By: Daniel L. Muñoz
The invitation was simple, but to the point "you are invited to participate in a Publishers Roundtable Discussion with Bill Simon.
The event took place at the Brigantine Restaurant in Po-way. Aside from noticing that the invitation listed him as a candidate for Governor, I wondered who Bill Simon was? Being curious I accepted and took off from `cool' San Diego and headed for the `hot oven' called Poway this past Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2001. Politics is politics and its always smart to know what horses are in the race.
Being somewhat out-of-the-loop on Republican politics, I checked in with my amigo, Julio Calderon (Former State Chair of National MAPA) in Sacramento, and queried him on Bill Simon. He too was a little vague on the candidate but did give me the latest poll on the Republican match-up in the Governor's race.
It seems the gurus behind the latest poll are stating that in a hypothetical race ex-Mayor Riordan (Los Angeles) led by a wide margin over Secretary of State Bill Jones (46% to 19%). Bill Simon, who is not a political junkie, was still recognized by 5% of the voters. The undecided voters at this early stage of the football game registered 30%.
It was interesting to note that in spite of both Riordan and Jones holding highly visible positions neither one could get a majority support. With Jones showing very little support from the Republican voters, the indicator would suggest that Jones 19% of the vote would be up for grabs.
Who is Bill Simon?
At first glance you would swear that Bill Simon is a stand in for Steve Garvey, former Padres stalwart. In fact, he is the 51-year-old husband of Cindy and father of four children; Cary, William, Lindsay, and Griffith.
Simon attended High School in New Jersey (The Garden State) from there he went to Williams College, then on to Boston Law School. Bill Simon would be a young Governor, if elected, while Mayor Richard Riordan would not take office until he is 73 years old. . . at the tail end of his political career.
As is normal at these political confabs those sitting around the roundtable all had questions of the neophyte candidate.
Being the only one there that was a member of California's largest ethnic minority: The Mexican American, Latino, Hispanic, I brought to the discussion the question of the relationship of the Republican Party to the Mexican American community as well as vis-à-vis all other ethnic minorities in the state. I wondered out loud why I had been invited to this meeting. The immediate battle for Mr. Simon was the looming Republican Primary.
The Politics of Politics
It is obvious that very few Mexican Americans are registered as Republicans, former Governor Pete Wilson took care of that. Therefore, they can not vote in the Primary for a Republican candidate.
"I wanted to go to as many counties in the State so that the voters would know me and know what I am about. That is why I am here. La Prensa San Diego would be an important way to reach them.," said Mr. Simon.
Needless to say, someone on his staff failed to note the obvious: If they don't get all the Republican votes and beat the Mayor in the Primary, it will not make any difference!"
It is common knowledge that many of the rank and file within the Republican Party are uncomfortable with Mayor Rior-dan and they don't particularly like Secretary Jones. It seems logical that the Simon campaign should be concentrating on bringing in all the disaffected Republicans to win the Primary.
A check on the voter registration rolls will show that there isn't sufficient minorities registered in the Republican. Party. They have not exactly been invited to become bonifide members of the Republican Party. An old friend of mine observed very astutely:
"Politics is like a football game. We (Chicanos) are invited to do the manual labor. When the game is won we are allowed to sit in the bleachers. But when the team & their white supporters go back to the locker room to divvy up the rewards, we are not invited . We get left out in the cold"
"That will change" said Governor Candidate Simon. "I am for diversity. California is a diverse state. I have been a staunch supporter of Catholic Charities. My wife and I have worked with Covenant House of California, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, my wife and I established the Cynthia L. & William S. Simon Jr. Foundation to help the less fortunate. We are involved in making their lives better and this has been going on for years before I decided to run for Governor.
The reality is that there are very few, if any, Hispanic Republican groups in our County. Registration of Hispanics and other minorities to the Republican Party is non-existent. The failure of the "Big Tent" theory of inclusion failed miserably because there seem to be a failure of intent. Yes, there were many that wanted to try out the "Tent" theory but what our people demanded and didn't get was to be part of the Party in reality and not just in name. We didn't want to be brought in as cheer leaders and than be cast aside at the victory party and find all the doors closed.
Bill Simon states he wants to include as many of the diverse populations of the state as possible in his campaign now and in the General Election if he is successful in the Primary.
He asked how can I undo the damage of the past? After due reflection I said "what is needed is a public repudiation of the past racist policies of the Wilson era. To date not one Republican leader has repudiated the onerous actions of former Governor Pete Wilson
One luncheon meeting is insufficient time to evaluate a person. However it must be said that I found him to be very gracious, good humored, and intelligent. He does not appear to be burdened by the ideas of the past. His youth (51) is an asset, his image is one of sincerity and honesty. On a scale of 1-10, I would rank him a 6. It will take further evaluation to reach a final conclusion if he is the man that La Raza can support.