California Republicans had a tough choice to make in 2003. In the Recall election of Governor Gray Davis, the ballot includes pages and pages of candidates to replace him, as the provisions for recall did not include a primary election of any kind for the race.
The Republican Party establishment chose to back Arnold Schwarzenegger, and commentators across the country told us he was the real deal. In doing this, the GOP in the state signed its own death warrant.
Arnold Schwarzenegger painted himself as the outsider needed to clean up the mess the politicians made, as he said on the Tonight Show: “The politicians are fiddling, fumbling and failing. The man that is failing the people more than anyone is Gray Davis. He is failing them terribly, and this is why he needs to be recalled and this is why I am going to run for governor of the state of California.”
Sound familiar? An outsider who fights, who should be trusted despite surrounding himself with Democrats, and taking the left-wing side on many issues through his pre-political life? Yeah that’s right. Arnold Schwarzenegger did the whole upend-the-GOP thing a decade before Donald Trump has done the same nationally.
There was another Republican option on the ballot, too. Tom McClintock (now Heritage Action’s highest-rated Congressman in California), seven-term Assemblyman who jumped to the Senate after Term limits, decided to run for Governor. He got 14% of the vote despite a big push by the media and the establishment to promote Schwarzenegger.
But Schwarzenegger won, of course, and that’s why he got so much establishment support. They wanted to win. It was more important to beat the Democrats, than it was to stand on principle, you see. Well, what exactly happened to the state as a result?
He raised taxes by promoting Proposition 1A, and also would back new borrowing through bond issues.
Proposition 25 passed under his watch, removing all Republican power from the budget process in the state.
With those higher taxes, he jacked up spending as much as possible, even more than his predecessor did, Democrat Gray Davis.
His judicial picks included many Democrats, which in California means he loaded up the courts with extremists.
And arguably most importantly, Schwarzenegger backed Proposition 14, which is going to allow general elections to happen without a Republican on the ballot for local and statewide races. The proposition also removed the ability of the California Republican Party to bar Democrats from meddling in the Republican rankings in the primary.
Because of that Schwarzenegger-backed change, current polls say California Republicans will only have Democrats to choose from in November when they vote for US Senate. The options for Barbara Boxer’s replacement are going to be Attorney General Kamala Harris, and racist member of Congress Loretta Sanchez.
The state is a disaster now, and the Republican party is powerless in the state. Even in the minority it could have a big impact, before Schwarzenegger. Now the state party is effectively dead. Those of us who refused to back Schwarzenegger were vindicated, and I hope that #NeverTrump never gets to go back and say, “We told you so.”
Sometimes winning is worse than losing, when you give up your principles to get there.