Like with all things in Hollywood, there is always a sequel.
In California politics, rewinding and rebranding old political strategies is as common as the palm trees.
The Never-Trumpers’ BFF.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer took over the reigns of ‘America’s Finest City’ after winning a 2013 special election to replace ousted Democrat Mayor Bob ‘Hands Off’ Filner. Then, over the course of the next seven years, proceeded to run San Diego into the ground.
Who would you vote for if the elections were held today?
Long before Covid, Faluconer’s slow response in leadership exacerbated a massive Hepatitis outbreak in the city that started in the homeless population and quickly spread for two years. During that same period, the Bubonic Plague broke out in the city, as in the ‘Black Death’ during the Middle Ages.
Then, taking a page from George HW Bush, Faulconer also pledged “No New Taxes” on a sales tax to fund infrastructure projects; but that was when he was running for reelection in 2016. In 2018, Faulconer pushed for a massive tax increase to fund his $633 million infrastructure proposals.
KPBS-TV provided the details:
The budget would represent a threefold increase in infrastructure spending since fiscal year 2014. The proposed spending plan reserves $553 million for capital improvements, including $108 million for sidewalk fixes and 390 miles of street repairs. Overall, infrastructure spending makes up about 15 percent of Faulconer’s total proposed budget.
Also included in the mayor’s proposed budget is more than $100 million for building improvements, including to city libraries, fire stations, recreation centers, lifeguard stations and operations facilities. Balboa Park’s Air & Space Museum would receive a new roof. The Tierrasanta Library would be expanded.
Stormwater channels, pump stations and storm drains would undergo $17.6 million in upgrades.
A handful of city parks would see $16.5 million in new lighting, trail work and Americans with Disabilities Act improvements.
Faulconer’s re-election campaign coincided with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s intense criticism of Mexican immigrants, a group Trump said are criminals and rapists, with promises to deport 12 million people. More recently, Trump decried a San Diego federal court judge for unfavorable rulings on a lawsuit against Trump, blaming the judge’s Mexican heritage.
Trump’s proposal to build a 1,000-foot long concrete wall across the U.S. Mexico border is regarded by Faulconer’s team as economically irresponsible.
“I could never vote for Trump,” said Faulconer on Election Night. “His divisive rhetoric is unacceptable and I just could never support him.”
It was of little surprise after Faulconer’s rhetoric that one the first major immigrant caravans that would attempt to illegally cross the border into the United States would do so near San Diego?
The influx impacted the Mexican city of Tijuana so drastically that the people of the city, and its mayor, became supporters of the Trump immigration agenda!
Con ustedes el alcalde de Tijuana, Juan Manuel Gastélum, capaz de decir “que me perdonen las organizaciones defensoras de DH, pero los derechos humanos son para humanos derechos” … #CaravanaMigrante pic.twitter.com/DkSuKeFBaF
— Risco (@jrisco) November 16, 2018
An Un-Bear-able Choice.
When he is out campaigning, John Cox, the man who lost to Gavin Newsom by 24points in 2018, tells anyone who will listen that he is a “businessman and not a politician”. However, history tells a different story.
Washington Post provides a different take:
While he was still living in Chicago, Cox was still the undaunted political seat-chaser, any political seat.
As the Chicago Sun-Times observed in 2007:
John Cox buys two hours of air time twice a week on west suburban WJJG-AM (1530).
He calls his show, which airs from 11am-to-1pm Mondays and Wednesdays, “The Progressive Conservative.”
So much for that line where he touts himself as a Reagan Conservative.
However, the two biggest blunders for the Cox campaign going into the Recall and the 2022 Election were once again self-inflicted.
Cox came in second during California’s 2018 ‘jungle’ primaries due to a single tweet from President Donald Trump, endorsing his candidacy. Subsequently, in a move reminiscent of John McCain and Mitt Romney, Cox then trashed any association that he had with the then-President.
Cox says Californians don’t know him the way they know Newsom, and he believes that’s why the Lieutenant Governor is ahead in the polls.
Cox aligned himself with the president during the primary, but he wants voters to know he’s his own man.
“I’ve never met (Trump),” Cox said. “I’ve never talked to him. I didn’t even vote for him.”
To top it off, Cox is currently running one of the worst political commercials in the history of California politics:
Cox’s campaign continues to stumble out of the blocks with key campaign staff quitting, and is under investigation over using the bear in his campaign ads. Some people should quit while they are respectfully behind.
Now if Cox would only go back home…to Chicago!
Former Sacramento-area Congressman Doug Ose is throwing his hat in for another run at governor, after dropping out of the 2018 race. While in the House of Representatives, Ose was ranked as one of the wealthiest members of Congress, due to his success in real estate during the 1980s.
