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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« July 2003 | | September 2003 »
August 31, 2003

Broad strokes and minutia

I’ve been back about six hours from a self-imposed, 60-hour break from the recall. I had long ago scheduled this remote outing with family and friends and decided to go ahead and disconnect from the campaign for a few days because I needed the respite and, I figured, it might change my perspective. Having just tried to catch up on the headlines I missed in a little less than three days away, I know this: no normal person is possibly following all that is going on.

Lawsuits (still? I thought they were done). Old magazine interviews. Ties to ethno-centric student groups. New polls. Old polls. Positions on everything from abortion to gun-control, but not necessarily positions that can be nailed down. Debate preparations and debate ducking. Tax pledges and taxpayer group endorsements. Campaign finance loopholes and special interest donations defined. Town hall meetings. (Every town hall in California must be booked by now through Oct. 7.)

All of these things are important and must be covered, and I will comment on most of them in the days ahead. But I continue to wonder how much of it, in the end, will matter. I just have this feeling that most of the people who vote on Oct. 7 are going to do so on instinct and gut. On the recall, they either like Gray or they do not. They think the state and the government are on the right track or they are on the wrong track. Not many voters are going to be influenced by nuanced discussions about California’s tax burden or whether Davis could or could not have prevented the fiscal meltdown. And I don’t think many will be swayed by either his last-minute surge of big government legislation or his new-found love for hanging with the people.

On the replacement election, people by now must have a basic sense of the candidates: Cruz is a career politician who wants to expand government, raise taxes and require employers to provide health care or else pay a special tax every time they create a job. McClintock is a career politician who wants to shrink the size of government by cutting taxes, reducing services and chopping the bureaucracy. Arnold is an actor with no experience as an elected official who wants to keep state government about the size it is now or shrink it a bit, doesn’t want to raise taxes but might someday, and thinks the state’s heavy hand is reducing incentives for businesses to grow and stay in California. McClintock and Arnold, to some extent, want to shake up the status quo by returning more power to individuals to run their own affairs and take care of themselves. Cruz wants to shake things up by requiring people to join in a larger collective enterprise that seeks to force people to care for one another. McClintock’s views on social issues are in line with the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Arnold’s are not.

I am in the business of giving people information they need to get beyond such superficial impressions. I want the candidates to answer every question I pose, and I want the voters to read everything I write about those answers, or the lack thereof. But I know too many voters personally who are not involved in politics or the media, and I know that most of them are never going to be as informed as I would like them to be. But you know what? If they vote on nothing more than the impressions I have sketched out above, and ignore everything else, they probably won’t be too far off. In other words, there aren’t a lot of people out there who will vote for Arnold or Tom and then, a month later, slap themselves on the head and say ‘Damn, if only I’d known XYZ, I would have voted for Cruz.” Or the other way around.

The irony here is that while this might seem simple-minded at first, it could actually be the deeper approach. Because much of what is swirling around the recall campaign is a distraction, and voters intuitively knows this. As a group, they are probably better at sizing up the candidates than we give them credit for.

And so, refreshed and relaxed, your faithful blogger will resume his obsession with the recall campaign. He will continue to plumb for the deeper meaning in this historic event. (See today’s column.) But he won’t fret if, on Oct. 7, the voters throw it all away and go on instinct. That’s probably what he will do, too.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:54 PM



August 28, 2003

I'll be back

I have been trying to blog from a remote location for the past 24 hours, via a troublesome satellite and wireless connection. The connection keeps coming and going, making continuous communication impractical. I think someone is trying to tell me something, like: you should be spending quality time with your kids. So that is what I am going to do. The Insider will return on Sunday afternoon, fully refreshed and ready for the sprint to the finish. Peace.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:30 PM



New voter, old voters

With Secretary of State Kevin Shelley putting out the latest voter registration figures, there’s been some chatter about whether the recall is or is not generating new interest in politics, or enough interest to affect voter behavior. While the raw numbers are down, I think the unofficial reports of a surge in registration since the recall was certified are probably accurate. It’s just that those registrations have come in since the last official count, and those that came earlier were not sufficient to outweigh the periodic purge of the rolls to get rid of people who have died , moved or left the state. Beyond that, though, I don’t think the new registrants are the only place to look for increased turnout. The real numbers are in those who are already registered but rarely vote. There were more than 7 million such people last year. If just 20 percent of them vote this year, they will have a huge effect on turnout, and possibly on the outcome in the race. And don’t forget, these are the people who are generally screened out of the results when pollsters report on the attitude of “likely voters.”

Posted by dweintraub at 1:25 PM



Times' debate: possible two on one?

