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Here's hoping for a year of political battles

August 04, 2005|By: S.J. CAHN

With Rep. Chris Cox officially ensconced in the lead chair of the

Securities and Exchange Commission, we have before us a

once-in-a-generation series of political battles that, if all goes

well, could occupy us for the next year.

That's right, the next year. That's a best-case scenario, but

before I detail it, a caveat (one of my occasional ones): I typically

try to skirt talking solely about the game (or horse race, if you

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rather) of politics. As entertaining and interesting as the maneuvers

and minor hits and starts can be, there ought to be something

substantive behind it all. Politics, after all, does matter.

This week, though, the only thing that matters is the horse race

and just how long it will last. This column's bottom-line bias is for

as long a competitive political season as possible.

Here's how that year of politics could come about.

We're waiting right now for the official dates for the race to

replace Cox. Given that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (who yesterday

endorsed state Sen. John Campbell) has another 12 days to call a

special election, the latest we'll see a first primary vote is

mid-October. That's when the first "hopeful ifs" begin.

In that primary, we hope that no candidate gets more than 50% of

the vote. If no one does, then in another eight weeks there will be a

general election among the top vote-getters from the different

political parties.

Of course, this election will be a fait accompli. Whichever

Republican takes the primary will win the seat.

Right now the two GOPers vying for the seat are Campbell and

former Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer. Campbell strengthened his

position mightily with the governor's backing, which would certainly

seem to trump Brewer's John McCain endorsement in terms of star power

and influence in these parts. The governor isn't nearly as popular as

he was, but he brings a more moderate (and competitive with McCain)

appeal to Campbell than does the senator's other early endorsement

from the Lincoln Club.

I don't see how Campbell can pull the more than 50% he needs to be

back in Washington by Halloween, but if he can stake out enough

moderate territory, he'll be the eventual winner.

That is, unless some third Republican appears in the race -- maybe

from Irvine or another South County part of the Congressional

district. I felt certain a week ago that one more big name (no, not

Bob Dornan) would enter. That seems increasingly unlikely.

Back to our races.

Campbell, setting aside political beliefs or philosophies, should

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