The major election decisions have been made but three weeks
later, there are still many unanswered questions.
We're approaching the one-month mark of analyzing Election
2004 and many of the pundits are suffering from analysis paralysis.
How did the Republicans pull off such a national sweep, they
ask. Dan Rather and Company are having nightmares. So many
new people registered to vote, the turnout was fantastic,
there were major campaigns to bring out the younger liberal
vote, Hollywood celebs and musician busted their butts for
John Kerry. But we see the results and the Democrats are NOT
Although all of the election results havent even been
certified yet, there is already a political war breaking out
on several fronts, nationally and in some local races.
On the federal level, John Kerry is saying hes going
to run again in 2008. Thats got to be a thorn in Hillary
Clintons side since few people would argue that she
is not interested in winning that race. This will be one ugly
race with those two.
The other race to watch is the San Diego Mayors free-for-all
where the voters are fed up with deficit sending, uncontrolled
growth, and major infrastructure problems. A new deal for
water that was signed a year ago still has a way to go before
residents see the effects in their taps and toilets. The city
that NEVER wanted to be like Los Angeles is half way there.
Two longtime Republican officials have a feisty surfer chick
on their hands and theyre not happy that Councilwoman
Donna Frye could win the election as a write-in candidate.
She could be the major spoiler in this election which apparently
is being determined by absentee and provisional voters.
But lets first look at what both John and Hillary need
to examine before they develop a real sense of what to campaign
about in 2008 if they are to have any chance of winning.
The big lesson of 2004, perhaps, is that the cultural divide
is getting wider in the U.S. and the Democrats no longer know
how to appeal to many voters in the South, Midwest and mountain
Despite all the attention paid to the red and blue states
scenarios, the reality is they conceal as much as they reveal.
There is no one explanation for this values divide. It's ridiculous
to say, as some liberals have, that we are perpetually re-fighting
the Scopes trial, with the metro forces of enlightenment and
reason arrayed against the retro forces of dogma and reaction.
We agree with some of the president's cultural stances, disagree
with others. But President Bush is not promoting an evisceration
of the line dividing church and state. The Bush strategy,
to the extent it was based on his religious beliefs, seemed
heartfelt, not cynical. And it appealed not only to red-state
diehards, but to members of demographic groups that tend to
vote for Democrats.
President Bush received 45 percent of the Hispanic vote and
thats up about 10 percentage points from the last presidential
election. In California, he got four per cent more of Latino
votes than he did in 2002. Bush also received 26 percent of
the Jewish vote, up about seven percentage points from 2000.
He also received from 11 percent to 14 percent of the black
vote (depending on who you believe), which is up from about
nine percent in 2000.
The point here is that Democrats need to evaluate these trends
rather than engage in the name-calling and demonization of
red-state America. That may be enjoyable, soon after a bitter
election loss, but it's destructive in so many ways.
The Democrats need to learn to respect traditional voters
and not demonize them if theyre going to try and win
them back. Fat chance of that. Old habits die hard and the
Democrat Party is very close to facing political extinction
if it doesnt find a heart, a soul, and a true message
that people can accept and embrace.
Example: Remember all the nasty television ads produced and
paid for by Move-on.org. Well, they apparently didnt
get their moneys worth because the voters didnt
buy the garbage these folks put out.
It is a very telling sign how out of touch the Democrats
were with the mainstream and the fact is that only four out
of 26 Democrat candidates endorsed by Move-on.org won election
or re-election on November 2nd. The notion that Democrats
need to embrace a "radical" candidate in order to
win in '08 is very silly. The only ones to take over previously
Republican Senate seats were Ken Salazar in Colorado and Barack
Obama in Illinois. Salazar ran as a common-sense moderate
while Obama received kudos from many conservatives for his
It is very clear that voters were turned off by all the stupid
name-calling led by Michael Moore and Move-On.org. Gazillionaire
George Soros pissed away a lot of money but thank God he has
a constitutional right to do so. So much for campaign finance
The end result was record amounts of expenditures by the
so-called 527 groups, the independent expenditure committees.
If youre one of those who couldnt wait for the
end of the election and all of the television advertising,
take a look at the slow vote count in the nation's seventh-largest
city, San Diego.
Running as a write-in candidate against incumbent mayor Dick
Murphy and county supervisor Ron Roberts, council member Donna
Frye has ridden a wave of voter discontent to the verge of
The agonizingly slow count of write-in ballots may finally
be decided in the courts. The city is supposed to swear in
a mayor on December 6th, IF it has a winner by then. Although
the race is nominally a nonpartisan one, Murphy and Roberts
are both Republicans, while Frye is a Democrat.
But the mayoral election may hinge on the outcome of a lawsuit
filed by the League of Women Voters that challenges a decision
by county election officials NOT to count write-in ballots
on which voters wrote in a name but failed to also fill in
an oval mark next to the name. The lawsuit contends there
are thousands of such ballots and obviously, Frye would benefit
from a favorable decision.
Frye, the 52-year-old community activist and wife of legendary
surfer and surfboard builder Skip Frye, is an unconventional
politician. She is a Democrat in a Republican city. In car-obsessed
San Diego, she doesn't drive. Running against a Harvard-educated
former judge (Murphy) and an architect (Roberts), Frye offers
a resume that includes, a bachelor's degree in business administration,
as well as work experience as a technical writer, dental office
manager, hotel maid, short-order cook and gas station attendant.
Her next job title could be Mayor.
Her push for more open government comes as a series of unhappy
events have shaken City Hall: the financial crisis; the new
city manager's announcement of his intent to resign seven
months after taking the job; the indictment of three city
councilmen for taking bribes from a strip-club owner; the
disclosure that the city fire department was unequipped to
fight devastating wildfires last year; a contentious stadium
lease battle with the San Diego Chargers football team; and
a sewer system that sometimes dumps pollution into the ocean.
Frye took advantage of the county's decision to use optical-scan
ballots this election, which meant voters would use a pen
no matter whom they voted for, making it easier for a write-in
candidate. San Diego voters just approved a new, strong-mayor
form of government, so whoever wins the election will get
new powers, beginning in 2006. The old system had vested much
of the executive authority in the city manager.
She entered the mayor's race this year after rejecting overtures
from both Murphy and Roberts to get her endorsement. Despite
efforts by friends of both Murphy and Roberts to have her
write-in campaign success killed off in the courts, both a
specially-appointed Superior Court judge and a federal judge
have refused to void the write-in effort.
Here's the bottom line for me. While there is probably very
little or no political agreement between my political philosophy
and that of candidate Frye, I am rooting for her. Even though
shes not as polished as the other two establishment
candidates, and shes a little loopier than I would like,
and her agenda is too far to the left of where I hang out,
her gutsy view of life and her go-for-the-gold attitude is
something I greatly admire. She challenged the traditional
system and that is ALWAYS good. And besides, being born and
raised in San Pedro, and living by the crashing ocean waves
makes me a bit partial to surfer chicks.