I am intrigued by the LA Times/CNN proposal to hold a debate on Sept. 30 -- and invite all the candidates showing at least 10 in the polls, plus Gray Davis. It's possible at that point that the debate could include just one Republican, presumably Arnold but possibly McClintock, and Bustamante and Davis. It would be fascinating to watch. And even though at first blush it seems unfair, it's hard to argue that it is, since the candidates in the replacement election are certainly running against Davis as much as each other. I wonder if Bustamante by then will have given up the "no on recall" portion of his campaign and might actually go after Gray. I doubt it. But either way, it would be a debate nobody would want to miss. As far as I know, Davis has not been invited to the other debates being planned, on the grounds that the candidates in part two of the election are running against one another but not against him.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:20 AM



Seeking a stay of execution

The legal challenges are not over yet. The ACLU has appealed the federal court decision allowing the election to go forward on Oct. 7. Now it's in the hands of the 9th Circuit, which is famous for its creative decision making. Here is the Bee's story on the case. And here is Rick Hasen, who has joined the case with an amicus brief.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:12 AM



August 27, 2003

Arnold's appeal to the middle

Arnold staked out a whole host of positions on non-economic issues in a radio interview today, and, as we thought, he is all over the board. He's generally pro-choice on abortion but doesn't support late term procedures. He's for regulating military style semi-automatic weapons and for background checks. He's against drilling for oil off shore, and he is for domestic partnerships but not gay marriage. He supports keeping marijuana legal for medicinal purposes. He is, on all these issues, as close to the California mainstream as you can get. He is also, on these issues, a near carbon copy of Gov. Gray Davis, except perhaps on late-term abortions. He is not in sync with a majority of the Republican Party, which is why this race is ideal to him, with its winner take all result. The difference between Arnold and most leading California Democrats comes on taxes and spending. He wants to try to balance the budget while cutting taxes, while Democrats (and most independent analysts) say that can't be done. He would tend to oppose laws that add new mandates to employers while Democrats tend to favor them. His differences with McClintock, on the other hand, are on the social issues: McClintock opposes abortion rights and gun control, and domestic partnerships. But the two agree on most economic issues. It would appear, then, that Arnold is heading straight down the middle between Cruz and Tom, agreeing with Cruz on most social issues and agreeing with McClintock on most economic issues. Significantly, he also opposed granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, a proposal that Cruz and Gray support but which I doubt has very much backing among the broader electorate. This election will show once and for all if there is a viable middle in California politics. Here is an AP story on the interview, with Sean Hannity.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:38 PM



Arnold's campaign money

Here is the Bee’s story on the flap over Arnold’s definition of “special interest.” I have a feeling that Arnold, in his own mind, is being sincere here, but if so, he is revealing an incredibly tin ear. To him, it’s ridiculous to suggest that he would ever “sell out” to a corporate interest or individual who contributes to his campaign. He doesn’t need the money, and he’s not “promising anything” in return for the checks. He is not personally asking for it, the way most politicians, and especially Gray Davis, are known to do. What he apparently doesn’t see is that to the outside world, when you say you’re not going to take special interest money and then you do, you look like a hypocrite or a liar. And when you define “special interest” as the other guy’s donors, you just look silly. It’s probably too late to fix this. He’s already collected hundreds of thousands of dollars and I doubt he is going to give it back. And some casual voters might even buy his explanation. But I think it’s going to be fodder for one of those famous ads….”Schwarzenegger said he wouldn’t take special interest money…..Then he took $100,000 from Big Bad Inc….If we can’t trust Arnold on the campaign trail, how can we trust him in the governor’s office?” You get my drift.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:25 AM



McClintock's first ad

Unlike Arnold, Tom McClintock isn’t running right and left at the same time. He’s just running. He’s produced his first television ad, and it highlights his experience (he knows “every inch of this government") and his guts ("willing to challenge the spending lobby that controls it"). “This can be the moment,” McClintock says, “when we roll back the taxes and the regulation that are destroying our economy.” The only problem is that, at this moment, McClintock probably has enough money to air the ad for a few nights in a few small markets. If you want to see it, you might have to view it here.


Posted by dweintraub at 6:13 AM



Who is Garrett Gruener

Nobody is paying much attention to Garrett Gruener, and hey, he just one among those 130 or so unknown candidates on the replacement ballot. But Gruener is the only one among them who has contributed $750,000 to his campaign, giving him a warchest that rivals McClintock, Bustamante and some of the others on the media-defined list of “competitive” candidates. So who is this guy?

He’s a Democrat and a businessman, the co-founder of AskJeeves.com, an Internet search engine that’s one of the few success stories still around from the 1990s dot-com boom. He tells me he intends to present the “best Internet campaign that’s ever been run.”

“The idea is to have forums, where people will be able to talk about the things we’ve proposed, help us get smarter or focus on other areas that might be of greater concern,” he says.

Gruener says he “suspects” he will do some paid commercial advertising, mainly to direct people to his campaign web site. “I am going to put enough money into this so I can get the message I want to get across to California, to kind of blast through the noise a little bit.”

What is that message? You can see it for yourself at his web site. In a nutshell, he wants to encourage the growth of what he calls the “innovation economy,” build a radically different education system for the 21st century using technology as its foundation, and safeguard the environment. He calls it the “three e’s” strategy, for encouraging growth, education and environment.

