Well, that was a good way to blow 140 million dollars. The Meg Whitman campaign will go down as one of the worst in California history, blowing a springtime lead and managing to lose in a massive Republican landslide year.
But that’s what you get when you hire Mike Murphy as chief strategist, as Whitman did. Last we saw of Murphy he had ruined the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2005 special election. Schwarzenegger’s defeat in that election was so thorough he had to all but become a Democrat to survive in office.
But nevertheless, there he was running Whitman’s effort. But he seems not to have understood the most basic law of modern politics: when you have an illegal alien problem, you get it out; you don’t wait for Gloria Allred to do it for you.
The first mistake Murphy et al made was to insulate Whitman from the California media, putting her into a cocoon where she just mouthed talking points. Her campaign thought that with her millions they could go around the media; they were wrong. For a whole year Whitman got nothing but bad press from aggrieved reporters. And as we found out, Californians still read their newspapers.
Alienated by Whitman, the media decided to tear open the cocoon with Ricky, the weeping housekeeper, and the public saw a Whitman who appeared mean and cruel. Allred baited her to deny she was warned Nicky was illegal, and Whitman took the bait, whereupon Allred sprung the Social Security letter on Whitman proving she was warned about the illegal housekeeper.
The campaign ended with that press conference. Gov.-elect Brown should appoint Allred to the Supreme Court; she proved there is at least one woman in California who knows how to elect a governor.
The Whitman team’s lame excuse for not getting the Nicky story out earlier was that Steve Poizner, her repulsive primary opponent, would have used the fact she hired an illegal alien against her in the primary. But even after the primary, Whitman’s people sat on the story, as though it would never become public. Whitman should receive the Zoe Baird-Kimba Wood-Mike Huffington award for blowing up a career over an illegal alien.
Whitman never made her case against Jerry Brown, and it was an eminently makeable case. Her research team acted like they were born long after Brown’s first stint as governor, because the hit on Brown was not that he was a tax and spend liberal – he was not – but that he set in motion California’s long decline. The sun set on California’s golden age because Brown was stingy, myopic and would not invest in the future. That was the case to make against Brown. It was never made.
Instead it was Brown and his labor backers who ran the brilliant campaign, and for the first time in American history a GOP tidal wave stopped at the California state line.
As for the Senate race, Carly Fiorina’s defeat is even easier to explain. If you are going run like you are running in Idaho, run in Idaho. Californians will not vote for a candidate who wants to repeal Roe v Wade or the assault weapons ban.
It will not, however, take millions of words to remind the California Republican Party of all this, for there is no more California Republican Party. For all intents and purposes, California is now a one party state, especially since Republicans have been stripped of any role in the budget by the passage of Proposition 25. Alas, they are like Chief Inspector Dreyfus’s nose in the last Pink Panther movie, disappearing into a puff of smoke.