It's an old joke in L.A. that nobody here knows about a local story until it makes the New York Times. Well, then by now, they've all read about this attempt by GOP lawyers to change the way California's electoral votes are apportioned and hand the 2008 election to the Republicans.
When state Democratic leaders from around the country meet this weekend in Vermont, the California chairman, Art Torres, expects to be peppered with the sort of questions that have been clogging his in-box for weeks.
What is this about Republicans trying to change the way Electoral College votes are allocated in California? Is there a countereffort by Democrats in the works? What does it mean for presidential candidates?
Torres has a couple quotes in the piece, but what interested me is a preview of the messaging that will be used to sell this scheme to the general public. It actually mirrors what every Democrat in the Legislature was saying in the run-up to changing the Presidential primary date...
Far more potentially significant in the near term, however, is a recent move by the lawyer for the California Republican Party to ask voters in a ballot measure to apportion electoral votes by Congressional district. With numerous safe Republican districts around the state, this change could represent roughly 20 electoral votes for a Republican candidate who would otherwise presumably lose the entire state, which has been reliably Democrat (thanks for the slur, New York Times! -ed.) in recent presidential elections.
"We think it is the most effective way of having California count," said Kevin Eckery, a spokesman for the ballot effort, the Presidential Election Reform Act. "Candidates love California in the spring when they come out to raise money. But after that, as long as California is not in play, it tends to be ignored."
They're going to use a message of fairness and making California count. That's going to be attractive to a low-information voter, and millions will have to be spent to counter it.
According to the Times piece, Eckery's group is fundraising right now, and it will probably take a few million dollars to get the initiative on the June ballot, including about half a million for polling. That's a low bar; and that's why it is so crucial that we get the word out immediately about this effort to steal the vote. Building a war chest is less important than using some CDP money to define what this initiative would represent - a piecemeal solution to a problem that would virtually guarantee a Republican successor to George Bush. This is not something to attack with nuance; the goal is to make it so unpopular that any effort to put it on the ballot would be a suicide mission.