Wannabes and also-rans
Debra J. Saunders
9/13/2002 12:00:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
Since Gov. Gray Davis and GOP rival Bill Simon are so repugnant,
why don't you write about the third-party candidates for governor, readers
have asked. Tell voters about Green Party candidate Peter Camejo, they
I've been slow to respond. For one thing, Camejo's a Green. I'm
a Republican. I want ant traps that work. I want cheap energy. I drive a
Then the Commonwealth Club held a forum for the four third-party
gubernatorial hopefuls on Sept. 9. I could take my medicine in one hour.
The bottom line was no surprise: The candidates are fringies.
Natural Law Party candidate Iris Adam blames sick people for
being sick -- she says more than 70 percent of diseases are preventable --
and argues that the best way to fight crime is with stress-reduction
American Independent Party candidate Ron Gulke argued that it's
justifiable to execute an innocent man on death row rather than let a guilty
man go free. He said he'd balance the state budget by raising the speed
limit for trucks.
Libertarian Gary Copeland said he'd let victims' families decide
the punishment of murderers and, if elected, he wouldn't work with state
That may antagonize some voters, but this will please others:
Copeland wants to legalize all drugs.
My beef? Copeland has that "I'm-so-enlightened" tone special to
Libertarians. As he told the audience, "If anyone has seen 'The Matrix,'
take the red pill."
Camejo clearly was the forum favorite. For one thing, he told
the best political jokes, as in: The Greens have "two people out there
really convincing people all over the state to register Green" -- (drum
roll) Bill Simon and Gray Davis.
And: How do you get a politician to do a 180-degree turn? "Tell
him the check bounced."
Still, most voters probably wouldn't agree with his call for
"100 percent renewable energy." Camejo later explained he'd tax nonrenewable
energy to subsidize solar technology. Sounds good, if you can forget that
new taxes likely would cripple the struggling state economy.
Judging by the success of Proposition 187 -- the anti-illegal
immigration measure approved by voters in 1994 -- most voters probably
wouldn't agree with Camejo's assertion that it's wrong to call illegal
immigrants "undocumented" because they're "the indigenous people of this
Camejo lacks fluency with some issues. He argued that Arkansas
spends more than California per pupil, and his staff cited a San Francisco
Chronicle story to corroborate him. It turns out Camejo misread a 2001
Chronicle story that reported that spending for AK -- that's oil-rich
Alaska, not Arkansas -- was higher than California.
As for critics who say that Greens only siphon off Democratic
votes, Camejo responded, "Their answer is that we don't run." He wants an
instant-runoff mechanism so that voters could vote Green, then vote for
someone else when the Green tanks.
I understand the frustration that voters on the left, right and
center feel when they look at candidates Davis and Simon. But who said
voting is supposed to be pretty?
Those of you who are thinking of registering your discontent by
voting for a third-party candidate must understand that a vote for Camejo --
in lieu of Davis -- is at the very least half a vote for Simon. Likewise, a
vote for Copeland -- in lieu of Simon -- is at the very least half a vote
And the third-party candidates aren't exactly perfect, either.