A Birther senator in California?

The conservative candidate in next year's Republican primary talks about the president's birth certificate

Published November 16, 2009 8:35PM (EST)

This is probably not the smartest thing for someone who works for a company that's headquartered in the state to say, but let's face it: Californians don't have the greatest record on Election Day. They elected (and then un-elected) Gray Davis, set up a system of referendums that has essentially crippled their state government. Also, don't forget, they chose one governor who co-starred with a chimp -- and another who co-starred with Jamie Lee Curtis.

Still, it does seem a stretch to think that California might elect a senator who sympathizes with the Birthers next year. But it's not out of the realm of possibility.

The Washington Independent's David Weigel has a good profile today of Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who's running as the conservative candidate in the Republican primary next year, providing the right with an alternative to Carly Fiorina, who's seen as too moderate. It's hard to imagine that DeVore will win, in part because of remarks like the one he made in this excerpt from Weigel's article:

Nonetheless, asked what he thought of Brown’s ideas, DeVore didn’t take the chance to denounce “birther” rumors or the movement itself–which has been heavily active in California.

“The president is doing himself no favors by spending millions of dollars to block the release of documents surrounding his birth certificate,” said DeVore. “As long as the president keeps fighting tooth and nail to prevent the release of such things, people are going to remain skeptical.” The door was left open, said DeVore, because Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign didn’t go after Obama’s qualifications when it had the chance, and because there were no statutory requirements for verifying a candidate’s citizenship.

Still, DeVore does have a shot at the Republican nomination (he'd have very little chance in a general election, however). The Congressional race in upstate New York this year, in which a third-party choice favored by conservatives pushed out the official Republican candidate, demonstrated just how much power activists on the right have in their party. And DeVore's getting endorsements from some prominent conservatives -- on Monday Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., gave his backing to DeVore in a post published on the Corner, one of the National Review's blogs.

Update: DeVore's campaign is trying to walk this one back, and to claim that Weigel took the candidate out of context. Weigel has posted a fuller transcription, though, which indicates that DeVore wasn't taken out of context at all.

The assemblyman's campaign has put out this statement, disavowing any Birtherism:

I said ten years ago that the move to impeach and convict President Clinton was a distraction from countering his liberal policies. So too is the effort now to question President Obama’s legitimacy. Make no mistake, the Constitution is clear: Barack Obama is the President. The more time Carly Fiorina’s campaign spends on this side issue, the less time we have to work against the far-left agenda and failed policies of President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Boxer.

A spokesman also told TPMDC, "Assemblyman DeVore believes that Barack Obama is the rightful, legitimate and constitutional President of the United States,"

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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