Maggie Gallagher

No one is calling California insurance commissioner Steve Poizner a "Fiscal Conservative in Name Only" -- not yet.

But after U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina of California made mutton meat out of GOP rival Tom Campbell in a much talked about "demon sheep" television ad, Steve Poizner is clearly worried.

Both Campbell and Poizner are guys taking on tough, entrepreneurial ladies in GOP primaries: Former Hewlett-Packard chief exec Fiorina is running for the GOP's Senate nomination against Campbell, while eBay founder Meg Whitman is battling Steve Poizner for the GOP's gubernatorial slot. At the moment Poizner is taking a beating, down 30 points in the polls.

Maybe that's why Poizner went ballistic in response to an amiable e-mail sent by Whitman's political consultant Mike Murphy urging Poizner to drop out. "I hate the idea of us each spending $20 million beating on the other in (the) primary," Murphy wrote, reaching out to a Poizner loyalist. "And we can spend ($40 million-plus) tearing up Steve if we must; bad for him, bad for us and a crazy waste to tear up a guy with (a) great future."

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Poizner's hysterical response? First he called a press conference, and then he called in the cops, asking the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office to investigate Whitman for bribery and extortion. (I kid you not.)

Not since New York's Dede Scozzafava called the cops on a Weekly Standard reporter has a major political candidate demonstrated such a wafer-thin skin, not to mention a willingness to waste scarce law enforcement resources.

I'm not sure this is the kind of man we want protecting our national security, but Poizner disagrees.

Poizner likes to shake things up a little, creatively interpreting laws in his own political favor. And so he launched his own personal jihad against so-called "indirect investments in terrorism" -- which comes down to any insurance company that does business with any company that does business in Iran. I mean, it may sound conservative at first blush -- getting tough on terrorism -- but, actually, it's a profound abuse of government power.


Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.