- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 25, 2003

California Senator Barbara Boxer, already faring badly in the polls, might fall even lower as her voting record becomes known to Californians. As Dan Allen, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, explained it, “Barbara Boxer’s liberal voting record on defense issues, business issues and other issues important to California’s families makes her vulnerable next year.” Indeed, Mrs. Boxer was labeled the most liberal of all U.S. senators by National Journal magazine, which might make her too far left even in liberal California.

As one member of the California Chamber of Commerce put it to us yesterday: “She’s trying to say she’s good for business, but I can’t think of a business tax break she hasn’t voted against or a new reg she hasn’t voted for.” Even as California suffers through the worst financial crisis in its history, Mrs. Boxer has continued to vote for liberal special interests over practical fixes for local problems. A case in point is the energy crisis that threatened the Golden State with brownouts. At a time when the state was recovering from a shortage of electricity, the senator voted the green line against power companies. For example, in January, she introduced legislation to force U.S.-owned power plants on the southern side of the Mexico-California border to meet draconian California emissions standards or be deprived of any natural gas from U.S. businesses. Two months ago, she was out front in fighting to prevent oil and gas development in a sliver of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

She hasn’t done a very good job of taking care of local industry during a weak economy, either. Foreign trade is essential to California’s tech businesses, which make up around 50 percent of the state’s more than $100 billion in yearly exports. Despite their importance, Mrs. Boxer bowed to labor unions and last year voted against giving the president fast-track trade-negotiating authority, which makes it easier to enact trade agreements that bring local products to foreign markets. She also voted against free trade with Peru, Colombia, Equador and Bolivia. Mrs. Boxer has voted repeatedly against repeal of the estate tax and liability limits for small business and for tougher ergonomic mandates for the workplace. Consistent anti-business votes have earned her poor ratings from business groups: 14 percent from the National Federation of Independent Business, 40 percent from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 57 percent from the Information Technology Industry Council (compared to Sen. Feinstein’s 100 percent).

Opposition to the war in Iraq has brought Mrs. Boxer’s approval rating to an all-time low. According to a Field Poll done in April, 39 percent of voters have an “unfavorable” opinion of her, and 43 percent of all voters and 39 percent of female voters (a key constituency) said they were “not inclined” to vote for her next year. Beating Boxer would be a big blow to the left. What’s yet to be seen is if California’s weak GOP can find a candidate to take advantage of her many negatives.

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