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Candidate Orly? Maybe

California Republicans are publicly wringing their hands this primary day over the possibility that a birther movement leader may actually be their nominee for secretary of state.

Orly Taitz, who emigrated from Israel to the United States in 1987, has made a name for herself in the last two years as a leading figure in the birther movement. She has taken the lead in filing lawsuits, including ones on behalf of members of two 2008 third-party presidential tickets, that relate to her fervent belief that President Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen.

Taitz, who is running for the nod against former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Damon Dunn, even used her love of litigation in a failed attempt to get Dunn disqualified from the ballot. Despite her notoriety, Taitz is benefiting from Dunn’s lackluster campaign skills — and as Politico reported yesterday, that has Republicans worried her possible nomination could drag down their candidates for governor and senator.

“It’d be a disaster for the Republican party,” says James Lacy, a conservative GOP operative in the state. “Can you imagine if [gubernatorial candidate] Meg Whitman and [candidate for Lt. Gov.] Abel Maldonado — both of whom might have a chance to win in November — had to run with Orly Taitz as secretary of state, who would make her cockamamie issues about Obama’s birth certificate problems at the forefront of her activities?”

If Taitz won, she would have control of the state’s electoral process — including certification of the state’s vote in the 2012 presidential election. She already told Politico, “I would demand identification and eligibility from all voters to make sure there is no fraud. Also they must have eligibility to be elected.”

The Washington Post’s David Weigel hypothesizes how voters would give Taitz the nod:

Republican voters, brought out in sizable numbers by the contested primaries for governor and U.S. senator, fill out the rest of their ballot with progressively less information about their candidates. They know Taitz’s name from… somewhere. And she’s listed first on the ballot, thanks to the state’s randomized ranking system. (Some of these voters, of course, will know and avidly support her.) She’s identified on the ballot as an attorney, while Dunn is a real estate agent. They check off her name, and she wins.

Weigel also notes that there’s really no way to tell who led in the race before the polls opened — no polling organizations survey the Republican primary for secretary of state. We will know soon enough — polls close at 11 p.m. Check back with TWI tonight to see what happens in this and other races.

*Update at 11:13 a.m. on June 9: *It appears the California Republicans’ worst nightmare is over — Taitz will not be their nominee. In fact, the race wasn’t even close — Dunn beat her 74-26. He even won every county, though there was a surprisingly close 58-42 result in Lake County.

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