Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has already spent $119 million on her campaign to be California's next governor. But could new allegations of abuse by Nicky Diaz, an undocumented former domestic employee of Whitman's, scuttle those plans? In a border state where 21 percent of the population is Latino, the question is a valid one. From around the Web, some theories as to why this is not your typical "Nannygate" scandal.
Trouble Ahead The Sacramento Bee's David Siders believes Diaz's claim that Whitman "treated me like a piece of garbage" will shake up the entire nature of the race. "Her story, regardless of its veracity, is politically difficult for Whitman," writes Siders. Thursday's news "marked the first time since early in her primary contest – when she faced questions about her poor voting record – that the former eBay CEO has been so squarely on the defensive."
Botched Response Whitman's response to the charges might end up offending Latino voters more than the initial allegations, writes Salon's Andrew Leonard. Explains Leonard:
A great many Latino voters may find more reasons for concern in Whitman's statement than in Diaz's claims. After "nine years of faithful service," Whitman terminated Diaz immediately. How many California Latinos know people who have worked faithfully for their employers, cleaning bathrooms, changing diapers, trimming the rose bushes, and in the process becoming "close" to their employers, and yet all the while living just one whisker away from abrupt termination? Whitman says firing Diaz was "one of the hardest things" she'd ever done. But I think it was probably a bit harder for Diaz than it was for the billionaire candidate for governor. And I think a lot of California voters know that.
A Point of Emphasis The Daily Beast's Shushannah Walshe argues the story is particularly explosive considering how hard Whitman, a Republican, has worked to win over Latino voters. The campaign hoped to chip away votes from this reliably Democratic bloc by "unveiling a jobs plan specifically targeting Hispanic communities, and aggressively advertising on Spanish-language television." In light of yesterday's allegations, these efforts "may all be for naught."
Tough Political Calculus The delicate balance Whitman has tried to strike throughout her campaign might have been thrown permanently out of alignment yesterday, says Yahoo's Liz Goodwin. "Whitman has been trying to walk a fine line with her stance on immigration," explains Goodwin. "She supports aggressive raids on employers who hire, and frequently mistreat, undocumented workers, while opposing a path to citizenship for people in the United States illegally." Whitman's ability to weather the fallout from this story represents "a test for her with two key groups: California Latinos and conservative anti-illegal-immigration voters."
Conservative Backlash It's that backlash from her party's conservative base Whitman should be worried about, contends the San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci. "If undocumented workers are presumably criminals and should be prosecuted," wonders Marinucci, "why didn't [Whitman] report Diaz to the immigration officials as her undocumented status was revealed? Especially since, as has been suggested by some in the Team Whitman crowd yesterday, the housekeeper was guilty of document fraud?"