When Barbara Boxer’s attack ad on Carly Fiorina came out the other day, with its mention of Fiorina’s “million dollar yacht,” we were reminded of an unfortunate nautical gaffe made by another Republican candidate for U.S. Senate — John Seymour, who was trying in 1992 to hang onto the seat he’d been appointed to by Pete Wilson, after Wilson became governor.
Challenged by Dianne Feinstein, Seymour was a decent man but something of a hapless statewide candidate. And it didn’t help when, at the California Republican Party Convention, he was trying to demonstrate his sensitivity to the down-and-out by saying: “Sometimes you lose your job. Maybe you’ve got to sell your boat to keep your family going.”
He tried later to explain himself, telling our friend Cathy Decker at the LA Times: “I wasn’t speaking of yacht owners. Boat owners! There’s hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions (of boats) in California.” But he never could portray himself as anything but a wealthy, Orange County Republican and, in the election that swept Bill Clinton into the White House, Feinstein beat him 54-38%.
None of which anyone but a few alter kockers even remembers. But it is a delicious backdrop for Calbuzzer Chief Pen Stabber Tom Meyer’s cartoon this week in which an environmentally challenged Hurricane Carly is outraged at the damn proletarian whale (sorry Babs) that gets in the way of her yacht.
Senate situationer: As Babs and Carly prepare to spar on public radio Wednesday afternoon, a non-face-to-face showdown certain to be heard by hundreds, three quick thoughts on the state of the the race:
1-Team Fiorina may come to regret giving Boxer a free pass to pummel their candidate for a full week without offering an answer to Bab’s tough ad about Carly’s reign of error at HP.
At a time when most recession-riddled voters are just tuning in, and one third of them know next to the nothing about Fiorina, the attack line Babs has pressed since the first debate about Hurricane slashing 30,000 jobs is not exactly the first thing Mean Girl wanted folks to know about her.
2-When Fiorina finally responded, she didn’t even try to blunt the heart-of-cold CEO narrative that Boxer is pushing, but rather tried to change the subject with her beat down of Babs for getting all huffy with a general for not using her correct title.
Boxer’s worst You Tube moment is a great insider issue, but not particularly salient to the problems of the unemployed; moreover, many women voters of Barbara’s generation, and the one that followed, who had to fight fiercely for respect in the workplace, may not think she was all that out of line with her comment.
3-The big unknown in the campaign remains the question of whether Fiorina will benefit from a massive cash infusion from the Rove Republican forces now funneling hundreds of millions of post-Citizens United corporate dollars, often with no disclosure of the donors, into mid-term races across the country.
Two factors mitigate against it: a) giving iCarly a real boost will be a most expensive proposition and any organization that decides to play in California, shadowy or not, must be all-in to be effective – half measures won’t do it; b) unlike eMeg, Fiorina has yet to make a serious and sustained financial commitment to the race out of her own pocketbook; one of the assets national Republicans originally saw in her candidacy was her ability to self-fund.
Given the latest polls, until she puts in more than table stakes, they may decide their money can be spent more efficiently, and with a greater chance of success, on smaller battlegrounds. A Senate seat is a Senate seat, no matter wherefrom.