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Doug Gamble- Contributor

Doug Gamble is a former writer for President Ronald Reagan and resides in Carmel. [go to Gamble index]

The Rosario Scenario
Little-known pol could be GOP's best bet to oust Boxer from Senate seat

[Doug Gamble] 12/10/03

A political party knows its candidates vying for nomination lack visibility when their names are typed into a Google search and the results comes back, "Your guess is as good as ours."

That's a slight exaggeration, but it's one of the challenges faced by the Republicans as they attempt to unseat Barbara Boxer in next year's U.S. Senate race in California. Even the only former statewide officeholder in the race, ex-Secretary of State Bill Jones, who was rendered almost invisible in last year's gubernatorial contest by a lack of ad money, could not be picked out in a photo by the average voter.

While the higher-profile names of former gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon, recall champion Rep. Darrell Issa, Reps. David Dreier and Mary Bono, and comedian Dennis Miller were floated as possible challengers around the time of the recall election, all declined to run. Simon told me the prospect of having to commute to Washington was not appealing at a point in his life when he wants to put his young family first, but he does not rule out a future run for office. Having scored with the state GOP by easing Arnold Schwarzenegger's victory, Simon will undoubtedly be heard from again.

None of Boxer's potential challengers can be accused of trying to parlay Schwarzenegger-like fame into victory at the polls. In addition to Jones, they are former Los Altos Hills Mayor Toni Casey, Assemblyman Tony Strickland, ex-Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, Humboldt County assistant DA Tim Stoenand, and former U.S. Treasurer and Huntington Park Mayor Rosario Marin, together representing a who's who of "who's that?"

But the aptly named Boxer, who already has more than $4 million in the bank and a reputation as a below-the-belt puncher, should not start working on her victory speech just yet. With the latest Field Poll showing 40 percent of voters not inclined to re-elect her to a third term and 15 percent undecided, it's possible she could get caught in the undertow of the same tsunami that swept Gov. Gray Davis from office.

Not only is the state GOP invigorated after Schwarzenegger's victory, but if there's a continued willingness among Republicans to leave ideology in the back seat, Boxer could face an opponent who would be difficult to demonize. One contender in particular should cause her concern.

While a faceoff against Boxer by either Marin or Casey would eliminate gender as a factor, the prospect of Marin becoming the first Latina U.S. senator in history would add a compelling element to her candidacy. In addition, her socially moderate and fiscally conservative stands combined with an inspirational personal story would play well in a campaign against Boxer.

Born in Mexico City, Marin came to California at age 14 with her janitor father and seamstress mother. Despite having to learn English from scratch, she went on to graduate high school at the head of her class.

Before becoming deputy director of the Governor's Office of Community Relations under Pete Wilson, Marin, who has a son with Down syndrome, served as chairwoman of the State Council on Development Disabilities. She became mayor of overwhelmingly Democratic Huntington Park after a stint on the City Council. When President Bush appointed her U.S. treasurer in 2001, she became the first Mexican-born person to hold that office.

Boxer's voting record was the most liberal in the Senate in 1999 and 2000 and second only to the late Paul Wellstone of Minnesota in 2001 and 2002. In knee-jerk fashion, she has opposed President George W. Bush at every turn, most recently in her opposition to a ban on partial-birth abortion and her obstruction of his judicial appointments.

Unlike her cakewalk over the hapless Matt Fong in 1998, Boxer could have a real scrap on her hands next year. It would be ironic if someone named Marin turned out to be the Republican who finally ousted the overbearing leftist from Marin County.

Doug Gamble has written for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and other prominent Republicans.

Copyright 2003 Doug Gamble




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