Animal race

The hunting of RINOs in California can be difficult.

That’s the label the conservative wing of the Republican Party puts on candidates that I would label Rockefeller Republicans. They used to roam the land, reasonable and open-minded on the moral issues. But now they’re an endangered species and degraded as Republican-In-Name-Only (RINO). Unfortunately, in this day of rant radio, they are as rare as a white rhinoceros.

The so-called RINOs are liberal in regard to such issues as a woman’s right to choose and gun control. Log Cabin Republicans also are open to alternative lifestyles, something that strikes fear into the conservative wing and the president.

Liberal members of the party, however, dare not fool around with the other big issue confronting Californians: raising taxes. RINOs can get shot for bringing that one up.

Beyond the RINOs, there are many more elephants in the moderate and conservative wings, and that is where the real struggle for the heart and soul of the party is taking place. In this intra-party ideological skirmish, candidates seem to be split between the conservative-activist wing and the moderate establishment. In the primary, it is often the activists who rule (see “Republican family feud,” page 18). Staff writer Jeff Kearns takes us behind the barriers to see where the philosophical lines of battle are forming.

There is one aspect of politics that cuts across party lines, and that is the voracious quest for money. Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger led voters to believe that he was above groveling for dollars, but now it seems he is on pace to outdo even ultra-fund-raiser Gray Davis. See how big-money donors are treated in writer Harmon Leon’s piece about a fund-raising event (“Arnold doesn’t need money”).

As far as snorting up campaign cash goes, it seems the pigs of both parties outnumber the elephants and the RINOs.