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One of my favorite things in all the world is watching a right-wing politician do something really foolish.
And Meg Whitman, the woman trying to push the "buy it now" button for the governorship of California, is heading down a road of monumental foolishness indeed.
How out of touch is she?
She's decided to go to war with the California Nurses Assn.
Details below.

Some of you may remember our current "governator" Arnold Schwarzaneggar.
Ahnold was swept into office back in 2003 in a wave of adulation.  The "girly men" in the Democratic controlled legislature groveled at his feet.  There was talk of changing the constitution so he could be president.  He was on top of the political world.  In late 2004, with his approval ratings running around 70%, he announced that he was rolling back the staffing ratio law that thousands of CNA nurses had fought for 12 years to achieve.  Bad idea.  Over the next year, nurses staged over 100 demonstrations at every public appearance he made.  We followed him all over California and to Texas, New York, Ohio and Boston.  Instead of strolling in the front door like a conquering hero, he was forced to sneak in back doors, protected by a horde of bodyguards from the (mostly) women in scrubs.  A year later, his approval sat at 30%.  A massively inept Democratic campaign allowed him to win re-election, but he's never been the same since.  
Now, Meg Whitman has decided to pick a fight with those same nurses.  Some people are too dumb to be let out in public.  Perhaps we get a clue why she's so anxious to avoid unscripted events.
Here's the history:
Ever since last fall, Whitman has been carpet bombing the California airwaves with the most expensive television campaign in state history, financed largely with her own massive wealth.
With her anti-union, anti-regulation, anti-worker rhetoric, nurses saw her as a huge threat to the quality of care we give, and ultimately to our patients.  As a fairly small union, the amount of money we can spend on politics is a drop in the ocean compared to NutMeg's wealth.  But we do have some creative minds.  With the help of a fine actress, we created Queen Meg, a parody character representative of Whitman's wealth, sense of entitlement and disconnect from the lives of everyday Californians.
Here's what happened:

So the Queen has been touring California, we've been having fun with this and so have the press. ( ) The real Meg however is not amused.  Having disposed of her GOP primary opponent, her campaign has decided to declare war on us.
The themes of her attack are tiredly familiar.  We've heard them all before from other politicians we've upset:

  1. Nurses really love her, it's just the nasty union that doesn't like her.
  1. The union has brainwashed the nurses
  1. We shouldn't be wasting money on politics
  1. Our Executive Director is paid too much (A salary that probably equals the daily interest on Meg's fortune.)

Her campaign wrote us a letter damanding that we give her our membership list so that she could communicate directly with the nurses.  
Here's a  

Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's campaign asked the California Nurses Association this morning for its mailing list, the Republican billionaire lambasting the union's leadership for "partisan theatrics" and asking for direct access to its members.

Read more:

In the corporate world, I'm sure that what Meg wanted, Meg got, but nurses are not so easily pushed around.  So, our leadership sent back a nice, polite letter in which we declined to share our members' private information with her, but offered to sponsor one or more public forums in which she and her opponent could appear before large audiences of real nurses and take unscripted questions directly from them.  Whitman, who has based her campaign so far on avoiding unscripted events and open questioning, was not interested.

So, we said, "OK, you don't want to appear with your opponent, how about all alone?"  We offered to sponsor a forum where she alone could take questions from nurses.  We even told her we'd set up video links to statewide venues so nurses all over could hear from her directly.  No dice on that one either.  Something about unscripted questions she just does not like.

Now Meg and her surrogates are making the rounds of the far-right, union hating talk radio ranters to attack us.  All the themes I mentioned above, repeated ad nauseum.  They're even issuing statements telling nurses what we believe:

"The nurses do believe that the union leadership has gone too far," said Pompei. "They don’t agree that the money that they’re spending, you know, $50,000 on a wrapped bus to follow Meg around. They don’t think that’s a good use of union dues."

So here's the matchup:
In one corner: the richest woman in politics, and surely one of the most arrogant, armed with more money that anyone can reasonably imagine.
In the other corner: the 85,000 working nurses of the California Nurses Assn., armed with our honesty, our knowledge, our credibility and our creativity.
Anybody want to make a bet on this one?

A final note: While Meg Whitman as Governor may seem like a joke, she's a joke with a whole lotta money.  And the reality of Meg Whitman as Governor of our largest state would be no joke at all.  Please support
Jerry Brown.

And for those of you on Facebook, please friend our Queen Meg:

Update Here's a good one: Geri Jenkins, one of our co-presidents, was set to go on Fox Business News this evening to talk about all this, with someone from the Whitman campaign there too.  We just got word that the Whitman campaign had backed out of doing it - think they might be starting to regret starting this fight?

Originally posted to Chico David RN on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 11:45 AM PDT.

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