Back in July, George Soros, through Media Matters and then Axios, conducted a series of hit pieces against Mike Cargile. This was tremendously uncharacteristic of a congressional campaign in California. Here, the Republican candidates spend all their money in traditional campaign fashion against Democrat opponents who appear to feel entitled not to campaign at all. After which, the poor Republicans are presented with a predictable defeat, somewhere in the area of a 70/30 split.
All of this was on track to happen again…and then something changed. The Soros attacks hit and Norma Torres used them as ammunition in all out assaults, district wide, across multiple platforms. But she underestimated her opponent. Mike Cargile is a veteran, a filmmaker and a businessman who comes from the world of make-believe headlines. He hit back. After buying her name online, he answered with an opposition website that shames many campaign websites (www.NormaJTorres.com). This was not what she expected. Now she had to actually campaign and everything had to come out of her own sparse war chest. After blowing through nearly half a million dollars in direct mail pieces, getting spanked in a very public debate and outspending Cargile over 17/1, she ended the campaign in a traditional 70/30 split. Why?
The answer lies in Torres’s last email attack against Mike Cargile (see below). Through her desperate attempt to keep her seat, she unwittingly allows us a peek through the crack into the back room where party leaders on both sides negotiated away the future of our State.
According to our Constitution, Federal elections are conducted at the State level. Apparently, some time in June (or even earlier), Norma Torres realized she was on the outs with the State Democratic Party and at war with “Sacramento politicians, State Senator Connie Leyva and Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez…” Her email blast used Cargile as the hook, but it was a pathetic attack regarding $12K that she thought should have gone to her. She’d just spent $500K against Mike Cargile and was now out of money. But she had no choice since she was no longer privy to the Sacramento insiders and couldn’t take the chance that they would leave her out of whatever they had concocted with the Republicans. But that is exactly what State Democrats wanted the whole time, because Connie Leyva had been selected as Norma’s successor. They just needed to weaken Torres to the point where she would be an easy target in the next two years. And they did just that.
If Norma Torres had simply done nothing, like all the other California Democrats, we would have never looked at this race. But she didn’t, because she couldn’t afford to take the chance. If Mike Cargile had rolled over under the intensity of a National spotlight, he would have never wound up on our radar, but he did. And when he did, it was because his tenacity had put him at odds with his own party who couldn’t afford the heat or the scrutiny that was being placed on his run, so they quietly un-endorsed the one race that could expose the whole deal.
This is a very interesting take. I have always found it odd that Mike Cargile got singled out of all the marginal districts for attack by the CAGOP – the same people that ignored dozens of candidates in marginal districts all over California.
We are going to have more to say about the election results and what happened behind the scenes.