Meg Whitman and a Possible Immigration Backlash From the Right

Former Governor Jerry Brown never struck me as a guy who spent a lot of time listening to AM radio.

Too bad. He would have loved what has been playing of late in the state’s largest media market. People are calling in about Meg Whitman and it hasn’t been good. Almost all represent the kind of voters eMeg should have in her pocket and once did… but no longer.

Some called in to say they would simply skip the governor's race altogether. One called in to say he had volunteered for her campaign against Steve Poizner but now had come to regret it.

All called her a turncoat and a liar. For a yellow-dog Democrat, it was music. The issue of course was illegal immigration.

Professor Larry Gerston outlined Whitman’s pivot on the issue quite well in his recent Prop Zero blog. eMeg went hard right on the issue during the primary ("She will be tough as nails on illegal immigration," former governor and Prop 187 advocate Pete Wilson stated in a radio ad run up and down the state).

She never endorsed the Arizona immigration law but was carefully nuanced in her responses on the issue. Now Whitman is tailoring her pitch to a different audience. In Spanish language media she is proclaiming her opposition to both Prop 187 and Arizona's SB 1070 (one billboard quotes Whitman in bold type "No a la Proposicion 187 y no a law ley de Arizona"). In an opinion piece written for a Spanish language newspaper she claimed there was no difference between her position on immigration reform than that of her Democrat opponent.

She has reportedly said she will wait for a federal a system allowing business owners to clear the legal status of employees before she tries to punish them for "knowingly" hiring illegal immigrants. Polls indicate the strategy is working with Latino voters, but it is not without a price.

And that is where the "John and Ken Show" on KFI radio in Los Angeles comes in. It is believed to be the most listened to local radio show in the nation with about a million listeners during the peak hour of their afternoon drive time slot. John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou aren't conservatives. They are populists. Their followers are mostly blue collar middle income types who bristle at political correctness, tax hikes and politicians from both parties. The pair, on their 50,000 watt radio station, have tormented scores of political figures… most of them Republicans who they view as sellouts.

Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado loathes them as does the governor (John and Ken held rallies for Arnold during the recall… his approval of tax hikes has since made him their public enemy No. 1). Both J&K were part of the political gossip in Washington back when they were seeking the ouster of GOP Congressman David Dreier whom they considered too liberal on the issue of… illegal immigration.

Now they are after Whitman. They see her Latino campaign as a white flag on the issue of immigration. They have pledged to get her defeated even at the expense of returning Jerry Brown to his old capitol office. As Gerston points out "Whitman can’t appear as the double talker where she says one thing one moment and another the next. That would cost credibility."

At least in one radio studio it already has.

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