Not long ago, in the middle of a summer heat wave, someone in the Republican brain trust came up with the bright idea that California’s Governor Gray Davis could be defeated in his bid for reelection if the large Mexican American-Hispanic vote could be stripped away from him. It wasn’t exactly news, except perhaps to Governor Davis, that large numbers of this voter-rich segment, who traditionally voted the Democratic ticket, were dissatisfied with his leadership and his failure to heed their concerns on issues that they perceived as vital to their social, economic, and political interests.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Republicans, who had not had much success in winning elections since the debacle brought about by former Governor Pete Wilson, desperately sought for the quick political solution that could bring them success in the state capitol. Some of the members of the California Republican Party could not help but notice the success of Mayor Riordan, a Republican, in the city of Los Angeles. He had managed to bridge the gap between white conservative middle class Republicans and the predominantly middle-class Mexican American Democrats.
Republican political pros recognized immediately that Mayor Riordan had the charisma, and credibility to run a campaign that would be centrist sufficient to bring the liberal and conservative element of the Mexican American, Hispanic and Latino voters to him. With the majority of the Los Angeles Mexican American elected officials supporting his decision to run for Governor, instant credibility was given to the Riordan candidacy for Governor throughout the state. The Democratic Party quickly became alarmed. They also knew that without the Hispanic vote, Governor Davis could not win reelection.
The Primary is history now. It is now known that the political dinosaurs, of the ultra-conservative Republican party, rather than support a moderate-Republican candidate, who could unite large numbers of Republicans and liberal-conservative Democrats, actively and deliberately chose to dump Riordan, with the help of Governor Davis, and supported a wealthy “true-blue conservative” William E. Simon Jr.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Riordan was unable to cope with the television attacks organized by Gray Davis. Nor could he fend off the furious onslaughts of the hard core Right Wing, who preferred not to win than have a middle of the road Republican in office. The New York based Simon campaign, which utilized Mayor Rudy Giuliani, caused Riordan to lose the Republican Primary. It was obvious that, Governor Gray Davis had much to be happy about. He would face off against a novice Republican opponent who was now a captive of the Pete Wilson ultra-right wing elements of the California Republican Party.
The Conundrum Facing Simon in the General Election
Attempting to capitalize, on the Hispanic dissatisfaction with Governor Davis, the Bill Simon campaign went on a television-media blitz to convince the Mexican voters to support him. He traveled to some of the major Mexican American centers of political power in an effort to demonstrate that he has charisma and really cared about their issues. Some former Hispanic Republicans, who had been in seclusion since former Governor Pete Wilson went to the attack and used Mexican workers as an issue and supported Proposition 187, started to come out in support of Simon. Prop. 187 was an issue that was viewed as racist and an open attack on the nations Mexican Latino-Hispanic population. It passed in California with heavy Republican support. After that being Hispanic and admitting being a Republican was done at some risk to the person voicing those feelings in California. Proposition 187 proposed to treat every migrant Mexican worker as illegal and attempted to deny them any legal, civil and humanitarian rights in this country.
La Prensa San Diego being of a liberal bent, nevertheless met with Mr. Bill Simon and made the observation that the Mexican American voters are disenchanted with the way the political process plays out in America. “We are used by both political Partys and Politicians. We are frequently invited to participate in the manual labor (grunt work; licking envelopes, walking precincts, cleaning up after the parties) Politics is like a football game. When the game is won, then we are allowed to sit in the bleachers. But the team and their white supporters go back to the locker room and divvy up the rewards. We are not invited. We are left out in the cold.” Bill Simon stated to La Prensa: That will change. I am for diversity. California is a diverse state. I want as many of the diverse populations of the state as possible in my campaign!
Bill Simon asked La Prensa “How can I undo the damage of the past? What is needed is for you to make a repudiation of the past racist policies of the Pete Wilson era. To this date not one Republican leader has repudiated the onerous actions of former Governor Pete Wilson! Not only has Mr. Bill Simon not repudiated the Wilson policies but instead appointed him to be on his top policy committee!
As the General Election campaign kicked off it now appears that Mr. Bill Simon has not exactly been truthful about many aspects of his life that has led to a diminishing respect for his candidacy.
Fact: Mr. Simon claimed to be a businessman. He helped start, with his father and brother, the William E. Simon & Sons Investment Firm in 1988.
On August 1. 2002, a Los Angeles Jury levied a $78 million in damages against his family’s investment firm for committing fraud.
Fact: Simon had refused for 3 months to releasing his income tax returns. After being pressured for months, Simon finally released a limited version of his tax returns but limited what reporters could view them and how many hours they could have to look through them.
It is going to be a long three months for Bill Simon on the campaign trail, he has been short on policy issues that impact on the Mexican American communities, or the Black and Asian communities. When he has spoken it has been in generalities and does not seem to be aware of where the money will come from for the items he does discuss.
As of now it appears that Mr. Simon is locked into supporting the principles of the Far Right Wing thereby probably losing the election or if he is smart he will jettison the extreme Right and rapidly move towards the center and make the General Election a real horse race.