Just how big is that club?
The California Club for Growth, a new political advocacy group headed by outgoing Ventura County Assemblyman Tony Strickland, has made its first foray into legislative politics. It has targeted only one race this fall, deciding to play in the 30th Assembly District contest in which Republican Dean Gardner is trying to take out Democratic incumbent Nicole Parra, who beat him by a whisker in 2002.
Gardner has been beset with problems, stung by an embarrassing string of revelations about bankruptcies, the use of various aliases and even the discovery of a court case in which a bank accused Gardner and his wife of trying to pocket $40,000 that had been inadvertantly credited to their account. What had once been seen as a great opportunity for the GOP to knock off a Democratic incumbent is now largely seen as an iffy proposition at best.
Yet here is where the Club for Growth will take its stand, in Bakersfield. On Wednesday, it reported a $16,000 independent expenditure on mailers attacking Parra. Today it announced a television advertising campaign, but did so in such a way that it won't be reported as an independent expenditure. The group is calling the spot "an issue ad" that doesn't expressly advocate for one candidate or the other. The ad attacks Parra for her vote on a proposal to restore cuts in the vehicle license fee -- a move critics characterized as "tripling the car tax."
"The constituents of the 30th Assembly District have been betrayed by Parra's promise not to raise taxes," Strickland said in a statement.
It remains to be seen how effective the Club for Growth will be. The amount of the spending is unreported; perhaps today's last pre-electing fund-raising report will give a clue at least to how much money the group has to play with.
Do you take thee, George ...
The Public Policy Institute of California's latest pre-election poll, released today, had one interesting demographic nugget on state voters' presidential preferences. Democrat John Kerry leads President Bush among whites, Latinos, men and women. There is one group, however, in which Bush leads: married people, who prefer him over Kerry 47 percent to 43 percent.
In other words, Kerry's entire 12 percentage point lead in the state is the result of overwhelming support among singles, the divorced, widows and widowers.
As a matter of political tactics, at least, maybe Bush should reconsider his position on that constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages...