Bidding a Fond Farewell to ‘The Harte of Santa Clarita’

Cameron Smyth Commentary

In a fitting tribute complete with Harley Davidsons and military flyovers, the Santa Clarita Valley said goodbye Dec. 5 to Duane Harte, the man many have referred to as the heart of Santa Clarita. Looking at the sheer breadth of attendees at his services, it truly crystalizes the number of organizations impacted by Duane and the number of people it will take to fill the void he left. What I admired and will remember most is that Duane threw himself into this community for no other reason than his love for the valley, its history and its people. Godspeed Duane!

When I first started writing for the Reader, I talked about the Republican presidential race and the odds for each candidate… Well, I never expected that, 45 days ahead of the Iowa Caucus, Donald Trump would remain well ahead of the field in national polls and that Jeb Bush would be on the verge of not surviving past New Hampshire. But that’s exactly where we stand: RealClearPolitics (RCP) national poll average has Trump leading (29. 3 percent) followed by Ted Cruz (15.5 percent),

Marco Rubio (14.8 percent) and Ben Carson (13.8 percent). Jeb Bush has a pulse (3.8 percent) but he’s fading fast and while Trump has held pretty steady through the fall, Cruz and Rubio have made up ground and Carson is in a freefall. Events outside his control, particularly issues of foreign policy (Syria, European refugee crisis) and national security (Paris, San Bernardino attacks), have made his outsider status and reserved demeanor actually a liability.

But national polls only tell part of the story. As we know, candidates must compete on a state-by-state basis starting in February and that’s when we will see the true depth of his support. So let’s take a look at the first three states: Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, all of which are up in February.

RCP Average: Trump (25.7%), Cruz (22.3%), Carson (15.7%), Rubio (13.7%)

Here is where Trump’s weaknesses may be exposed. Cruz is closing fast and has already taken the lead in a most recent poll and Trump’s overreliance on independent voters who choose to caucus with Republicans could very well not materialize. I believe Cruz pulls ahead and wins Iowa. But the real “winner” could be Marco Rubio if he finishes second. Anything short of a top two finish for Carson in Iowa spells real trouble.

New Hampshire
RCP Average: Trump (28%), Rubio (12%), Cruz (9%), Carson (8.5%), Kasich (8%)

Not surprising that Trump still dominates New Hampshire at this point, but a poor showing in Iowa could spell disaster here as well. Again, like other most recent polls, Carson continues to fade with Rubio, John Kasich and Chris Christie seeming to be the beneficiaries. A top three for either of them could provide some momentum (and money), both desperately need to stay in the race.

South Carolina
Trump still dominates in South Carolina — a Fox News poll conducted Dec 5-8 gives him a 20-point lead over Carson, Rubio and Cruz. The one caveat is this poll was conducted prior to Trump calling for a “total ban” on Muslims entering the U.S. Both conservative candidates (Cruz, Carson) and southern candidates (Bush, Rubio) need and feel they can perform well enough here to carry them into the next round of primaries. Much like his brother, this is where the Bush campaign’s fate is determined. If there is a third consecutive poor showing, what few loyal staff and donors he has left will abandon the race and call it a day. If Carson’s tailspin continues, he too will call it quits after South Carolina and we will be down to three candidates very quickly.

I want to take the last few lines to thank the SCV Reader team for offering me a column earlier this year. It’s been a great experience and I have no doubt 2016 will offer plenty of topics not only nationally, but also right here in the Santa Clarita Valley!

Happy holidays everyone… See you next year!