County Star breaks it down on Whitman’s stance on illegal immigration, which is considerably less hardcore, or more compassionate, depending on how you look at it.

Update 9:30 p.m. Steve Poizner Saturday night followed Franklin Roosevelt’s famous dictum for public speaking: “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”

In his big dinner speech to the delegates, The Commish spoke for just under 10 minutes, after a strong videotaped endorsement (“We can’t afford Arnold Schwarzenegger’s third term”) from right-wing Rep. Tom McClintock, a California conservative favorite. By contrast, Friday night had the feel of an expansive “evening with Meg Whitman,” as she spoke for about 30 minutes with the use of a teleprompter, preceded by a formal introduction by Mitt Romney and followed by a way-long phony “conversation” with conservative talk show host Eric Hogue tossing softballs to eMeg and Mitt, who sat perched on stools on the stage.

It was hard to avoid the notion that eMeg’s expanded time slot was somehow related to the $250,000 she donated to the state GOP last year, but Poizner, pacing the stage as he spoke without notes or a podium, made the most of his opportunity.

Although he’ll never be confused as an orator with Barack Obama, he delivered a crisp statement of the criteria for his candidacy and clearly framed the distinctions between Her Megness and himself , declaiming on the virtues of “individual liberty…personal responsibility…free markets (and) smaller, more accountable government.”

“As Tom McClintock said, there’s a big battle going on right now for the heart and soul of the Republican party. There’s basically two camps. One camp wants to re-brand; one camp wants to move the Republican party to the center; one camp wants to reposition the Republican party. I just couldn’t disagree with that more.”

GOP Extra: Shocker – eMeg Meets the Press

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Calbuzz gets results: Suddenly shifting gears on media strategy, Meg Whitman showed up at the Republican state convention Friday and promptly met with California political reporters for a full-on,  one-hour press conference that made us wonder why they’ve been hiding and sneaking her out of the back door for the last year.

Now if she goes to dinner with us, we may have to actually quit bitching and moaning about the whole issue of her accessibility.

“It’s the first of more to come,” eMeg said of her give-and-take session with political writers. “We’re now getting down to the short strokes of the primary so you’ll see more of this, and I’ll be doing more and more one-on-one interviews.”

As a short-term political matter, Team Whitman’s move to have the candidate hang  with the political pencil press, after months of missteps, stumbles and embarrassing flights from reporters at campaign events, stops the bleeding on a self-inflicted wound.

She got unfavorable national attention this week, when she refused to take questions after inviting the media to cover an event in Oakland. Friday’s performance may also take a big bite out of a narrative being pushed by GOP rival Steve Poizner – that Whitman is too aloof, imperious and controlling to open herself to the normal rigors faced by candidates in California.

“I don’t think we handled it very well,” she said of this week’s incident at the Port of Oakland. “I should have taken questions. It’s one of those days on the campaign trail where things don’t go how they’re supposed to.”

At the convention site Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, Whitman handled questions ranging from taxes to temperament, from pensions to prisons, from immigration to her investments (which were the subject Friday of a must-read piece in the L.A. Times).  Although she frequently retreated to talking points, she was direct, facile and responsive in discussing a host of policy issues, as well as the politics of the campaign.

“Steve has changed his mind on many, many issues, immigration is just one of them,” she said of her GOP rival. “When he ran for Assembly in 2004, in a largely Democratic district, he had a very different tune on a whole host of issues.”

At one point, Calbuzz asked her about her recent threat to veto every piece legislation except those focused on her agenda of job creation, spending reduction and education improvements. We asked her to explain what in her background equipped her for dealing with the push and pull of political forces in the Legislature and, while we didn’t really get an answer to that, she responded without hesitation to a question of whether she thought her veto stance sends the right message to a co-equal branch of government.

“I do,” she said. “I think it’s firm and its ‘listen, here’s my approach, here’s what I want to get done, here’s what the people of California expect us to do so let’s focus on these three things.

“I think by saying ‘I will veto everything’ except for public safety, I mean, if we have an earthquake or something, right, we’re going to be realistic about it, but I think by saying ‘we’re not going to do any of the other stuff, let’s put all of our energies against these three things,’ and I have to tell you the nearly 700 pieces of legislation that were signed into law last year, virtually none of this was on point to the crisis…

“The legislature is interested in many things but they’re interested in being re-elected, so can we focus the Legislature around my three priorities?”

