While Jerry Brown is on the verge of defeating Meg Whitman, recent polling suggests the US Senate race is actually tightening. It is an extremely high priority that we defend Barbara Boxer against Carly Fiorina – control of the US Senate may depend on it, and we need to ensure that we support a progressive hero like Boxer.
Here’s the SF Chronicle on Fiorina’s “surge”:
A poll last week by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California showed Brown opening an eight-point lead over Whitman, up from a virtual tie in September. But Fiorina had edged to within five points of Boxer, with 13 percent of likely voters undecided. A Rasmussen poll Friday showed Fiorina closing to within three points, and leading by five among those who said they are certain to vote….
Public Policy Institute President and CEO Mark Baldassare said voters are deeply unhappy with both Sacramento and Washington, but draw a distinction between the two very different jobs of governor and senator.
“You’ve got a Boxer-Fiorina race that revolves around how people are feeling about Congress, and you don’t have that same dynamic in the Whitman-Brown race,” Baldassare said. Aside from partisans, he said, “Independents are really the interesting issue. What do they want in Sacramento? And what do they want in Washington?”
There’s no doubt that the public is, quite rightly, upset with the failures of Congressional Democrats, and the Senate in particular. At the same time, it would be extremely self-destructive to take that out on Barbara Boxer, who has been an effective Senator and stood up for Californians and our values even in the face of intense pressure not to do so, such as her courageous and correct vote against the Iraq War eight years ago.
Independent voters are the most susceptible to Fiorina’s argument, although the choice here is clear and easy: Fiorina believes in sending jobs overseas instead of creating them here at home, doesn’t support expanded health care coverage, and supports the right-wing’s extremist social agenda that most California independents reject.
But there are some that are trying to argue that Boxer also has a problem maintaining progressive voters as well. That’s the argument in Christopher Cook’s new article at In These Times, which includes a quote from me that appears to be taken out of context:
Boxer also suffers from a nationwide “enthusiasm gap” among Democrats, says writer Robert Cruickshank, Public Policy Director of the Courage Campaign. “Voters, especially the so-called ‘Obama surge’ voters from 2008, have seen the U.S. Senate in particular fail to implement an agenda of change,” and are turned off. “All Senate Democrats are suffering as a result of the obstructionism employed by Democrats such as Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln and Joe Lieberman,” says Cruickshank, and some California Democrats “are indicating they won’t vote in November.”
I spent all night searching for that quote of mine – I never spoke to Cook, and though I recall writing those words, I certainly did not mean them to suggest that California Democrats won’t have Boxer’s back. They will. The point I was making there was that Boxer is hurting because of problems outside her control – like other Senate Dems, the self-destructive actions of people like Nelson, Lincoln and Lieberman made it impossible for Democrats to implement their agenda and therefore have made Boxer more vulnerable than she should be.
In fact, California Democrats aren’t showing much of an enthusiasm gap. They are quite likely to vote, especially to protect Barbara Boxer. Here’s what I had to say about Boxer in the Calitics statewide endorsements:
The choice here is stark and simple: a progressive champion who fought against the war in Iraq and led the effort to pass a strong climate bill (among MANY other accomplishments) or a right-wing extremist who praises the Tea Party and defends her record of shipping tens of thousands of jobs overseas. Barbara Boxer had our back in the Senate when few others did. She deserves our support now against Carly Fiorina’s radicalism. Further, if Boxer wins, it is very difficult for the Republicans to retake the US Senate, another reason to vote for Boxer and maintain the firewall.
Every California progressive voter I talked to understands the importance of this race and of defending Barbara Boxer. It’s time we spread that word over this final week before the election. We cannot afford to let Boxer lose.