Saturday, June 19, 2010

California's "Mama Grizzlies" - Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina

When Sarah Palin said that 2010 would be the year of
the Republican "Mama Grizzlies" , she wasn't kidding.

What she was referring to was the rise of conservative
Republican Women in this year's electoral contests.
And, there have been a number of very surprising
"Mama Grizzly" wins.

First there was the upset win in the South Carolina
Republican gubernatorial primary by Palin-endorsed
Nikki Haley. In deep-red-state South Carolina, winning
the Republican primary makes the attractive daughter
of Indian immigrants the odds-on favorite in November.

Next, there was the out-of-nowhere win by Tea Partier
Sharron Angle in the Nevada Primary to face Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid in the fall. However, as Ms.
Angle's somewhat extreme views become better known,
she may face an uphill fight in November against the
well-financed Reid.

But the biggest "Mama Grizzly" winners on Primary Day
were the California female multi-millionaire tech
CEO's - Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina.

Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO now Republican
nominee for Governor, spent an unprecedented $71 Million
in the primary, and is prepared to spend up to $50 million
more in the general election contest against former Governor
Jerry Brown, making her campaign the most expensive
in California history. But, as a virtual unknown outside
corporate CEO circles, she contends that this was necessary
to succeed in the nation's most competitive and expensive
political media market.

Touting her experience in the business world as someone
who will "Get Things Done" for California, Whitman
has brought a raft of top-flight GOP endorsements to her
side, including Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Her
campaign manager is none other than former Republican
Governor and Senator Pete Wilson. And even though she
has been self-financed thus far, contributions from
GOP-affiliated PACS have been pouring in, as well as
money from the Republican National Committee and
the National Republican Governor's Conference.

Should she accept and spend all this money, hers will be
the second-most expensive Republican campaign in history,
behind only John McCain's 2008 Presidential bid.

And she will probably need to spend it all to win. Both parties
have identified the California gubernatorial race as one of
the most important in the nation, and former Governor
Brown will also be receiving major financial help from the
Democratic party. But, running in one of the most
liberal states in the union, with a built-in 60%-40%
disadvantage in voter registration, Whitman will
need to make a compelling case for change to go to
Sacramento. And I'm not sure that she can do it.

To begin with, most of California's problems do
not come from the Governor's mansion - rather, they
originate in a dysfunctional legislature which grinds
itself to gridlocked impotence every session in battles
between an extremely liberal Democratic majority
and an extremely conservative, compromise-hating
Republican minority.

In such an atmosphere, it's no surprise that California
has not produced a timely budget in the last seven years,
it's no surprise that the state is virtually broke, and it's no
surprise that the state has the nation's highest taxes, the
nation's worst business and regulatory climate, and a
bloated state bureaucracy almost third-world-like in
its incompetence and inefficiency.

Given this background, it's hard to see how Meg can
make a difference; if elected, she'll find out very quickly
that she cannot push around legislators and bureaucrats
like she did her employees. And Jerry Brown, well known
as "Governor Moonbeam" during his previous eight years
as Governor, might not do much better. But he'll at least
have the advantage of a legislative majority and the full
support of the highly-partisan state bureaucracy.

Given a "choice" of who is more likely to get necessary
change to stick in California, I would reluctantly have to
say Jerry Brown.

And this brings us to the other "Mama Grizzly" on the
California ticket - former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly
Fiorina, the Republican nominee for The Senate against
incumbent Barbara Boxer.

With Sen. Boxer's thin record of accomplishment in the
Senate, and her admittedly prickly and unpersonable
persona, she should be a vulnerable target. And, in
pre-primary matchups, she trailed all likely Republican
challengers - except Fiorina.

However, given her huge personal war chest (she spent
$19 million in her campaign), and a timely endorsement
from Sarah Palin, she easily beat underfunded true
conservative former legislator and Congressman
Tom Campbell, whose pre-primary polls showed him
beating Boxer 53%-47% in a general election contest.

However, unlike Meg Whitman, Fiorina's corporate
record of accomplishment is decidedly mixed. Her
stormy tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard was marked
by the botched acquisition of rival computer maker
Compaq, the layoff of 25,000 loyal, longtime H-P
employees, the subsequent outsourcing and offshoring
of another 20,000 H-P positions, a 50% decline in H-P's
stock price, and loss of market share in all of H-P's important
businesses. Ultimately, it took the intervention of the Hewlett
and Packard families with H-P's board to hand Fiorina her
walking papers and multimillion-dollar golden parachute.

That Boxer's campaign people rated Fiorina the candidate
they would most prefer to face in the general election doesn't
help either.

And this points up the biggest problem that both of California's
"Mama Grizzlies" face - they are both too corporate and too far
removed from the struggles of California's overtaxed and
overstressed electorate to be credible "tribunes of the people".
Neither is an authentic conservative - and in an era when the
legitimacy of Corporate America is very much in question,
"Corporate" experience is very much a coin of doubtful value.

This is not to say that the Democrats are any better - Barbara
Boxer is well-known as the Senate's "Queen of Mean", with a
heartfelt and documented contempt for ordinary people
only an elitist could love. And Jerry Brown wasn't called
"Governor Moonbeam" for nothing - some his positions on
the issues went beyond the quixotic to the downright
bizarre. And this time around, he's referred to as
"Governor Moonbat" (as in "Bat@#*t Crazy").

You have to feel sorry for Californians - with such a beautiful
state, perfect climate, and a unique culture the whole world
wants to emulate you would think that they would produce
political leaders to match. But they haven't. And in these
two important races, they won't be choosing between
"the lesser of two evils" - rather they'll be embracing
"The Evil of Two Lessers".

1 comment:

  1. Many Democrats in California suffer from Reagan Democrat disease. Reagan poisoned the well as California's governor then Democrats never fully recovered once he left the Governor's mansion. Democrats dating back from the 80's tend to have an elitist, inefficient, lazy, and even corrupt tendency to carry out their posts in Federal and State positions. They allowed a bloated bureaucracy to hurt the people of California for decades. The biggest sin is the failure to improve, streamline, and increase productivity from the bureaucracy. Yes, that is largely the unions fault however the buck stops at the politicians and it is truly their fault. The biggest part of Reagan Democrat disease is being too moderate and refusing to back a fully progressive agenda that would help the middle class. Yes, Jerry Brown has some flaws but Reagan Democrat disease isn't one of them. California needs Jerry Brown, the Greatest Hits replayed! Updated for the 21st Century, Jerry Brown 2.0 I can't wait!

    Meg Whitman is great at Ebay, but would decidedly be just as lousy as Arnold- it would be Arnold's term all over again. She hasn't voted in 28 years- why vote for a woman who doesn't care about politics until she decides to buy a Governor's seat? She was also on the board of Goldman Sacks, which marks her as a financial corporate elitist.

    Carly Fiorina is a nasty piece of work. Besides her disgraceful job at HP, she is just wrong about everything. People should look at her outsourcing and her layoffs and just blame her for everything.