It figured that Controller Steve Westly would find a way to fire back a zinger at Sen. Tom McClintock when he spoke to the Democratic state convention over the weekend.
If you'll remember, McClintock fired the first shot in his speech to Republican state convention in February, calling Westly "the emptiest suit I have ever encountered in 25 years of politics."
On Saturday, Westly slipped this line into his speech to Democrats: "I'm ... proud that you helped elect me controller in 2002 -- because, Lord knows, somebody had to beat Tom McClintock."
The two faced each other in the 2002 controller's race, with Westly winning by the narrowest margin of any statewide race four years ago. Because of the residue from that close contest, each tends to still get under the other's skin.
Republicans have been talking up McClintock, running unopposed in the GOP primary for lieutenant governor, as one of their best hopes this year. They base that on the high name-ID and generally favorable public impression that McClintock built up as a candidate for governor during the 2003 recall campaign.
Democrats believe that McClintock got off easy in that campaign, because it was in none of the other major candidate's best interest to attack him. Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn't afford to alienate McClintock's right-wing base, and Cruz Bustamante realized that every vote McClintock received would be one that didn't go to Schwarzenegger. So no one challenged or criticized the sharp-tongued senator from Thousand Oaks.
Things will be different this time around, Democratic Party political director Sam Rogriguez assured me over the weekend. "We've got him on our radar screen."
Some Ventura County Democrats might remember Rodriguez from his role in a local 1992 congressional race. He was campaign manager for Anita Perez Ferguson, who challenged Rep. Elton Gallegly that year.