Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review June 3, 2002 / 22 Sivan, 5762

Chris Matthews

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Vote watch: California and Florida | The keenest number in this year's elections, especially the big governorships, is the 28 percent of Californians listed as "undecided."

Whether Republican Bill Simon can win the bulk of those votes is one of the two big questions of the 2002 mid-term balloting. The other is whether the Bush-hating Democrats of Florida, especially angry black voters, can upset the president's younger brother, Jeb.

If either occurs, it will make a huge difference when George W. Bush seeks re-election. A win in California promises a GOP Electoral College sweep in 2004. A Democratic defeat of the moderately popular Florida governor means another nail-biter like 2000. What makes the California contest important is that it should not be happening. Davis is a pro-choice incumbent in a mightily pro-choice state. Moreover, he is wildly rich in campaign cash in a mega-state where the need to buy TV time is the political name of the game, and where trying to meet a majority of voters face-to-face is about as practical as swimming to China.

This leaves us with the question of that 28 percent in the latest Field Poll. If voters can't bring themselves to speak up for a well-known incumbent when questioned by a pollster in the spring, why should we expect them to go out and vote for him in the fall?

Certainly there is nothing in the news to promise a pro-Davis summer surge. The San Francisco Chronicle has exposed the governor's practice of mechanically demanding campaign cash from those seeking his attention. As the Chronicle recently reported, he has raked in an average of $1,800 an hour in this fashion, 24 hours a day over the past five years. Teachers, prison guards, banking, insurance, gambling, labor and real estate are all expected to service the governor's political ATM machine. Even students at Berkeley are asked for $100 to "inter-act" with his eminence, much as Renaissance cardinals expected payment for indulgences.

The question is whether his Republican rival, William Simon, Jr., has the moxie to seize his chance to exploit what an aide calls Davis's "culture of extortion."

In Florida, Democrat Janet Reno has nowhere near the same prospects as the California challenger. Jeb Bush is running at 54 percent in the polls, enough to snuff her no matter how hard she campaigns. Suffering from Parkinson's and the after-effects of the Elian Gonzalez episode, she may, indeed, need divine intervention.

Just as in California, however the stakes could not be grander, if she wins and Jeb loses, both Bushes lose. A Jeb rejection by voters rips the scab off the 2000 verdict, reminding voters nationwide of the Supreme Court's role in giving George W. Bush the presidency. That prospect alone is sure to drive up the Democratic vote this November, especially the black vote, which an early poll showed surging to Reno -- meaning against Bush -- 85 percent to 6 percent.

Bottom line: a Simon or Reno win changes everything.

Like this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Chris Matthews is the author of "Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think". and hosts a CNBC show of the same name. Comment by clicking here.

© 2002, NEA