It's become a bit of a parlor game to rattle off the names of Republicans more likely to have given Feinstein a run for her money -- Rosario Marin, who lost the GOP primary for Sen. Barbara Boxer's seat in 2004; Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle; White House aide Ruben Barrales -- while enhancing their own political profiles. GOP political consultant Ken Khachigian notes that, other than the governor, California's most prominent Repubs are members of the House -- men like David Dreier, Jerry Lewis and Ed Royce -- but they don't want to forfeit their House committee chairmanships by running.
Not that Khachigian, who ran Marin's 2004 campaign, sees that as a good thing. "The only thing I will concede to Boxer is that she stepped up to the plate in '92 and risked her House seat" to run for the Senate. In California, no House Republicans are willing to take the same risk.
Enter Mountjoy. As I see it, no electable candidate was willing to risk losing. (As Feinstein adviser Kam Kawata noted: "I think that people realize there's no such thing as a free run. If you lose, you're a loser.") Yet Mountjoy takes the fact that he faces no primary challenge to mean, as he boasted over the phone, that party leaders "cleared the primary for me." Funny, Mountjoy didn't even rate a speaking role at the last state GOP convention.
In a game where money talks, Mojo will be utterly outspent. Kawata told me that Feinstein had about $6.5 million or $7 million in the bank. "We methodically started building our campaign organization five years ago," he explained. With a two-to-one lead according to the Field Poll, aides figure Feinstein won't have to scramble for every loose dime in California.
Mountjoy himself told me he had about $50,000 in the bank -- a coup, since he had just started fund raising in earnest a week earlier.
Mountjoy's weakness clearly has emboldened Feinstein and allowed her to move to the left. Not long ago, DiFi opposed allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens. Now, she supports it. Having voted for the Iraq war resolution, she now wants to pull out all but 50,000 troops by year-end. She must figure she has nothing to lose.
As I see it, the GOP has but one hope: Kidnap Mountjoy, and brainwash him so that he thinks he is the affable and stylish David Dreier.