opinion web
Liberal Opinion General Opinion
Deb Saunders
Debra J. Saunders
21 Oct 2014
Spare Me the Sermon on Seizing Sermons

If you believe Houston Mayor Annise Parker, then you have to believe that when lawyers for her city … Read More.

19 Oct 2014
Jerry Brown: Caucus of 1

I know Republicans who voted for Jerry Brown in 2010. They thought he'd be like Richard Nixon going to China … Read More.

16 Oct 2014
Hillary Clinton Walks on a Cloud

How does Hillary Clinton, the queen of old-school Democratic partisan politics and bane of the "vast right-… Read More.

The Most Boring California Election Ever


Most years, California offers up supersize election stories — an embarrassment of riches for the opinion columnist. This year, other states are getting all the drama while California looks as staid as a bored accountant.

In 2010, the big story was Meg Whitman's millions vs. Jerry Brown's cheapskate comeback campaign. Whitman spent $140 million of her own money on her campaign for governor, only to watch attorney Gloria Allred chastise her on TV for firing a nanny because she had come to the country illegally. The previous two elections — one a recall — starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, the cigar-chomping movie star who boasted about kicking nurses' butts and dismissed state legislators as "girlie men."

This year, it's Brown vs. Neel Kashkari, a buttoned-down former U.S. Treasury official who's not even a billionaire. Because Kashkari doesn't have Whitman's money — he started the election worth $5 million, and he's poured $3 mil into the campaign — Brown is free to ignore him. And the press corps is free to ignore the race.

If Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly had won in the June primary, California's gubernatorial contest would be more interesting. He's a former Minuteman who was put on probation for trying to get through airport security with a gun. Donnelly also accused Kashkari, a Hindu and son of Indian immigrants, of supporting Shariah when Kashkari worked for the Treasury Department. This year's Republican voter had little appetite for a candidate who can spit out quotes that bring on weeks of damage control and paint the GOP as ethnically insensitive.

Turnout in June was an abysmal 25 percent — a big drop from 2010's 33 percent.

In the 2010 election, 60 percent of California voters participated. This November, turnout is expected to slump to 50 to 52 percent, according to Neal Kelley, who is the Orange County registrar of voters, although the state organization for election officials he heads hopes it will be larger. Kelley did confirm that so far, absentee ballot submissions are 5 to 6 percent lower than four years ago.

Given the lack of conflict, I think it will be amazing if half of registered voters turn out. If Donnelly had won, then Democrats would have used his border background to whip up a lather of Latino voter indignation; demonization boosts turnout. In the absence of a mud fight, only 1 in 4 voters could identify Kashkari for a September Los Angeles Times poll.

San Jose State University political science professor Larry Gerston notes that turnout is likely to be low because there's no presidential contest; California's a very blue state, which makes outcomes predictable; and there are few initiatives on the ballot. Gerston also sees a trend of public disengagement. "We all know our rights," Gerston told me, but not necessarily our obligation to vote.

Without big money (which is supposed to be a voter turnoff) — and without mountains of mudslinging (the other alleged voter turnoff) — and with two good candidates, voter turnout likely will achieve a record low. As California becomes increasingly liberal and liberal pols make it increasingly easy to vote, see more Californians who can't be bothered to do so. One-party rule begets two kinds of elections: ugly and inevitable or boring and inevitable.

Email Debra J. Saunders at To find out more about Debra J. Saunders and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Debra J. Saunders
Oct. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Authorís Podcast
Lawrence Kudlow
Lawrence KudlowUpdated 25 Oct 2014
Patrick Buchanan
Pat BuchananUpdated 24 Oct 2014
David Limbaugh
David LimbaughUpdated 24 Oct 2014

20 Mar 2014 Sheryl Sandberg, How About Banning Bossy Billionaires?

7 Jul 2011 U.S. and Europe Listing in the Same Boat

1 Mar 2007 Why I Hate Race-Baiting Columns