Political Fix (18 September, 2014)

Man on Fire

During the September 4 gubernatorial debate, Neel Kashkari summed up Gov. Brown’s legislative successes for the month of August as: banning plastic bags, regulating high school football practices, and allowing pets on the patios of restaurants. We know Gov. Brown has accomplished a lot more than that, but Mr. Kashkari’s was painting a picture.

Mr. Kashkari continued to pound home his point throughout the debate. He came out of the gate on fire compared to Gov.

Brown’s more pedantic approach. Gov. Brown dished it out too, but Mr. Kashkari had a response to every point Gov. Brown made, bringing up California’s uneven recovery, the crazy train, the rate of poverty, the state’s unfriendly business climate, and on and on.

So who won the debate? None of the papers or pundits declared a winner, but I’d have to give my nod to Mr. Kashkari. He was energetic, quick-witted and extremely prepared. Gov. Brown had his moments but never seemed to get the last word in like Mr. Kashkari. Gov. Brown made a point of saying that California had gone up from the number nine economy in the world to the number eight during his term. But Mr. Kashkari countered that when Gov. Brown took office in 1976 California was actually the fifth largest economy in the world, so the state had actually lost ground since he was in office. Gov. Brown said that he has presided over “the California comeback.” Mr. Kashkari countered that, out of the fifty states, California was 46th in education, 44th in jobs, but number one in poverty. California has a 24% poverty rate, which Mr. Kashkari points to when he explains that the California comeback hasn’t happened for everyone.

At the end of the debate, Mr. Kashkari looked straight into the camera and asked, “Is your family back? Are your kids in good schools today? I’m running for governor to fight for your family and to fight to rebuild the middle class.”

The question is moot about who won. Even with the contentious primary election, his faux hobo stunt, and the televised debate, 25% of likely voters still can’t even identify Mr. Kashkari. The polls say that he is behind by 16 points, and compared to Gov. Brown’s campaign coffers he is relatively broke.

Ashley Has Had a Bad September

Let’s recap what has been happening in the race for State Controller between Fresno Mayor Swearengin and Board of Equalization Member Betty Yee.

  1. For the first time in at least sixteen years, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association won’t be backing the Republican candidate for state controller;
  2. A new poll came out showing that Ms. Swearengin was trailing Ms. Yee by 14 points;
  3. Ms. Yee is out-fundraising Ms. Swearengin by a nearly 2-to-1 margin;
  4. Ms Swearengin has upset the Republican Party by not endorsing Neel Kashkari for Governor; and
  5. She upset her Central Valley constituents when she dropped “Fresno” from her ballot designation and put “Mayor/CEO.”

Did I miss anything? Looks like the political pundits overestimated her chances of winning the State Controller’s office, even if she had been running against former assemblyman John Perez.

As far as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, they are not endorsing Betty Yee either. The group is just leaving Ms. Swearengin’s name off of their endorsement list. Why? For one, because she supports High-Speed Rail that is considered a waste of taxpayer dollars. Second, because she supported an increase in water rates so Fresno could fix their antiquated water system. The rate increase was repealed, but it’s only a matter of time before they have a main break like what flooded UCLA this summer.

And her ballot designation? The troglodytes voiced their displeasure over the fact that Ashley dropped “Fresno” from the ballot. But those who are familiar with Ms. Swearingen know she is the mayor of Fresno. Everyone else doesn’t care.

I can see the Bay Area techie sipping their extra foam, one-percent milk, 120 degree cappuccino–because they wouldn’t know a cup of coffee if it was thrown in their face–deciding whom to pick for State Controller based on the sample ballot. One gander at “Fresno Mayor” and, in all their political correctness, they would take their imaginary red pencil and draw a line through the dumb central valley blonde’s name and choose the Bay Area Asian. As usual, Ms. Swearingen made the right choice.

Lastly, what is Ashley’s problem with Neel? He was just being a little cheeky when he materialized on the streets of Fresno as the best looking homeless guy in California. She needs to quit giving Neel the stink eye and endorse him already.

Now that Ms. Swearengin is losing, Rupublicans have jumped camp to their other great white hope in Pete Peterson, who is running for secretary of state. Mr. Peterson is the executive director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University. He is running against state Senator Alex Padilla, a termed-out state senator and former Los Angeles city councilman. Sen. Padilla leads Mr. Peterson by 7 points and with no huge differences between the two, that doesn’t seem likely to change. According to political columnist Dan Walters, “As a Republican, Peterson could benefit from what likely will be an extraordinarily low voter turnout for the Nov. 4 election, following the record low primary turnout in June.” What an honorable way to win.

