Inside hardball on the Republican primary. Cross-posted at CA-48: Turning Orange County Blue

Many people believe that Jim Gilchrist and Marilyn Brewer won’t succeed were Ken Maddox failed. That is to say, Gilchrist and Brewer won’t have any more luck attacking John Campbell’s “soft on immigration” votes than did Maddox.

They’re wrong.
Dena Bunis, for example, wrote the following in this morning’s Orange County Register:

(Marilyn) Brewer plans to make an issue out of Campbell’s vote on the in-state tuition bill, although former Assemblyman Ken Maddox tried that in his senate primary race against Campbell last year, and it didn’t work.

And OC Blogger Jubal suggested the same 10 days ago:

Ken Maddox informed the voters of Campbell’s prior bad vote on in-state tuition for illegal aliens, but got zero traction out of it.

Maddox’s attacks were effective. But Campbell’s attacks linking Maddox to labor unions were significantly moreso…As a parallel, consider the recent gubernatorial election. Democrats’ attacks criticizing Schwarzenegger for his treatment of women were effective, but Arnold’s attacks criticizing Democrats for supporting the status quo were moreso.

Further, the argument that the Maddox-Campbell election proves illegal immigration is not a winning issue in Orange County ignores first the importance of Schwarzenegger’s endorsement of Campbell and second John’s substantial fundraising edge in the 2004 race.

Why might history not repeat itself? First, though Schwarzenegger has again endorsed Campbell, the Governor is significantly less popular in 2005 than he  was in 2004. As most Californians don’t want to see “Schwarzenegger’s Go-To Guy” go to Washington, I can’t see Campbell sending a similar mail piece this year. Second, Brewer has to date matched Campbell’s fundraising and Gilchrest has a national network of supporters. Third and finally, the argument put forth by Dena and Jubal runs contrary to the latest available polling data. By a 56 to 23 margin, CA-48 voters disapprove of Campbell’s vote to give in-state tuition benefits to illegal immigrants.

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