You can be sure well be tapping them for their wisdom and know-how, said Bush in the 1999 release.
What a difference a year makes. The question now is what difference will Quackenbushs resignation make, not only to Bushs campaign, but also to the GOPs future in the state. The photogenic 46-year old insurance commissioner was considered a contender for the governors office, now held by Democrat Gray Davis.
Its a problem and thats why they desperately were moving to get this guy out of here, says Bob Mulholland, a campaign adviser for the California Democratic party. Its devastating to have that guy hanging around your neck.
Quackenbush allowed six major insurance companies, who were facing billions of dollars in potential penalties in the wake of the 1994 Northridge earthquake, to donate money to a non-profit organization instead of directly to those affected by the quake. The earthquake victims have yet to see any of the money, but hundreds of thousands of dollars went to causes related to Quackenbush, including a football camp attended by his children.
Mulholland says the Quackenbush story has received wide coverage in key markets such as Los Angeles, which bore the brunt of the Northridge quake. He anticipates the Democrats will highlight the scandal in mailers before the November elections. Its gonna hurt the Republicans in the fall.
Sal Russo, a longtime Californian Republican strategist, sees no potential impact on the elections; predicting the public will see this as a mistake committed by an individual holding a relatively obscure position. Its not a very partisan office. As for the loss of a viable GOP candidate, Russo commented, his advantages were not anything to write home about.
Stuart DeVeaux, Communications Director for the California Republican Party, says the democrats have no ground to use the issue against them in the fall. If were going to talk about honor and dignity, no democrat should step forward, he said, noting Bill Clintons impeachment and the campaign fundraising investigation surrounding Vice-President Gore.
DeVeaux stressed that the party remains focused on other races. Quackenbush is not up for re-election this cycle. The outcome of the 2000 elections will hae more impact on the future of the party than the resignation of Quackenbush will, said DeVeaux.
Theyre thinking long-term which is where they have to look now, because the short-term doesnt look good for them, says UCLA Political Science Professor Ann Crigler.
Crigler believes the republicans are probably right to downplay the effect of Quackenbushs problems on the state party.
In order for the Democrats to capitalize on this issue, Crigler says that they will have to find a way to generalize it beyond Quackenbush and frame it as a republican failure.
Right now, she said, I dont think they have much of a case."