Rudy looks to break-up California’s vote |

Rudy looks to break-up California’s vote

So far, only one Republican candidate for president appears solidly confident of winning his party’s nomination. That is former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, GOP leader in every poll taken both nationally and in California since candidates began running seriously last winter.Giuliani also has plainly done some math and concluded that he cannot win next fall if California’s 55 electoral votes all go to the Democratic candidate, whoever that might turn out to be. Every poll now indicates that’s the way things are pointing. Giuliani, strongest Republican against any Democrat, still runs well behind New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards in California, even as he runs closely against all of them in national matchups.His confidence of winning his party’s nomination and his conclusion that he can’t win if California goes Democratic are the logical explanations for the way his camp is now trying to revive a Republican-sponsored plan to split up this state’s electoral votes, something only two other states now do.Leading GOP lawyers and consultants originally sponsored the effort to award almost all this state’s presidential Electoral College votes by congressional district, something only two other states now do thinly-populated Maine and Nebraska. Such a plan would likely give 20 additional votes to the Republican and take 20 away from Democrats, a 40-vote swing that easily could determine who becomes president.But those GOP operatives gave up on the idea in September due to miserable poll showings (the proposed measure trails by a 3-1margin in every survey) and a paucity of donations.For months, those sponsors kept the identity of their single large donor a secret, before revealing last month that New York hedge fund CEO Paul Singer was the source of a $175,000 donation to Take Initiative America, which relayed the money to the break-up-California’s-vote campaign. Singer is a major policy adviser to Giuliani.Assuming Giuliani is the Republican nominee, this is quite a way to circumvent the federal law limiting individual campaign donations to $2,300 in the primary season and another $2,300 for the general election.But Singer is far from the only Giuliani cohort involved in the newly-revived effort. Leading the initiative’s fundraising efforts is Anne Dunsmore, whose immediate previous job was as Giuliani’s top fundraiser. There’s also Jonathan Wilcox, a GOP consultant in California who was Take Initiative America’s spokesmen in the months it refused to reveal Singer was essentially the sole donor to the split-California measure. Wilcox previously was an aide to Bill Simon, the former Republican gubernatorial candidate who now chairs Giuliani’s state campaign.And there’s James Lacy, attorney for the initiative, who has donated the legal maximum of $2,300 to the Giuliani campaign. Essentially, all this means the revived effort is a Giuliani affair, designed to benefit him if and when he becomes the Republican nominee.The only problem with all this is that the initiative is fundamentally unfair, so long as other major states refuse to create a system of choosing electors by congressional district.Sponsors retort that it’s unfair that large parts of California are steadfastly Republican while all the state’s electoral votes have gone to Democrats in each of the last four elections. They don’t respond to questions about why it’s fair to apportion votes by congressional district, when there can be steadfastly Democratic areas within Republican congressional districts. By their reasoning, it would be even more fair to assign electoral votes by precinct or even by individual city blocks.Of course, the whole concept makes no sense so long as states like Texas and Florida, which have gone Republican in the last few elections but contain many Democratic districts, don’t do the same thing.Republicans, of course, aren’t interested in that. They are making no moves to break up the electoral votes of Texas, Florida, Indiana or Arizona, states that have rarely gone Democratic in the modern era. Nor any of the Deep South states that form their fundamental electoral base.Giuliani, of course, cannot afford to admit he has any role in the revived initiative drive. If he did, he would run afoul of campaign donation limits. So his spokesman, Jarrod Agen, told a reporter that This initiative is completely independent of our campaign. We have no involvement in it whatsoever.That ignores the measure’s obvious ties to Giuliani, a sort of revolving door phenomenon where the same people have worked in both efforts.There is plenty of doubt this measure will qualify for the June ballot, anyway. Because the previous sponsors gave up on it, the initiative was moribund for weeks, and needed to gather about 434,000 valid voter signatures within a one-month period ending Nov. 13. Most ballot measures require much more time to win that many signatures.But this effort may be more important for what it reveals about Giuliani’s confidence and his calculating nature than anything else. For even if it makes the ballot, chances of its succeeding are slim in this currently Democratic bastion.Thomas Elias writes about California issues. E-mail

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