Jewish World Review April 5, 2002/ 24 Nisan 5762


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Consumer Reports

California, and Maryland, dreaming | As a rule, I think most of California is awful-the Bay Area in particular, with the exception of Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, the visionary who's far too complex for the ordinary minds of ordinary journalists-but was heartened to hear while speaking to perhaps 20 or so people that Gov. Gray Davis doesn't have his reelection in the bag.

It's no surprise that Davis will use his sacks of soft money to attack GOP opponent William Simon on the single issue of abortion, but if the neophyte challenger can focus the campaign on Davis' less-than-lackluster four years in office, an upset is possible. The incumbent, whose poll numbers are currently in the toilet, is spoiling for a dirty match: in Friday's L.A. Times, he said, "[Simon] is not ready for prime time. I'm not asking people to marry me. I'm asking them to make a decision as to who they want to govern this state."

And it's only April.

A Simon win would be even more shocking than Maryland's excellent Republican Rep. Bob Ehrlich defeating Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in that state's gubernatorial contest this fall. Lt. Gov. Townsend, who's never won an election on her own, is awful on the stump, only a notch above cousin Patrick in the brainpower department, and her association with the unpopular incumbent Parris Glendening gives the GOP ripe ammo, perhaps enough to counteract the Kennedy mafia's involvement in the race. Baltimore Sun columnist Michael Olesker, a reliable booster of Democrats, contrasted the backgrounds of Ehrlich and Townsend in a March 24 column. The Congressman, who grew up in working-class Arbutus, won scholarships to Gilman-Baltimore's most prestigious prep school-and then Princeton, where he captained the football team and held down a construction job as well.

Olesker wrote: "[W]e hear the name Kennedy, and it also evokes summers on a sailboat off the coast of Hyannis Port or pony rides across Virginia's Hickory Hill countryside, and not stickball games in the middle of Dolores Avenue in Arbutus... With a different maiden name, [Townsend] might still be a midlevel attorney for some government bureaucracy-and not Parris Glendening's former runningmate and campaign financier-and therefore not Ehrlich's possible opponent for governor of Maryland."

And speaking of Kennedys, wouldn't it be swell if Mitt Romney, after losing a '94 race to Uncle Ted, the grossly overrated senator who "saved" the country from the brilliant Robert Bork back in '87, extended the odd Republican domination of the Massachusetts statehouse for another four years? One can only hope that his Democratic opponent will be the self-aggrandizing Robert Reich, the former Bill Clinton buddy who, in his dreams, would like a mass redistribution of wealth, although I'm sure presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry and the Kennedys would somehow slip through the cracks and maintain their multimillionaire lifestyles.

Probably Rolling Stone proprietor Jann Wenner as well, who just published a promiscuous puff profile on Kerry in his April 11 "Cool issue," an article that must have North Carolina's Sen. John Edwards, the darling of corrupt trial lawyers (can you spell the name Peter Angelos), using language that's normally condoned only in a low-rent saloon.

JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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