Someone was lamenting to me that upon Barack Obama’s election we would have to wait another four years for some exciting political news. “Not so!” I said. The midterm elections of 2010 will offer some exciting House and Senate races, not to mention some key governorships. The big prize is in California, where popular Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger is termed out. Today I’ll look at some possible Democratic candidates and, in a later column, at some Republican contenders:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein – She has not declared, but will be the automatic frontrunner if she does. Some analysts say she will “clear the field.” In other words, if Feinstein runs, the other key Democratic contenders will simply bow out. Feinstein is 75 years old, and the weekly commute to Washington must be getting old after sixteen years. Still, she’s about to become Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. A statewide campaign would be tough, but she has a 51 percent approval rating, whereas the rest of Congress hovers at about 10 percent.
Mayor Gavin Newsom – The 41-year-old Mayor of San Francisco already has lots of supporters if you read social network sites such as Facebook. He’s best known for making gay marriage legal in San Francisco and - by extension - throughout California, when the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. Of course that all appears to have gone up in smoke with the passage of Proposition 8, the state Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage. Still, the issue has made Newsom a national figure, which will help in fundraising and celebrity support. While that may help him with voters in liberal, urban areas, there are still plenty of pockets of conservatism in this state. Remember, Prop 8 passed. That hurts Newsom.
Attorney General Jerry Brown – Yes, it’s THAT Jerry Brown. The former two-term Governor turned two-term Mayor of Oakland, who ran for President three times, is still a hot commodity. Because term limits were not in effect when he was Governor, he is eligible to run again. Some may still find him quirky; but as Mayor of Oakland he shed the “Governor Moonbeam” image with a “tough on crime, pro-business” agenda. And he can still win statewide, which is a challenge in a state filled with 35 million people. Brown turned 70 this year.
Antonio Villaraigosa – The 55-year-old Mayor of Los Angeles brings a long resume to a potential race for Governor. He served in the Assembly and was Speaker, a powerful position in California. Still, even with that on his resume, he’s not well known outside of Southern Califronia. His appeal to Hispanic voters statewide cannot be discounted and would prove a huge asset if we have a crowded field of candidates.
Steve Westly – He’s the 51-year-old multimillionaire businessman who was one of the founders of eBay. He served a term as State Controller, but was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2006. As the wealthiest candidate, he could bankroll a good bit of his own campaign; but a lack of name recognition, especially if some of the marquee names are on board, could hurt him. Still, if he runs against the professional politicians on the list, he has a chance as the “outsider” candidate.
Republicans are already testing the waters to succeed Schwarzenegger. I will profile some of them in an upcoming blog. It’s all at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.