One of six does not constitute ‘most’

Conventional wisdom is like urban myth: the less you challenge it, the more it becomes truth.

Before it becomes a truism that all Republicans who dare to vote for taxes suffer humliating defeats, let us examine a case made by conservative blogger Jon Fleischman.

Thursday at a conference of anti-tax advocates, Fleischman asserted that “most” of the six GOP lawmakers who voted in favor of a tax hike in 2009 “suffered embarrassing defeats in pursuit of higher office.”

The implication being that Republicans who vote for tax hikes will face an unforgiving GOP electorate that will cast them to political purgatory if they hazard to breach the party’s most sacred principle.

It may have been a case of Fleischman wishing what he thought must be true, or of plain revisionist history.

Either way, he’s wrong. Of the six, two, former Sen. Abel Maldonado and former Senate GOP Leader Dave Cogdill, both reached office after their tax votes.

Cogdill was elected as Stanislaus County Assessor. And Maldonado was appointed as Lieutenant governor — with the full support of Republican lawmakers in both chambers in confirming his appointment.

Maldonado also went on to capture the Republican nomination for the job, blowing out his closest GOP rival, Sam Aanestad, by 13 points, before losing in the general election to Democrat Gavin Newsom.

So much for Republican retribution.

Former Assembly GOP Leader Mike Villnes barely squeaked through in a close Republican primary race for Insurance Commissioner — over a no-name Republican Brian FitzGerald. But he did win, before being defeated in the general election by a Democrat — as did all Republicans on the statewide ticket. Maybe it could be seen as humiliating that his primary win was so narrow, but he did not suffer an embarrassing loss.

As for the others: former Assembly member Anthony Adams did not gain office again because he did not seek it. He may have felt it wasn’t worth it to face the wrath of an angry GOP primary electorate, but he did not suffer an embarrassing defeat.

Former Sen. Roy Ashburn was term-limited, and later appointed by Schwarzenegger to the unemployment insurance appeals board. He did not run for office, and so could not have suffered an embarrassing defeat. Unless you count not running as humiliating.

That leaves term-limited Assemblyman Roger Niello, who lost in a Senate primary to Ted Gaines. He actually finished third in a top-two primary, behind a Democrat. That can go down as embarrassing.

One out of six, though, does not constitute “most.”

Steven Harmon

  • David

    Mike Villines did win the Republican nomination for insurance commissioner, although he was behind in early returns. He was defeated by Dave Jones (D) in November 2010.

  • Pete

    The next primary is a “top two”. That changes the math and limits the power of the extremists.

  • I have a name, it is Brian FitzGerald, the G is capitalized.

  • John W

    Re: #2 “The next primary is top two. That changes the math and limits the power of extremists.”

    That’s the hope, and the reason I was all for both the open primary and independent redistricting. But we shall see. Sometimes, these things backfire. Although I didn’t vote for Maldonado, we have him to thank if the open primary has the intended effect.

  • Bill

    RE: Maldonado was appointed as Lieutenant governor — with the full support of Republican lawmakers in both chambers in confirming his appointment.

    WRONG! A significant number of Republicans in both the Assembly and Senate did not vote to confirm Maldonado as Lt. Governor — including Sam Aanestad.

    Facts are terrible things.

  • Reilleyfam

    The “fact” is he did not lose an embaASSing defeat. I wonder where in the GOP platform it states the members must obstruct the democratic process and prevent the public from being able to vote on it’s own laws. I dont want a tax increase but I sure want to be able to vote & the idea that the GOP official position is to obstruct the voting process if they dont like the idea is treason.

  • Elwood

    Re: #6

    Treason? Ridiculous!

    Easy there, Reilleyfam, try to remain calm.

    Deep breaths, deep breaths.

  • steve weir

    Unfortunately, the Legis & Gov., bowed to Maldonado’s desire for a blanket primary combined with a top two angle in exchange for his vote on placing tax extensions on a May 19, 2009 Special Election. However, it does not apply to Presidential portion of primaries and does not include central committees. No one checked about cost consequences and capacity. LA says that it cannot conduct a Presidential Primary under the top two method.

    In addition, you will be receiving a separate central committed ballot because parties want their central committees elected ONLY by the party faithful. The costs and logistics are a problem for California Counties.

    Maybe this does not matter, but why are Calif. tax payers conducting elections for private entities (parties) as no charge?

  • John W

    Re: #6

    This is why passing the proposition for simple majority for budget passage but leaving in the 2/3rds requirement for taxes was a non-event. If anything, it puts the Republicans in an even stronger rhetorical position. They can say, “See, the Democrats have complete control over passing a budget, and they still can’t get the job done.”

  • John W

    Steve Wier, if I understand you correctly, the open primary ballots we receive will still be differentiated according to party registration for purposes of choosing presidential nominees and state and county party officials. So, I assume your concern is the extra costs and logistics associated with doing this. Right? Are we talking major extra costs and effort? You raise a good question about the notion of taxpayers conducting elections for private parties at no charge — although I would posit that their function in the electoral process is a very public one.

  • ralph hoffmann

    Regarding Central Committee selection, what’s the definition of faithful? I haven’t decided which major party to be “faithful” to. My philosophy is to be bipolar in an increasingly polarized state and nation.

  • Steve, I appreciate your analysis. But I disagree.
    I did not say that these folks failed at receiving GOP nominations, I said that they failed in their attempts to be elected to higher office.

    Abel Maldonado was appointed by Schwarzenegger as LG for his role in raising taxes. GOP colleagues voted his tax-raising butt OUT of the Senate and into the non-voting LG spot. HE FAILED IN HIS ELECTION TO THE OFFICE.


    Roy Ashburn openly considered a run for Congress, but decided NOT to run (undoubtedly after polling showed his vulnerability).

    Roger Niello, as you pointed out LOST BIG TIME in a special election for State Senate…

    That is the four that I call “most” —

    Another of the six, Anthony Adams, chose not to run for an available third term — I submit that was because of his vote for taxes.

    Finally, Dave Cogdill retreated to his home county and ran for Assessor (and won).

    So it could be that you are right, and I am right. But I think you will agree that a reasonable person can agree with my analysis, which is that “most [4] of the six Republicans were defeated in their efforts to be elected to higher office.”

  • Why don’t these embattled Republicans just join the Democratic party? The California Republican party needs to be put out of it’s misery.

  • Shame on Me

    Why don’t these hacks ever get real jobs, given the GOP’s supposed support for “smaller government” and lower taxes?

  • Steven Harmon

    Sorry, Jon. Your words were: Most of the six “suffered embarrassing defeats in pursuit of higher office.” I’ve got it on tape! I’ll play it back to you it you want to come by my office. So: Only one can be put in the category of suffering an embarrassing defeat. It doesn’t take fuzzy math to see one of six is not “most.”

  • So I need to apologize and clarify. “Half suffered embarrassing defeats in pursuit of higher office, Maldonado, Villines and Niello — and all are out of office today, but for one who was elected to an obscure county post.”

    We’re parsing words – when the point is that being a Republican who votes for higher taxes is hardly the road to long-term success.

  • John W

    Let’s hope open primaries and independent redistricting will marginalize the hard right and left; so that the grown-ups can still have a healthy and vigorous competition of ideas, but in a way that leads to real solutions.