President Obama is coming to California to help raise money for Sen. Barbara Boxer, who already has more than $8 million on hand. The president has to do this; Boxer's seat is critical to the Democrats hopes for hanging on to a majority in the Senate,and Obama will pull out all the stops in this fall's campaign to help Dems in tough races.
And while Boxer's not going to get an easy pass, she's still the front-runner -- whatever the polls may show, she's always been a great campaigner and has overcome tough odds plenty of times before. And unless Tom Campbell pulls it out in the GOP primary, she's going to face either Carly Fiorina or Chuck DeVore, and both of them are too far to the right for California.
But there's another key race this fall where Obama could also be a huge help. I think San Francisco D.A. Kamala Harris is going to win the Democratic primary for attorney general, but in the general election, she's going to get hit hard by the GOP dirt machine. It's going to be death penalty and cop killers all day long. Harris is tough, and knows what's coming, but I can guarantee that race will be nasty, mean, dirty, ugly and as negative as you can imagine.
And Harris is going to need to raise a lot of money to fight back.
Now let's remember: Harris was one of the first California elected officials to support Obama for president. She was the co-chair of his state campaign. And this fall, he could return the favor by making a visible endorsement -- and by coming to town for a major Harris fundraiser. The president of the United States can raise $5 million in one night for a candidate -- and that kind of boost, along with the positive press it would generate, might make the difference.
Of course, Obama, who (sadly) won't come out against the death penalty, will have to take some hard questions and a few hits himself, in a tough national election year for Democrats, if he gets to close to Harris. And she' s enough of a pragmatist that she'll understand if he ducks this one.
But he really shouldn't.