Search This Blog

Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

CA: How the Primary Campaign Set the Table for the Housekeeper Issue

At Capitol Weekly, Anthony York writes about Whitman's management of the housekeeper issue. In hindsight, it was a blunder for Whitman to speculate that the housekeeper intercepted the "no-match" letter, since Allred was then able to produce a copy bearing the husband's handwriting. More generally, though, the primary campaign proved to be a problem:

Whitman said she learned about Diaz Santillan's immigration status in June 2009 as she was preparing her campaign for governor. Her primary challenger, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, had staked out positions to Whitman's right including a hard-line stance on immigration. Poizner announced his support for the Arizona immigration law and called for elimination of some state services for undocumented residents.

“There are two schools of thought. The first is you inoculate yourself with the flu shot,” said one Republican communications consultant. “That would have been getting this out a year and half ago. But I think Poizner would have attacked her unmercifully,” if she had revealed this during the primary campaign.

[Democratic consultant Chris] Lehane admitted as much but said Whitman made matters worse by taking an aggressive stand on immigration during the primary campaign. “Her campaign has pushed so hard that (the issue of hiring illegal immigrants) should be the employer responsibility when they knew they had this issue. That's not something they needed to do. It’s like a preemptively self-inflicted wound.”

But Lehane said Whitman may have made the story worse with her press conference Thursday. In an effort to preempt Allred, Whitman said she would take a lie-detector test to prove she and her husband had no knowledge of Diaz Santillan’s immigration status. She also suggested her former housekeeper may have stolen the letter from the Social Security Administration addressed to Harsh.

“The sound you hear out there is the trap closing,” Lehane said.