Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tom Campbell's Republican Record on First and Second Amendment and Human Life, With Correction from the Campbell Campaign

By now, I have made it rather clear that I continue to favor CMCer Chuck DeVore for the U.S. Senate race in California. Current polling shows Boxer leading DeVore by only 6 points, despite the largess of her campaign warchest.

Unfortunately, Tom Campbell, one of DeVore's rivals for the nomination, is within four points of Boxer -- a sleight I hope to correct in a series of blog posts about Tom Campbell's real record.

Indeed, I find it interesting that Campbell is running to try and unseat Barbara Boxer when his endorsement of the Republican candidate in 1992 could have prevented her from ever being elected in the first place. As best as I can tell, Campbell never endorsed his opponent, Bruce Herschensohn. (Correction from Tom Campbell:

Dear Charles,
I did, indeed, endorse Bruce, the morning after he won the primary, and I did it right there, in Los Angeles. Regrettably, he never endorsed me when I won the GOP nomination for US Senate in 2000.
Bruce Herschensohn fought a tough primary battle with Tom Campbell for the 1992 G.O.P. Senate primary. The gist of the race centered around Campbell's pro-abortion record, which Herschensohn decried. Despite a hard fought campaign, Campbell lost the primary.

A few days before the general election, polling showed Herschensohn essentially neck and neck with Barbara Boxer. Only after it leaked that he had visited a strip club with his girlfriend, did the race break for Boxer. The Boxer campaign, in typical dishonesty, said that he "frequented" strip clubs. One visit does not mean frequenting, as even a casual dictionary reading would indicate. Campbell could have thrown his support behind Herschensohn and in so doing helping him with the liberal Republicans that had supported Campbell. He did not do so, as best as I can tell.

Perhaps that's because Tom Campbell has often been in favor of things that support, well, Tom Campbell. Hoping, no doubt, that an open primary law would allow more moderate candidates like himself to be elected, Campbell supported Proposition 198, which placed all candidates on one ballot and allowing voters to chose nominees across party lines. The Supreme Court, for its part, ruled 7-2 that such a law violated the Constitution's First Amendment. Justice Scalia wrote for the majority,
"Proposition 198 forces political parties to associate with -- to have their nominees, and hence their positions, determined by -- those who, at best, have refused to affiliate with the party, and, at worst, have expressly affiliated with a rival," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority of the court. "The prospects of having a party's nominee determined by adherents of an opposing party is far from remote -- indeed, it is a clear and present danger." (Jim Puzzanghera, Mercury News, June 27, 2000)

. . . Scalia blasted the argument that a primary should be engineered to produce more centrist candidates, calling it a "stark repudiation of freedom of political association: Parties should not be free to select their own nominees because those nominees, and the positions taken by those nominees, will not be congenial to the majority."

Campbell liked the law, as it allowed him to best two conservative candidates for office and win the GOP primary in 2000 and disagreed with the Court's ruling. (He was suddenly trounced at the polls, despite his "moderation.") But if Campbell has a problem with the First Amendment's free association, he certainly has a problem with the Second Amendment.

One of the issues that featured prominently in that 1992 U.S. Senate race was Campbell's support of gun restrictions, even during the wake of the L.A. riots. According to The Los Angeles Times on May 16, 1992, "[Campbell] advocate[d] creation of an enterprise zone, with special breaks and subsidies to encourage businesses and others to rebuild south-central Los Angeles. Campbell also [] opposed repeal of the gun-sale waiting period."

Campbell went one further: He voted in favor of emergency federal aid to rebuild Los Angeles after the Watts riots. Apparently, he didn't learn that principle of moral hazard from Milton Friedman... (Los Angeles Times, May 29, 1992)

Putting aside the question of why a devotee of Milton Friedman would ever support subsidies, I think it's fair to ask if Campbell still supports 15-day gun waiting periods. There's little evidence that waiting periods accomplish the ends of keeping guns out of the hands of maniacs. Indeed, John Lott, an economic researcher, wrote that ". . .there is some evidence that the Brady Law slightly increased rape and aggravated assault rates because the waiting period makes it difficult for a few people to quickly obtain a gun for self-defense." And if Campbell continues to support waiting periods for guns, does he support them for abortions, too? The empirical evidence is that waiting periods for abortions reduce suicide by as much as ten percent. During the campaign for U.S. Senate in 2000, Campbell touted his 100 percent pro-choice voting record. He opposed a ban on "partial birth' abortions, one of the most horrific abortion practices. ("Conservatives Agonize Backing Campbell," Roll Call, August 7, 2000.)

Campbell in 1992 made abortion the center stage of his campaign. In the 1992 election, Campbell's TV ad ran with the following caption: "For choice, for jobs, for U.S. Senate." In another ad, he said, "I'm pro-choice and one of the most conservative members of Congress when it comes to spending."In a Republican debate, he described his abortion views, as good for voters "looking for someone who is willing to break with the party line from time to time." (Gerry Braun, "Herschensohn Won't Pledge to Back GOP Pick; Senate Opponents Renew Acrimony in Last Debate," San Diego Union Tribune, June 1, 1992.)

Herschensohn, for his part, described Campbell exactly as he is during that debate:
"I don't believe a Republican has to pass a litmus test, (but) I feel that Tom Campbell is so far away from the Republican umbrella that it would be easier to run against a Democrat. . . . Furthermore, when it comes to issues, experience can be attained."
Sonny Bono, a candidate for U.S. Senate at the same time, described him, as "an elitist bureaucrat." (Bill Stall, "California Elections '92: U.S. Senate; Women's 'Golden Moment,' Boxer Says," Los Angeles Times, May 31, 1992.)

For conservatives, Campbell has always been a liberal Republican. According to USA Today on November 29, 1995, Campbell "endorse[d] Contract with America items like a balanced budget and a line-item veto, but his support for gun control and environmental protections and opposition to GOP tax cuts puts him squarely in the moderate column."

But Campbell is no moderate. During his 2000 campaign, Campbell attacked President Clinton's decision to send $1.3 billion in aid to stabilize Colombia during its war on drugs. According to, "Campbell likes to compare the Colombia aid package to a Vietnam-style intervention." He's been quiet, though, about the progress made in Colombia.

No comments: