The California Beat: July 2, 2010

The battle for California continued this week.  At stake this November are the governorship, currently held by term-limitted Republican Arnold Schwartzenegger, and the Senate seat, currently held by three-term Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer.  Contending for governor this year are Republican Meg Whitman – former CEO of EBay – and Democrat Jerry Brown, the former governor and current attorney-general.  Challenging Boxer is Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett and Packard.  Republicans are hoping that a victory for either Fiorina or Whitman will spell the beginning of a new era of California competitiveness for their party, potentially putting the state “in play” in the 2012 presidential election.

This week, Whitman and Brown continued the slugfest they’ve carried out ever since the June 8 primaries.  Whitman launched the campaign’s first negative ad on June 26, accusing Brown of “a legacy of failure” in politics.  Brown has dismissed the ad as lies, and lacking context.  Whitman has declined invitations both to tea and a Fourth of July barbeque at Brown’s home.  While polls currently have Brown with a slight lead, Whitman greatly outmatches him in financial resources, which will enable her to purchase a great deal of advertising.

Her website advocates eliminating state taxes on capital gains, small businesses, and factories, and increasing tax credits for research and development, but believes that Sacramento must first grow its tax base before implementing across-the-board tax cuts.  Whitman also advocates a state-wide discussion on the use of nuclear energy, a “three-strikes” policy against businesses suspected of employing undocumented immigrants, and simplifying the distribution of educational funds.

Brown, meanwhile, has positioned himself as a champion of the environment, reminding Californians that during his first tenure as governor, California was a leader in the development of clean energy.  He has received the endorsement of many individuals from various environmental organizations, including Save the Bay and Planning and Conservation League.  While Brown has also emphasized his record as attorney-general, fighting against mortgage fraud, unscrupulous employers out to cheat workers, political corruption, and healthcare fraud, he would no doubt help the people of California even further by establishing what he will do as governor in this century, and connecting with the younger generation of voters.

Senator Boxer, on the other hand, presents a clear picture of the issues that matter to her.  She positions herself as a champion of working people, gay rights, women’s rights, law enforcement, fair immigration policies, education, veterans, health care, sustainable jobs and economic growth, and clean energy.   Boxer’s website also strives to draw attention to Fiorina’s record as CEO of Hewlett and Packard – in which she outsourced 30,000 jobs overseas, and was named one of the “Top 20 Worst CEOs of All Time” by Portfolio; her opposition to abortion rights, the healthcare reform bill, the economic recovery act, and measures to extend aid to the unemployed and to small business owners; and her scepticism toward climate change.

On her own website, Fiorina repeats the lie that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act strives to come between patients and their doctors, promotes securing America’s borders as the first step towards immigration reform, and highlights the fact that she has signed a no-new-taxes pledge.  She also claims support for cutting taxes for small business owners, which is precisely what Senator Boxer has supported for many years now and which was a provision in the economic recovery act, and that nobody should be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition – one of the key points of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

There it is, denizens of the Golden State.  In a year that some are promoting as a new Year of the Woman, we have two strong women – who may have more in common than they are willing to admit, but are nonetheless markedly different – fighting for the Senate seat, and another contending to be California’s first female governor – if the old warhorse who has consistently supported women’s rights and advancement all his career doesn’t defeat her.  As a feminist, I’m fascinated by these developments, and what they mean for the future of the women’s movement.  As a liberal, I’m squared for a fight.  As someone who likes to know the full story, I’m committed to bringing it to you from here to November.

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