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California Democratic Primary Candidates Angelides, Westly End Old Notions about Soft Democrats

By June 5, 2006

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Tomorrow, June 6, is California's primary election, and Democrats must choose between two candidates for governor, Phil Angelides and Steve Westly.

Angelides, born in Sacramento, has been state Treasurer for the last seven years, after serving as chair of the California Democratic Party. Westly, raised in the Bay Area, is a former student body president of Stanford University.Westly has been California state Controller since 2002. He also worked in a series of "dot.coms" during the Silicon Valley heyday, including a few years at eBay. Westly has been active in California Democratic politics for more than 20 years.

Phil Angelides has the endorsements of both US Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. He's also endorsed by every teachers' union in the state of California, and a myraid of labor unions and police and firefighter associations across the state. He also won (by a wide margin) the endorsemment of the California 2006 Democratic Convention last month.

As a result solely of his endorsements, Phil Angelides has my vote tomorrow, and that of my husband.

Given the A-list quality of his long endorsement list, Angelides should be leading handily, but he's not....this race is a stastistical dead heat, mainly due to a prolonged, vicious TV ad war between the two Democratic candidates. Writes blogger ripzaw at DailyKos: "Having been back in Pasadena for the last 3 weeks, I've seen the TV ads myself. Both campaigns are absolutely blanketing the air with them. And boy oh boy, after these three weeks, I'm inclined to agree with Kos....'I quit. I hate them both.' "

As best I can tell, Steve Westly, the more moderate of the two candidates as well as the more camera-appealing, threw down the political gauntlet with the first misleading, tough-cookie ads, portraying himself as THE environmental candidate who is also the most friendly to education. He obscures his plans to cut public education (hence, the strong rejection of Westly by the state's education community), and wildly misstates his opponents' tax proposals.

Angelides (who may not be pretty, but has a pretty family) responds similarly with overstatement of his environmental record, and a slam on Westly's supposed budgetary plans for the state. "Angelides is swearing up and down that Westly is going to hand the state over to his wealthy business buddies," observes ripzaw at DailyKos.

I wholeheartedly agree with ripzaw when he laments, "The ads are bad. Really, really bad. Not counter-productive bad, just worthless bad. What makes them counter-productive is the frequency with which they're running them. The same ad will often run twice in the same commercial break."
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Which brings me to the question......Is this how Republicans consistently fight and win? Is this the pragmatic lesson of resounding Republican victories since 2000? Smear and attack, regardless of the facts, and don't give a damn?

Many pundits believe that Gore and Kerry lost their presidential bids because they under-anticipated the viciousness of their opposition...that Gore and Kerry were too soft, too weak, they didn't desire victory as much as George Bush and Dick Cheney.

And others have said that Democrats inherently don't have the political stomach to fight the vicious, untruthful smear campaigns necessary to win the big elections in the 21st century.

Right or wrong, and like it or not, Phil Angelides and Steve Westly have killed those old notions of Democrats being too soft or too nice to fight for victory in the big elections. Sadly I say, welcome to the 21st century in Democratic politics.

Comments

June 7, 2006 at 4:50 am
(1) Tom Head says:

Meanwhile, here in Mississippi:

* Bennie Thompson stomped (65:35) Democratic state legislator Chuck Espy, nephew of Mike Espy, who was running on the strength of Republican crossover voting (we have open primaries) and had expressed fond hopes of banning abortion if elected. I am a strong Thompson supporter but had expected Espy to win, so this is good news.

* Four anti-abortion Democrats battled it out to face Trent Lott in November. My favorite of the four, state representative and part-time abstinence educator Erik Fleming, came in first with 46% and will be facing the #2 guy (who had something like 25%) in a runoff. Fleming, to his credit, voted against the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment and is the only one of the four candidates who supports immigrants’ rights (the other three made a campaign out of bashing immigration reform efforts).

* Our next gubernatorial race is in 2007. Debate between our candidates in 2003, incumbent Ronnie Musgrove (D) and challenger Haley Barbour (R), often centered on such pressing issues as whether to offer to host Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments monument in the Capitol Building or the Governor’s Mansion (Musgrove favored the former, Barbour the latter). Barbour won the race rather easily.

Westly and Angelides sound pretty darned good about now. :o ) But it sounds like Angelides won, so good for him–and congratulations!

Cheers,

TH

June 7, 2006 at 6:02 pm
(2) Deborah White says:

Thanks, Tom!

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