Gruener has been a big donor to Davis in the past, and opposes the recall. But he is running to get his message out there about “the things California needs to accomplish in order to be successful.”

I’m intrigued by this. Spending a million or so probably won’t be enough to help Gruener cut through the din. But if he spent $5 million, or $10 million, he might start to get noticed. He might even get Cruz Bustamante’s attention.


Posted by dweintraub at 6:05 AM



August 26, 2003

No and Yes wins labor backing

Despite earlier threats of retribution, it was no surprise today when California’s organized labor movement endorsed “No on Recall/Yes on Bustamante” as its position for the Oct. 7 election. The California Democratic Party is, for all intents and purposes, the organized labor party, and the California Labor Federation, under whose auspices the decision today was made, is the de facto central committee. What was stunning was that Cruz defied the party’s labor leadership to run in the first place. His decision has proved the labor leaders correct, making it more difficult for Davis to portray the campaign as a partisan match between Republicans and his administration. And it remains to be seen if Bustamante really can (or wants to) get millions of people to the polls to prevent him from becoming governor. It is especially hard for me to imagine Latinos flocked to the voting booths to keep Gray Davis in office, knowing that if they vote to remove him, Cruz might become the first Hispanic governor in modern times. It would have been nice had Cruz mentioned labor's threats as one factor in his decision, and suggested that nobody, not even his party's central interest group, would tell him what to do. Instead, he began pandering to them the moment he announced his decision, and probably now is more indebted to them than he (or Davis) was before. Labor, in turn, has no choice but to swallow hard and go with the no/yes slogan, no matter how awkward it might be. That's their story and they are sticking to it.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:43 PM



Depends on your definition of the word 'independent'

The Chron kicked up a storm this morning with its report on Arnold's interview with Hugh Hewitt, suggesting that Schwarzenegger's vow to be "independent" was an attempt to distance himself from the Republican Party. The campaign tried to set the paper straight, noting that what he said was that he would be independent of the special interests -- but this was portrayed as damage control. Priorities and Frivolities has a good blow-by-blow account, including transcripts, and it's a take with which I tend to agree. I think the Chronicle is breathing hard here over basically nothing. I found it odd that the story's lead paragraph says Arnold's comments are "certain to enrage Republican loyalists" but then quotes no such animals in its story. In any case, Arnold appeared on another conservative talk show this morning, Eric Hogue in Sacramento, and said he was running as a Republican -- and proud of it.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:32 AM



More on Cruz's big contributions

The San Jose Mercury has more details on Cruz's attempt to exploit the loopholes in Proposition 34, the voter-approved campaign finance measure that limits donations to $21,200. The Merc got an explanation from Bustamante consultant Richie Ross that is different, and even more complicated, than the one I got Monday from campaign manager Lynn Montgomery. According to Ross, the big contributions from Indian tribes (the first was for $300,000) can be transferred to Bustamante's recall campaign committee as long as they are "attributed" to people who donated money to Cruz in smaller amounts before the finance measure took effect.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:37 AM



Arnold goes on the attack

Calling Cruz "Gray Davis with a receding hairline and a moustache," Arnold goes on the attack, exactly what he said a week ago he would not do. I don't consider it negative campaigning to say the other guy is for more taxes and I am for cutting taxes. And linking Cruz to Gray might make good strategy. But doing it in a personal way only makes Arnold look small. Here's the story in today's Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:05 AM



August 25, 2003

The phantom Latinos

The Internet is starting to buzz with talk of the Latino voters that the LA Times added to its poll to create a sample of 125 Latinos "for analysis." I am not here to defend The Times poll. I think it was probably off the mark, but I don’t know why and we may never know why. But unless I am reading this wrong, it had nothing to do with the addition of phantom Latino voters.

My understanding is that the Times added these voters to its sample so the poll could get a more accurate fix on what Latino voters were thinking. In order to do that, you have to poll enough of them to reduce your margin of error to a manageable size. In the regular poll, there weren’t enough Latinos to pull that off. So they polled some more and used them only to provide clues as to how Latinos stand on the recall or the candidates. They are not added into the overall sample in a way that would skew the result.

At least that is what I think it means. I can't reach the Times Poll folks at this hour.


Posted by dweintraub at 7:48 PM



One man's special interests....

"I want to be a governor who is for the people, for everyone...Therefore I don't want to take any contributions, any campaign contributions, from the special interests. Because as soon as you do that, as soon as you say OK, give me this money and I will do this, this, and that for you, you are selling out."

--Arnold Schwarzenegger, today on Hugh Hewitt's radio show.

Arnold is saying two things here. One is that he doesn't "want to take any contributions" from special interests. The other is that he doesn't want to sell out to them. Of course, the scenario he describes is more than selling out. It's a felony, trading promises of action for campaign donations.

But the first part of his statement, that he won't be taking or doesn't want to take money from the special interests, is something he has said many times. Problem is, he is taking such money, and lots of it, tens of thousands of dollars from individuals and companies with a potential interest in government policy made in Sacramento.

