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California Governor and Senate Elections Discussion With Political Consultant Leo McElroy


California Governor and Senate Elections Discussion With Sacramento Political Consultant Leo McElroy...

PAMELA DAVIS (Host): The Republican gubernatorial nominee is actively trying to court Latino voters. We’re joined on Morning Edition by non-partisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy. Leo, good morning.

LEO MCELROY (Political consultant): Morning.

DAVIS: Meg Whitman is now running Spanish-language ads. How is this a departure from her strategy during the Republican primary?

MCELROY: We didn’t see her running many ads when she was trying to contest with Steve Poizner as to which one of them was tougher on Latinos and tougher on the immigration issue especially. Now, all of a sudden she is running ads in Spanish-language, really trying to mobilize her forces to pick-up those votes that are really essential to anybody who wants to succeed in California. The Latino vote is a huge one and the Republicans have kind of lost that with Gov. Pete Wilson’s championing of Prop. 187 a few years ago. These ads focus on Meg Whitman’s opposition to 187 and not on the fact that Pete Wilson is her campaign chairman.

ALISON ST. JOHN (Host): Well that’s kind of a turnaround isn’t it? So there’s plenty of speculation as to whether Gov. Schwarzenegger will endorse either Meg Whitman or Jerry Brown. So how would his support help them or possibly hurt them?

MCELROY: Well it’s really an interesting three-sided question. First of all, the question is has either of them asked for his endorsement? And secondly, if they do, what would be his motive for endorsing? He might endorse Meg Whitman just because she’s a fellow Republican. But then a lot of her campaign in the primary was saying I’m not Schwarzenegger and attacking him. On the other hand he might endorse Jerry Brown because Jerry Brown has run the attorney general’s office in a way that hasn’t gotten it crosswise with the governor. But the big question is, whoever he endorses - does he have enough of a political credit card that it makes much difference? Suspicion is it might swing some Independent votes but probably would not loom very large among either the Democratic or Republican faithful.

DAVIS: Leo tell us how the special Senate election on the Northern California coast may hinge on the oil spill in the Gulf.

MCELROY: This one is interesting. This is an election today. Up until now it’s been viewed variously. This is Abel Maldonado’s old district – vacated when he became lt. governor. The Democrats have always felt that they could pick-up that district. That it was a fairly liberal-leaning Republican district. So the John Laird-Sam Blakeslee contest looked like it might be pretty tight. Although, in special elections Republicans turn out better than Democrats do. Blakeslee might have had an edge, except for one little thing, or one big thing, the Gulf oil spill. Suddenly, you’ve got offshore oil as a major issue and you’ve got ads running pointing out that Sam Blakeslee was an official with an oil company. And has championed some offshore oil exploration. That may be the turnaround issue on this. And if the Democrats pick-up that seat by the way, then on the Senate side they are only one vote away from being able to pass tax increases or budgets without Republican help.

ST. JOHN: And that in fact is coming up this week, isn’t it? This question about how to get their budget package through?

MCELROY: That’s right. That’s right. So they’re looking very hard at what might happen because a clean win in this primary election could net them another Democrat right away and then they only have one Republican vote to turnaround. We might actually have a budget at some point.

ST. JOHN: That’s non-partisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy.

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