September 19, 2004


State GOP Likes Its Chances: Gaining traction from a popular governor, the party is pouring money into campaigns to wrest seats from Democrats in the Legislature. (Nancy Vogel, September 19, 2004, LA Times)

Powered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's popularity, Republicans are launching their most aggressive assault in a decade on majority Democrats in the Legislature.

After losing seats between 1994 and 2002, Republicans hope to replace at least three Democrats when voters go to the polls Nov. 2.

At stake is the balance of power and philosophy in the Legislature. Though no one believes the GOP can actually capture control of either the Assembly or Senate, even a few more Republican votes could help propel Schwarzenegger's legislative agenda.

Democrats have more cash to throw into campaigns this fall — $11 million versus $5 million — but Republicans outspent them by $1.3 million between February and June, mostly on voter registration and turnout. Spending since then probably has gained steam, but those figures are yet to be reported.

"We're raising [money] and burning through it," said California Republican Party spokeswoman Karen Hanretty, "but all with a very specific purpose in mind."

Democrats now enjoy majorities in both houses — 48 to 32 in the Assembly and 25 to 14 in the Senate. The last decade has been a particular struggle for Republicans: They steadily lost seats after 1994 until they gained three in tight 2002 races.

The payoff from shifting CA back to the Red column is so huge that any amount of money and effort--especially by the President in October--is worth it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 19, 2004 11:47 AM

The problem is that the state is so gerrymandered that it's hard to change anything. If Arnold can throw out the gerrymander and turn the setting of district boundaries over to a non-partisan commission, he'd deserve to be President for that alone.

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 19, 2004 2:26 PM

The President would be wise to spend a couple days in the Central Valley (Sactamento, Fresno, and Bakersfield, San Diego, and maybe Eastern Metro LA.

Posted by: Andrew X at September 19, 2004 3:01 PM

Orrin, you are too smart of a guy. Stop believing that California will go Republican this election. Arnold Schwarzenegger won because he is Arnold, not because he is a Republican; furthermore, Arnold is not a conservative like George W. Bush. The true conservative, Tom McClintock, won so few votes in the recall.

The California legislature is composed of a bunch of far-left radicals like John Burton, John Vasconcellos, Don Perata, Sheila Kuehl, Carole Migden, Mark Leno, Jackie Goldberg..., and the electorate seems to have no problem voting these loons in every time.

In this upcoming election, voters may approve a ballot initiative, which would severely weaken the 3-strikes law, probably the best law California has ever passed. That means arsonists, burglars, car thieves and intoxicated drivers who kill people could be considered non-violent, and a criminal would receive only one strike per prosecution not conviction. That means a serial murderer convicted of killing 25 people would simply receive one strike if he received only one trial. It is nuts, and the polls show it might just pass. Orrin, it is just too wacky out here. Believe me! This is not New Hampshire.

Posted by: Vince at September 19, 2004 9:26 PM

PapayaSf and Vince are right about the legislature. Getting rid of gerrymandered districts will take another voter initiative (in progress) next year. One trouble with our voters is that we don't like what 'the legislature' does, but keep voting for Democrats. Even the moderate Dems are pawns of the Left-liberal leadership (see Vince's list) once in office (if they want to stay in office).

Bush can't win California this year, but that's not to say conservatives aren't making headway. Schwarzenegger actually is helping the party even though he's no purist. If we pick up a few seats each in assembly and senate that's huge, considering the incumbency advantages. It'll take another election cycle or two to regain competitiveness.

Posted by: Dave Sheridan at September 19, 2004 10:16 PM

Can't? Why would CA be different than the rest of the country?

Posted by: oj at September 19, 2004 11:00 PM


Indeed. But note what happened in Texas - once the 'minority' party gets 51% of the legislature, it controls the next round of redistricting, and suddenly that 51-49 split becomes 70-30.

Posted by: mike earl at September 20, 2004 12:07 AM

Because California is different than much of the country, Orrin. I am not saying that California can't go Republican some day, but this time--forget it.

Posted by: Vince at September 20, 2004 1:46 AM


Not much different. Its only non-Republican governor in recent decades was chased from office.

Posted by: oj at September 20, 2004 7:27 AM


You forgot "One-Bill Gil" Garcetti in the CA legislature -- the only thing he ever does is introduce "Driver's Licenses for Illegals" bill every year, like clockwork.

And the ballot initiative gutting the three-strikes law is entirely the brainchild of one rich guy who is putting millions into it specifically to buy his widdle baby pwecious darwing son (jugged under Three Strikes for a mass-fatality drunk-driving crash) out of the slammer.

Posted by: Ken at September 20, 2004 12:58 PM