Fresh off my bold (and realized) prediction that Scott Brown would win the Massachusetts Senate seat, I'm going to make a new, bold prediction: Chuck Devore will win the primary of the G.O.P.
He's currently the furthest down from Barbara Boxer, according to the latest poll, but I have a feeling that now that Scott Brown has been elected, the national anti-incumbency movement is going to move to California.
The one principled conservative in this race is fellow CMCer, Chuck DeVore, who despite the fund raising advantage of his opponent, Carly Fiorina, has essentially remained in a dead heat with her for the nomination.
The other two Republicans aren't really pro-freedom candidates. Carly Fiorina has talked about regulating the internet, which is a big no no and makes her candidacy effectively a nonstarter for internet fundraising. Her political sin, though, is a lot less than Tom Campbell's. Tom Campbell essentially betrayed the legacy of his mentor, Milton Friedman, when he stopped supporting the school choice proposals on the ballot several years back. On this point, some more elaboration is needed.
I initially supported Tom Campbell's bid for governor of California, where I thought he was one of the strongest candidates. My employer, The Claremont Institute, (which neither endorses, nor really knows of my views) invited him and all of the candidates, to a discussion of the issues facing the next governor of California in December of last year and I found him to be very persuasive and well-intentioned, if a tad bit tending toward policy wonkery. After his talk, I asked him about his position on school vouchers. He insisted that he was still for them, but that we had to call them something other than school vouchers. He suggested calling them "opportunity scholarships." So far, so good.
Then I started doing some research on Campbell and what I found dismayed me.
Here's what I found about his position on school choice.
Tom Campbell, who lost a close Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in 1992, was a candidate for the California Senate when he announced his support for Proposition 174. The California Teachers Association (CTA) then threatened to run one of its officers and "saturate the area" with money and campaign workers in an all-out campaign. Campbell, a Stanford University law professor, thereupon let it beknown that after reading the initiative more carefully he had decided to oppose it. ("The School Choice Fiasco," Public Interest, January 1, 1994)Proposition 174 was a school choice ballot initiative that needed all the support it could get to pass. Campbell's rejection of it constitutes a betrayal of some magnitude. Here's how one observer of recorded it:
Winning honors for the crassest political performance was former representative Tom Campbell, a liberal Republican who lost the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat to conservative Bruce Herschensohn in 1992. During that campaign one of the very few issues upon which Herschensohn and Campbell agreed was school choice; both endorsed Proposition 174 without reservation. In 1993, Campbell decided to run for a state senate seat in Silicon Valley. Campbell began the race not only as a proponent of 174, but as a fundraiser for it. [emphasis mine] The Los Angeles Times explains what happened next.The empirical evidence is that school choice actually produces good outcomes. Just ask those recipients of the D.C. scholarship earlier this year, before it was gutted by the Obama administration. (Update: According to The American Spectator in May 2000, "Milton Friedman famously was so exasperated with his onetime student's decision to back away from California's school voucher initiative in 1993 that he renounced his support of Campbell for the state legislative seat Campbell gained while out of Congress."Realizing that Campbell would be running a campaign that included a pro-voucher stand, former CTA President Ed Foglia declared that he would run against Campbell.One has to feel pity for a candidate so utterly incapable of saving face. Nobody believed that Campbell's flip-flop was motivated by genuine concerns about the intiative's effect. A former Stanford law professor, Campbell could hardly claim to have been misled or confused by the initiative's legal language or to have missed something in his reading of the text. The only plausible explanation is the obvious one: the CTA was not a factor in Campbell's U.S. Senate primary, but a major factor in his state senate race. He responded accordingly. ([emphasis mine] From Page 144 of David Harmer, School Choice: Why You Need It -- How You Get It)
[Current CTA president Del] Weber, a former Anaheim High School mathematics teacher, told reporters that the CTA not only would support Foglia, "we would saturate the area" with money and campaign workers. . . .
Campbell made an about-face, announcing that after reading the measure more closely, he opposed it. The CTA disarmed, and Foglia dropped out.
I'll have more on Tom Campbell's record later as we move closer to the primary, but I thought that might whet your appetite. Ben Casnocha, a former student at Claremont McKenna, loves Tom Campbell (or at least did when Campbell was running for governor.) In a recent blog post, Casnocha cited one of the reasons he supports Campbell is his support for school vouchers.
My message for Chuck DeVore is as follows: Ask Campbell why he switched on this issue and how he'll be able to help California move from being 46th in the nation in education.