(California Post #2) California Primary Countdown – Sixteen days

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Going back to age 14, I have never missed a California primary.

In 1964, as a reporter for the junior high newspaper, I interviewed New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. I asked him what options were open to a person still too young to vote. He recommended studying the issues and volunteering at some candidate’s headquarters.

When I was 18, a voter had to be at least 21 (as opposed to when I was 21, when a voter only needed to be 18), but even while denied the ballot in 1968, I attended primary rallies and shook hands with Eugene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, and—as I had four years earlier—Nelson Rockefeller. (That November, I licked envelopes at Nixon headquarters.) In 1972, I served on the UCLA committee to elect Shirley Chisholm. (Yeah, I was exploring my political identity.) Even when I was out on the Colombian Llanos (1988, 1992), I paid attention to the campaigns, and voted by absentee ballot in the primary.

So this week it was with some consternation that I woke up to the fact that the California Primary is sixteen days away—and this is happening in a year in which the California Primary will carry more weight than in any year since 1968.

Yesterday, I went on line searching for a local “Committee to Elect Mike Huckabee.” At the national Huckabee Campaign Website, I found a list of states where I could potentially volunteer. The option closest to my home is Oklahoma.

The closest thing I could find to a local entity was a web-based mikehuckabee group on meetup.com. I am now the eighth member of the Tulare County group, but it looks like two of the eight are organizers coming down from Clovis, and one has an address in Orange County. Beside “Our Next Meetup,” is the notation “None Scheduled.” However, newspapers reported that in Michigan, the Huckabee campaign had spent no money, hired no staff and had no office until six days before the primary. He still gathered 16% of the vote, for third place. In South Carolina, the Huckabee campaign had only a state manager and two paid staff members until about three weeks before the primary. He drew 30% and finished just behind McCain’s 33%. At this point, I’d have to call McCain the front runner (and I could happily vote for McCain in November), but I’m thinking this might be a rollicking fun sixteen days.


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