Like Jerry Brown on his announcement tour last week, Whitman said she would move the Legislature in part by improving personal relationships between it and the governor’s office.

“I think in many ways this is about relationships. The next governor has to move to Sacramento…you’ve got to buy a house, you’ve got to be part of that community you’ve got to know every state senator by name, every Assembly person by name. You’ve got to build the relationship because life is about relationships…

“Trust is an important thing and consistency is an important way to build trust and one of the things that hasn’t happened here has been consistency.”

We’ll have more on eMeg’s take on issues in days to come.

Update 10:35 pm: eMeg shudda quit while she was ahead.

Instead she decided to test the limits of human endurance and deliver a speech that was reliably reported to be left over from her middle school student council election to an audience of 500 Republican delegates seemingly struggling to stay awake, who applauded enthusiastically at exactly three lines: a) “I want to eliminate the capital gains tax”; b) “we will win the battle to give rank and file union members the right to protect their paychecks”; c) “Thank you for inviting me to speak to you tonight…thank you.”

The highlight, such as it was, came during her introduction by former GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, one of her mentors. Romney, who was celebrating his 63rd birthday – who says Mormons don’t know how to have fun? – stumbled all over himself in introducing her:

“She’s soft on the inside and hard as nails on the…” he began. “…Excuse me…she’s soft on the outside and hard as nails on the inside,” he added, never really explaining how he would know such a thing.

Earlier Poizner had his own news conference, and channeled the Energizer Bunny cranked up on about three Red Bulls. He hammered eMeg on a host of issues, most especially illegal immigration.

Poizner said as governor he would “yank the business license” of companies that employ illegals,  move to secure the state’s border  “with the National Guard if necessary” and “turn off the magnets” by ending “all taxpayer funded benefits for illegals – not because anyone’s being heartless – this is about ending the magnets so that people don’t come here in the first place.”

“Meg Whitman is not willing to do that. I supported Prop. 187, she does not support Prop. 187,” he said. “It’s one of these important distinctions between the two of us that’s critical.”

Poizner speaks to the delegates Saturday night.

Road Trip: 3 Key Questions for the GOP Convention

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Cue the elephants: Although half of our Western Hemisphere Bureau is on Special Assignment, sampling voter opinion in Cozumel, the short-handed National Affairs Desk will try to soldier on to offer our unique brand of babble-to-babble coverage of this weekend’s Republican state convention.

The festivities promise to be the most intriguing political event since, um, Eric Massa made Glenn Beck’s head explode, as the confab bristles with crucial questions about the future of the California GOP, if not the whole damn Republic. Like:

Will Carly Fiorina stroll the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara accompanied by a Demon Sheep? Will Tom Campbell issue a white paper entitled: “Sami Al-Arian: A Man and His Music”?

Will Meg Whitman take Mitt Romney’s advice to use a little dab of Brylcreem? Will Steve Poizner unveil a cell phone GPS device that only  allows right turns?

Will Joe Garofoli try to sneak those little booze bottles from the mini-bar out in a pillowcase, bellowing that they should be included in his room rate? Will Flash Fleischman be carted off in a straitjacket from the sheer excitement of it all?

Only Calbuzz, from our skybox high above the convention floor, will answer these and other of life’s persistent questions.

You sure do ask a lot of stupid questions: Of course, it’s also true that answers to several other, um, more purely political questions may help to shape the increasingly entertaining GOP primary races for governor and U.S. Senate. Such as:

1-Will eMeg talk to the press?

Meg Whitman, the GOP’s front-runner for governor, heads for the convention coming off her worst week of the campaign since, well, since the last state Republican convention.

Her bizarre behavior at the now-infamous Union Pacific non-press conference train wreck not only attracted a ton of national media attention – here, hereherehere and here , for example – but also drew a quarter-ton of brickbats from within her own party, like the wily conservative blogger Jon “Flash” Fleischman, who’s also a state GOP officer:

I have not been in a hurry to pen a commentary on this topic as it seems like how an individual campaign handles the media is really its own business.