A hawk on illegal immigration decades before it became a headline niche issue, he co-authored legislation granting authorization to the Department of Homeland Security to ignore several current environmental regulations to complete construction of the original 1996 border fence.
In keeping with his original campaign pledge, Ose self-term limited out of Congress in 2004. But, he did not stay away for long. In 2008, he ran again for Congress to replace the retiring John Doolittle, but was trounced in the primary by Tom McClintock. He ran for another Congressional seat again in 2014, barely losing to incumbent Ami Bera.
Similar to King Henry II in the movie The Lion in Winter, he is a leader that serves long past the time to abdicate so as to continue satisfying the lust for power, attention, and financial advantage. The end result is, the current young, promising rising talent are denied the chance to step up and take charge. Thus, experience skips a generation, the leadership establishment is forced to play catchup, and society suffers.
Keepin’ Up With…‘Them’ (Still)?
We warned you that the First Family of reality-TV were going to be testing the political water, especially now that their gravy-train series is coming to an end. Caitlyn Jenner, the family patriarch, first considered running for US Senate during the 2018 Election cycle. Stepdaughter Kim Kardashian and her then-husband Kanye West have already been politically active.
While the celebrity name draws a lot of attention, fame is often a three-edged sword in the political arena. Jenner’s past antics in chasing the celebrity spotlight for over 40 years, and her association with the Kardashian brand, opens a treasure trove of past scandals/controversies that has opposition researchers salivating.
The biggest cloud over Jenner’s will be her involvement in the fatal 2015 DUI car crash that killed one person. No charges were ever filed, Jenner claimed innocence; instead she blamed paparazzi for the accident. Yet Jenner still paid out a huge settlement to make the entire ordeal go away.
ABC News explains:
Caitlyn Jenner will pay $800,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from a 2015 fatal car crash.
Jenner struck a car that slammed into a vehicle in which five family members had been riding, including musician Peter Wolf-Millesi, his wife Lea Wolf-Millesi, their two children, and Lea’s mother, Elga Maurer, court documents state.
According to the petition to the court to accept the settlement, which was obtained by ABC News, Maurer will receive $500,000, Peter and Lea Wolf-Millesi will each receive $100,000 and their two sons will receive $50,000 apiece.
Jenner will also pay for the plaintiffs’ medical expenses and attorneys’ fees.
More recently Jenner distanced herself from President Trump and the Republican Party during the 2018 midterms.
She wrote in a Washington Post Op-Ed:
I believed I could work within the party and the Trump administration to shift the minds of those who most needed shifting. I made many trips to Washington to lobby and educate members of Congress, other Washington policymakers and powerful influencers. These meetings were generally positive and almost always led to encouraging conversations. Despite the criticism I received from segments of the LGBTQ community for engaging with this administration, I remained hopeful for positive change.
Sadly, I was wrong. The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president. The leader of our nation has shown no regard for an already marginalized and struggling community. He has ignored our humanity. He has insulted our dignity. [Jenner] made trans people into political pawns as he whips up animus against us in an attempt to energize the most right-wing segment of his party, claiming his anti-transgender policies are meant to “protect the country.” This is politics at its worst. It is unacceptable, it is upsetting, and it has deeply, personally hurt me.
Believing that I could work with Trump and his administration to support our community was a mistake.
Her criticisms of Trump and the GOP did not end there.
In a recent CNN interview, Jenner declared America was in a “Post-Trump Era”.
She believes this because Jenner believes there were no voting irregularities during the 2020 election. But how can she know that? Jenner did not vote in 2020 because she was out golfing, but then she already had a very weak voting record to begin with.
In perhaps the most ironic twist of fate, the harshest criticisms have arisen from the Kardashians’ themselves:
Political newcomer Major Williams has made positive waves by politicking the old fashioned way, with the grassroots and an ‘on the ground’ campaign. A strange concept for a state used to high caliber celebrities, slick campaign ads, and mega-million-dollar blitzes.
Williams, a financial and marketing entrepreneur, has assisted over 300 small businesses in the development of ideas, products, and goals towards commercial success. Also gives back by engaging in numerous community philanthropic causes.
Williams recently hit headlines, pledging to ban Covid vaccine passports:
“Vaccine passports are a total affront to the US Constitution, freedom, and everything it means to be an American. The passports aren’t legally required to be HIPAA-compliant. We cannot allow the government and Big Tech companies to oversee all of our personal information and use it against us. Californians shouldn’t need to show ‘their papers’ to see a ballgame, travel, or do anything else that previous generations have enjoyed. There is no middle ground here,” said Major Williams.
“If we don’t have our civil liberties, we don’t have anything. The last thing Californians need is more unchecked government authority infringing up on them. New York tried to implement a vaccine passport called the Excelsior Pass and it was a total disaster. Also, California is making significant progress against COVID-19,” said Williams.
