You moderate! No, I'm not!

The Republican gubernatorial race, epitomized by last night’s debate between Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and former eBay executive Meg Whitman, reached a new level of absurdity. Both candidates, whatever their many pros and cons, come from the moderate wing of the party. Both are trying to appeal to a generally conservative GOP primary voter. Both keep accusing each other of being moderates. It doesn’t help that Whitman had supported Barbara Boxer in the past and that Poizner gave money to Al Gore. Whitman claimed that she supported the leftist Boxer because Boxer was against Internet taxes, but, as the Sacramento Bee reported, “After the debate, she dismissed a questioner who pointed out that Boxer’s opponent, conservative Republican Bill Jones, also opposed Internet taxes in 2004. Poizner blames his wife (a joint account) for the Gore donation. But Poizner had run previously for Assembly as a moderate and had previously supported an intiative to make it easier to raise taxes for education. Whitman has supported every sort of environmental legislation. Poizner makes a more credible conservative and seems to actually have changed his views on some things. Whitman is the front-runner, so she can’t go too far right — or else she risks having a tougher time in the general election.

The GOP has become so marginalized in California these days, that the party has to depend on wealthy self-funded candidates. It’s strange to me that it cannot find candidates with any history of actually embracing Republican positions. Note the word history. I oppose many GOP positions given that I am a libertarian. But why can’t the GOP come up with more credible candidates? I really am interested in answers!

–Steven Greenhut

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