Except as of yesterday, we are now shifting to “embarrassing” as the adjective of choice to describe the situation of Whitman and reporters — where we are now seeing prime time television news reports about the avoiding of reporters! This is not good for Whitman, in my humble opinion, and I know it is not good for the GOP — the latter being my reason for weighing in.

A small-bore controversy at first glance, Whitman’s performance in Oakland on Monday seemed to crystallize a bundle of doubts about her candidacy – her record of failing to vote, her shyness about debates, her year-long avoidance of serious press interviews, her refusal to release her tax returns, her disinclination to avoid any but the most controlled campaign events – that can be summed up in the question: Who is Meg Whitman?

eMeg’s sprint to the head of the pack has been built entirely on the strength of millions in paid advertising. Now her imperious behavior, however, has got the press corps snarling and growling, which could make things unpleasant for her, at best, should the pack go into full barking and baying mode.

One good way to soothe the beasts would be to make herself available for a full-blown press conference at the convention, in which she handles every question that comes at her, by herself, without restrictions and without the help of press handlers or down field blocks from campaign thugs.

2-How hard will Poizner hit illegal immigration?

Still far behind eMeg in the polls, Steve Poizner is showing signs of gaining some traction with his recent red meat offerings to the GOP right-wing, a faction over-represented among the grassroots convention attendees.

The V.C. Star’s Timm Herdt has smartly noted the emphasis that Poizner has been putting on the issue of illegal immigration, among the most visceral concerns of conservative voters.

With eMeg having expressed her distaste for the milestone Proposition 187, Poizner will work all weekend to rally the troops around this and other filet mignon matters; if he succeeds, he could build up some steam heading out of the weekend and into next Monday’s first debate with Her Megness.

“Meg’s message so far has been very muddled,” said one veteran GOP consultant who’s not playing in the governor’s race. “Steve is now talking directly to the conservative base and what he’s saying has some edge to it.”

3-What’s the Tea Party going to do?

As the aforementioned Chronicler Garafoli reported, a busload battalion of Tea Party types plan to raise the flag at the convention, which could make for some interesting political theater:

There may not be any candidate debates at the GOP hoedown this weekend, but the pitchfork and torch crowd will be welcomed home like prodigal children….angry prodigal children. Is there a family therapist in the house?

“Probably 70 percent to 80 percent of our supporters are disaffected Republicans,” TP Express spokesman Joe Wierzbicki told us Monday. So while the Tea P has problems with both parties, they have a better chance to affect change by changing the GOP, he said.

“By us being there, I’m sure people will be wondering,’Is the Republican Party selling out to the Tea Party?’ or ‘Is the Tea Party selling out to the Republican Party?’ People can have that discussion. I’m sure it’s a little bit of both,” he said.

Good times.

For conservatives, the energy and the passion of the political moment reside squarely with the Tea Party crowd, and their enthusiasm for a candidate can make a difference in a close race. Just ask Senator Martha Coakley, D-Mass.

One beneficiary of it this weekend will likely be Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, the right-wing’s favorite son in the three-way GOP primary for the nomination to oppose Senator Barbara Boxer in the fall. As Tom Campbell and Carly Fiorina beat each other’s brains in on issues like Israel and internet taxes, you can make an argument that DeVore is the only guy in the race with a clear, identifiable political base.

As the Tea Party’s tribune, DeVore could make things interesting if either Campbell or Fiorina fades, and he’s left standing as the conservative foil to a moderate front-runner.

All that said, the biggest question of the weekend convention is: How much does it really matter?

Traditionally, Republican conventions have been pep rallies for grassroots folks who ring doorbells, make phone calls and help organize modest fundraisers. But California’s zillionaire candidates are running for governor on television, period, and their presence at the state convention is something of a courtesy call.

This is especially true of Whitman whom, our sources tell us, has already bought a staggering $12.6 million in cable and broadcast time. That kind of campaign plan renders party activism and enthusiasm largely irrelevant.

Sure, it’s nice to have some excitement generated from the base and sure, convention types represent some votes themselves and with the people they can bring to the dance.

But it’s not like the old days (“We walked 12 miles to school, through the snow, barefoot!”) when a candidate for governor stone cold needed hard-core party activists. eMeg, especially, has no need for actual people, except perhaps as props.

A final note: Calbuzzer Don Ringe imagines eMeg and The Commish encountering each other in the convention hotel hallway.