Will moderates get their revenge?

Steven Greenhut: The mainstream media background thesis of the GOP convention in San Diego, which I am here to attend and to speak on a union panel, remains to be seen given that the convention doesn’t really get off the ground until tonight, but it seems right. As the LA Times put it, “As California Republicans gather in San Diego on Friday, enthusiasm about their ticket’s competitiveness in this left-leaning state is being tempered by concerns about gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman.”

The few Republicans I’ve talked to so far come from the party’s conservative wing and they are not exactly excited by the line-up of milquetoast moderates, from Whitman to Senate candidate Carly Fiorina to the widely disliked Abel Maldonado, who is running for lieutenant governor. But conservatives are thrilled about the backlash against President Obama and the Democrats. It’s conventional wisdom that the Democrats are poised to lose rather than that the Republicans are poised to win.

I’ve called Whitman banal and unconvincing. She clearly has no well-developed political philosophy, but rather wants to win the top office. She speaks with forked tongue and avoids the press and any sort of questioning, which is understandable given how horribly she performed on the John and Ken show. She can’t even handle herself in media outlets that should be friendly to her message. Then again, I have no idea what her actual message is. She has an elitist personality and is definitely trying to buy the governorship. That’s annoying, although one can’t imagine a worse candidate than Jerry Brown, who simply is depending on the unions to buy the election for him.

At the GOP fund-raiser in Sacramento, tax-raising liberal Republican Maldonado — who never misses a chance to poke conservatives in the eye — said that he needs 86 percent of Republicans to vote for him if he hopes to beat Gavin Newsom, the Democratic nominee and San Francisco mayor. In a normal year, Maldonado would never have a chance of getting that many Republican votes given all the bridges that he has burned with the party. But, as one GOPster told me, he will probably get swept into office by the anti-Democratic tide.

The Dems deserve to get booted good and hard, but this crew of Republicans will then insist that their brand of big-government Republicanism has won the day. They will use their power to drive away conservative and small-government types. I can’t believe that Whitman will fix any of the state’s problems and we’ll be stuck listening to the annoying Maldonado for several years. At least Newsom would be funny and would be the national poster child for what we’re up against here in California.

Of course, the grassroots conservative movement, rightly energized by Democratic policies, could also harm the state’s and the country’s chance to reject the policies of Obama. These folks seem more interested in social and cultural issues than economic ones. Many have embraced the wacky stuff related to the Ground Zero mosque, etc., and are overheated on the immigration and gay marriage issues. Democrats will exploit these issues by saying, “Do you really want these folks in charge?” Note to conservatives: I don’t argue that social and cultural issues aren’t important, only that many of them are not the legitimate purview of the state.

We shall see. It’s too bad, however, that the Republican Party doesn’t have any decent leaders to take advantage of the backlash. Whitman and company might win — and a victory might be all that Republicans of any stripe need to get excited — but I have zero hope that they have any of the answers to the current misery. Government needs to get smaller and the unions need to be confronted — yet the moderates don’t seem to believe in anything other than their own superior skills in running things. We see how well that has worked with our current moderate governor.

I’ll report over the next couple of days how the assembled Republicans see things.

Related Articles

Ranked Choice Vote Favors Asian SF Mayor

JULY 18, 2011 By DAVE ROBERTS There are currently nine top-tier candidates for mayor of San Francisco. But the candidates

New Laffer book details Reagan prosperity recipe

If you have a great recipe, keep using it. Don’t be chicken. Just ask Col. Sanders. Why then don’t Republican

Nathan Fletcher channels Nixon press secretary in disowning his own bogus claim

If you’re a candidate whose authenticity is open to question because of extreme, always self-serving shifts in your views, you