I am not sure what distinction he is making here, other than that he won’t be corrupted by this money because he doesn’t need it, or because much of it is coming in without him personally asking for it. But it seems to be a mixed message, to put it mildly, and an outright distortion or lie, if you want to place it in the worst light.

In fact, one could argue that because Arnold is able to self-fund the entire campaign if he wanted to, every dollar he collects from private interests is a dollar he doesn’t have to pull from his own pocket. Unlike, say, Gray or Cruz or Tom, who desperately need the money they raise but see it as a matter of political necessity and not something that helps them defray costs that would otherwise come from their own bank accounts. They don't have any money in their personal bank accounts, so a contribution not collected is simply a campaign expense not made, not a dollar they personally lose.

Among those who have already donated the maximum of $21,200 to Schwarzenegger’s campaign:

Gary Cino, investor, of Granite Bay Ventures,
Hilmar Cheese Co.
Timothy Draper, CEO of Draper, Fisher and Jurvetson (and the same amount from his wife)
William Draper of Draper Richards venture capital firm
Richard Santulli, CEO of Net Jets (and the same amount from his wife)
William Siegel, senior VP of News America
Barratt Mortgage Co.
Jerry Perenchio, and the same amount from his wife
Chuck Hansen, CEO of Hansen Technologies
D.L. Horowitz, president of Horowitz Management Co.
Fritz Duda Co. of Dallas, Tx.
William Lyon, CEO of William Lyon Co, and his wife. Lyon also gave $100,000 to Schwarzenegger’s political action committee on the recall.
Paul Folino, CEO of Emulex
Don Sodaro, president of Hanford Hotels
Don Bren, Irvine Co, and his wife
Food 4 Less
Howard Keyes of Keyes Motors

It’s fine for Arnold to claim that Gray is corrupted by the money he takes but that he, Arnold, won’t be corrupted by it. But that’s different from saying he won’t be corrupted because he won’t be taking the money--and then taking it.

Here is the complete list of contributions to Arnold's campaign committee.


Posted by dweintraub at 7:37 PM



Arnold hits the radio airwaves

Arnold is starting to do interviews on conservative talk radio. He did Roger Hedgecock and Hugh Hewitt today, and is planning to do Eric Hogue in Sacramento on Tuesday morning. Here is a link to a replay of the Hewitt interview. Nothing new, just Arnold being Arnold in a different venue.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:40 PM



Cruz's $300K from tribe, explained

As many of you know, California voters in 2000 adopted new limits on contributions to political candidates. Candidates in the recall election are limited to $21,200 per donation. But the limits don’t apply to campaigns for and against ballot measures. The result is that candidates running in the recall can take unlimited donations as long as they spend the money on the recall question and not directly promoting their own campaigns.

Cruz Bustamante today reported a $300,000 contribution from the Sycuan Indian tribe. Campaign manager Lynn Montgomery says that $300,000 – and other large contributions -- will be used to help fund ads that carry the “No on Recall” message. But here’s the thing. The Bustamante campaign intends to combine its unlimited and limited contributions, then pro-rate them to pay for ads that contain the combined no/yes message that has become the Bustamante campaign slogan. In other words, they might run a 30-second ad that says no on recall, yes on Bustamante, and deem half of it focused on the recall and half of it focused on the candidate. The half focused on the recall will be paid for with money from the committee accepting unlimited contributions. The half focused on electing Cruz will be paid for by the committee accepting donations limited to $21,200.

The Fair Political Practices Commission, which is the state’s arbiter of campaign finance laws, says this is legal. If you want to see the opinion, download this pdf file. Download file
The issue is discussed in the answer to question 14.

My take: this is just another example of how campaign finance limits never work as intended. They not only limit free speech and protect incumbents, they also make following the flow of the money more difficult because the rules become so complicated that only lawyers can understand them. I still say: let anyone contribute to anyone, report everything immediately on the Internet, and let the voters decide who they want to support, based in part, if they wish, on who is giving to whom. If I were king, Cruz would be able to take millions from the tribes, spend it however he likes, and reap the political consequences, good or ill, without having to jump through these silly hoops.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:29 PM



New poll shows Cruz with 8-point lead

I am told that a private Democratic Party poll completed over the weekend shows the recall holding steady among likely voters with a 54-41 edge while Bustamante’s lead over Arnold is growing but not quite as large as the LA Times poll showed Sunday. The survey shows Bustamante with a 33-25 edge (compared to 35-23 in The Times), with state Sen. Tom McClintock at 11. Support for the recall among Democrats in this poll has declined from 30 percent in mid-August to 26 percent. It was 15 percent in The Times poll. Interestingly enough, this poll actually shows Arnold’s image rating improving, even as his standing in the horserace slips. He started the race with a 39-39 favorable to unfavorable rating, increased to 43-36 and now stands at 44-37, according to the poll. The difference is coming from Democrats, who seem to be warming to Arnold as a person even if they still don’t think he’d make a good governor. The poll forecasts a 55 percent turnout, which would be about 5 percent greater than last November.

UPDATE: The most recent Republican poll, conducted by Gary Lawrence Research and ending Aug. 18, showed the recall ahead 63-35, with Schwarzenegger ahead of Cruz after Simon's votes are distributed to the second choice of his voters.

Take all polls, but especially partisan polls, with a grain of salt.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:05 PM



Cruz gets $300K from tribe, but can he spend it?

Cruz Bustamante has received a $300,000 contribution from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, one of the state’s major gaming tribes, according to the Secretary of State’s online database. It’s well known, of course, that Cruz is a favorite of the tribes and likely to receive their support in this race. But this is an odd exchange because California campaign finance laws limit contributions to candidates in the recall race to $21,200. Cruz took this contribution through a committee he has had in place since before the campaign law took effect in 2001. But as far as I know, while he can take that money, he can’t really spend it, at least not on himself in this race. He could send it on to the Democratic Party, which may be what he has in mind. I’m inquiring now with his campaign and will update this post if they can explain it.

UPDATE: Political Pulse notes here that the Fair Political Practices Commission has ruled that candidates can accept donations without limits for committees that are focused on the recall and not their own campaigns. Arnold has his own committeee along those lines. But what will Cruz's committee do? Advocate for "No on Recall" without the "Yes on Bustamante"? That would seem to be a strange use of resources for his campaign.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:37 PM



I've been fisked!

Brad DeLong is soliciting comments on why I am such a "strange person." He thinks that, given my takes on Cruz, Tom and Arnold, I should be a slam-dunk Cruz voter. But he concludes I am not and wants to know why. I'll respond later, but I thought some of you might want to check his post and weigh in with diagnoses of your own.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:44 AM



Simon releases budget proposal

Bill Simon might be gone, but he doesn't want to be forgotten. He has posted his no-new-taxes budget plan on his late campaign's web site. It's worth a look. As I wrote Sunday, Simon's proposal is easily the most detailed of any plan on the table. And it includes billions in specific cuts. Here is the link.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:02 AM



Debate over driver's license bill presents more problems for Gray

Gray’s early commitment to sign a bill allowing illegal immigrants to obtain California driver’s licenses is causing him no end of grief. The measure threatens to rekindle deep concerns about immigration among the California electorate. And now it’s caught in a many-sided legislative battle involving the Latino caucus, privacy advocates and law enforcement. One of the governor’s strongest supporters, the union representing state law enforcement workers and Department of Motor Vehicle investigators, just issued a blast at the bill, SB 60, saying it would “give driver’s licenses to terrorists.”

“As peace officers we are concerned that there are already a great number of ways to illegally obtain a DMV license,” said Richard Carrillo, president of the DMV investigators association. “SB 60 doesn’t require comparison of prints or documents from non-citizens with their supposed nation of origin; nor does it allow for the DMV to verify prints that should be on file with federal immigration authorities.”

This is a good example of why governors, and Davis has been no exception, hate to endorse legislation before it reaches their desk. Keep your eye on this one. Depending on what Davis does, it could be the most important issue facing him between now and Oct. 7.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:44 AM



August 24, 2003

'King of Mudslinging' joins Arnold

The addition of strategist Mike Murphy to Arnold’s team adds a non-Wilson voice to the mix, which at least will make for creative tension, if nothing else. And Murphy’s not just any non-Wilson guy. He was part of Lamar Alexander’s 1996 presidential campaign, the very campaign that Pete always suspected of spreading rumors that Wilson was suffering from throat cancer as part of a move to quell Wilson’s fundraising. But apparently all those hard feelings have been patched up now. Murphy will join Bob White, Don Sipple and George Gorton as part of an expanding strategy group. He also might bring in a couple of his own people to place in other spots on the campaign team.

In addition to Alexander, Murphy was also a strategist for John McCain’s failed presidential run. Does that make him a loser? Not exactly. He helped John Engler, Tommy Thompson and Christine Whitman win governor’s races in what had been fairly Democratic states. So he clearly has something to offer in that regard. He also worked for Former President George Bush and for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

More ominous is his reputation as a negative campaigner, something Arnold probably doesn’t need at this point. An AP story during the McCain-Bush race quoted Murphy describing his reputation as the “king of mudslinging.” The story said he was known for a “brilliant mind, wicked sense of humor and his willingness to pounce.”

Is this a sign of panic in the Arnold camp? Not necessarily. Insiders say Murphy has been hanging around the offices off and on from the beginning, putting in his two cents and more or less acting as Dick Riordan’s man in Santa Monica.


Posted by dweintraub at 6:40 PM



The week in review, the week ahead

With 44 days to go until the election, we are really not much closer to figuring this thing out than we were when it started. Most public and private polls show Davis going down, with support for the recall gaining momentum. But one very prominent poll – by the LA Times – shows the recall question running neck and neck, leading by just 50-45.

Most public and private polls also show a two-man race, between Cruz and Arnold, in the battle to replace Davis. But the Times Poll shows Cruz with a big lead, 35-22.

In the coming week you will be hearing a lot of Republicans talking about liberal media conspiracies, and what they will see as an attempt by The Times to prop up the Democratic regime in Sacramento. I don’t think so. The poll may or may not be accurate. But having worked at The Times for 12 years, as well as at the Orange County Register and now the Bee, I have never seen any organized liberal (or libertarian) bias in the newsroom. It is true that many reporters are liberals, and that might color their view of the news or certain political figures. But mostly reporters just want to tell a good story. Davis would not be in the trouble he is in today if the press had not reported critically on his problems with the energy crisis, the budget and his pay-to-play fundraising style. And it’s just not credible to claim that The Times would skew a poll to try to help the Democrats. If the poll is wrong, it’s because telephone polling itself has become problematic in the age of cell phones, call-waiting and answering machines, and because this race, with its unique format and multi-candidate field, is going to be extremely difficult to assess.

The only poll I really want to see is the exit poll, which will interview voters as they leave the polls and should tell us a lot about who votes and why, and why they voted the way they did. Until then, I’m not going to believe anything I read, from any of them.

Having said that, it's no surprise that Cruz is showing in the mid-30s. California Democrats have a history of playing the field early in campaigns and then “coming home” once their party leaders make clear what’s at stake. That’s exactly what is happening now. I expect Cruz to show in the mid-30s, possibly around 40, in the other polls as they roll out in the weeks ahead. I don’t think he can get much higher than that, and I think it is very possible that his final vote total will be several points less than is reported in the polls leading up to the election.

One reason: because voter turnout is going to be higher than most people expect, and very few of the last-minute voters, the occasional voters, are going to go for Cruz. They are underrepresented in the polls and will be until Election Day. Also there is the problem of voters who vote against the recall failing to vote for any candidate in the replacement election. This is always a factor in recalls, usually the tune of 10 to 15 percent of the vote. Even if it's reduced this time, Cruz could still lose several points this way. Another reason he might drop on election day, and one that you won’t hear much about in the mainstream media: I think there might be an unspoken ethnic factor. Just as in 1982, when LA Mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American, was leading in the polls just before the election and then lost to George Deukmejian, I think some percentage of white Democrats will flee from Cruz at the moment of truth because of angst over immigration and the increasing power of Hispanics in California. If Gray Davis signs a bill allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, this backlash will be even more likely. There is no way to measure whether this exists or how big it might be, but it’s out there, and it’s possible. It’s also possible that it will be balanced out by a surge of new Latino voters expressing ethnic pride, with new voters rushing to the polls to support one of their own. But both possible factors are just more reasons not to trust the polls.

Anyway, given the shape of the race at this moment, I expect Cruz to finish at around 37 percent, give or take a few points. Can Arnold, or any other Republican, top that? I think so. I still think it is Arnold’s to win or lose, depending on the kind of campaign he runs. If he nurtures the incredible natural excitement that is out there for him to tap, he will do fine. If he starts looking like just another politician, changing his stands on controversial issues, ducking questions and debates, attacking his opponents, then he will stall out. It might actually help him to be seen as the underdog. I think there was some resentment about his frontrunner status early in the race. People wondered what he had done to deserve such an exalted position. The media trained their guns on him. Now he can go about trying to earn the people’s trust, rather than taking it for granted. And if the next public poll shows him gaining on Cruz, Arnold can use that as part of his storyline. It’s possible, in other words, that Cruz has peaked too soon.

I think too much emphasis is being put on getting other candidates to drop out of the Republican race. Arnold was probably better off with both Simon and McClintock in, because they were splitting the conservative vote. It made them both look unviable. If they had both stayed in for another month, much of their support would have gradually drifted toward Arnold. Now McClintock has new fire and energy and might start to creep up toward Arnold in the polls. And that would change the entire dynamic of the race. Also, the talk about narrowing the field makes Arnold look weak. A strong candidate just runs his campaign and assumes that the people will listen and make the “right choice.” A weak one has to force people out of the campaign so that voters have fewer choices.

Besides, I don’t think McClintock is dropping out, at least not anytime soon. He believes deeply in what he is doing, and believes that this is the moment to turn California around. He is running on 20 years of experience and focus on California fiscal and economic issues. This is his big chance, and he is not going to walk away from it. If, a few weeks before the election, he is at 10 and Arnold’s at 35, maybe McClintock will drop out and endorse him. But if he does so, it will only happen once he is convinced that he has absolutely no chance to win. And it will come at the moment when his leverage over Arnold is at its peak. That is not the case right now. If Arnold is smart he will put out positive feelers to Tom, not threats, and make McClintock know that when or if the time comes, Arnold will be grateful for his support.

As for the recall itself, I do sense that a little bit of the rage, a little bit of the anger, has subsided in the state’s political atmosphere. One consultant told me that voters in focus groups don’t express hatred or anger at Davis so much as embarrassment. It’s like having to fire a once-valued employee who has screwed up. You don’t relish it, you do it with a twinge of regret, but you do what you have to do. The discussion is turning more intellectual, more thoughtful, as people evaluate the replacement candidates and give Davis one last look before deciding whether he should stay or go. A rush of legislation in the next couple of weeks, on workers compensation, health care and other issues, might help Davis. But it also might make him look cynical, finally doing some things with a gun to his head that he wouldn’t ever do before. Or pandering to the interest groups whose support he needs to survive the campaign.

It’s still very early. We have not seen television ads from anyone other than Arnold, and we will. Historically in California, that’s where elections are decided. This one will be different, because of the buzz in the media and on the streets. But the ads will play a major role. And it’s premature to make any judgments before we see how they look. There will almost certainly be negative ads aimed at Arnold, by Cruz or by Democratic interest groups. How he reacts will be important. As the outsider with a bully pulpit of his own, Arnold has the opportunity to turn any personal attacks into an issue to use against his opponents, bonding with voters about the sleazy standards of modern political life. But if he is drawn into a tit-for-tat, the sleaze will simply ooze over onto him, as it did to Bill Simon a year ago. Cruz, meanwhile, has a chance to paint an optimistic image of his own, the poor kid who worked his way up the political system and now has a chance to make history.

It is possible, after all we have been through this year, that the election will come down to a couple of competing, generally optimistic, immigrant-based stories, one with its focus on individuals and small business, creating good jobs, turning California around from the ground up, the other calling for "shared sacrifice" and an increased role for government in helping those who have been left behind.


Posted by dweintraub at 8:41 AM



August 23, 2003

Times poll shows big lead for Cruz

The LA Times Poll on the recall replacement election shows Bustamante leading Schwarzenegger 35-22, with McClintock in third place at 12 percent. The poll's result is dramatically different from the Public Policy Institute poll released last week, which showed Schwarzenegger leading 23-18, and the Field Poll done earlier, which had Bustamante and Schwarzenegger in a statistical tie. It does make sense that Democrats would begin to coalesce around Cruz. That was expected all along. But Arnold's inability to attract more Democrat and independent votes is a bit of a surprise. I have no opinion on whether this poll or one of the others is more accurate. It's probably worth noting that the surveys for this poll coincided with the flap over Arnold's position on Prop. 13 and ended just as he was rolling out his first television ad and holding a well publicized meeting with his economic advisers. Arnold's campaign says their tracking polls have the race a dead heat. But as I have said from the beginning, I have a feeling the polls are going to be erratic from start to finish in this race. Get used to it. Here is the Times story on the poll. Registration required.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:39 PM



Simon: 'It's somebody else's turn'

Republican Bill Simon dropped out of the race for governor for what he said was an "obvious" reason: there were too many Republicans and his campaign wasn't going anywhere.

"For a couple of days I really had been thinking it over," Simon said in an interview with me this morning. "As the race started to crystalize, in my mind it just became evident there were too many Republicans in. I just thought it’s somebody else’s turn."

Simon made the decision to quit the race for governor Friday night after consulting with campaign aides and supporters and his wife, Cindy, and brother Peter, he said.

He announced the decision to his staff at 8:00 this morning and then called volunteers to break the news. After that, he said, spoke with Arnold Schwarzenneger and left a message for Tom McClintock. (And the Ueberroth campaign reports he also left a message for Peter.) But he didn't endorse any candidate in the race.

"I just wished him luck," Simon said of his call to Arnold. "I said I have decided to step out of the race. I wish you good luck. He was very nice. It was a very friendly, cordial conversation."

Simon added: "I think there are people in the race who are going to carry the torch as far as some of the ideas we had…I was trying to do the noble thing."

Simon won 42 percent of the vote in last year’s election, losing to Gray Davis by about 360,000 votes. While he accurately warned that the state’s budget woes were worse than Davis was willing to acknowledge, he was hurt by the governor’s allegations of ethnical lapses in his business career – most of which were later shown to be untrue or exaggerated – and his own campaign’s self-inflicted wounds. The low point for Simon came when he accused Davis of breaking the law by accepting a campaign donation in a government building, and provided what he said was photographic evidence to back up the charge, only to find that the picture was taken in a private home in Santa Monica.

Simon was preparing to release a detailed plan for balancing the state budget on Monday. His campaign had provided an advance copy to me for a column to be published Sunday comparing the plans of the major candidates. His proposal, had he delivered it, would have been the most detailed of any candidate, listing billions of dollars in specific spending cuts while calling for a fundamental restructuring of the way the state does business. Much of that material was borrowed from recent studies by the Performance Institute and the Reason Foundation and might now find its way into the Schwarzenegger policy shop.

"We will publish our budget plan," Simon said. "I hope people will pick and choose from it."

Simon said he will consider running again for public office in California or "serving in some capacity."

I wouldn't be shocked to see him heading up a commission on government reform in a Schwarzenegger Administration, if there ever is one.

