The GOP’s California Nightmare

The polls in California close in about seven hours, but already Republicans are worried that a combination of low turnout and a quirky electorate could put the queen bee of the birther movement on the ballot in November:

California Republicans optimistic about their prospects in November could find themselves with a bit of a problem after the votes are counted in Tuesday’s primaries — a statewide ticket with the so-called “Birther Queen” as one of their candidates.

Orly Taitz is an Israeli émigré who has spent the past two years filing lawsuits challenging President Barack Obama’s right to be president on the grounds that he was born in Kenya. In the process, she has earned herself $20,000 in court fines.

Now she’s running for the GOP nomination for secretary of state, and with her establishment-backed primary opponent mounting a less-than-stellar campaign against her, operatives say there’s a chance she could win.

“It’d be a disaster for the Republican party,” says James Lacy, a conservative GOP operative in the state. “Can you imagine if [gubernatorial candidate] Meg Whitman and [candidate for Lt. Gov.] Abel Maldonado — both of whom might have a chance to win in November — had to run with Orly Taitz as secretary of state, who would make her cockamamie issues about Obama’s birth certificate problems at the forefront of her activities?”

“There is no Republican candidate for statewide office that would be willing to have her campaign with them,” says Adam Probolsky, a spokesman for the Orange County Republican Party.

Indeed, but if Taitz were to somehow pull off a victory today she would become the poster child for every Democrat running against every Republican across the country. And the birthers, who have fortunately mostly retreated into the dark spaces of American politics, would be handed an inadvertent victory that would only serve to energize them once again.

How likely is it that Taitz could win ? It’s hard to say mostly because nobody polls the down-ballot races in California and Taitz’s opponent has chosen not to run an aggressive campaign against her. The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel outlined how it could happen earlier today:

Republican voters, brought out in sizable numbers by the contested primaries for governor and U.S. senator, fill out the rest of their ballot with progressively less information about their candidates. They know Taitz’s name from… somewhere. And she’s listed first on the ballot, thanks to the state’s randomized ranking system. (Some of these voters, of course, will know and avidly support her.) She’s identified on the ballot as an attorney, while Dunn is a real estate agent. They check off her name, and she wins.

On the other hand, Taitz has raised almost no money in this race, although how much that matters in a contest like that is unclear. In the meantime, the Field Poll predicts that no more than one-third of the state’s voters will vote today.

So, as Weigel says, Taitz could lose this in landslide or win it in squeaker, thus creating weeks of bad press for Republicans in California and beyond. If you don’t think that people in Washington and Sacramento are going to be watching this race when the polls close at 11pm EDT, you’re kidding yourself.

Update: Birther bullet dodged.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Steve Plunk says:

    She may be a kook but is she any worse than Dennis Kucinich, Mad Maxine Waters, Alcee Hastings, or Cynthia McKinney?  Kooks are in politics everywhere and always have been.  This is not a problem isolated to the Republican party.

  2. steve says:

    Surely no worse than Bachmann.

  3. sam says:

    “She’s identified on the ballot as an attorney”
    She’s a dentist. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Much.

  4. John says:

    @sam – unless you are an anti-dentite.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    Ahh…but the point isn’t how crazy she is in comparison to various Democrats in the House of Representatives, but, rather, how much she’ll drag down other Republicans on the ballot, especially in California…I can’t see her appearing at rallies with Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina…can you? 

  6. None of the other statewide GOP candidates will appear at a rally with her.

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    She is not as nuts and Barbara Boxer or Nancy Pelosi.  The problem is not with where Obama was born, but where his father was born and his citizenship.  Read the requirement for being a natural born citizen.  Have someone explain to you why it was considered important since you cannot seem to fathom that exactly what we have before our very eyes is the reason it was put in the constitution.

  8. sam says:

    I guess I have to quote the 14th Amendment, again:

    Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

    What part of that do you not understand?

    EDITOR’S NOTE: Portion of comment in violation of site policies deleted. Make arguments. Don’t call names and insult other commenters.

  9. floyd says:

    Can anyone here make reference to any bonifide information which states unequivocably that B.O. has produced an American birth certificate?
     Does anyone here deny that he represented himself as a foreign student when he attended college in order to gain financial aid?
     Is ” birthers are kooks” the only defense offered for B.O. on this issue?
      While a little  seems ok when accompanied by a reasoned response, ridicule just seems childish when it is the only response.

  10. floyd says:

     The requirement to hold the office of President of the United States clearly goes beyond simple citizenship. Do you understand , for instance, that the present governor of California is not eligible for President and why?

  11. floyd,
    A better question would be if you understand.  Schwarzenegger is not eligible because he’s not a natural born citizen.  Obama is.

  12. The detached, rational citizen in me is going “Well this is a nonissue.  She doesn’t have a chance in winning the general.  It’s only a minor extension in her 15+ minutes of fame.”
    The political consultant in me is going “teee heee hee hee hee.”

  13. Tom Human says:

    Right, that crazy Kucinich who spoke out against the Iraq war, was skeptical about the weapons of mass destruction, and predicted that the war might cost several times as much as the $30 billion or so that the Administration was budgeting…
    …someone who was basically right about everything while the Republicans were completely, continuously, and horrifically wrong.

  14. Hitman says:

    Comment in violation of site policies deleted.

  15. floyd says:

    Robert ;
     Which leads back to my previous post, I usually do my own research , but since I can find nothing to substantiate your claim, I simply ask that you might provide some evidence to do so. Can you in fact  make reference to any bonifide information which states unequivocably that B.O. has produced an American birth certificate?
    I’m not a “birther” , but I simply reject ridcule as a valid “stand alone” form of argument.

  16. Hitman says:

    Comment in violation of site policies deleted.

  17. john personna says:
  18. Davebo says:

    Yes John, she lost.
    But given some of the comments on this thread and the fact that she got almost 26% of the freaking California GOP vote I’d say sane Republican will draw little solace in her loss.

  19. sam says:

    For floyd:

    Hawaii State Verifies Obama Birth Certificate

    HONOLULU — The state’s Department of Health director on Friday released a statement verifying the legitimacy of Sen. Barack Obama birth certificate.

    The state has received multiple requests for a copy of Obama’s birth certificate. State law does not allow officials to release the birth certificate of a person to someone outside of the family. …

    “There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obama’s official birth certificate. State law (Hawai‘i Revised Statutes §338-18) prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record,” DOH Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said.

    “Therefore, I as Director of Health for the State of Hawai‘i, along with the Registrar of Vital Statistics who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawai‘i State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures. No state official, including Governor Linda Lingle, has ever instructed that this vital record be handled in a manner different from any other vital record in the possession of the State of Hawai‘i,” Fukino said.

    If this doesn’t satisfy you, give up the “I’m not a birther” BS.