Doug Gamble- Contributor
Gamble is a former writer for President Ronald Reagan and
in Carmel. [go to Gamble index]
Little-known pol could be GOP's best bet to oust Boxer
from Senate seat
[Doug Gamble] 12/10/03
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
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
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.
has written for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush
and other prominent Republicans.
Copyright 2003 Doug Gamble