Why I Won
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Read the rest of the Joe Guzzardi recall campaign story:

10/24/03 - The Modesto Bee Says Sorry (Sort Of)

10/14/03 - Joe's Campaign Diary (With Bittersweet Conclusion)

10/07/03 - Joe Guzzardi Returns From The Campaign Trail!

08/08/03 - Establishment To California: Shut Up About Immigration In This Election!

In 1998, a California opinion page writer speculated on how the Republicans could win back Sacramento in that year's election from Democratic incumbent Governor Gray Davis.

The columnist—who one day would run for Governor himself—opined that candidates like Dan Lungren and Richard Riordan weren't strong enough challengers to unseat Davis.

Instead, in his column, entitled "But they have a real one here." the journalist wrote:

"Our candidate must have plenty of cash. He must have star quality; he'll be married to an attractive woman. They will have handsome children. If he is already beholden in the public eye, so much the better.

"If our man has friends in high places—say maybe former presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush—that would be great. Maybe—is this too much to hope for—we can find a candidate who wasn't born in the United States.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to the next governor from the Golden State of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger!"

If you haven't already guessed, that column from five years ago was written by your humble correspondent and published in The Record (Stockton, CA.) on March 6, 1998.

As Casey Stengel used to say to those who doubt, "You can look it up."

Of course, Schwarzenegger didn't run in 1998 or 2002. He probably should have done since he couldn't have done worse than Lungren or Simon.

But we do know that Schwarzenegger kicked some serious butt in the Recall Election of 2003.

Actually, he kicked two butts—those belonging to the pathetic Davis and the monumentally inept Cruz Bustamante. In fact, even though Bustamante will finish his term, Schwarzenegger booted them both out of politics for good. Don't look for either Davis or Bustamante to be making comebacks in this lifetime.

As far as my personal mission in the election, I declare it an overwhelming success. My goal was to get the message out about the importance of immigration reform to the most number of people for the least amount of money.

{A surprising number of people, including some of my immigration reformer friends, just don't get this. They seem unable to resist viewing elections as a sort of political Superbowl, where you want to root for the winning side. And they appeared really to believe that their vote might be the one that put Arnold or Tom over the top. In contrast, the point of a symbolic candidacy is to Send A Message. I think everybody should run. Try it, you'll like it!)

Not including the filing fee of $3,500, I spent less than $7,000. In exchange, I had two stories by Record reporter Jeff Hood, two Lodi News-Sentinel stories by Jennifer Bonnet, one front page above the fold story by Washington Times reporter Steve Dinan, front page references with biographies and website addresses in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Diego Union Tribune and the New York Times.

Author and commentator Tony Brown was incredibly generous to me in his weekly columns.

Two highly regarded bloggers, Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee and Mickey Kaus of Slate mentioned my campaign, and the issue of immigration, on various occasions.

I had television appearances on ABC's Good Morning Sacramento and spots on network affiliated news programs in Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco.

Two cable television programs—Flashpoint in Santa Barbara and California Channel in Sacramento—ran 30 minute unedited interviews up and down California for over a month.

Radio show hosts and long time champions of immigration reform—George Putnam and Terry Anderson—graciously and repeatedly invited me to share my views with their listeners.

Infiniti Broadcasting with 135 stations throughout California aired a sixty-second spot I taped that emphasized the importance of immediate immigration reform.

I fielded literally thousands of e-mails from my website. My webmaster Fred Elbel said that the site received a heavy amount of traffic from the first day on.

I was fortunate to get strong moral support and marketing assistance from key volunteers, Terry Graham and Jan Herron in Denver and Dan Sheehy, Barbara Vickroy, Jewel Shelton, Brenda Walker, Tim Aaronson and Carol Joyal in California. Others contributed greatly too, but space does not permit listing their names.

Putting modesty aside, I don't think anyone can do more with $7,000.

Oh—votes? I got 1,226, spread right across California, from 2 in coastal Del Norte County up on the Oregon line to 16 in inland Imperial County down on the Mexican border. I'm a nice guy, but I don't have that many friends! (And anyway, your friends don't vote for you—see above). Check the results yourself on the California Secretary of State's amazing election website map.

Lots of good things came out of this recall election. For the first time, the press wrote critically about MEChA. And SB60—the illegal alien driver license bill, which Davis so foolishly counted on to save his hash—instead drove the final nail into his coffin.

On the other hand, while the newspapers insisted that immigration issues "dominated" the race, I disagree.

That Schwarzenegger voted yes on Proposition 187 ten years ago or that Bustamante was in MEChA at Fresno State thirty years ago gives us clues about their feelings. But it doesn't get us close to an answer about what California is going to do—starting tomorrow—about illegal immigration.

The status quo cannot continue without inflicting even greater chaos on the state's already dysfunctional condition.

I am cautiously optimistic about Schwarzenegger vis a vis immigration. I know others disagree. Schwarzenegger obviously doesn't understand the complexities of the issue. His repeated endorsements of guest worker programs spells bad news.

But Schwarzenegger has also repeatedly said that he thinks people should come to America the way he did—legally. That simple observation alone makes him a million miles better than Davis—and that's a great start! And Pete Wilson—who knows the immigration score—may continue to advise Schwarzenegger about the costs of illegal immigration. For someone who wants to balance the budget, ignoring the fiscal impact of illegal immigration is not an option. So let's keep our fingers crossed.

Schwarzenegger says he'll repeal SB 60; good for him. (He doesn't control the legislature, but he can do it, in effect, by campaigning in the initiative to overturn it. We have direct democracy in California!)

And Schwarzenegger says he'll appeal to President Bush for federal aide for California. Hey, nothing to lose by asking but I hope Schwarzenegger isn't holding his breath.

But all of this simply avoids the inevitable.

Here's a good way to look at it: between October 7th and the 38 days that will elapse before Schwarzenegger is sworn in as governor, about 60,000 new people will appear in California. They will all need housing, education, medical care and transportation.

Conservatively speaking, 50,000 of those people are immigrants or the children of immigrants.

Since this growth pattern is obviously not sustainable, Schwarzenegger must get a handle on illegal immigration.

And he is the perfect guy to do it. Schwarzenegger is bullet proof on immigration.

All he has to say is "I am an immigrant." From that moment on, he can deflect any criticism that will come his way when he takes the first two steps to end illegal immigration—sending the National Guard to the border and enforcing employer sanctions.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.

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