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California & not GOP or Demos should come first

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POSTED May 24, 2010 12:27 a.m.
My first vote cast in a Republican governor’s primary race was in June of 1974. I was 18. Meg Whitman didn’t vote that year. She had a good excuse. She was two months shy of turning 18. Besides, she was a resident of Cold Springs Harbor in New York at the time.

It was a cordial race between Ronald Reagan’s lieutenant governor Ed Reinecke and state controller Houston Flournoy. There were no hit ads, no name calling, and no contortionist act with voting records. Both ran their campaigns based on the so-called Republican Party’s 11th Commandment that was handed down by Reagan - “Thou shalln’t speak ill of fellow Republicans.”

Now not only do Republicans speak ill of others now but they also stone them.
Flournoy got my vote as he was the middle-of-the-road of the two seeking to replace Reagan.

Reagan was governor at the time struck me as having conservative values but being able to govern from the middle. It seemed to bode well for California. Flournoy prevailed in the primary.

The general election was a real yawner. It was tough to figure out who was more boring - Flournoy or the Democratic nominee Jerry Brown. There was no inkling on the campaign trail that Brown would morph into Gov. Moonbeam after he was elected. At times, both seemed to espouse the same policies. It was a tough call on my part but ultimately I went with Flournoy because he seemed to be a bit more in the middle.

Apparently it is a sin today to be a Republican and to have centrist views coupled with conservative leanings just like it is an act against the Democratic Party to be a Democrat and prefer middle-of-the-road policies with a tinge of liberalism.

Billionaire Meg Whitman has spent $65 million out of her own pocket as of last week while super millionaire Steve Poizner has dumped $28 million of his own cash into the race. What this tells me is that running an on-line auction house generated more wealth than founding Silicon Valley start ups.

I’m not really offended by their wealth. I am, though, about both of their assumptions that they need to white wash past positions and to turn a hard right to pander to the party’s hardcore base to win in the primary. Both Whitman and Poizner have backed the campaigns of ultra liberals in the past with both money and their endorsement. It is clear that they did it out of concern of protecting their business interests which obviously paid off given their wealth.

Part of the pandering to the extreme bases of the two major parties has everything to do with the hardening of people’s political expectations. We no longer seem to look for leaders who will make the right call. Instead we want someone who will pass our personal litmus tests of agreeing with us 100 percent. Or at least that is true of those on the left who slam President Obama for not being liberal enough and those on the right who have been known to not vote for Republican nominees who weren’t conservative enough even if it meant that an opposing candidate who was much more liberal would get elected.

What matters to me in this election is finding someone who can lead California out of this mess.

In their spending binge to prove who is the most conservative they are essentially making it difficult to get elected in November. Which, given Whitman’s slick ads that provide platitudes and no real specifics while her Texas  Chainsaw Massacre inspired campaign against Poizner as well as Poizner’s own handiwork at trying to turn Whitman into Darth Vader, may not be a bad thing.

We don’t need another governor in California who divides. With all due respect to Arnold Schwarzenegger, he misread the public’s temperament when he when into Sacramento as the Lone Ranger. It doesn’t work that way. Whitman is riding the same horse. As for Poizner, he is saddling up as he tries to corral votes in the June primary.

Maybe it is wishful thinking, but the last thing a rank and file Republican should want in this election - or a rank-and file Democrat for that matter - is a governor who advances the agenda of either the Republicans or the Democrats. In case you haven’t noticed, the leadership in both parties have done a superb job of botching up California’s government.

Maybe it is from catering to our every want and desire. Maybe it is from both sides of the aisle kowtowing to moneyed special interests and advocacy groups that threaten to work against those that don’t vote their way.

Whatever the case it is 16 days until election day and you can count me among that large number of Republicans thoroughly disgusted - and undecided - as to whom I’m voting for as neither Whitman or Poizner has demonstrated the temperament needed to lead a severely divided state.

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