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
Vowing that he would rescind the GOP ban on independent voters, Nehring told Sacramento-based political reporters two months ago, “I will order that the primary ballot go to independent voters.” But it turns out he hasn’t got direct authority to do that under GOP rules, and he hasn’t moved to change those rules.
“I don’t know how you function as a modern political party in California without reaching out to independent voters,” says former party chairman Sundheim, who pushed for their inclusion in the February presidential primary.
BUT THE VICARS OF THE FAR RIGHT will have none of it. The bloggers crusade relentlessly against letting independent voters participate in next February’s primary, believing that these less partisan and more middle-of-the-road voters will try to pick a more moderate Republican presidential contender, such as John McCain.
As Fleischman puts it, “Only Republicans should decide who our candidates are. If they want to vote in our primary, they should become Republicans.”
It’s an attitude that Democrats adore. “We want independents to vote in our primary,” says Democratic strategist Roger Salazar. “Let those guys have their little conservative clubhouse if they want.”
For his part, Del Beccaro, who backed Poochigian’s campaign for state attorney general last November, pursued a fruitless but high-profile lawsuit to disqualify former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown from the race for having failed to pay his bar association fees. (In fact, Brown, a Yale Law grad, paid reduced membership fees while he was not a practicing attorney.)
Although California’s more sophisticated Republican consultants laughed off the anti-Brown case from the beginning, Del Beccaro actually tried to stop the counting of Brown’s votes. Del Beccaro was swiftly turned down by the courts, and a Republican judge later tossed out the claim that Brown was ineligible to run. But no one in the GOP camp wants to be quoted on the absurdity of Del Beccaro’s actions because they don’t want to be attacked by the right-wing bloggers.
A more recent episode provided insight into the increasingly prevalent far-right views, when Mike Spence, a regular on the Flash Report, called Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez of Los Angeles a “fellow traveler” of the Communist Party in an online column.
Spence had been so dismayed by Schwarzenegger’s centrism that he tried to draft Mel Gibson to run for governor last year. Then, he wrote last month, “Next time you are in Sacramento and run into the Speaker, say these words ‘Kur-heiny’ and see what his answer is. Apparently that is part of a code exchange of the LA branch of the Communist Party USA. Disclaimer: Of course I don’t really want to imply that Nunez is a communist. That would be wrong. I don’t want to be accused of the horrible sin of ‘McCarthyism.’ Communists are very upfront about controlling all aspects of our lives in order to serve their statist ideology. In no way do I imply that Nunez and his fellow travelers are upfront.”
Asked about Spence’s comments, Fleischman responded, “Maybe I am missing something here. But why on earth would Mike Spence apologize to Fabian Núñez for calling him a ‘communist’? I mean, I guess it would be more accurate to call him a socialist, rather than a commie.” He then quoted Karl Marx, “To each according to their ability. From each according to their means,” and snapped, “Seems to me that Núñez lives by this infamous quote.”
Spence defended calling Núñez a communist fellow traveler by quoting Wikipedia’s definition, “A fellow traveler is a person who sympathizes with the beliefs of a particular organization, but does not belong to that organization.”
AS THE FAR-RIGHT PARTY LEADERS carp about Schwarzenegger, their stands frequently fly in the face of opinions gathered from Republican voters. Nowhere is this more evident than on global warming. Only one Republican in the Legislature voted for Schwarzenegger’s landmark climate-change bill of 2006, thanks to a daily drumbeat against it by new far-right California party leaders and bloggers.
Yet Schwarzenegger’s environmental policies and anti-global-warming efforts are overwhelmingly supported by the state’s Republican voters, 63 percent to 19 percent, in polling by the widely respected — and nonpartisan — Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). Schwarzenegger’s own private polls show much the same thing.
A PPIC poll over the summer showed 62 percent support among Republicans for unilateral state action, independent of the federal government, to control greenhouse gases, with only 33 percent opposed. Moreover, 71 percent of Republicans back an existing state law to require automakers to sharply curtail tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases in cars, and a staggering 82 percent want the government to spend more to develop alternative energy sources for auto fuel — and to spend more money developing renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal.
Further illustrating how mainstream the opinions of California Republican voters are, 65 percent favor Schwarzenegger’s plan to roll back greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and 69 percent favor the mandatory emission limits now being applied to electric-power, oil and natural-gas facilities.
The new, far-right leaders of the California Republican Party oppose all of these things. No wonder they don’t want independent voters mucking around in their presidential primary next February — they are already far out of step with their own voters, and even more so with California voters who don’t toe any party line.