Thursday, November 08, 2007

Republican election gimmick


Darrell Issa thinks I'm an idiot. He sent me a letter. He wants my support for an idea...

Issa is the Southern California Republican Congressman who made a fortune selling car alarms after beating charges of car theft. As a politician, his claim to fame is that he bankrolled the petitions that led to the recall of Democratic Governor Gray Davis. He thought he might have a shot at being Governor himself, but was upstaged by the Terminator.

Now he is fronting for round two of the Republican party's effort to dredge some electoral votes out of the true blue state of California. That strange anachronism, the Electoral College mandated by the Constitution (remember that document?), consists of electors pledged to support the candidate who gets a majority of the state's votes. That's going to be pretty much any Democrat here, and the catch is large -- 55 electoral votes out of 538. Now the Constitution doesn't say that those votes have to be allocated on a winner take-all basis -- the state could change how they get elected. We could decide by an initiative that electors should be allocated on the basis of which candidate won in each Congressional district.

Republicans would love that. You see, California's Democratic legislators and governor began this decade by passing a redistricting that amounted to an incumbent protection plan. We get turnover in our Congressional delegation when incumbents die, or retire, or go to prison -- but not because the voters replace them (Richard Pombo in 2006, excepted) All our districts were drawn to be one-party fiefdoms and there is no reason to think they'd perform differently in the 2008 Presidential vote. So if we passed an initiative to choose electors by Congressional District, we'd be handing the Republicans 20 electors.

Not my idea of a good thing. Issa's envelope gives the game away -- an unattractive picture of Hillary Clinton was supposed to entice me to open it.

Democrats call this election gimmick the "Dirty Tricks" initiative. Some out of state Giuliani backers were pushing it several months ago, but that effort tanked. Now Issa has taken it up -- with this direct mail component that I just received. Other Democrats have also marveled at receiving this solicitation. Issa's outfit must have used a list of frequent voters for the mailing.

Polls report the "Dirty Tricks" plan is already under 50 percent. Democrats will hammer it into the ground if it makes the June ballot, though having to do that will be costly and wasteful.

Progressive attempts to rig the system to get results we like better with less effort strike me as mostly naïve, set-ups for unintended consequences. This Republican plan is just sleazy.

Wonder if Issa thinks fronting for it will boost his candidacy for Governor, after Arnold is finally out of the way?

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