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McClintock's Choice
by Andrew M. Alexander
28 September 2003Tom McClintock

Senator Tom McClintock knows he can't win this race.


Tom McClintock cannot win.

How do I know this?  Because I read the polls.  The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll shows McClintock trailing badly with just 18% percent of the vote; Arnold Schwarzenegger leads Cruz Bustamante, 40% to 25%.

And there is no reason to believe McClintock can overtake Schwarzenegger in the next nine days. McClintock's best chance to make up ground was at last Wednesday's debate, when he had an opportunity to confront Schwarzenegger and expose him as just another Hollywood fraud.  McClintock probably would have had some success with this tactic; he knows California government inside and out, while Schwarzenegger's grasp of policy is average at best. But McClintock failed to attack Schwarzenegger at the debate; he chose instead to methodically articulate conservative solutions to California's problems -- something most Californians rarely hear -- and avoided confrontation with Schwarzenegger.

And Schwarzenegger's performance at the debate exceeded all expectations; he easily batted away Arianna Huffington's gnat-like attacks and stayed "on message" the entire evening. The politicians have overspent, the politicians have overspent.

Tom McClintock is the best man for the job.  First elected to the California legislature at age twenty-six, he co-authored a bill that refunded $1.1 billion to California taxpayers and is the author of California's lethal injection death penalty law.  He opposes California's car tax and has filed an initiative to abolish it.  He supports Proposition 54, the Racial Privacy Initiative, which would prevent the government from collecting some racial data.  He is pro-life, opposes gay marriage and "civil unions," supports gun rights, and has pledged to never raise taxes. He would almost certainly be a better governor than Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger, on the other hand, supports civil unions and gun control.  He is pro-abortion, although he opposes partial-birth abortion and supports parental notification with a judicial bypass.  He is against illegal immigration, and opposes a bill that would give illegal aliens driver's licenses.  He supports California's Three Strikes law and the death penalty, and his enthusiasm for "fiscal conservatism" is well-known -- despite his refusal to sign a No New Taxes pledge. With his mushy moderate/liberal record, Schwarzenegger is the type of candidate many conservatives vote for while holding their nose.

McClintock claims he is in the race to the bitter end. On Thursday he said, "I made a promise to the people that I was in this race to the finish line and I keep my promises."  But why is he staying in the race?  Does he really think he can win?   Is he staying to prove a point?  What, exactly, is the point?  Why does Tom McClintock believe he has a chance to win, when almost the entire California Republican establishment has thrown their support behind Schwarzenegger?  

Here is a sampling of prominent Republicans and organizations who have endorsed Schwarzenegger over McClintock:

  • Bill Simon: "I think it's now time to get behind one candidate."
  • Pete Wilson
  • Richard Riordan
  • Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA): "Without a doubt, only one man has been able to stand above the rest and make it clear that there will be a direction change away from the pay-to-play Bustamante-Davis way of doing business."
  • Leslie Cornejo, Ventura County Republican Party Chair (McClintock's County): "I come from the county represented by Tom McClintock.  We have elected him for twenty years to represent us.  He has represented us greatly, but at this time it is the view of my fellow chairman and I that the candidate with the best chance to win is Arnold Schwarzenegger."
  • Jim Brulte (R-Rancho Cucamonga), Senate Minority Leader and Co-Chairman of McClintock's 2002 state controller campaign: "At this time, in this election, I believe for Tom the governorship is simply a bridge too far.  This eight-week recall campaign is three-fourths complete and Tom continues to be the third-place candidate.  I also believe that his candidacy puts at risk not only the election of a Republican but the recall itself."
  • California Republican County Chairmen's Association (40 of 58 endorsed Schwarzenegger)
  • California Chamber of Commerce
  • Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
  • Associated Builders and Contractors
  • California Republican League
  • California Young Republicans
  • Congresswoman Mary Bono (R-CA)
  • Congressman Chris Cox (R-CA)
  • Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA)
  • Congressman David Dreier (R-CA)
  • Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA)
  • Congressman Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA)

If that is not enough, the Schwarzenegger Campaign website maintains a lengthy list of endorsements.

McClintock's endorsements are few, and his website does not appear to have any sort of official list:

  • Young Republican Federation of California
  • Lynn Nofziger, a senior aide to President Ronald Reagan.
  • James Dobson, Focus on the Family: "If all the conservatives who are complaining about him [McClintock] would vote for him, I believe he would pull it off."

McClintock has raised $1.7 million in contributions to Schwarzenegger's $18.6 million.

"I would not be in the race if I did not believe I could win.  I'm the one moving up and gaining rapidly, from what I've been told."  Who is telling McClintock this, and does he really believe it?  I don't think so.

McClintock knows the writing is on the wall.  When he reviews the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll numbers, he will do the honorable thing: he will bow out for the good of California.  He is still young, and his sacrifice will be remembered.  If Schwarzenegger proves to be a capable governor, Californians may elect additional Republicans to statewide office in 2006 -- something the state Party desperately needs.

Today's San Jose Mercury News had a story with this title: "Stubborn Senator Helps Bustamante."  Let's hope that headline won't run again October 8.

Andrew Alexander is Co-Editor of IntellectualConservative.

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