Optimism despite drab election

Steven Greenhut: Early results are in and the statewide races aren’t close.

It’s hard to imagine a more depressing gubernatorial match-up. Former Gov. Jerry Brown, the man most responsible for making a wreck out of this state, takes on a passionless billionaire, Meg Whitman, whose policy prescriptions run the gamut from pointless to half-hearted. In the Senate, we have the woman who nearly destroyed Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina, against the ever-clueless leftist, Barbara Boxer. The only good news is that the state’s problems are so big that it doesn’t really matter who gets elected governor and the Senate is so hopeless it doesn’t matter who becomes senator.

It would be a cliche to say that the Republican Party in California is at a crossroads. It passed that crossroads miles ago. It is, in fact, a largely irrelevant party at the state level. Republicans can win legislative seats in many areas, including Orange County, but it’s only chance for electing officials to statewide office is to field self-funded multi-millionaire and billionaire candidates who have egos large enough to make up for their lack of political savvy and interest. We can all say it together: Whitman might be a dud, but at least she has the cash to take on the truly noxious Brown.

What will the GOP do if it lacks such a wealthy candidate?

On the initiative side, Prop. 14 appears headed to a solid victory. This top-two primary gimmick won’t fix what ails California. It might elect more moderates or it might not, depending on whom one believes. It will usher in lots of lawsuits and confuse voters, but they seem awfully confused already.

Despite my cynicism, I remain optimistic — optimistic that the financial markets will ultimately force California to do what its politicians and voters won’t do. That is, rein in spending and confront the unions. Something has to give, even in La La Land.

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