Sunday, June 04, 2006

Angelides campaign rally

Phil Angelides, candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor of California, appeared at a campaign rally in San Francisco this morning.

He didn't introduce any major new themes with only two days before the primary election, but I wouldn't expect him to. The most notable aspect of the rally was the impressive show of support by elected officials: both Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, Representative Barbara Lee, and State Assembly member Mark Leno all stood on the podium to endorse Angelides.

The message the Angelides campaign seemed most intent on putting forth is that — contrary to claims in Steve Westly's ads — Phil Angelides is a committed environmentalist. The Lake Tahoe land deal that Westly has highlighted was in fact a 10% stake in a condominium project. Angelides carries the endorsements of the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Vote the Coast, Clean Water Action, and a long list of individual environmentalist leaders.

Angelides also seemed quite comfortable on the podium. When someone in the crowd shouted that Angelides should "kick [Arnold Schwarzenegger's] butt," Angelides said, "Well, there are some things that, as a candidate, you can't say." He also said that to see the difference between himself and Governor Schwarzenegger, you only have to look at them, because his own body is all natural, the way it was meant to be. Angelides also spoke with genuine conviction about issues from education to health care to global warming to economic security. In particular, he differentiated himself quite well from former Governor Gray Davis, who has almost as much personal warmth as Al Gore. To reinforce his claim to "the common touch," Angelides spoke about his immigrant grandparents and his immigrant mother: "In my family, there was never any doubt that we would do whatever it takes to see that the next generation has more opportunities than the generation before."

It is my general policy not to endorse a candidate immediately after a campaign rally, since a rally is by its very nature a one-sided view of the race. However, I heard a lot of good stuff and nothing I found troubling. This primary race has been a rollercoaster, with Angelides in the early lead, overtaken by Westly's early campaign ads, but with Angelides making a strong comeback. Today I saw a candidate who looks poised to take on the governor. Barring some significant last-minute surprise from Westly, I think I'll probably be voting for Angelides.

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