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California Governor’s Race Entertaining

California politics has become less and less interesting over the past decade as Democrats have increased their stranglehold on state government over that time.  The only real question in California is whether or not Democrats can maintain a two-thirds majority in both the State Assembly and State Senate to insure their ability to pass taxes and place measures on the ballot with impunity.

Common wisdom says that is unlikely due the off-Presidential election cycle this year that helped Democrats win some narrow races in 2012.  Without President Obama leading the ticket, anyone associated with politics expects turnout to be less enthusiastic, at least among Democrats.

But that doesn’t mean that California politics will not be entertaining.  While everyone, and I do mean everyone, expects Governor Jerry Brown to be handily reelected, the primary fight among Republicans has been fun to watch.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Lake Arrowhead) has been running for the Republican nod for over a year.  While Democrats like to paint every Republican as an extremist, referring to Tim Donnelly as a conservative, right-wing candidate is no exaggeration.   Donnelly, a former minuteman, has never hidden his distaste for illegal immigration, high taxes, or liberal values.  And he isn’t running away from his record on anything.  With no one to challenge him, Donnelly appeared to be the automatic nominee which had moderate and country club Republicans nauseated.

Never fear!  A true moderate Republican, Neel Kashkari jumped into the race a few months ago to rescue the party, if not from defeat, then from the “embarrassment of a Donnelly nomination.”  Kashkari, a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Bush Administration who oversaw the TARP program and formerly worked at Goldman Sachs has impressive credentials.  Kashkari immediately upon entering the race, noted, loudly, that he supports homosexual marriage and is prochoice.

Money quickly flowed into the Kashkari campaign to bolster his claim to be the leading candidate for the Republican Party.  Former advisor to President George W. Bush, Karl Rove even went as far as to announce that Kaskari was the best “person to lose to Jerry Brown” and that Republicans would “be stupid” not to vote for him.

But a funny thing is happening on the way to the June 3rd ballot.  According to the most recent Field Poll, Donnelly is leading Kashkari by a 34 percent to 3 percent margin!  Apparently Kashkari, the choice of establishment Republicans, has yet to make any headway with Republican voters.

Here is a theory.  Conservatives in the party, watching Donnelly being pummeled by mainstream media outlets, or altogether ignored by those same media sources, are tired of having their beliefs assailed.  The Republican establishment, led by long-time political operatives like Karl Rove, continue to devalue a large and necessary part of their voter base by constantly telling conservatives they are wrong; on immigration, on marriage, and on a host of other issues.

Republicans have already ceded the California Governorship to Jerry Brown.  Establishment Republicans have admitted that even if Kashkari were the nominee, that he would inevitably lose.  So, what do conservatives have to lose in nominating Donnelly?  Why would anyone put aside their heart felt principles to nominate a person like Kashkari when he has as much chance as winning against Brown as Donnelly does?

Conservatives have been taking their lumps in California for years.  They held their noses with prochoice Pete Wilson, who won.  They held their noses with moderate Meg Whitman, who lost. Now establishment Republicans want conservatives to hold their noses and vote for a candidate that the establishment has admitted can’t win as well?

Conservative Republicans have a red meat candidate in Tim Donnelly.  It’s no wonder they look at this primary election like the Alamo.  They know they are going to lose, but they don’t want to do it without a fight.

Besides, can anyone imagine what might happen in a Brown-Donnelly debate?  That could be real entertainment.

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