The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, August 07, 2003

The Californicated Election and Hispanic precedent

The motto of Arkansas is, notoriously, Thank God for Mississippi. Now, pols in 49 states are saying the same about the Golden one.

With an eye, as ever, to the tangential and historical, I'm struck by this piece from AP, on the announcement of Gray Davis's Lieutenant-Governor (though, according to The Note [1], they're scarcely best buds) Cruz Bustamante that he's going to run,

The point that got my interest and goat at the same time is a throwaway reference to the effect that Bustamante is
the first Hispanic to hold statewide office in California in more than a century.

The grown-up media never seem to figure that readers might actually be interested in the factoids they insert [2].

The man's name, it seems, is Romualdo Pacheco. He was elected in 1870 as Lieutenant-Governor to Newton Booth [3], and succeeded Booth as Governor following his election to the US Senate in 1874,

(I take it from Booth's Congressional Biography that he was elected in the November general election. The 43rd Congress was adjourned on March 3 1875, which presumably was the date on which the incumbent senator, John Sharpenstein Hager, vacated.

Strangely, Booth's Congressional Bio says he ceased to be Governor in 1874, yet Pacheco's official California bio - and everything else I've seen - has his gubernatorial service starting in 1875!)

Whether there were other Hispanic statewide office-holders before Pacheco is not clear - his CA bio refers to him as
The first California-born governor
- which leaves open other possibilities.

The only time I had previously had cognizance of Bustamante was a couple of years ago following the notorious incident (another fine example of Democratic comradeliness!) when he got tongue-tied in his second language during some kind of celebration of activism past, and, in render a roll of honour of various trade unions with Negro in the title, was heard - in circumstances more suspicious than an off.the-record briefing from a Number 10 spin-doctor - to utter the dread word nigger.

The usual suspects were shocked - in the Captain Renault sense - and voluble conniptions had by folk who were, naturally, paying no heed to the mounting Hispanic demo that threatened, in time, to deprive them of their cushy billets in the Party of Treason. (Comparisons were later made with Lott/Thurmond, of course.)

An endless vista of entertainment, it seems, courtesy of the Fun Factory....

  1. It's a damned dynamic link! So, for convenience...:
    What happened? To put it simply: 187 and Oracle.

    Davis and Bustamante both opposed Proposition 187 in 1994.

    The measure, which sought to deny illegal immigrants most public health and education services, passed with 59 percent of the vote; it quickly ended up in the courts. A federal judge struck down most provisions. Republican Governor Pete Wilson appealed.

    When Davis became governor he faced a choice. Either drop Wilson's appeal or continue it. Perhaps with an eye on polls that showed that a majority of Californians still supported Proposition 187, Davis bucked Latino leaders and asked the appeals court to mediate a compromise. As soon as Davis announced his decision, Bustamante, the first California Hispanic elected statewide in more than a century, denounced Davis' decision on the Capitol steps:

    "'During the campaign … Gray Davis said he was going to 'end the era of wedge issue politics' … I didn't think he meant 'pending appeal' or 'pending mediation.''" Veteran California political reporter George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times wrote at the time "there probably has not been a bigger real rift between a governor and a lieutenant governor in anybody's lifetime around here."

    Relations took a turn for the worse when Bustamante aired an ad during his 2002 re-election bid mentioning Davis' Oracle software scandal. The Davis Administration had approved a $95 million software contract — which auditors deemed a boondoggle — after Oracle's lobbyist handed a state-side staffer a $25,000 check for Davis' campaign. "Bustamante was not a vocal critic during the controversy," according to Scripps Howard News Service. "But the ad suggested he inspired Assemblyman Dean Florez … who led hearings on the Oracle deal, to scrutinize the governor's involvement."

    The ad infuriated the governor's camp because it came after Davis put Bustamante in some Spanish-language ads and included questions about the lieutenant governor in voter tracking.

  2. A practice known in the world of Oneupmanship's Stephen Potter as plonking, I believe.

  3. Apparently, a Booth Tarkington connection.

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