MILLER V. BOXER

Weekly Standard adds more fuel to this delightful fire:

IS CALIFORNIA READY for Dennis Miller as its next United States senator? Laugh if you like, but some Republican strategists (including a few who just sent a certain movie star to Sacramento) see Miller, the sardonic comedian whose late-night talk show lasted just a little longer than Wesley Clark’s Iowa campaign, as wholly capable of defeating incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer next year.

Yes, that’s the same Dennis Miller who does commentary Friday nights on Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes”–and also has a recurring role on Fox’s “Boston Public.” The same Dennis Miller who was unceremoniously drop-kicked from ABC’s Monday Night Football. The same comedian and author whose “Dennis Miller Live” ran for nine years on HBO, following a turn on “Saturday Night Live” as the Weekend Update anchor.

It’s also the same Dennis Miller who emerged earlier this year as the loudest pro-Bush/pro-war voice in Hollywood–and, during recall, was one of Arnold’s biggest boosters in the entertainment community. So supportive of the Governator was Miller that he took part in post-debate spin following the infamous Arnold-Arianna insultfest.

“There’s a lot of us who’d like to see him campaign,” Rob Stutzman, the governor-elect’s communications director, told the Los Angeles Times in late September. “Dennis Miller is at the cutting edge of biting political commentary.”

***

Barbara Boxer is a vulnerable incumbent heading into 2004. A mid-October California Field Poll had 45 percent of registered voters giving her a third term, with 40 percent opposed. In July, it was 48-41. On the Republican side, it’s a wide-open race. Bill Jones, the former secretary of state who may become a candidate, gets 24 percent of the GOP vote (Jones ran for governor in 2002, so he benefits from high name ID), followed by Assemblyman Tony Strickland (4 percent), former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin (3 percent), and former Los Altos Hills Mayor Toni Casey (2 percent).

In the head-to-head matchups, Boxer leads all of her would-be rivals: Jones (48-34), Strickland (50-28), Marin (50-27) and Casey (49-26). However, there’s a trend that’s worrisome for Democrats: Boxer doesn’t top 50 percent, even against unknown opponents. That puts her in the same boat as Davis, whose own support was stuck in the low to mid-40 percent range during recall.

It’s certainly not implausible that Miller could win but I’d bet against it. Boxer is a bit grating but she’s no Gray Davis. And, while Miller is bright and charismatic, he’s no Arnold Schwarzenegger. Plus, unlike the recall, Miller would have to win a full-blown, long, gruelling campaign.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. I don’t know about Boxer not being “grating”.

    I’m a fan of neither of our liberal senators, but as a part of a recent “letter writing” campaign on a little known issue (I won’t go into it here), I hit both senator’s sites in order to fill out their on-line forms to allow my little voice to be heard by our elected officials.

    Feinstein is no centrist, but her site, while partisan, wasn’t over the top.

    Boxer’s? It must have been written by the central planning committee of the People’s Soviet of San Francisco. I don’t mind partisan, but to be pushing a large variety of way liberal, way left-wing causes REALLY pissed me off compared to Feinstein’s, which at least *pretended* to represent all 35 million people of the state.