LOS ANGELES -- Chaos theory suggests that the beating of a butterfly's wings in Brazil can set in motion effects that include, in time, a tornado in Topeka. Imagine a possible butterfly effect from Californians' votes on Tuesday. Reverberations might help President Bush become competitive for the state's 55 electoral votes, forcing his opponent to at least spend significant time and money here.
Disregard the Democrats' presidential primary. Begin with the Republican primary to pick an opponent for Sen. Barbara Boxer, a San Francisco liberal seeking a third term.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, succumbing to the vice of gratitude, endorsed Bill Jones, the former secretary of state who did Schwarzenegger (and himself) the favor of not running for governor during the recall of Gov. Gray Davis. Jones, a right-to-life conservative, has decent name identification -- he has run statewide three times -- yet looks like a probable loser in this socially liberal state.
But suppose Republican voters -- a recent poll showed half of them undecided -- create the year's most mesmerizing Senate race by nominating Rosario Marin. She is the 45-year-old former U.S. Treasurer and mayor of Huntington Park, a 95 percent Latino town of 60,000 in southeast Los Angeles County, where Democrats have a 5-to-1 registration advantage.
Today, when biography serves as political philosophy, Marin's suits this nation within the nation. At 14 she emigrated here from Mexico with her parents, a janitor and a seamstress, speaking no English. She graduated near the top of her high school class, worked her way through college and took her effervescence to Sacramento, where she worked for seven years for Gov. Pete Wilson. But in 1994 she differed with him, opposing Proposition 187, the initiative -- anathema to immigrants -- that would have (it passed but courts eviscerated it) denied public schooling and other services to illegal immigrants.
After her first child was born with Down syndrome, she counseled pregnant women facing difficult choices. She says the experience left her unwilling to foreclose for others the choice of abortion. But when she became pregnant the second time -- she and her husband, a Nicaraguan immigrant, now have three children -- she refused to have amniocentesis because, she says, no test result would have caused her to have an abortion. Her second pregnancy miscarried. The child had Turner syndrome, a serious chromosomal disorder.