George Will

Last year, Campbell supported Proposition 1A, which would have extended for two years the largest state tax increase in U.S. history. This lost 2-to-1; it lost in every county and even in this collectivist city. Campbell also favored increasing the gas tax by 32 cents. Fiorina has cited the "cap-and-trade" legislation of John Kerry D-Mass., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as praiseworthy bipartisanship. DeVore has no such deviations from conservative orthodoxy.

No right-to-life candidate has won statewide since 1998 (for secretary of state). A crusty contributor who has been supporting California Republicans since Richard Nixon in the 1960s recently told DeVore, who is pro-life, that social issues should be peripheral. DeVore replied that when the GOP was born in the 1850s, it resembled the Whig Party except for a large social issue -- slavery, the practice of allowing some people to choose the status of other people. DeVore thinks abortion involves the same practice.

Boxer supports an "absolute right" to abortion -- public funding, partial-birth abortions, no requirement of parental notification, all positions opposed by majorities. But because of California's parlous fiscal condition and other emergencies -- a water shortage aggravated by government solicitude for a supposedly endangered smelt has caused the destruction of tens of thousands of fruit and nut trees -- social issues will, DeVore thinks, lose some saliency.

Boxer is arguably the most liberal senator and her job approval is under 50 percent. DeVore thinks voters generally are biased against someone seeking a fourth term -- California has had only three four-term senators -- if there is a credible opponent.

Furthermore, DeVore believes some ballot initiatives this November might help him. If there is another vote on gay marriage, that could energize conservatives. And a referendum on "paycheck protection" (requiring unions to seek members' permission to spend dues on political activities) would cause labor to spend many millions that would thus be unavailable for the Senate contest.

When addressing Tea Party audiences, DeVore asks how many of his listeners have ever been politically active before. Only about 10 percent raise their hands. Conservatives everywhere were dispirited by the Bush administration; California conservatives are doubly demoralized as the failed Schwarzenegger experiment expires. Politics is supposed to be fun and for California conservatives, voting for DeVore would be the first fun in many a moon.

But would it be futile? California has not elected a Republican senator since 1988 (Pete Wilson). Massachusetts, however, had not elected one since 1972.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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