Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Darrell Issa and the Dirty Tricks Big Tent Revival

As reported and later expounded on by the Calitics web of newshounds, Dirty Tricks is back.  Unfortunately it's not a Halloween gimmick, and thanks to Courage Campaign, you can now see this new video from Bradley Whitford on the shady power grab and help financially support the incredible work that the Courage folks are doing.  But as the Dirty Tricks continues its haphazard course between various life-support systems, it's found a big money home in the wallet of recall-champion Darrell Issa.

Issa, who represents the 49th Congressional District, is one of the richest people in Congress, making a fortune off the Viper car alarm (step back, you are too close to the vehicle).  Issa is a veteran of throwing gobs of personal money into campaigns.  He dropped $12 million of his own money to lose the Republican Senate primary in 1998.  He was a bit more successful in 2003 when he dug into his wallet for $1.6 million in personal cash to fund the signature gathering for the Gray Davis recall which, when asked if it was worth it earlier this month, he said "Yes, of course."  Well, Rep. Issa is ponying up the big bucks again, lining up behind Dirty Tricks in its hour of need.  If new polling from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner is any indication though, he may have picked himself a loser this time.  The poll finds just 22% in favor and 53% opposed (25% undecided) to the measure throughout the state with uniform opposition throughout every region of the state.  So the question is...why?

Issa has been around this game long enough to know that any initiative starting that low is an exceptional longshot, and even said of initiatives last month "We barely mention them until they qualify...Usually they're just talked about to get us to spend money."  Well, it sure looks like it worked, as Issa has described his financial commitment to the initiative as "fluid."  This money obviously is a drop in the bucket to Issa, whose net worth is estimated by OpenSecrets as $135,862,098 to $677,230,000.  So why even bother with a stinker like this?  The Union-Tribune editorialized a theory on Saturday suggesting that it's all just a "slick" and "ingenius" plan by an otherwise bankrupt and backsliding CA-GOP to drain the coffers of Democrats throughout the state.

Obviously it discounts the notion that unifying, organizing, and energizing Democrats throughout the state might actually be problematic for Republicans.  While the initiative would likely appear on an otherwise overlooked ballot, that sort of organizing is pretty easy to roll over into, say, competitive assembly, state senate and congressional elections several months afterwards.  Given the complimentary fundraising debacles being turned in by the NRCC and California GOP, how wise is it to get Democrats revved up in every corner of the state?

Rep. Issa is taking on a curious cause here.  It's chump change for him, but as he explained when discussing the recall, "Would I have liked to have spent less? Absolutely. I'm a fiscal conservative."  He's also been fretting of late over the prospect of too many children receiving health insurance.  Yet he's more than happy to toss some coin around to make Republicans look bad and help galvanize Democrats.  I haven't seen Republicans around the state coming up with any other ideas to improve their electoral chances next year, so maybe this is just the desperation starting to set in.  Time will tell, but in the meantime it's time to gear up again.

Cross posted at Calitics

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