Former President Bill Clinton and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will try to exert their influence on California’s political races this week, the latest in a long list of luminaries to lavish attention on the state as the Nov. 2 election nears.
The onslaught of top draws from both sides of the political aisle benefits both the candidates receiving the help and the celebrities offering it. The interest is prompted by several factors, chief among them the fact that the gubernatorial and Senate contests in blue-leaning California are so tight this close to election day.
“The stakes are even higher than normal,” said Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College and former national GOP official. “It’s an unusual amount of attention. These elections are more competitive than we’ve seen in a long time.”
Among Democrats, Clinton will head rallies for gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown as well as candidates for lieutenant governor and the House of Representatives in Santa Ana and Los Angeles on Friday, and in San Jose on Sunday. President Obama will travel to Los Angeles on Oct. 22 to campaign for Brown and Sen. Barbara Boxer, and First Lady Michelle Obama will raise money for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Boxer and other Democrats in a three-day swing through California in late October. A Democratic source said former Vice President Al Gore also is likely to head to California in the coming weeks.
Among Republicans, Palin will appear in San Jose on Thursday and at a GOP “victory” rally in Anaheim on Saturday, the same day Sen. John McCain campaigns with GOP Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina in San Diego. Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman recently stumped with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have also been seen in California in recent days.