Protests at the Party – Labor’s Attempt Falls Short

Judy Lloyd
President of Altamont Strategies

Last week, Meg Whitman made an appearance on behalf of Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, the Republican candidate in Senate District 15’s Special Election on Tuesday.

The event for Sam was a fundraiser featuring Meg in what I believe may be her first appearance on behalf of a partisan candidate since becoming the Republican nominee for Governor of California.

It took place at the lovely gardens of Peter and Dennise Carter in Los Gatos.  Their home, built in the 1890s, is a lovely old Victorian that they have refurbished. Their neighbor, Mayor Mike Wasserman came by to greet guests and was part of the program.  State Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth was on hand as well as a number of local elected officials and candidates.

The day before the event, the California Labor Federation alerted the media that they would be protesting outside this quaint, lovely, usually quiet neighborhood.  And so they did.  About a dozen union activists chanted out front for about an hour complete with professionally made signs.  Their chants, which were meant to disrupt Meg’s appearance fell flat but included sayings like – "Meg and Sam have the wrong plan" and "Meg, Meg, go away, California is not E-Bay".

Funny thing is – E-Bay under Meg Whitman created countless jobs for small businesses.  It’s a place where anyone could start a business and that was encouraged.  She grew that company from 4.7 million in revenues with 30 employees to $8 billion in revenues and 15,000 employees worldwide.  Twelve million people in California alone use this innovative global marketplace.  

Sam Blakeslee, clearly one of the smartest legislators we have, who (full disclosure) is my client, was pounded by protestors for being an "oil guy from Exxon".  Truth is – Blakeslee was a scientist at Exxon’s research lab in Texas, where he received a patent for inventing an innovative technique for imaging geological formations. Later, he moved into management and became a strategic planner responsible for creating and managing Exxon budgets.

The battle lines are drawn between environmental and union interests backing John Laird, the Democrat in the race, and taxpayers and businesses, large and small, backing Whitman’s choice Sam Blakeslee.  A scurrilous yet well funded advertising campaign and emotions of BP in the Gulf may increase voter turnout among Democrats but I wouldn’t count Republicans out yet.

The truth is that Laird presided over many of California’s runaway budgets and millions of dollars in tax increases.  His is a "more of the same" campaign but Democrats do hold a slight edge in this district.

A Laird victory means the majority party would be one seat away from a Democrat Super Majority, giving them the ability to override vetoes and raise taxes on businesses, individuals and families.

Conversely, a Blakeslee victory would place in the State Senate an innovator and scientist who understands business, budgets, and offers sensible reforms on environmental policy.  He also understands health care and enjoys great backing among medical professions.

It’s a huge day tomorrow in Senate District 15 where voters will decide if they like their government with more-of-the-same Laird or want to change things with innovator Blakeslee.  

Let’s hope they make the right choice in electing Blakeslee.

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