Steel is the immediate past president of the California Republican
Party, activist, commentator, conservative stalwart and recall
proponent. Mr. Steel is an attorney practicing in Palos Verdes,
Arnold ascends, Cruz collapses and the casino tribes forfeit
vast good will
[Shawn Steel] 10/09/03
The historic California recall is now history. The winners and
losers of this epic event will surface in the backwash of the
recall during the coming weeks, but let us take note of the more
obvious winners and losers.
the biggest recall winner is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold
seized a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity to bypass a bruising
Republican primary and go directly to the voters. At least
that was the theory. As it turned out, circumstances forced
simultaneously wage a primary election (against Tom McClintock)
and a general election (against Cruz Bustamante). Celebrity,
a massive war chest, a populist rapport with voters and pure
will enabled him to transcend media-elite scorn and last-minute
dirt to grab the gubernatorial brass ring. Democratic legislators
who smugly think they can tie a Gov. Schwarzenegger in knots
are in for a rude awakening.
McClintock: He wins even by losing.
He avoided being the spoiler who swung the election
to Bustamante while advancing
his cherished conservative cause by advocating his principles
in a direct and dignified manner that earned the respect
of voters across the political spectrum. McClintock has consequently
invaluable statewide name ID and a huge database of devoted
donors, and is beautifully positioned to run for statewide
Republican Party: What a difference a recall makes. The state
GOP was prostrate following its
wipeout in the
November 2002 elections. Although the institutional California
Party was slow to back the recall - and, indeed, was initially
indifferent or opposed to the recall - it acted as a tonic
on the moribund CRP by energizing volunteers and activists
nothing had in years. GOP registration has picked up dramatically,
and small donors are once again opening their wallets:
During the 48 hours following the 9th U.S. Circuit Court panel's
cancellation of the recall, the CRP received more than
million in donations.
voters: Media putdowns about the "recall circus" aside,
the recall did more to focus California voters on state
issues than any other event in recent history. When was the
time two-thirds of California voters watched any political
event, let alone a gubernatorial debate? Everywhere, Californians
talking about the recall and issues like taxes, the budget,
immigration, health care mandates and special-interest influence.
be anything but good for our civic culture.
start with Cruz Bustamante. The lieutenant governor's
prospects for higher office weren't stellar to begin
with, but his even less stellar campaign demolished those he
may, in reality, be the soul of political moderation,
the recall has indelibly branded him as the condescending,
Mexican nationalist candidate in the pocket of the casino
tribes. With much stronger candidates in the wings, Democrats
going to give him a second chance at the prize in 2006
after his dismal performance at the top of the ticket.
Indians: It only took a few weeks
for the casino tribes to shatter the sympathetic public image
cultivated for years. Now the public sees them as just
one more powerful,
politician-buying special interest throwing its weight
Sacramento - and
they'll have to deal with a now-hostile Gov. Arnold.
politics: Never have I seen a political candidate
endure such an intense, protracted sliming as Arnold
Schwarzenegger has these last few weeks - and still
emerge the winner
Election Day. Perhaps we have witnessed the high-water
mark of the "puke
politics" perfected by Gray Davis, and the beginning
of a less polluted political atmosphere.
Los Angeles Times: The Thursday-before-the-election
groping story wasn't just a stink bomb - it was a
The Terminator took a direct hit and kept right
on going, while it
was the Times that suffered collateral damage from
the blowback. More than 1,000 subscribers called
and you can
be sure the Times has lost credibility with many
times that number.
When the L.A. Times' biased coverage becomes a
national news story, you know there's something rotten at
is Gray Davis on this list? For the sake of space, he's been
2003 Shawn Steel
Shawn Steel is a co-founder of the Davis recall campaign and immediate
past chairman of the California Republican Party.