News

How can Phil Angelides beat Gov. Schwarzenegger in November? Let me count the ways

No. 1: Remind the pundits that David beat Goliath. Despite the governor’s
bigger-than-life image, Schwarzenegger’s election track record is dismal. In
the recall, Schwarzenegger drew only 44 percent of the ballots cast. In
2004, he went 0-9 in the legislative races where he worked hard for GOP
candidates. The governor’s losing streak continued in his lopsided
special-election defeats. More recently, his hand-picked controller
candidate stumbled. Angelides needs to prick the governor’s aura of
invincibility quickly if he’s going to raise money and attract the earned
media he needs to compete.

No. 2: Distribute flip-flops at the governor’s campaign events. If there’s
one thing that voters abhor, it’s a politician who changes his positions in
an election year more than a chameleon changes colors. Schwarzenegger 3.0
has done an about-face on every major issue. Angelides can exploit
Schwarzenegger’s weathervane governing by comparing it to his own core
values and vision. Remember John Kerry’s “I-was-for-it-before-I-was-
against-it” moments? It’s x 10 with Schwarzenegger on immigration,
greenhouse gases, health care and the minimum wage.

No. 3: Pay me now or pay me later. Anytime Angelides is branded a taxer, he
should point to Schwarzenegger’s running up of the state credit card.
Angelides was a lone wolf in opposing Propositions 57 and 58, and can turn
that into an effective foil by painting Schwarzenegger as the largest
borrower in California history.

No. 4: Microtarget the state’s diverse ethnic communities. The
Schwarzenegger administration has about as much diversity as an Alabama
country club. African-American and Latino appointments to the judiciary and
his inner circle can be counted on one hand. Angelides, who already has an
advantage in these Democratic constituencies, needs to drive this point
home.

No. 5: Don’t say Schwarzenegger without saying McClintock. LG wannabe
McClintock is an extremist who may be a heartbeat away from the governor’s
office. He’s anti-choice, anti-bond, anti-, well, just about everything.
Exploiting the wedge between the governor and his running mate will irritate
the Republican party faithful–and solidify Democrats fearful of the remotest
possibility of McClintock ending up in the corner office.

No. 6: It’s education, stupid. The governor can spend every day between now
and November at photo ops reading books to a kindergarten class. But he
won’t be able to shake the powerful images of last year’s Alliance for a
Better California’s campaign that tagged him as an enemy No. 1 of teachers
and kids. Angelides should build on that momentum. At the same time, he
should lead the charge for the education bond, stealing the issue from the
governor and building a platform on his plans for higher achievement and
investment.

No. 7: Keep the radio on. There’s a reason the governor’s office has stopped
sending transcripts from the governor’s appearances on right-wing radio
stations. His constant gaffes often backfire. After last week’s bus tour,
GOP pundits were saying, “Let Arnold be Arnold.” Nothing could help
Angelides more.

No. 8: Get that empty chair ready. Without Ariana, Cruz and Camejo providing
comic relief, Angelides should be able to whip Arnold in every mano-a-mano
matchup. Angelides should accept every debate offer, and carry around an
empty chair for the stage when the governor refuses.

No. 9: Pray for a hot summer. Pollsters say Californians like the thought of
solar roofs and hydrogen cars. What they like better is being able to crank
up their air conditioning. Schwarzenegger has attracted precious few
megawatts to California. Meanwhile, those articles about Enron’s Ken Lay and
the governor having quality time during the energy crisis need to be dusted
off.

No. 10: Head to a levee. Despite his campaigning for President Bush, the
governor has failed to deliver on his “Collectinator” promise. Central
Valley home owners may soon be sporting “Arnold Went to Washington and All
We Got Was a Lousy Helicopter Photo-Op” T-shirts soon; the governor can’t
unite the bickering Republican Congressional delegation to secure adequate
appropriations for levee repair. This is a three-fer for Angelides: He gets
to play up the Bush/Schwarzenegger connection, cultivate Central Valley
voters and point out yet another broken promise.

No. 11: Can you say $4 a gallon? Chevron and Exxon contributions lining
Schwarzenegger’s pockets may help his bloated campaign treasury, but they’ll
go over like a lead balloon when Soccer Moms are plunking down $100 to fill
the tanks on their SUVs. This is one of the few areas where the Grand Old
Party of Petroleum can effectively be hung around the governor’s neck. P.S.


Support for Capitol Weekly is Provided by: