Liberal blogger Mickey Kaus concluded his unlikely challenge to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer in the California Democratic primary Tuesday with a stunt: He listed the Obama administration jobs he would take in order to drop out of the race.
Kaus said he would accept the position of head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where he said he would build a physical fence along the border. He also said he would accept becoming the head of the National Labor Relations Board, where he "could oppose Big Labor's attempt to add to their dwindling memberships by avoiding secret ballots in union organizing drives." He would also accept a position at the Department of Education so he could push for reform of teachers' unions.
"Joke!" he noted at the bottom of his press release.
The proposition from the self-described neoliberal journalist popularly known for his Kausfiles blog came as news emerged recently that the White House had offered administration jobs to two Democratic candidates who were challenging Obama-backed candidates. Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., who defeated Sen. Arlen Specter in last month's Pennsylvania Democratic primary, admitted that the White House, through former-President Bill Clinton, offered him an unpaid spot on a presidential panel if he would drop out of the primary. Then news broke that the White House had offered former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff his choice of three administration posts at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) if he would end his primary challenge of Sen. Michael Bennet. He declined also, and the vote is set for August.
While neither of the job offers appears to have been illegal, they demonstrated a White House that plays ugly politics-and refused to admit it. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs faced questions about the Sestak job offer beginning in February. Even as Sestak himself stated that the White House had offered him a job, the administration didn't acknowledge it until the end of May.
Boxer may have a tough reelection battle ahead of her depending on who wins the Republican primary, which is a three-way race between former Rep. Tom Campbell, former head of Hewlett-Packard Carly Fiorina, and state assemblyman Chuck DeVore. Fiorina led the most recent polls, which is a turnaround, but the more moderate Campbell likely has a better shot at defeating Boxer in a general election.
Kaus has used his campaign against Boxer to splash attention on issues like the backroom job offers. He was always a long shot to beat Boxer-he barely has any campaign staff or money-but because of his online following he drew media attention. As evidenced in his job picks above, Kaus disagrees with several tenets of the Democratic policy platform, and he has maximized that iconoclast image in this race.
"On second thought, I'll stick with contested elections and democratic debate," he wrote in his press release. "It's the only thing they are scared of."