Alba gu Bràth!

By the time you pick this paper up on Thursday, Scotland will have already voted whether or not to declare its independence from England. Those voting “no” fear Scotland’s fragile economy will not survive without England. For those who will be voting “yes,” their reasons are obvious. Just like the United State and Australia, they want to be free from England. It has become what many have penned: a battle between the heart and mind.

I am of Scottish descent on my father’s side. Some of our relatives left Scotland for good and some branches of the family stayed behind. My great grandfather, Peter Malloch, sailed across the pond to join his Uncle Donald in California. They staked their claims in the Mineral King silver mines, then sold them and used the money to buy land in Goshen. Uncle Donald went on to establish one of Visalia’s more successful breweries, and Peter settled down with my namesake, Catherine, who was from a family heavily involved in the temperance movement. One spoke with a heavy Scottish burr and one sang songs in German to their five children. It was a match made in heaven.

My third cousin, Sandy Reid, still lives in Scotland, on the Isle of Lewis. He had this to say of the vote. “The most interesting aspects of the voting are inclusion of 16 and 17-year-olds for the first time [with their future prospects in mind] and predictions of unprecedented 80+% turnout. Polls have narrowed now to ‘too close to call,’ with about 18% still ‘undecided’ – you can include me among the latter, until I’m in the voting-booth probably — a common quote that fits me would be ‘the head says no, and the heart says yes.’ Interestingly the last week’s ‘No’ persuasion preaching is now focusing on the ‘heart,’ after previous ‘head’ arguments have failed it seems.”

Registration to vote in this election has now jumped to 97%.

Sandy’s and my distant Malloch relatives farmed along the banks of Loch Tay in the Highlands during times of independence and during times of English rule. Back then, a fight for independence meant war. Now it means political war. The three major London-based parties, all much disliked in Scotland, and usually at each others’ throats, have shown a rare display of unity in their desperation to keep Scotland from voting for independence. Prime Minister David Cameron said he would be, “heartbroken if the family of nations were torn apart,” showing his trepidation of not wanting to be known as the prime minister who lost Scotland. The Labor Party and Liberal Democrats made similar emotional pleas of, “stay with us so we can change Britain together.”

The famous Scottish leader William Wallace said, “In the Year of our Lord 1314, patriots of Scotland – starving and outnumbered – charged the fields of Bannockburn. They fought like warrior poets; they fought like Scotsmen, and won their freedom.” Seven hundred years later let’s see if the Scots can do it again – at the ballot box.

The Reluctant Leader

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum, the Democratic and Republican presidential front runners won’t declare their candidacy. Hillary and Mitt wander the country declaring they haven’t made up their mind, or that they are definitely not running, while their shadow campaigns set up their infrastructure.

In a recent survey taken in Iowa, Republicans, and Republican-leaning independents, chose former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as their frontrunner with 13%. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie received 11%, Texas Gov. Rick Perry 9%, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush 7%. “However, when Mitt Romney’s name was introduced into the mix, 35% would scrap their first choice and opt for Gov. Romney, while 9% stayed with Gov. Huckabee, and 6% with Gov. Christie,” according to Suffolk University News.

On top of that, when matched in a hypothetical race against President Obama, Gov. Romney easily wins, but that is probably because President Obama is so unpopular right now.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton received the support of 66% of registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, followed by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts with 10% and Vice President Joe Biden, who had 8%.
Gov. Romney attended Gov. Christie’s birthday fundraiser in New Hampshire during the first week of September. While at the event Gov. Romney declared that if he ran for president in 2016 there would be a completely different outcome. He’s got that right. This time he would lose to a woman.

Optical Delusion

In June, Carl DeMaio of San Diego won his primary for the 52nd Congressional District and could be the first openly gay Republican to win national office. He is running against Democratic freshman, Scott Peters, who is considered vulnerable.

Mr. DeMaio obviously isn’t a Republican because of his views on social issues. One of his campaign ads features him and his partner marching in the gay pride parade. So when you boil it down, the only reason Mr. DeMaio is a Republican is the fact that he is a fiscal conservative. Why else would any of the Log Cabin Republicans join a party that is openly hostile to gays?

So that begs the question, why did the US Chamber of Commerce endorse the Democrat? Did they endorse Scot Peters when he ran in 2012? According to the Fresno Bee, “The US Chamber of Commerce has taken the rare step of endorsing the Democratic incumbent in one of California’s most contested congressional races. The trade group overwhelmingly endorses Republican candidates. Of the more than 260 candidates the chamber has endorsed this election Peters is only the fourth Democrat.”
The chamber may have their reasons but the optics are incredibly bad.

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