Nationally, there are three key elections on Nov. 3 — Virginia, New Jersey and New York CD 23. The impact of the Tea Parties and all the other opposition to leftward motion will finally get a real measurement.
In Virginia, the GOP candidate for governor has maintained a solid lead for months. In New Jersey, Gov. Corzine presides in a state so corrupt it smells even worse than Illinois and should be dead meat. Only he has two opponents. As he and the GOP exchange attack ads, the independent gains with enough to be a spoiler.
The real test for shifting sentiment in both states is the down ticket races, particularly for the state legislature. Claims that town hall and tea party stuff was just Republican Astroturf are indicative of the depth of liberal arrogance and myopia. Many of these folks are disgusted with both parties. Republicans just gave them one more reason in upstate New York.
The GOP candidate chosen to fill a vacant House seat was picked by local party leaders. While the process itself was legitimate, the choice was abysmal. The lady legislator they chose has a conservative voting index of 15 percent (the Democrat speaker of the NY Assembly is at 10 percent). A strong Conservative Party candidate in a state where that party is a player has emerged, and he's in the hunt.
The probable result will be electing a Democrat in what was a Republican seat. While one house seat doesn't make that much difference, precedents do. In this case I have some sympathy for the national GOP. In 2006, they joined local Pima County power brokers in attempting to pick a candidate in our own CD8. Their guy lost the primary and they then gave the winner token support. In NY 23 they're backing the GOP candidate. What else? Back the candidate of another party? They were stuck with the local pick. Would that they'd felt that strongly about us, where the nominee actually won a primary.
What is emerging nationally is a center-right voting bloc that resembles the Perot voter of the '90s. Republicans can only pre-empt it with center-right candidates and more populist issues as they did then.
Locally, we have three Tucson City Council races, Tucson's Prop 200, and a batch of school funding elections. Most observers concede the massive shortcomings of the incumbent Democrat council and note the Republican slate is above average in both quality and support. Prop 200 is a public safety initiative mandating certain funding levels for police and fire operations that the council adopted but failed to fund. The GOP and its candidates married it early on, garnering them support from the police and fire unions.
Opponents, mainly funded by other labor groups like the Service Workers International, and concerned that funding would switch from stuff that employed their members, have started an effective but ironic anti-tax increase campaign. Ironic in that they have never shown an inkling of concern over taxpayers in the past, but effective in getting many tea party types to vote "no."
The impact of Prop 200 on the council races is at best unclear. It could contain the double irony of turning out "no" voters who also vote to dump incumbents.
Amphitheater, TUSD and most other districts have some form of the usual requests for higher funding and the dire consequences that will occur if these measures fail. Organized opposition is minimal, but so is the desire to increase taxes with more people.
The best way to measure the Tea Party vote will not come from the won-lost results, but the comparison by school district of the increase in negative votes from former similar ballot items.
Hear Emil Franzi and Tom Danehy Saturdays 1-4 p.m. on KVOI 1030 AM.