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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

CA-48: The One Number That Matters: 40

Posted by DavidNYC

Forty. That's the percentage of the vote that John Kerry won in CA-48 last year. And that's the one number that matters for Democrats in today's special election. Read on and I'll explain.

New Mexico's third CD was (and still is) heavily Democratic: In 1996, it went 52-38-6 (Clinton-Dole-Perot). In January of 1997, Bill Richardson resigned to become UN Ambassador. A special election was held in May with the following results:

Bill Redmond (R): 43
Eric Serna (D): 40
Carol Miller (Green): 17

Thanks to a strong third-party challenge from the left, the Republican Redmond pulled off an extremely unlikely upset in a Democratic bastion. Could the same thing happen in CA-48? I think so.

In CA-48, there's a strong third-party challenge, too, but with a crucial difference: Anti-immigrant Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist is taking votes almost entirely from the Republican candidate, John Campbell. This is good news for our man Steve Young. But will Gilchrist do well enough to let Young pull off an unlikely victory? Let's get back to that 40%.

In the unusual primary in this race, Gilchrist took in 15% of the vote. Because the top finisher from each of the five parties running would automatically advance regardless of his or her percentage of the vote, there was little incentive to work hard. The only thing anyone needed to worry about was keeping Campbell below 50% (otherwise he would have won immediately), which is exactly what happened.

Gilchrist has been working a lot harder this time arond, and in fact, he's been Campbell's main, if not only, target. It's a sad commentary on America, but Gilchrist's hateful message has been resonating with a sizable chunk of voters in CA-48 - enough so that the NRCC felt the need to dump a quarter-million dollars on a race they shouldn't have had to spend a penny on. On the other hand, it's great news for Steve Young. So the question is, can Gilchrist pull in just a bit over 20%?

I don't see any reason why he couldn't. Apart from seriously ramping up his campaign, there are now only five candidates in the race, as opposed to 19. And media coverage has mostly focused on the Campbell-Gilchrist matchup, raising Gilchrist's profile and name recognition. If Gilchrist can do just six points better than he did in the primary, and Young's support level holds at Kerry's 40% mark, then Young wins by sneaking in under the radar. The math is just that simple: Young at 40 and Gilchrist at 21 means Campbell can do no better than 39. If Gilchrist does even better, then that gives Steve even more of a cushion. It could definitely happen.

As it happens, the Republican who won in NM-03 in 1997 lost the very next year. But that's definitely a bridge we can worry about later. Right now, today is election day, and we've got to focus on helping Steve Young win. I know the weather is nice out there today, so call the campaign at (949) 640-4400 to help out.

And good luck, Steve!

P.S. Get live results here.

Posted at 01:35 PM in 2005 Elections, California | Technorati

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Just out of curiosity, what are some of the specifics of Gilchrist's "hateful message." I've always thought the Minuteman had the potential of being an asset, but have never trusted their motives or their tactics. So I'm interested to hear what Gilchrist's positions are that would be most objectionable to progressives.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 6, 2005 03:01 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I encourage you to read what David Neiwert has written about Gilchrist.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 6, 2005 03:34 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment