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
"It's definitely helped us," says Nightingale, who admits she often is accused of being a spoiler. "But since this Maidgate happened, people come up and say, 'We're voting for you.' "
Nightingale, who professes a belief in the coming "North American Union" ("It's like the European Union. Lou Dobbs reported about it a lot."), polled at 1 percent in the most recent Public Policy Institute survey.
That trend will be tempered somewhat by the instinct of conservatives and partisans to rally around their candidate when she's under attack.
"The worst possible messenger was Gloria Allred," says Mike Spence, a conservative activist who has pushed the Republican Party establishment to be tougher on immigration. "Conservatives like to fight, and fighting Gloria Allred created a great opportunity. I don't think it's hurt [Whitman] as much as some people would think."
Third and perhaps least obvious, the story could hurt Whitman among women. In the Field Poll issued in September, Whitman and Brown were tied among female votores — a striking result, given Democrats' large historic advantage among women.
"It's an issue having to do with domestic help," notes Mark DiCamillo, the director of the Field Poll, who says he is curious to see how women will react. "There could be a greater identification for [the housekeeper's] role in this."
Allred, who has emphasized how Diaz Santillan was treated during her pregnancy, says Whitman never bought the baby a gift, never called to ask how the baby was doing, and threatened to terminate Diaz Santillan if she herself couldn't find a fill-in housekeeper. (Whitman's staff counters, saying that she and Diaz Santillan exchanged gifts over the holidays, and that Whitman still has the pillow covers her housekeeper gave her.) The arguments by both sides seem calculated to appeal to female voters.
It's hard not to attribute a similar motive to the Whitman campaign's decision to grab onto the "whore" controversy with both hands. The remark got Brown in some hot water with his feminist allies — even Allred issued a statement of condemnation — and chewed up a couple of news cycles.
More important, from Whitman's perspective: It changed the subject. Just talking about immigration is likely to increase the issue's salience with voters, which cuts against her. Even in front of a Latino audience at the Balboa Bay Club last Friday, she never mentioned immigration.
Standing stiff-backed against the wall was Fabian Villalobos. He's from Mexico and lives in Santa Ana. He's been a waiter at the Balboa Bay Club for seven years. In an interview, Villalobos says he and his wife had seen Diaz Santillan crying on TV. He thought it was all a bit scripted, but his wife was upset. She said "bad things," Villalobos says, like, "They are always abusing Mexicans that don't have papers."
Villalobos can't vote — he has a green card. But his wife, a U.S. citizen, will be casting her ballot for Jerry Brown.