Bay Area Conservatives Rally

Judy Lloyd
President of Altamont Strategies

Over the last week and a half, four packed events have taken place with economic free market conservatives in the Bay Area.  One can only guess if this is a "new beginning" for those who care about affordable health care, economy and jobs – or a blip on the screen.

In San Francisco, Steve Forbes, recognized that Californians helped to create this high tech age and that people have now used those tools to organize politically when they feel something is wrong.

The President & CEO of Forbes, Inc. and one-time presidential candidate, told 350 paying attendees at the Pacific Research Institute Annual Gala how normal, everyday Americans used this new media to organize tea parties and town halls.  They are using the Internet to find their voice and organize themselves – not just as individuals – but as community activists who are working to preserve economic freedom.

In Oakland, a local neighborhood group organized an event that drew 240 attendees to hear from GOP Gubernatorial frontrunner Meg Whitman. We’re talking Ron Dellums and Jerry Brown Country here.  Who knew that there even were 240 Republicans in Oakland?  

Whitman focused on fixing three core issues – the business climate, the structural deficit in the California state budget, and education.  Meg’s crowd was more than twice the size of the ones Campbell and Poizner had a few months earlier – indicative of the statewide appeal she has among independent swing and fiscally conservative voters.

In Fairfield, 220 paying attendees had a great rally and factory tour at the Jelly Belly Candy Company.  The event featured Congressional District 10 special election candidate David Harmer.

Harmer has taken advantage of the national mood and his internal polls show he’s now within 2-4 points of frontrunner John Garamendi.  Garamendi isn’t releasing his polling taken over the same timeframe and media outlets are too broke to fund one of their own so Harmer’s poll is the only one out there.

At one point Harmer said – "I can tell you one thing I can do that John Garamendi can’t – vote for myself".  Garamendi doesn’t live in the congressional district he’s running in.  

In Moraga last night, CD-10 candidates held their final debate.  Though CD-10 has been in Democrat hands since 1996, Harmer had the largest most vocal supporters of the 300 who attended.  Health care was the most contentious with Garamendi defending the public option as "a way to control private insurance when they try and rip us off" while Harmer favored allowing customers to shop for insurance across state lines, removing tax penalties for individuals buying their own health care, tort reform and association health plans.  Good free market ideas.

A sign of trouble for Garamendi is that he brought in both former President Bill Clinton and President Barak Obama to San Francisco over the last few weeks.  You don’t bring the big guns unless you need them. Garamendi is on television; Harmer is not yet.  The television buy might be enough if voters don’t realize the rookie mistake Garamendi made last week by putting out a mailer attacking the wrong David Harmer.

Special Elections are funny.  November 3rd gives economic conservatives the opportunity to bridge a 19-point gap in a Democrat-controlled district if they turn out and vote.  It’s a long shot – but Californians sometimes take chances and people are angry at career politicians right now.

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