Of course, your first assumption is that any Republican would get trounced in California, where they spray for Republicans in many parts. But on the other hand – and this is where the Republicans take heart – there are several examples where voters, feeling their government has swung too far in one direction, elect the rival party as a counterweight.

Rove, appearing Fox Business News last week, put it this way: “We could have (in California) what we’ve seen on the East Coast where in deep blue states like Massachusetts or New Jersey or Maryland, voters say, ‘You know, we need to have an adult serving as a restraint on the worst impulses of the Democrats.’” (Rove failed to mention Illinois, another liberal state that elected a Republican governor four years ago.)

But could that really happen in California, which arguably is the bluest of the blue? Gingrich implied in an op-ed that some moderate-to-liberal-leaning Californians feel the state has veered too far left and if enough of them pinch their nose and vote for the Republican – not because they love him but because they want him to be Mr. Veto – then the outcome could be surprising.

The probability of a Republican governor being elected in California? Feels slim to me. But at least the governor’s race may not be the snoozer it appeared destined to be.

Charles Crumpley is editor and publisher of the Business Journal. He can be reached at ccrumpley@sfvbj.com.