John Campbell and the Endorsement Hierarchy
California politicos were abuzz yesterday with the news that Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) had switched his endorsement in the governor's race from state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner to former eBay president Meg Whitman.
"John Campbell's reputation of leadership on economic and budgetary issues is why his endorsement means so much," said Whitman in a statement. For his part, Campbell called Whitman the "best candidate to manage our state, establish fiscal discipline in Sacramento and usher in the pro-growth tax relief our economy desperately needs."
Whitman forces cast Campbell's shift as a sign that momentum within the GOP establishment is shifting toward their candidate.
But, does it really mean that?
As always when endorsements happen, the Fix turns to our handy, dandy endorsement hierarchy to assess the impact -- if any -- of the move.
A quick primer on the endorsement hierarchy -- ranked from most important to least:
* The Symbolic Endorsement: Ted Kennedy backing Barack Obama during the 2008 primaries.
* The State-Specific Statewide Endorsement: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist throwing his support to John McCain just before the Sunshine State presidential primary.
* The Celebrity Endorsement: Chuck Norris for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
* The Newspaper Endorsement: Des Moines Register for John Edwards in 2004.
* The State-Specific Non-Statewide Endorsement: Rep. Zack Space supporting Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher's Senate bid in Ohio.
* The Obligatory Endorsement: Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran endorsing McCain's presidential bid in 2008.
* The Pariah Endorsement: Rod Blagojevich and Roland Burris.
The Campbell endorsement fits squarely into the "state specific, non statewide endorsement" but with a twist: his decision to switch from Poizner to Whitman has a whiff of hoisting-on-one's-petard-ness that makes it slightly more influential.
That twist is lessened by the fact that in a state as large as California no one even knows their own Members of Congress much less cares who that member is endorsing in a gubernatorial primary that is a year off. And, although Campbell hails from cash-rich Orange County, Whitman is extremely wealthy and doesn't need any fundraising help.
Is it possible that Campbell's switcheroo has some impact among the activist community who are already following this race very closely? Sure. But, for the electorate at large this is a non-news event.
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