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Hugh Hewitt - Principal Contributor

Mr. Hewitt is senior member of the editorial board.

Dear Tom McClintock supporter ...
Arnold may not be ideal, but first you have to win.
[Hugh Hewitt] 8/21/03

Dear Tom McClintock supporter,

Thank you for listening to my show. I appreciate it. I have built my California success on your support, and whenever I take a call from San Diego or Los Angeles, the Inland Empire or Sacramento, San Francisco or Fresno or anywhere else in the Golden State, I know that if it is a conservative, it will be a passionate but informed conversation.

You may recall I endorsed Tom in the election of 2002 and had him on the program. You may also recall I had Bill Simon on the program many, many times as well, and endorsed him before the primary election in March of 2002. I told you then that I was supporting Bill over Dick Riordan because Bill had a better chance of beating Gray Davis.

I still believe that, and had Dick Riordan gotten into the recall race instead of Arnold, I suspect I would have ended up supporting Bill or Tom for the same reasons I plugged Bill in March of last year: I vote for the most conservative candidate with a reasonable chance of winning.

Throughout the summer and fall of 2002, I lectured moderate and liberal Republicans and independents in California, and across the country, to put aside differences with candidates they thought too conservative and support the GOP nominees. Sometimes that meant supporting conservatives like Simon, or U.S. Senate candidates like John Thune, Norm Coleman or Jim Talent.

My point always was – and remains – that the Republican Party is the party of national security and national prosperity, and that the Democratic Party has become a captive of narrow and greedy special interests camouflaged behind class-warfare rhetoric.

You can't always get a moderate nominee, I told these centrist voters, but they needed to clearly think through which party was better positioned to govern well – and vote accordingly.
Now, a center-right Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is campaigning for the governorship in California, and many of you have declared for Tom McClintock no matter how unlikely his victory becomes. You already know he cannot win, and his poll numbers and fund-raising receipts show this.

Bill Simon's supporters also know this, but it's the McClintock voters who seem determined to take the house down with them since their man cannot win. My mail is full of angry denunciations of my sell-out status because of my endorsement of Arnold, and comment threads at and elsewhere fairly vibrate with indignant polemics about the RINOs behind Arnold.

Having spent a half-dozen years in the Reagan administration and a dozen years defending conservative positions in the media, I find such charges amusing, not troubling, but the point is not what I think or do, but what you think and do.

You are preparing to try and elect Cruz Bustamante governor of California. You are every bit the supporter of Cruz as is the most loyal union poll worker or plaintiffs' lawyer. If you succeed, the continued collapse of the California economy under the weight of special interests will be your doing as much as it is the work of the Indian Tribes funding Cruz. Why do you think those tribes are said to be funding an independent campaign on Tom's behalf anyway?

Why do you think California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres is out and about talking up Tom as the "real conservative" in the race? The tribes and Art are playing you for suckers. They are stoking your anger at the prospect of a center-right governor as opposed to a movement conservative governor.

The question is: Will you be had? Will the matchstick men of modern politics, the Clinton gang, buy and sell you like penny stocks?

I don't think so. I keep saying that the conservative wing of the GOP in California will figure out that half a loaf is better than a stone, and vote overwhelmingly for Arnold. I also expect that Arnold will surprise you in the coming years, and make you proud of the vote you cast for him.

But I can't be sure. The tribes are going to spend a lot of dough trying to make you angrier with GOP moderates than you are with far-left Democrats. The Field Poll released over the weekend with its cooked date would have us believe that nearly 20 percent of the electorate are falling for the wasted-vote option by declaring for Tom or Bill. I suspect the final number of combined thrown-away GOP votes will be less than 10 percent. That probably won't be enough to give the election to Cruz, but if it is, can I send any one of you my car tax bill? Principal Contributor Hugh Hewitt is an author, television commentator and syndicated talk-show host of the Salem Radio Network's Hugh Hewitt Show, heard in over 40 markets around the country. His opinions on national issues can be found at and he writes a weekly column (Wednesdays) for

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