Sunday, January 21, 2007

CA Primary: What Type of Green Will We Be Talking About?

Now, it is looking increasingly official. The LA Times is reporting that Ahhnuld and the Legislature are ready to move the 2008 Presidential Primaries to February 5. That would put our Democratic primary after Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, but before everyone else. Obviously, this means we will be voting quite early...

But what else does this mean? How else could this affect the overall primary chase? The LA Times goes on to pontificate:

Contenders, who now bypass California except to raise money, would be forced to establish real presences here.

The huge cost of competing in California — estimated by one veteran strategist to be $6 million to $8 million per candidate — would probably require all contenders to accelerate their fundraising and possibly give an edge to those candidates who have already amassed sizable war chests, such as Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), according to operatives in both parties.

Well, they are most likely correct on this charge. As we see with every competitive election here, California is a very expensive state for candidates. We have so many millions of voters to reach out to, and so many millions of dollars worth of ad time which is just waiting to be bought. Oh yeah, and hopefully the candidates don't forget to set up some type of operation to win over supporters, and get them out to vote! Yeah, I can see how well-heeled candidates have the advantage here.

But is this edge insurmountable? What about the issues? What about the message? Don't the issues matter?

Elevating the clout of California's primary could change the dynamics of the race. It could push to the forefront issues such as immigration and global warming that might be more important and emotional here than in other areas of the country. But the daunting cost of competing here might also end up forcing candidates who did not win in the first primaries out of the race even earlier than in the past, strategists said.

I guess this might be the secret weapon of the other candidates. I'm sure that immigration will freak out the California GOP, as McCain will be taking some serious heat from wingnuts over his supposed "pro-amnesty" position. But what will we Democrats be talking about?

Well, I do see climate change becoming a serious issue in our primary. Now that the state is doing something about it, what will the federal government do? As the rest of the world takes action, how can our nation still ignore the problem? I'm already asking this, and I have a feeling that other Democrats here will be asking this question to the candidates.

So what will they do? Already, John Edwards has declared that climate change will be one of his top priorities, and has already encouraged his supporters to start conserving now. Barack Obama seemed like an environmental superstar, until he signed onto the milquetoast McCain-Lieberman bill that hardly accomplishes anything, and he has made a shocking reversal on coal energy. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, wants to cut "our dependence on foreign oil by at least 50 percent by the year 2025" by way of more bio-fuels and renewable power (solar and wind), as well as more conservation. While Obama has backpedaled on climate change, Clinton and Edwards have become more vocal about it. In the near future, we may all be asking them how they voted on the Boxer-Sanders legislation that actually does something to cut greenhouse gas emissions. I'm sure I'm not the only California Democrat who will take notice.

So can Edwards' message on climate change help him in California, even if he gets outspent by Clinton? Can Obama's recent waffling on climate change and environmental issues hurt him in the Golden State? Can any of the other candidates rise above the fray with a cogent environmental message?

Of course, I'm sure that climate change and the environment will not be the only major issue in the California Primary. Still, it can be the one make-or-break issue that can win over enough eco-conscious voters to win delegates, and perhaps plenty of them. But can a great message win over big money? Does genuine eco-consciousness matter as much as a glossy ad campaign?

I guess over the next year, we will be finding out which green matters more.

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