Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | September 26, 2003

133 candidates and no one to vote for

It’s still hard for me to fathom that there are 133 candidates for governor, and not one I feel good about voting for. How depressing a comment about the current state of California politics is that?

At least on the national political scene, I’ve been heartened by the entry of Gen. Wesley Clark into the Democratic presidential primary race. My early favorable impressions of him have been strengthened as he has clarified his positions on important issues since announcing his candidacy. And noticing on Headline News that he drives a Miata just added to fuel to my growing pro-Clark fire.

Who says what kind of car you drive can only be an issue in the ridiculous California recall race? As much as it discourages me, I must address the Oct. 7 recall election, and confess that I still don’t know how I’ll be voting on the second question of the special election ballot. Although I thought the three-judge panel was wrong to delay the election, and was glad that the October date was reinstated, there was a silver lining to the original federal appeals court ruling. The delay would have given me five months instead of two weeks to figure out how to answer the important question: If Gov. Gray Davis is recalled, who should replace him?

This newspaper’s editorial board – of which I am a member – has endorsed state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Northridge. That endorsement, earned with two of five editorial board member votes, does not match my sentiments. I understand the reasoning of the two members who like McClintock – that he has the best grasp and clearest plan for handling California’s fiscal crisis – but I can’t get past his extreme conservative social views.

The fact that he supports Prop. 54, the so-called Racial Privacy Initiative that seeks to ban California state and local public agencies from tracking data by race, is just one example of the kind of blind adherence to right-wing ideology that prevents me from voting for McClintock.

I started out really wanting to vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger. I like to support moderate Republicans. When Tom Campbell ran for the United States Senate a few years back against Dianne Feinstein, I voted for him. I have no problem with Feinstein; in fact, I like her a lot. But because I like to encourage – in the small way I have at my disposal, my vote – the Republican Party to nominate moderates, I try to vote for moderate Republican candidates whenever I can. I would have voted for Richard Riordan had the Republican Party managed to nominate him to challenge Gray Davis instead of Bill Simon last year.

But Schwarzenegger’s initial appeal – a fiscal conservative who was moderate on social issues, a Sacramento outsider who wouldn’t be ‘handled’ or ‘spun’ and who wouldn’t take donations from special interests – has turned out to be all promise, no substance. His performance in Wednesday night’s debate gave me no reason to change that view.

I agree with Arianna Huffington on many issues, but she’s not going to win. I may end up casting my vote for her, knowing full well that she won’t win, but hoping my drop in the bucket sends a message to Sacramento that they can’t keep doing business as usual. But, maybe not. I’m not convinced yet.

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante is more liberal than Gov. Gray Davis, and I don’t like his fundraising practices. Green Party candidate Peter Camejo just doesn’t do a lot for me, and doesn’t stand a chance besides.

So, sadly, unless I can find some passion for one of the major candidates, I may do a rare thing on my Oct. 7 ballot: I may leave a question unanswered. If I do, it won’t be out of loyalty to the Democratic party – some Davis supporters have suggested that not voting on the second part of the ballot is the best way to vote. I view voting as a sacred duty and would only leave the question unvoted as a last resort.

But, even though we have 133 candidates from which to choose, it’s looking more and more likely that none of them have earned my vote. And from a die-hard voting advocate like me, that’s a sad commentary indeed.



  1. […] criticized his party in a column in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times. I’m no Schwarzenegger fan, but he’s right to decry the rapidly shrinking GOP tent: “An inclusive party would welcome the […]

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