Tuesday, June 08, 2010

California primary today


For Democrats, No on Prop. 16 is likely the most important vote we get to cast at the conclusion of this seemingly endless primary season. I laid out all my personal choices some weeks ago in this post. If I were in the appropriate district in San Diego, I'd also be choosing challenger Marcy Winograd over Representative Jane Harman.
Republicans have the headline contests today. It's the saturation TV buys of ads for Carly Fiorina for Senate and Meg Whitman for Governor that have made this primary season feel so endless. Why do corporate execs think they should move over to run the state, especially ones with pretty dubious records? These two certainly have made boom times for Republican consultants and media buyers, spending their millions of Silicon Valley dollars.

The New York Times reports Republican fears that these primary struggles have made the party's exclusionist immigration politics all too visible. Underdogs trying to dislodge the money women have challenged the front runners to repudiate any possible softness in their attitude toward newcomers, especially Spanish speaking ones.

The primary here on Tuesday will be the highest-stakes electoral contest since Arizona approved a tough immigration law, and that has allowed Mr. Poizner to reshape the campaign, focusing a series of stark attacks on Ms. Whitman. The extent to which immigration has, in the view of many Republicans, hijacked this contest has stirred worry that the nominee chosen next week will be weakened in the general election against Jerry Brown, a Democrat and former governor.

"There's a difference between talking about a problem and trying to exploit the problem as a wedge issue to try to get scared white voters," said Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican analyst here. "I'm not speaking as a lone wolf on this in the Republican Party. It's concerning a lot of us."

Hispanics are becoming increasingly influential in California politics. One in six voters this November is expected to be Hispanic...

Republicans should be worried. This week I was taking pictures on the streets in San Francisco's Mission District -- and suddenly realized that a Latino man was watching me anxiously. I did what I usually do when this happens: walked over to him and explained in a friendly way that I lived down the street and liked to shoot in my neighborhood.

He smiled: "With that lady running all those ads ... I feel like we have to be careful you know ..."

I said yes, I hoped we'd elect Jerry Brown as Governor in the fall and wouldn't have to worry so much.

He said "you know, that Pete Wilson works for her." He didn't have that quite right; former Governor Wilson is one of Meg Whitman's backers. But I knew what he meant; among California Latinos, the name "Pete Wilson" is short hand for white politicians who hate them.

Yes, Republicans better be worried that the nativist rhetoric among their primary candidates will activate Latino voters who might otherwise ignore the midterm election.
Quite a few other states will have primary elections this day; I'll be curious to see whether Bill Halter can knock off Senator Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas.

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