Could Democratic voters be scheming to have Republican Tim Donnelly face Jerry Brown in November’s gubernatorial election by strategically voting Donnelly onto the ballot? According to Fox and Hounds Daily Editor Joe Fox, that could be something to watch out for as the June 3 primary rapidly approaches.
However, a whispering campaign urging some loyal Democrats to vote for Donnelly in the open primary, and assure him a place on the November ballot, wouldn’t work, according to Allan Hoffenblum, a keen observer of the California political scene and publisher of the California Target Book, which tracks candidate elections.
Hoffenblum says that in addition to it costing money, persuasion techniques would need to be used “and that couldn’t be kept secret.”
It might be possible, however, for a mischief effort to boost the Donnelly campaign by running ads against his Republican opponent in the primary, Neel Kashkari–and that those Democrats eager to see Donnelly as the Republican facing Brown might try to help with negative ads against Kashkari. It’s been done before.
In 2002, when Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan was seemingly running away with the Republican nomination for governor, Garry South, Gov. Gray Davis’s campaign strategist, hit Riordan with negative ads during the primary. The shots hit their mark, writes Fox, and Riordan’s huge lead in early polls vanished as Bill Simon bested him on Election Day.
Some Democrats believe that Donnelly could damage the Republican brand and hurt Republican candidates in other races. Hoffenblum specifically notes that Donnelly’s history with the Minutemen organization might energize Latino voters in November to come out and vote for Brown which, in turn, could jeopardize some Republican congressional incumbents like Jeff Denham and David Valadao, who face tight races.
Donnelly, who has suffered disproportionately negative media coverage, leads Kashkari at the polls with more favorable results, including more positive ratings among voters. A recent Field Poll showed Donnelly leading Kashkari by double digits, though both were far behind incumbent Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.