Monday, May 2, 2016




There’s nothing like a nice fantasy to keep a person feeling warm at night, and a fantasy is what comforts Vermont’s Independent Sen. Bernard Sanders this month, as he insists it will make a big difference if he somehow ekes out a June 7 California primary win over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But reality is that California win or not, Sanders has no chance for the Democratic presidential nomination, chiefly because of a party rule demanding proportional distribution of any state’s delegates to its nominating convention. Sanders says he’s “good at math,” and if so, he knows that even though he narrowly won Indiana and even if he takes 60 percent of the California vote (highly unlikely, say all the polls), Clinton’s effort here will still net more than the 150-odd delegates she still needs to clinch the nomination.

          This doesn’t even include delegates she’ll pick up in places like New Jersey, Oregon and West Virginia, which vote the same day or earlier.

          For awhile, it appeared there would be meaningful, fiery action here on the Republican side, where California has a mere 172 convention delegates, compared with the 546 going to the Democratic gathering. It only takes 1,237 GOP delegates to get nominated, while a Democrat needs 2,383. This could have made California far more important to the GOP.

          But then came Indiana and a clear-cut Donald Trump win that all but clinched the GOP nomination for him and forced his last remaining serious rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, to drop out.

There will still be plenty of rallies and loud talk in California, but not nearly as much emotion or spending as the state would have seen if Indiana had gone for Cruz and given him all 57 of its Republican delegates.

In that case, it wouldn’t matter that no one in either party seriously believes any Republican can win this state’s 55 electoral votes in November. That’s about one-fifth what it takes to get elected, just from one state, something that long gave a political foundation to Ronald Reagan, who never lost an election in California – before it became solidly Democratic.

          Another result of the Cruz dropout is that Reagan can now stop spinning in his hilltop grave above Simi Valley where he may somehow have heard one Republican after another violate his “11th Commandment:” Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.

          Intramural insults became major sport among Republicans as they began some preliminary stumping in the Golden State before Cruz departed. There was former House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio opining at Stanford University that Cruz is “Lucifer in the flesh,” and a “miserable son of a b---h.” That amplified a bit on Trump’s seemingly constant hurling of the epithet “lyin’ Ted” at Cruz and his remark that Cruz “is a nasty guy and people don’t like him.”

          Cruz, son of a pastor, had jabbed back more subtly, claiming “I have never insulted Donald personally.” But he became more direct on his campaign’s last day, calling Trump a “serial philanderer” and a “pathological liar” and more, all during just one rant.

          So much for the 11th Commandment.

          This all set up the most entertaining state convention in many years for beleaguered California Republicans, who have won no statewide elections in 10 years and finally got to see their first full-fledged “cattle call” in more than 20 years, as all national candidates remaining at the time made the scene.

          Cruz somehow hoped naming failed California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina (a million-vote loser to Barbara Boxer in 2010) as his vice presidential choice could help him enough here to force a multi-ballot national convention.  Anyone who remembers Fiorina’s hapless campaign had to chuckle over that.

          The bottom line: California’s primary is no longer even symbolically important, not even for Democrats who still say otherwise. It’s even less vital for the GOP.

          Which means that the political tail has wagged the dog once again, the decisive state this time being Indiana, with less than one-third the political convention delegates California has. It also means it’s high time for state legislators to make a permanent date change and give up on their 44-year-old fantasy that a June presidential primary will ever again mean much.


    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

No comments:

Post a Comment