By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
So what does McClintock do? Often a voice crying out in the wilderness, McClintock with his solid third place gains a level of attention he has never had in a long political career. He must know he has no chance of winning. Prescient though he has been at times on the budget, he is simply too conservative. What should he do, other than be a right-wing kamikaze who might elect Bustamante? One idea that is circulating, reported by The New York Times, could be perfect for McClintock, a man of ideas rather than transactions who appears to want a mission.
In last year’s election, professional Democrats feared the idea of Controller McClintock far more than Governor Simon. The controller has tremendous power to audit and investigate anywhere in state government. By the narrowest of margins, neophyte candidate Steve Westly, a multimillionaire eBay executive, staved off a McClintock victory. An executive branch commission headed by McClintock to delve into the Sacramento deals that both he and Schwarzenegger decry could be ideal for him.
Meanwhile, in a bank shot against Schwarzenegger, some Indian casinos are said to be readying to spend another $2 million on a campaign to boost McClintock. If Bustamante can’t expand his vote, maybe they can stop Schwarzenegger — who, polling shows, has the most ability to draw from undecided and independent voters — from consolidating the Republican vote using McClintock as their stalking horse. If McClintock goes along, the casinos could erase the Terminator.
But that is the sort of thing that could damage McClintock’s well-earned reputation as a straight shooter, even costing him his not-so-safe state Senate seat. Perhaps McClintock will be ready to have this candidacy erased after Schwarzenegger finally meets him and the others in a debate in Sacramento on September 24.
Here is what the action superstar is saying about McClintock now. “He is a very smart man with much to offer the people. This is a great moment for him; he deserves it.”
Which sounds a little like what he said about Darrell Issa while he was still running. “He did such a fantastic job getting this thing qualified. But I wonder if he will actually run.” And Bill Simon. “He is a really good guy. I think it will work out.” And the just-departed Peter Ueberroth. “He is a very smart, classy guy. He will have to decide if his campaign is going places.”
Maybe it’s a good thing Schwarzenegger isn’t saying nice things about Cruz Bustamante. He has not yet been erased. But his fund-raising may be doing the job for him. On August 17, Bustamante went on Face the Nation and charged that Davis operatives were blocking his fund-raising. By the August 23 reporting deadline, two-and-a-half weeks after entering the race, he had raised only $333,000 for his gubernatorial campaign. That is when he and consultant Richie Ross solicited the first big Indian casino check, $300,000, which was to be laundered through his old campaign committee into the gubernatorial campaign.
Since then, Bustamante has raised nearly $1.7 million in contributions of $1,000 or more through September 15. A big improvement, but not enough to get the job done. Hence the effort to launder big contributions in circumvention of the Proposition 34 contribution limits into his gubernatorial campaign. And when that failed the smell test, setting up an independent campaign against the Proposition 54 racial identity initiative to promote Bustamante in commercials beamed around the state. His Proposition 54 gambit committee has raised $4.3 million in huge checks, mostly from Indian casinos and public employee groups. The TV ads started on Tuesday. Indian casinos will also spend at least $2 million more on an “independent” campaign on the lite guv’s behalf.
Bustamante needs the boost. He benefits in polls from being the only Democrat pollsters ask about. But on the real ballot, there will be some drop-off in his vote to other little-known Democrats. He also has to worry about some voters voting no on the recall and skipping the replacement ballot, as often occurs in recall elections. The Field Poll, in which Democrats generally run better than they do on election day, gives him a slight lead, but it was taken while Schwarzenegger was pilloried for not debating and not doing press conferences, which he is now doing. Other polls have Schwarzenegger running within the margin of error or slightly ahead.