Saturday, October 11, 2003

Indian Gamers

There's been a lot of commentary about the California recall cum gubernatorial election, but nary a word said about the lethality of Indian "gaming" money as a political issue.

Revelations that Lt. Governor Bustamante was deep in the pocket of Indian gambling interests essentially ended his campaign. In an overwhelmingly Democratic state and as the only credible Democrat on the ballot, Bustamante got barely more than 30 percent of the vote. My guess is that he would have done ten points better than that had he not been perceived as being so utterly dependent.

This is a great issue for the GOP. Republicans can't raise "gaming" money (or do so at their peril), because the party's core constituencies are fundamentally opposed to gambling on moral grounds. What California makes clear is that Republicans can use the "gambling money corrupts" issue against Democrats to devastating effect, so long as they play their cards straight.