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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Friday, October 3, 2003

Is Schwarzenegger trying to ride fear to victory?

In recent weeks, Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign to unseat California governor Gray Davis has spent a lot of time pointing at the problems supposedly caused by Indian casinos, and bemoaning Davis' appproval of a new law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses. According Pacific News Service's Donal Brown, this is just the latest example of how racial fears often drives California elections, especially when times are hard.

As an example, Brown points to the 1982 governor's race between Republican George Deukmejian and LA mayor Tom Bradley, a black Democrat. Despite a 5 percent lead on te polls going into the election, Bradley still lost. It was widely believed at the time that some people were lying to pollsters, not willing to admit that they wouldn't vote for Bradley because he was black.

Brown thinks something similar is going on in the current recall campaign.

Certainly the Democrats have provided Schwarzenegger with openings on the fear issues. In an attempt to mend fences with California's growing ethnic populations, Gov. Gray Davis approved a measure allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses, a controversial issue. And Bustamante accepted sizable campaign donations from the Indian gaming industry.

Even so, I can't figure out why Indian gaming is suddenly such a threat. Contrary to the allegations in the Schwarzenegger ads, the industry contributes millions to the state coffers. And only three years ago, California voters themselves approved Indian gaming by a 2-1 margin. But Schwarzenegger has been aggressively exploiting the Indian money openings in his ads and statements, as if their money were dirtier than the money in his campaign.

[University of Maryland political scientist Karen] Kaufmann points to Schwarzenegger's criticism of his leading Republican challenger, conservative State Sen. Tom McClintock, for accepting Indian money. Schwarzenegger supporters have called the money to McClintock an Indian plot to weaken his campaign. No matter that McClintock has long supported the Indian right to gaming.

"In my opinion," says Kaufmann, "the constant references to illegal immigrants and Indians are a not-so-subtle suggestion on the part of the Schwarzenegger camp that Davis and Bustamante will give preference to people of color over Anglo Californians."

While ethnic minorities now comprise a majority of Californians, the electorate is still overwhelmingly white. Latinos represent only 15 percent of registered voters, and are unlikely to provide a counter-surge that might determine the recall outcome.

California Republicans paid a big political price for their Prop. 187 adventure, losing Latino voters. The recall election shows that once again, they are willing to risk alienating Latino voters. How long will they be able to get away with it?

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:00 AM | Get permalink




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