His most recent political foray was running in the Pasadena Mayoral Race during the 2020 primaries. While popular with the grassroots Republican activists, he has yet to gain popular mainstream traction.
Having base support is a big deal, but having a thin bank account while requiring ad buys in a state with the most numerous costliest media markets in the country, does not bode well for a campaign. Especially in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1; high name-ID, voter appeal, and a sizeable war chest are the needed tools for victory.
With a body of work that should not be purveyed on any work computers, or in the presence of decent company.
When questioned about her political platform, the San Francisco Chronicle learned:
Carey doesn’t have a policy platform up yet, but she does have something more important to her future: an online store featuring a dozen “Mary Carey for Governor” products. Most feature her in a bikini top.
She was the only candidate to list her chest measurements in her campaign materials and the only one whose platform included taxing breast implants and wiring the governor’s mansion with webcams. She parlayed hundreds of international media interviews into becoming a TV reality show staple.
Born Mary Cook, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she has been in a fierce copyright lawsuit battle with singing icon Mariah Carey over their similar sounding stage names. Carey is not the first porn star to broaden herself from the sex world to the political world. Nor would she be the first to use her unique special set of skills to climb the political ladder into higher office.
Is He IN or is He OUT?
Grenell has topped several straw polls as the leading choice amongst grassroots voters.
However, Grenell continues to send mixed messages about his intent.
Grenell had been largely silent on his recall plans in the past several weeks as other GOP candidates have entered the race, most notably reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner.
“I have until about August or September to figure that out,” Grenell told Fox News host Sean Hannity when asked if he would enter the race. “We’re considering it. My criteria is just looking at the long term: How do you fix this for the long term? How do you make sure it’s not just a flash in the pan?”
“I want to do to California what Stacey Abrams did to Georgia, and I think it’s going to take about four years,” he added before going on to promote his Fix California political action committee.
Grenell is the most high-profile gay-conservative in the Republican Party.
His work in the Trump Administration has him labeled as a sellout within LGTBQ community. Yet Grenell was one of several that led the fight to overturn Proposition 8 in 2008. While there might be negligible blowback in California, it could hurt him with core Christian Conservatives that are needed to show up during the election.
Grenell would be ideally suited serving State, Country, and Party by running for US Senate in 2022.
Image courtesy: LA Sentinel
Los Angeles Times recalls:
Despite the long-standing bitterness between him and Davis, Bustamante has urged Californians to vote against the recall. At a Labor Day brunch Monday in San Bernardino, Bustamante said recall backers were “abusing the process and the system.”
“They are hijacking democracy, and we should call them on it,” he said.
Bustamante strategist Richie Ross said the lieutenant governor was not offering a wink to supporters who might be tempted to vote “yes” on the recall.
“We answer our phone, ‘No on the Recall, Yes on Bustamante,’” he said. “I don’t know what more you can do.
In a case of déjà vu all over again, KTLA-TV learned:
When some people ask if he’s glad he’s not governor or mayor during the tumultuous period of the health crisis, Villaraigosa responds with a dirty look, he told the students, according to a video of the class.
“I say, ‘Obviously, you don’t know me,’” Villaraigosa said, sounding as feisty as when he would spar with reporters at City Hall news conferences. “Because if you did, you would know I want to be right in the middle of all of it.”
He could soon get his chance.
Three years after his underwhelming performance in the California governor’s race, Villaraigosa is being talked about as a possible Democratic candidate in the likely recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
In the ultimate twist of irony, of the whole recall effort pushed and funded by Republicans, could end with a Bay Area Democrat being replaced by a Los Angeles Democrat!
This is California, and stranger things have happened.
And The Also Rans
In many high-profile campaigns there are those that pop-up from under their respective rocks looking for a little 15-minutes of fame.
Blinded by rosy colored delusions of grandeur, with little understanding of what it takes to mount a serious run for a major political office beyond watching the nightly cable news shows and reruns of The West Wing.
In 2021, this dogmatic rogues gallery is comprised of the following.
- Sam Gallucci—Founder and CEO of The Kingdom Center and pastor at Embrace! Church in Oxnard.
- Chamath Palihapitiya—Bay Area entrepreneur, venture capitalist, former Facebook executive, and Democrat donor. He initially expressed interest in running in the recall, but recently recanted. However like Grenell, he could be laying low until the right moment. With his wealth and tech industry connections, Palihapitiya could easily bloom into a formidable candidate.
- Mike Cernovich—Fringe social media personality, political commentator, and frequent host on InfoWars. Cernovich’s interest in running appears to be to agitate and self-promotion.
- Daniel Mercuri—Another perennial seat-chaser and self-promoter who is keen at regurgitating the talking points into campaign rhetoric. Mercuri lost in a congressional special election, now has his eyes set for a loftier goal.
- Diego Martinez—Owner of a bail bonds business.