Reading the Tea Leaves in California’s 66th Assembly District Race

If last year’s contentious 53rd California Assembly District race is any indication, the South Bay from Manhattan Beach to Ranchos Palos Verdes will soon become a cratered beachhead of internecine political campaigning. This stretch of adobe and sand constitutes California’s new 66th district, where local Tea Party co-founder Nathan Mintz has pitched his campaign tent. Among endorsements, he drops the name George Deukmejian, no less. The Democrats haven’t chosen his opponent yet, but they’re working on it in hopes of pulling off a two-thirds majority in the lower house.

In the 2010 debacle over the 53rd, Mintz, a senior systems engineer at Raytheon, lost to Democratic progressive Betsy Butler -- despite a ferocious smear campaign waged against her by Big Oil, Big Insurance and Big Pharmaceuticals. Their collective PAC, the Civil Justice Association of California, spent a total of $500,000 on her mud bath. Most cities in the South Bay favored Mintz, but he finished far behind Butler in communities surrounding LAX. Butler won and went on to distinguish herself in Sacramento. She sponsored the widely-touted Infants and Toddlers Act to Protect Children from BPA, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in October. Butler has received a perfect legislative scorecard from the Congress of California Seniors. Vietnam Veterans of America has named her Legislator of the Year.

The narrowly-defeated GOP candidate licked his wounds, limped back to the South Bay Tea Party to harass Obama (an “asshole,” per one of Mintz’s hailstorm of tweets) and the liberal scourge. He announced his intention to enter the 2012 race shortly after the California Citizens Redistricting Commission approved a new set of perimeters for California’s 80 Assembly districts.

The California Majority Report dismissed Mintz as the "Wackiest GOP Assembly Hopeful" in the last election cycle. Odds are that he will retain the title next year.

On the Internet, Mintz is known for the lowbrow fulminations posted at his now-defunct blog, The Vast Right Wing Jewish Conspiracy. In 2005, he informed an unsuspecting world that “homosexuality activity” was ubiquitous “among most of the Mediterranean peoples,” and “no doubt among the egyptians as well.” Homosexuality, he claimed, has historically been a “stepping stone” to “barbaric acts of sexuality and brutality involving mutilation, rape orgies, sex with animals, etc.”

Mike Gunn, the Republican mayor of Redondo Beach, has come out of the closet and shut the door rather firmly behind – his moral regression via gateway sexual pathology might come as a surprise to him. But then, as Mintz noted, “a lot of gays hate being reminded that their lifestyle is not normal.”

Women, especially the athletic variety, were also grist for his Menckenian wit: “The rugby players had a beirut [?] tournament downstairs tonight. It was truly a sad display -- most of these girls were so ugly that it hurt me to look at them. I see why it's the preferred sport of lesbians.”

But one of his most embarrassing antics occurred while still a student at Stanford University, where Mintz, who is Jewish, was vice president of the Stanford Israel Alliance. In October 2004, Hedy Epstein, the famed pro-Palestinian activist, delivered a talk at the university on the brutality in Gaza. Mintz fired off a letter to the Stanford Daily castigating “Epstein’s rhetoric of drawing comparisons of the initial stages of the Holocaust to the current situation in Gaza and the West Bank … only one piece of what is a much larger trend of anti-Semitism on college campuses today." In fact, Epstein had not drawn comparisons to Nazism or the Holocaust. But Mintz couldn’t have possibly known this because he submitted his critique to the Daily before Epstein took the podium. When an Epstein supporter pointed out that the letter was false and defamatory, Daily editor Jennifer Graham printed an apology for Mintz’s “wrong” and “misleading” remarks.

These days, he is a bit more guarded in his public jeremiads. "I am a uniter, not a divisive leader," he boasts, echoing an elephant who has left the room. Mintz toes the Tea Party line, is as PC as a “conservative” extremist can be.

On the State Assembly: In July 2010, Mintz, in an address to the Long Beach Young Republicans, said he supports “a part-time legislature” to reduce state taxation -- and disengage the Democratic “stranglehold” on Sacramento, of course.

On Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation: In June 2010, the LAUSD board formally requested that Superintendent Ramon Cortines ensure that classes in civics and history discuss the Arizona anti-immigrant law with students, “in the context of the American values of unity, diversity and equal protection for all people.” Mintz told FoxNews.com: “This is just another example of these embedded bureaucrats in California doing anything they can to deflect and distract from the poor job their (sic) doing of educating our children.”

A White Baptist Convention

On race: In July 2010, after the NAACP condemned extremist elements within the national Tea Party, Mintz’s chapter co-sponsored a ludicrous show of faux GOP racial tolerance at the L.A. Convention Center. The featured speaker was Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, president of The Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny (BOND), a clutch of conservative African-Americans.

Imani Grady, a Southern California attorney, gibes that the conference was “fueled by a desire to continue the ‘I'm rubber, you're glue’ slap fight in which the NAACP and the Tea Party movement have been engaged.”

Grady: “I should have known the event would be filled with falsehoods, fake statistics, fear-mongering, and racist tropes when I walked up to the courtyard where the event was being held and saw multiple, professionally-made banners which read ‘South Bay Tea Party’ (though the banner behind the podium loudly proclaimed South Central Tea Party).”

The chapter’s machinations were transparent. “Take William Owens Jr.,” Grady wrote. “During his speech Owens, who wrote a book called Obama: Why Black America Should Have Doubts, claimed the NAACP served a purpose in its nascence, but that things are ‘all better now,’ so any discussion of the disadvantages black Americans face on the basis of race is simply ‘making excuses.’"

Then Rev. Peterson took the podium: "The NAACP is no different than the KKK in that the KKK hung black Americans up by their physical bodies,” he said, “but the NAACP steals their hearts and minds and souls." Peterson claimed that the NAACP “kill(s) black Americans” by indoctrinating them into hating their country and depending on federal handouts.

“The Southern Baptist-style murmurs of agreement,” Grady reported, “Preach! Go ahead! came from white members of the crowd that numbered around 100, including about 20 members of the media. Indeed, from my vantage point, I saw a sea of white faces.”

The South Bay can expect more of the same jive Tea Party theatrics as the day of balloting approaches. Mintz will undoubtedly be flanked by mud-tossing corporate allies, as he was in 2010. The press will offer him up as a licit candidate, ignoring the whiff of hoax in the air.

Send any corporation or media outlet who supports him a teabag filled with toxic waste to return the favor.