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Tim Myers: ‘Quasi-celebrity’ status of politics is a distraction

Posted: December 14, 2012 7:50 p.m.
Updated: December 14, 2012 7:50 p.m.

The local political cognizanti know the name Lynn Haueter. The former special education teacher turned political operative formed one-half of the controversial husband-and-wife duo with Bob Haueter, former local representative for Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita.

Haueter counts many local political “feathers” in her cap: Working locally on the Meg Whitman for Governor campaign in 2010 (that crashed and burned), and then working for state Sen. Tony Strickland while he rode off into the sunset after gaining the distinction of being the first Republican candidate in decades to lose a congressional seat in Ventura County.

The local political congnizanti know the name Joe Messina. The Harold Stassen (look it up, kids) of local politics, the affable and friendly Joe finally won a seat on the William S. Hart Union High School District board — and then got active locally in the tea party or insurgent Republican movement.

How do the two names converge? Recently, Lynn Haueter, the outgoing chairwoman of the Republican Party in Los Angeles County, decided to send a lengthy email to an individual running on a slate of candidates to replace her.
Since it existed in electronic form, it quickly got distributed far and wide to pretty much anyone with a vague political interest in the SCV.

The email constitutes a lengthy rant against that same Joe Messina, mooted to take the position of first vice president of the RPLAC.

In no uncertain terms, Haueter lambasts Messina, utilizing terms like “divisive, liar and lazy” to undermine his candidacy.

Now this email contains a shrill tone. Perhaps Haueter sought to resurrect her minor television celebrity long ago (she appeared in the original “Dallas” series) by diving into the quasi-celebrity of politics and feels that Joe Messina and others thwarted that ambition. That constitutes pure speculation.

Joe, of course, carries his own baggage. For instance, he engages in a vanity conservative talk radio project where a strong likelihood exists that one could garner a larger audience by raising his voice in the Target checkout area on a busy Saturday.

Further, he and a handful of other local Republicans split off from the local conservative Republican organization, stating on their website that while believing in fiscal rectitude and support of business, their fellow members stood too soft on “social” issues, code for the Republican Party’s ridiculous opposition to marriage rights.

But this column will not weigh the relative merits of the contest between Haueter and Messina, because in the great scheme of things their fight matters not, since the Republican Party in California lies dead in a ditch.

Let us review some historical facts. The last actual Republican governor of the state of California (since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected primarily due to his celebrity status), Pete Wilson, left office in 1999 and gained that office and a prior Senate seat by carrying a supermajority in San Diego County, where he served the city of San Diego in the capacity of mayor for 12 years.

Republicans should know that this will probably not happen in the near future, since President Barack Obama carried that same San Diego County by comfortable margins in both 2008 and 2012.

Since 1999 Democrats successfully hunted statewide Republican office holders to extinction. The last Republican candidate with a reasonable chance of capturing statewide office, Steve Cooley for attorney general in 2010, failed to carry Los Angeles County — where he served in the capacity of district attorney.

In that same election, Tony Strickland, running for state controller, lost to incumbent John Chiang in Strickland’s own state Senate district.

And what about the “makers” vs. the “takers”? Well, in Marin and Santa Clara counties, where people make real innovative wealth, Prop 30, which imposed additional taxes on the wealthy, carried by nearly two-thirds majorities in November.

And look at the local SCV and adjacent politics, once reliably Republican. A Democrat, Fran Pavley, now represents a good chunk of the SCV in the state Senate. A Republican turned Democrat narrowly captured the open Assembly seat in the Antelope Valley.

Anecdotal evidence (mainly my ballot) shows that Assemblyman Scott Wilk got many center-left votes to secure his comfortable victory over challenger Ed Headington.

I cannot provide advice on how the Republican Party might drag themselves out of the ditch, but I firmly believe that long emails denigrating other partisans probably will not do the job.

Timothy Myers is a Valencia resident. “Myers’ Musings” runs Saturdays in The Signal.


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