State Sen. John Campbell put some muscle behind his campaign for the
48th Congressional District seat Wednesday when he came out with an
endorsement from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The seat is being vacated by Rep. Chris Cox, who last week was
confirmed as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The endorsement -- unusual in a Republican primary -- is expected
to play well in Newport Beach, but it left Campbell opponent Marilyn
Brewer's supporters "perplexed," as a Brewer campaign consultant put
Since the governor took office, Campbell has often been at his
side. Schwarzenegger endorsed Campbell in a 2004 face-off with fellow
Republican Ken Maddox for the Senate seat Campbell now holds.
The endorsement is "a big deal on two dimensions," UC Irvine
political scientist Louis De Sipio said.
First, governors usually stay out of party primaries. Second, the
endorsement points to Campbell as the candidate for big GOP donors to
watch, De Sipio said.
"It sort of is a cue to the money people as to where they're going
to make their investments," De Sipio said.
But Campbell is banking more on the endorsement's political
"This will be more effective with voters than it will with
fundraising because the governor doesn't work in Washington -- he
works in Sacramento," Campbell said. "It just gives further assurance
to voters as to my abilities and prospects if they're not familiar
with what I've done in the last five years."
Marilyn Brewer is certainly familiar with Campbell's legislative
record. That's why her campaign consultant, Harvey Englander, said
the governor's endorsement confused him.
"We were disappointed that the governor didn't even bother to sit
down with Marilyn, and we were somewhat confused because Marilyn's
positions on issues are exactly the same as the governor's,"
He was noting Brewer's support of abortion rights and stem cell
research and opposition to illegal immigration, tax increases and
government spending boosts.
The bottom line in Newport Beach, however, may be election turnout
-- which is typically low in special elections.
Schwarzenegger's endorsement will matter to the older, more
conservative Newport voters, who are most likely to vote in this
race, but it may not matter to anyone else, Newport Beach City
Councilman Tod Ridgeway said.
"Obviously we are heavily Republican in this city. That
endorsement will make some difference," he said.
"Will the apathy of voting in a special election be overcome by
that? I don't think so."