California is a state that is not likely to elect a Republican to the Senate any time soon. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. Babs Boxer is up for re-election next fall, and the field is wide open. Unfortunately, the NRSC is determined to narrow the field, and has scuttled support for one potentially strong challenger in exchange for one whose main political qualification appears to be friendliness with McCain and Palin.
Who is the potentially strong challenger? None other than Larry Elder, Los Angeles talk radio host, accomplished author, and strongly libertarian-leaning Republican (self-described Republitarian). He’s got name recognition, a proper small-government philosophy that will appeal to the Republican base, a compelling life story, and enough media experience to be able to navigate the pitfalls of the California press.
So why did Jon Cornyn shut the door on him?
Elder is a serious name and presence among California Republicans. He just wrapped up his radio show. “Why,” you might ask, “doesn’t Larry Elder run for the Senate?”
There is an answer accorinding to many of Elder’s friends at the Republican Convention — Senator Cornyn and the NRSC told him not to.
Here’s the story that is circulating at the convention: Back in the spring, Elder went to Washington to sit down with John Cornyn and the NRSC, and ask for their support for a bid for U.S. Senate against Barbara Boxer. Cornyn and the NRSC told him the following:
- If Elder chose to run, they would not support him.
- The NRSC was already committed to supporting Carly Fiorina
- The NRSC expected Fiorina to lose against Boxer, but expected her to tie up Democrat resources in the meantime.
How incompetent is this? The NRSC actually told a popular African-American with statewide name recognition to NOT run? Last I checked, our party isn’t overflowing with those.
Larry Elder was one of the formative voices in my post-collegiate political path. I think that over time, cutting my philisophical teeth in the blogosphere, I’ve taken the libertarian train a few stops farther than he has, so there are certainly areas where we disagree. Philosophically, though, he’d be a very strong advocate for small government coming from a state not known for its fiscal responsibility. He’s the type of candidate that California Republicans and libertarians could be energized by.
Carly Fiorina, on the other hand, is certainly an accomplished businesswoman, but little is known about her political acumen or philosophy. Her website, though, is not exactly encouraging. Her record as CEO of Hewlett Packard is a mixed bag, and about the only thing she has over other California Republicans is name recognition and two X chromosomes, but a new poll is showing that this might not be enough.
If California Republicans want to be a true thorn in the side of Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina appears to be nothing more than a demographic play. Larry Elder, on the other hand, has spent a decade and a half sparring with listeners on talk radio and has followed California and National politics over that time. He’ll know where Boxer is vulnerable and will know how to exploit the weakness. What was John Cornyn thinking?
Hat Tip: Co-contributor Jason Pye