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California Republicans who for years have been trying to make headway for their party among Latino voters must be terribly disheartened by the results of a Los Angeles Times poll this week that showed former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin in FOURTH place in the four-candidate race for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate.

It's easy enough to see how former Secretary of State Bill Jones would have a commanding first-place lead: He's the only one in the group who's ever before run on a statewide ticket and he has the backing of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's even reasonable that former Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian would be second. He is the candidate of the party's far-right wing and has been aggressively campaigning on conservative talk radio programs around the state. But how could Marin, a former aide to Gov. Pete Wilson and an appointee of President Bush, come in behind former Los Altos Hills City Councilwoman Toni Casey, a one-time fund-raiser for President Clinton who did not register as a Republican until just a few years ago?

Sadly, there is only one reasonable answer: Her ethnic name.

A Republican political consultant tells me that in blind ballots given to samplings of Republican voters, in which the respondents know nothing of the candidates except their names, women and those with ethnic names inevitably poll worse than men with Anglo last names. The question for Republicans to ponder: Would a Rosario by any other name fare as poorly?

95 percent accurate
Over the last 25 presidential elections, Ventura County voters have backed the winner 24 times, or over 95 percent of the time. It is one of only a handful of counties in the nation that has been such a predictable bellwether.
about Timm Herdt
Timm Herdt
The Ventura County Star's Sacramento Bureau Chief Timm Herdt on state issues and politics from Sacramento to Ventura County. He can be contacted at