Thursday, March 07, 2002

Gray Davis has created a monster, and all of California may be paying for it for the next four (or more) years.

A couple of months ago I wrote here about [Democratic Governor] Davis' meddling in the Republican primary. The expected winner of the primary, to see who would challenge Davis in November, was Richard Riordan - former mayor of Los Angeles. Riordan is widely perceived as a fairly moderate on most issues, is fairly well-liked, and came out ahead in head-to-head polls against Davis.

Davis, being the scared little weenie that he is, ran negative ads against Riordan, so that the Republican primary could be won by a lesser candidate that Davis thought he could beat.

The plan worked. Riordan went down in the polls, and Simon rose to fill the void. Simon is widely perceived to be a reactionary right-wing nut, but with Riordan wounded, he managed to raise quite a bit of money and make some splashy ads in the final weeks of the primary campaign.

So, Davis got what he wanted: He's running against Simon. He also got something he hadn't counted on: Simon is now in position to beat Davis. Davis' performance as Governor has been so poor, that a tremendous amount of resources will be going to anybody that runs against him. Davis' little foray into the Republican primary also got Simon something else: The endorsement of Rudy Giuliani. Now, Davis has to run against the most popular politician in America.

The last time a sitting Democratic Governor in California played this kind of game to meddle in the Republican primary was in the mid-60s, when Edmund G. "Pat" Brown (Sr.) was governor. Now, Brown (Sr.) was a damn good Governor, not a weenie like Davis. But, Brown was worried, and so he played around to make sure the moderate Republican did not get the nomination. He wanted the Republicans to nominate somebody so far to the right that he could never win a statewide election. That candidate was Ronald Reagan. I think you can guess what happened.

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