Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach and significant portions of south Orange
County, is alive and -- running.
For this campaign, Graham, who unsuccessfully faced off against
incumbent Chris Cox in 2000, is running down the district's beaches,
from West Newport to San Juan Capistrano. All the while, he's taking
water samples and trusting that the exercise will keep him from the
fate of his fictional counterpart.
Still, there's one fate both will all but assuredly share: They
aren't going to get elected. And that predestined outcome is at the
heart of the political point made on the show, that "longshot"
candidates don't get support from their parties.
Being the "underdog," in other words, dooms a candidate to being
underfunded and fighting for any support.
It's a battle Graham is facing for the second time.
"You describe it as a longshot, and that's exactly how I describe
it," Graham said, noting that political money tends to leave Orange
County, not come into it.
His hope, he said, is to reach independent and "decline to state"
voters who, combined with Democrats in the district, form just about
an even balance with Republicans. "It's a tough sell," he said.
That difficulty is illustrated by a greater breakdown of the
numbers. Laguna Woods has the highest number of registered Democrats,
Graham points out, at 42%.
The number of Republicans there? 45%.
Laguna Beach, which certainly feels like the most liberal city
around, has 36% registered Democrats. But there's 42% Republicans.
"It's the worst in the state," Graham said.
That "worst," of course, is "best" in Graham's opponent's eye. But
you won't hear him describing the "West Wing" that way.
Cox, who half-jokingly pointed to the NBC series as proof that
campaign finance restrictions can be skirted in any number of ways --
"I wouldn't vote for President Bartlett" -- admits to having seen the
show only once. And even then, he said, given its liberal bent, which
is only balanced by "straw men" and abhorrent "Republican" views, he
couldn't sit through the whole thing.