In both 1992 and 1996, the
Republican Party presidential candidates, seeing no clear chance of
winning, ignored the state of California.
The state had simply become a cash cow for the GOP, taking
millions of dollars out of the state they believed they couldn’t win
and spending it in battleground states.
Both times the tactic failed
to help the Republican candidate win the White House.
This year was different.
George W. Bush decided to make a run at the Golden State and
its 54 electoral votes. Initial
ads focused on the Clinton/Gore education recession and later moved on
to the Gore Social Security lies.
There was a dose of Spanish language ads targeted to
Mexican-Americans. Extra trips to the state were scheduled for Bush and Cheney.
Initial polling showed Bush
closing what was once a double-digit gap to single digits.
It was hoped the Bush surge would help endangered Republican
congressional candidates such as Jim Rogan and Steve Kuykendall.
The Gore campaign, it turns
out, handled the challenge perfectly.
Refusing to blink in the eyes of the Bush assault, they only
scheduled an extra trip for Gore to the state, to coincide with his
Jay Leno appearance, and a visit by President Clinton, who remains
popular in the state. To
the end they refused to commit money to the state even after local
Democrats cautioned taking the state for granted was unwise.
They were also helped by the unprecedented spending by
Democrats in the state for legislative and congressional candidates.
At one point, media reports
said, internal Bush polls showed the GOP candidate 2 points ahead in
the state. California
Republicans were jubilant. Finally,
after years in the wilderness, the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan
A total of $11 million were
spent in the state on behalf of Bush.
In the end, it was all for nothing.
Gore swept the state by 12% - almost 1.2 million votes.
House impeachment manager Jim Rogan went down to defeat. Kuykendall and San Diego’s Brian Bilbray joined him.
Seats that were possible Republican pick-ups ended up finishing
© Joseph M. Giardiello, 2000
View expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Political USA.