rsquare conservative on social issues without being preachy or offensive to mainstream California. Now, maybe enough Republicans have recently fled the state to significantly change those dynamics but my money says the state electorate is due for a backlash. I agree Simon is lacking as a candidate, but keep your eye on McClintock for contoller as the next great white Republican hope for 2006.

Posted by: Lloyd at October 9, 2002 11:45 AM

Lloyd -- I think the great distinction is between what you think is actually *applicable* to policy issues, and what is still enough of a hot-button issue to disqualify most people who are on the wrong side of the majoritarian view. In other words, the governor might well have very little to do with abortion rights (even though Davis just expanded them, and Ann Salisbury for one is convinced that a governor has tangible influence) ... but the fact is voters will punish pro-life candidates in California, all things being equal. The gun issue is probably softening somewhat, but it is no good to run for statewide office here as a committed skeptic of environmentalism, *regardless* of whether you are *right* about it. You will simply get trounced, period, unless you've made it your signature issue & specialty, and you're incredibly convincing (three chances: slim, none, fat).

Jerry Brown is a great example -- since him, you can't win too many offices in California as an avowed opponent of the Death Penalty. Hence, Gray Davis (more fiercely pro-Death Penalty than maybe any governor in the Union), and hence the policy positions of elected judges (for whom fierceness on the Death Penalty is just about the only thing that gets voters excited enough to even know the difference between candidates). The state *has* changed -- just as it changed (regrettably, in my opinion) to become solidly pro-Death Penalty, it has also changed to become reliably pro-choice and pro-environment.

Obviously, I could be wrong, but the fact that anyone is seriously considering voting for Gray Davis -- when no one actually likes him -- says to me that there exist hot-button issues that maybe *no* candidate can overcome under existing conditions.

Posted by: Matt Welch at October 9, 2002 09:17 PM
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Posted by: Matt Welch at October 9, 2002 09:17 PM
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