June 22, 2009

L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa Drops Out of California Gubernatorial Race

Hatched by Dafydd

In a stunning turn of events (well it stunned me, at least), Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who I had thought the odds-on favorite to be the Democratic nominee for governor of California in the 2010 election, just announced today that he will not run for the office. He says that Los Angeles residents are in crappy enough financial shape that he doesn't want to abandon them.

I always thought former "MEChAnista" Villaraigosa was likely to beat out Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, 100%) for several reasons, not least of which that he would be the first elected Latino governor since we became a state in 1850, and the first Latino governor to serve since Romualdo Pacheco, who succeeded in 1875 to the office after the previous governor was elected to the United States Senate. (Pacheco served for a few months until a new governor was elected.)

As the Hispanic population of California has become significantly larger, and as Hispanic voters tend to coalesce around Hispanic candidates regardless of whether the two groups actually agree on many issues, I was more worried about a Villaraigosa candidacy than any other Democratic candidate, from Feinstein, to former Gov. Jerry Brown, to San Francisco Mayor and lawless radical Gavin Newsom, to any of the also-rans.

So who will take Villaraigosa's place on the ballot?

  • With Villaraigosa out, Feinstein becomes the default front runner. She certainly has the most extensive political experience as mayor of San Francisco, state senator, and United States senator. She also came close to beating then-Sen. Pete Wilson in the 1990 governor's race.
  • If anybody has a shot at displacing her on the ballot, I would guess it would be the ultra-ultra-liberal Newsom... who burst on the scene in 2004 when he unilaterally, without any legal authority, ordered San Francisco to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples (Newsom is himself heterosexual). The State Supreme Court later nullified all those "marriages"... though of course it subsequently ordered the state to start doing what it had just slapped Newsom for doing... for which the voters slapped back with Proposition 8.
  • Jerry Brown is a spent force, in my opinion; the only reason he can even run is that the term limits law doesn't count gubernatorial terms served before 1990.
  • There is always the faint possibility that former Lt.Gov. Cruz Bustamante will run; but he has been virtually invisible on the momentus political and economic issues facing this state recently, focusing instead on a much more urgent project: "Lose weight now -- ask me how!"

On the Republican side, I'm placing my bets on Meg Whitman, former President and CEO of eBay from 1998 to 2008. I think she would be especially strong against Sen. Feinstein:

  • Feinstein will be 77 years old on election day (today is her 76th birthday); Whitman will be 54.
  • To be perfectly blunt, Whitman beats out Feinstein for the pulchritude prize walking away. If you don't think that can make a difference in an election, ask President John S. McCain. All right, there were some other issues; but the visual chasm between the virile, young Obamacle and the Methuseloid McCain surely played a major role, especially with younger voters.

    Anyway, judge for yourselves -- from these two admittedly tendentious photos, which I deliberately chose to make Feinstein look awfuler than she really does, and Whitman look better than she really does:

DiFi - the horror, the horror!    Meg Whitman

Dianne "DiFi" Feinstein vs. Meg "Megawatt" Whitman -- choose your poison

  • Feinstein has never done anything in her life other than politics. Whitman has never before done politics. I believe this is a positive, not a negative, because she is extremely well known in [stealth correction] "Silicon Valley," the high-tech sector of California. I see young people, conservatives, techies, women, and anybody who actually works a real job for a living finding Whitman's biography compelling... and Feinstein's biography dull as dishwater.
  • Related to the above, Feinstein has many decades of corrupt and compromising baggage she must explain away. It has hurt her in past elections.
  • Meg Whitman earned her own personal fortune by building eBay up from a handful of employees to the juggernaut it is today; Dianne Feinstein married money for her third husband, Richard Blum.
  • Whitman totally neutralizes the gender issue, as both are, you know, women.
  • She also neutralizes the personal-fortune issue, as she is ten times as rich as Feinstein... but unlike the latter, Whitman earned her own wealth.
  • Whitman also has a better shot at winning the "I can fix the California economy" sweepstakes... though this could cut the other way, too, if voters decide Schwarzenegger's failure was due to his inexperience with stroking the Democrat-dominated legislature. In reality, he failed because the Democratic legislative majority is too busy sticking its head in an ostrich to actually help ordinary Californios crushed by the insanity of the state budgets the majority has enacted for years and years.

    But of course, any GOP nominee would have to define this issue in favor of truth, and not allow the Democrats to define it self-servingly. Again, I like Whitman better than any other Republican candidate.

  • Whitman is simply a more galvanizing speaker than snoozy Feinstein.

I have to like our chances in the California governor's race a lot better today than I did yesterday. I can see the light at the end of our rope.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 22, 2009, at the time of 6:26 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Ken Hahn

I certainly hope a Republican will be elected Governor in 2010, but this is California. The only hope for any Republican in the Golden State is for Obama to screw things up so badly that Democrats get mauled next year.

Hmm, come to think of it, I like the GOP's chances a bit better each day.

The above hissed in response by: Ken Hahn [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 22, 2009 7:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

"Sticking its head in an ostrich". Well played, sir, well played.

I always liked Feinstein, at least in comparison with dumb as a box of rocks Boxer. Still, Whitman seems infinitely superior to both.

But what is up with Villaraigosa? His explanation sounds like nonsense - couldn't he help the denizens of L.A. MORE if he was governor rather than mayor? Maybe he just doesn't want any part of the mess in Excremento. Or he's thinking of running for the senate...perhaps both.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 23, 2009 10:33 AM

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