Can California elect a Republican to the Senate? In a more conventional time, that might seem like a fanciful question. But with Scott Brown’s improbable victory in true-blue Massachusetts, it’s very much within the realm of possibility. Further underscoring that point, today’s New York Times reports on the surprisingly competitive race between three Republican challengers to unseat 17-year Senate veteran and liberal icon Barbara Boxer. California Democrats continue to enjoy some traditional advantages – 1.5 million more registered voters, for one – but Boxer’s hold on the Senate seat seems increasingly precarious, and her past political success is not necessarily prologue:
John J. Pitney Jr., a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, said Mrs. Boxer’s previous easy victories in Senate races could be misleading, since they took place in what were more favorable political environments. “She may be more vulnerable than it seems at first,” Professor Pitney said.
The tightening poll numbers bear this out, and even Boxer herself acknowledges:
“It is a tough year. I am going to focus; I am going to work my heart out.”
Of course, one reason this is such a tough year for Democrats like Boxer is the surge in grassroots political enthusiasm and participation through the Tea Party movement. The movement itself remains mostly distinct from the GOP establishment, but its supporters do sometimes find an attractive candidate in the party’s ranks. In the case of California, that seems to be Chuck Devore, the assemblyman from the state’s 70th district in Orange County. Though he remains a dark horse to win the GOP nomination, DeVore (pictured above) has become a mainstay at Tea Party rallies and has garnered attention for his outspoken opposition to Islamic racialism – as when he recently called on the University of California at Irvine, located in his assembly district, to ban the Hamas-supporting campus branch of the Muslim Student Union.
On a related note, tomorrow’s Front Page magazine will feature a wide-ranging interview with DeVore about the MSU, the threat of Islamic extremism, the Tea Party movement, and why this just may be a Republican year in California. Stay tuned.