Principle, politics or both?

mcclintock.jpgSo state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, is so angry at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lack of fiscal conservatism that he boycotted the governor’s speech at the state GOP convention Friday in Sacramento, and he has founded Citizens for the California Republic (CFCR) “to continue the fight to restore the fundamental American principle of freedom in California’s political debate.” Read more on this, straight from the senator, here.

Outraged… OUTRAGED, he is.

But you’ve gotta ask yourself: How much of this outrage is truly over the governor’s policies — which haven’t, by the way, involved addressing income or commercial property taxes, as many Democrats want — and how much is pure politics?

Remember, Schwarzenegger not only let McClintock and other down-ticket Republicans in last year’s election twist in the wind, but he actually took a hard shot at McClintock just five days before election day, telling reporters that McClintock — his own ticket’s candidate for lieutenant governor — was “totally wrong” for opposing the infrastructure bond package. This was at a moment when McClintock seemed to be neck-and-neck in the polls with Democrat John Garamendi; even if the governor disagreed with him, silence would’ve helped his campaign more than this verbal torpedo.

Now McClintock says his new committee’s purpose “is providing the 75,000 citizen politicians who supported me in recent elections with a steady stream of information and practical suggestions to enable every one of us to make our voices heard.” Sounds like a nascent 2010 gubernatorial campaign to me, and perhaps a popular stance to take at the state GOP convention, comprised of the right wing of California’s right wing.

But it was state GOP conventioneers who played right into Democrats’ hands in 2002 by booing Richard Riordan and annointing Bill Simon as the party faithful’s gubernatorial pick. They may feel they’re being true to their party’s values and that’s all well and good, but they have a history of picking people who just can’t win statewide elections. If that’s the crowd McClintock is angling for, he’s in for a principled nose-dive.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.