Debra J. Saunders
10/15/2002 12:00:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
Hmmmm. Bill Simon's gubernatorial campaign and his consultant
Sal Russo gave almost $500,000 to the dubious California Organization of
Police and Sheriffs (COPS) and its lobbyist, Kelly Moran. In exchange, COPS
helped Simon to shoot a bullet into the campaign's heart.
Makes you wonder what COPS would have done for $1 million. Maybe
infected Simon with a disease?
Lucky Gray Davis. He's as unpopular as any modern governor
because he's venal and imperious. Rather than reward Davis' lack of
integrity, California voters hunger for an alternative.
Enter Simon, who last week essentially accused Davis of breaking
the law in 1998 by accepting a $10,000 check from COPS on state property.
Team Simon had to eat those words when it turned out that a COPS photo of
Davis accepting a check from a former COPS official was taken at a private
So much for Simon's integrity. As a former prosecutor, Simon
should have checked that the COPS photo was legit. He didn't. Then, when the
story imploded, Simon tried to play it cute, saying, "At the end of the day,
it was really a matter between COPS and the FPPC (Fair Political Practices
Simon didn't quite apologize. Instead, he said Thursday, "I
express regret" to Davis or anyone else adversely affected by the charge.
At a Los Angeles press conference, Ed Rollins, the Simon
strategist, took responsibility for the gaffe. But ultimately,
responsibility lies with Simon for creating a campaign environment where it
was disloyal to question the COPS story.
Worse, Simon's repeated disgraces beg the question: If Simon
can't run a tight campaign, how can he negotiate his way through the
Democratic legislature when it comes time to hammer out a state budget?
It can't help that he doesn't seem to understand that he got
rolled. (He wouldn't blame COPS at Thursday's press conference.)
Insiders who underwrite campaigns are disgusted -- except for
those GOP loyalists who so despise Davis that they'll forgive every Simon
mistake. But what about the rest of California's voters?
It's like choosing between being gnawed to death by hungry
insects or hungry rodents. Angry voters might blame the system -- but they
picked the nominees. (True, Davis raised so much money that no serious
Democrat opposed him; Republicans have no such excuse.)
Or voters can vote for a third-party candidate.
Davis says that Simon has so disgraced himself that he should
bow out of the race. That would certainly make Simon trendy. First, Sen. Bob
Torricelli, D-N.J., had his name taken off the ballot past the legal
deadline. On Thursday, GOP candidate Mike Taylor dropped his challenge to
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., saying he hoped someone would jump in as a
Why shouldn't Simon do the same -- with a write-in candidate to
Bob Stern, executive director of the Center for Governmental
Studies, says Simon should stay in to help Republicans in down-ticket races.
"The biggest impact is on everyone else -- as opposed to Simon. He was going
to lose anyway. "
Stern suggested that Simon donate another $5 million to his
campaign as "penance." The money should go to run ads that say: "Vote for
the rest of the ticket. You may not like me, but we have some really good
people running, who have no money."
For once, Bill Simon wouldn't sound like a phony.