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The Candidate to Battle Barbara Boxer

In 1992, then-Congresswoman Barbara Boxer successfully ran for the U.S. Senate on the coattails of Bill Clinton during the "Year of the Woman.". Since then, she has been re-elected three times despite having been viewed by GOP strategists as being vulnerable each time.

One need not strain the eyes to find a combative and uncompromising legislator in Boxer. Her "call me Senator" gaffe was all too representative of the corrosive rhetoric she has uttered on the floor of the Senate and elsewhere. Liberal interest group give her near-perfect ratings on their scorecards, while conservative groups give her scores near zero each and every year. Boxer's style of legislating and the fights she picks often makes Nancy Pelosi look pragmatic and moderate. Thus it is not surprising that Republicans target her Senate seat each cycle- but they fall short each time when late-breaking voters stick with the incumbent.

Of the three challengers Boxer has faced since her election, Matt Fong did the best against her. But Fong had numerous factors working against him. Pete Wilson's anti-immigrant record and Proposition 187 had driven Hispanic voters solidly into the Democratic camp, making them reliable Boxer voters. The unpopular Clinton impeachment hearings were heating up. Gray Davis was at the top of the ticket and won the election handily. But the defining moment when Barbara Boxer called the pro-choice Fong "anti-choice" because a pro-life organization donated to Fong's campaign. The charge stuck, and the hapless Fong could not nullify it with women voters.

In 2004, Boxer was once again considered vulnerable. California Republicans, psyched from Arnold Schwarzenegger's historic win the year before, looked to the governor to lead the party in the race against Boxer. Then Arnold hand-picked one of his friends, Bill Jones, to have the honor of challenging Boxer. But once Jones got past the primary, his campaign never got traction. While Jones didn't have any major flaws as a candidate, there was nothing about his candidacy that stood out enough to shake up the race. Worse still for Jones, Bush was at the top of the ticket that year and John Kerry was virtually guaranteed to carry California from the get go. Thus, Boxer would beat Jones handily.

In 2010, with the anti-Obamacare winds at their backs, Republicans were hopeful once more that they could take out Boxer. Out of a combative three-candidate primary between former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Rep. Tom Campbell, and businessman Chuck DeVore. While Campbell, the most liberal of the three on abortion and gay rights, touted polling that showed him having the strongest chance of winning against Boxer, GOP voters would ultimately pick Fiorina, who had accumulated star power through her gender, business experience and successful battle with breast cancer.

Despite being endorsed by Sarah Palin and having conservative views on most issues, Fiorina was not a particularly weak candidate by most measures. Although liberal groups recruited disgruntled former HP employees to complain about Fiorina's management style, she ended up doing no worse against Boxer than mega-rich Meg Whitman did against Jerry Brown in the governor's race that same election. Fiorina polled in the low forties throughout the campaign with Boxer usually tied or a few points ahead. It was the large pool of undecideds that overwhelmingly went for Boxer in the end. What happened?

It was minority voters, many of whom waited until the very end to register their choice, who handed another victory to Boxer. Here, Fiorina's biggest problem was that she had to run within the now-defunct closed primary system, and therefore she had to pander to the anti-immigrant sentiments of inland Republicans. Therefore, by the time the primary was over, Fiorina had two strikes against her in the general election with centrists and minorities.


by Anonymousreply 1210/09/2012

Future candidates, at least until the system is changed again, will not have to run in closed primaries. Proponents of this new system hope that enabling anyone to vote for any candidate in the primary will yield more moderate candidates who tend to the needs of normal voters as opposed to extreme partisans. This paves the way for an entirely new type of candidate to oppose Boxer or other extreme leftists in the future.

What would such a candidate look like? The new primary system would take the task of selecting Boxer's challenger out of the hands of predominantly white, nativist evangelical Protestants inland and put it instead into those of a much broader coalition of Californians- conservatives, libertarians, moderates and even pragmatist liberals who are not necessarily pleased with Boxer's performance on the job. The new primary electorate would span all areas of the state with all racial groups.

Out of this system could rise a type of candidate- the likes of which the Republican Party hasn't nominated in decades. Instead of being an older white person- which the modern GOP is stereotyped as representing exclusively- it might be a young Latino or Asian American representing a new and more youthful generation. He might have positions on marijuana and gay rights that are much more mainstream among the CA electorate, and be pragmatic enough to compromise on other issues.

A pro-choice (though not pro-abortion) youthful, socially liberal candidate would have massive appeal to women and gay voters- especially if the candidate is a woman herself, or a smooth, fresh, attractive male figure. (Don't tell me that Obama's youthfulness and suave looks had nothing to do at all with his electoral success in Illinois.)

Despite his centrist or center-left views, the candidate would be pragmatic enough to tolerate religious conservatives in the coalition that backs him and to recruit supporters from all over the spectrum. His professional background might be one that both business-friendly Republicans and eco-minded Democrats could appreciate- like environmental consulting, for example.

His Asian American (or Latin) background would inspire youth in his community to become leaders- and voters. And immigrant youth, whether Chinese, Mexican or otherwise, would have nothing to fear from him, and would likely even see cause to break their habit of not voting and even mobilize behind him in support.

Finally faced with the prospect of unseating Boxer, who is ever intolerant of their views and way of life, conservatives would look at this new candidate closely. A small number will inevitably balk, and some will decline to vote for either him or Boxer. But most will look back and forth between Boxer, who votes with them less than 5% of the time, and the new guy, who would support them 40-50% of the time. The choice to support the new face- especially with Boxer's history of antagonism, will be obvious to most conservatives. In the end, they will say, despite their reservations, "...this is a guy I can vote for."

Boxer has easily beaten most all of her opponents thus far largely to do to her liberal base of support in San Francisco and the flight of Hispanics from the GOP since Proposition 187. But if a candidate like the one I have just described were to enter the ring, Barbara Boxer would be on the ropes.

And yes, I do have a person or two in mind for this role.

by Anonymousreply 110/08/2012


by Anonymousreply 210/08/2012

oh, blah, blah, blah

by Anonymousreply 310/08/2012

Don't you freepers have anything better to do? Isn't there a dog that needs kicking?

by Anonymousreply 410/08/2012

anyone else?

by Anonymousreply 510/09/2012


by Anonymousreply 610/09/2012

People typically vote for the incumbent IF the incumbent hasn't been glaringly bad. If she's not perceived as a threat, then voters will stick with her. Some voters do have a fear of change, and by and large 'change for the sake of change' isn't something most people want to experience.

by Anonymousreply 710/09/2012

Here's the thing, OP. I live in California, and we re-elect her because we like her.

Go the fuck away, freeper trash.

by Anonymousreply 810/09/2012

You guys should READ the entire article before commenting.

The OP brings up some interesting points.

by Anonymousreply 910/09/2012

The OP lost me completely at pro-choice but not pro-abortion. That's a freeper tactic. NOBODY is pro-abortion. We all want to limit abortions. There are just those of us that feel that that difficult decision should be entirely the woman whose body is fucking affected.

Plus ignore the fact that those who are anti-choice don't really seem to give a shit about the baby wants its born and would call the mom a welfare queen if she dare stay home to take care of the baby.

Barbara Boxer is one of the great things about California and you better fucking call her Senator too.

by Anonymousreply 1010/09/2012

The author (OP) of the essay is Robert Scharr

by Anonymousreply 1110/09/2012

Barbara Boxer was just re-elected in 2010. It's Dianne Feinstein who's running in 2012.

by Anonymousreply 1210/09/2012
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