NOTE: Should have said this earlier....Simon's name will still appear on the ballot. But with 134 others there, it's hard to believe that very many people are going to be hunting down a guy who says he doesn't want you to vote for him.

UPDATE: Tom McClintock says he is in the race to the finish:

I am genuinely sorry that Bill Simon is dropping out of the race. He offered a perspective to the debate that will be missed. But his decision to withdraw intensifies my resolve to stay and fight.

At stake in this campaign, is the future of California - and that decision belongs to the people of California and must not be left to the country club back rooms. If the most qualified candidate must defer every time a celebrity or a millionaire casts a longing eye on public office, we’ve lost something very important in our democracy, and it’s called merit.

They said that War Admiral couldn’t be beat and shouldn't have to run a race against the likes of Seabiscuit. Let me assure everyone that I am one horse that is in this race to the finish line.

McClintock is now at about 12 percent (according to LA Times and at least one private poll) and probably believes that much of the Simon vote will flow his way. If it does, he would pull nearly even with where Arnold is reported to be in the Times poll. Then he might start calling for Arnold's withdrawal!


Posted by dweintraub at 11:27 AM



Simon dropping out, source says

Bill Simon is dropping out of the race today, a source close to the campaign has told me. He has scheduled an announcement for 11 am. FoxNews is reporting the same news....

UPDATE: Simon made the decision last night, and informed most of the staff and the volunteers this morning. He is now taping a statement that will be released to the networks at 11.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:26 AM



Get your bids in now!

Kimberly Kindy of the Orange County Register has an excellent dissection of Gray's evolution on a number of bills he has vetoed in the past but is now signing or promising to sign. Find the story here. Registration and password required: californiainside/insider

Posted by dweintraub at 7:15 AM



Mixed message

Here is the most important line from the LA Times story on its own poll:

Turnout on Oct. 7 will be decisive and, given the unusual nature of the race, it is difficult to project exactly who will take part in the vote, which is just a little more than six weeks away.

Translation: don’t blame us if our results are all wrong.

The problem the pollsters are having is that their methods screen for likely voters in part by looking at past voting behavior. But if a ton of people who haven't voted in 10 years come streaming out to the polls, their presence in the electorate will throw everything off. Damn them!

This is a good thing. Add it to the increased citizen activism, increased media coverage, and increased attention voters are paying to the race as spin-off benefits from the recall movement. The fact that the polls cannot accurately assess the race or predict its outcome is a wonderful development. It draws us closer to the day when we can pretty much ignore the polls and follow a campaign for its own sake and not based on who we think is winning or losing.

The most interesting, and useful stuff in these polls is usually found below the headline questions, in this case yes/no on the recall and for whom will you vote in the replacement election. Example: the Times poll is the first to detect a shift in the partisan nature of the turnout. It suggests that Democrats will make up 45 percent of the electorate with Republicans climbing from their usual mid-30s to 43 percent. Which makes the Times' relatively small margin in favor of the recall seem even stranger. We will just have to see.

In the meantime, here is the full Times’ report on its poll, a pdf file. Registration required.


Posted by dweintraub at 6:58 AM



August 22, 2003

They're all in this together

Mickey Kaus sees a possible conspiracy in the tabloids' lack of damning stories on Arnold. But I think Mickey might be missing the best explanation: the tabs want Arnold to win so they can use his new political stardom to sell papers for another three to seven years instead of just the next six weeks!

Posted by dweintraub at 9:38 PM



Is Arnold bluffing again?

A couple of folks think I'm still having trouble shedding my political reporter skin for the entertainment industry world, which is the space this campaign is now occupying. Their takes on Arnold and the first debate are uncanny in their similarity, and so convincing that now I tend to agree: it's all another head fake.

Fresh Potatoes says:

"Remember, folks, THIS IS SHOW BUSINESS! If Arnold quietly signed on like the rest of the pack, there'd be no drama, no suspense, and no surprise. Besides, LEADERS don't follow like lemmings. THEY MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS.

"By being coy about the debate, Arnold is cementing his status as the front runner by appearing to not need the free publicity that is just about the only benefit that a public debate can provide to a struggling candidate.

"Now, journalists like Weintraub will wonder out loud "what's he afraid of?" Tensions will mount. People will talk. "Maybe he can't answer questions," they'll speculate. People will begin to have their doubts.

"Then, when Arnold does decide to participate, his decision will create a huge splash. Everyone will rejoice. People will react as if something IMPORTANT just occurred.

And separately, a reader emails this take:

Here's an alternate theory concerning Arnold and
the September 3rd debate, which I have no doubt
he will join. By keeping everyone guessing, he:

1) keeps *himself* the center of the debate story;
2) keeps the debate *itself* in the headlines
3) converts the story into a classic movie plot
-- plebes meet pol, plebes lose pol, plebes get pol
back; and
4) gets to make behind-the-scenes demands such
as "I, the most moderate, sit in the center."

*None* of which would happen were he to merely
say yes. I think, in short, that it's another brilliant strategic move. Millions in publicity; not a penny in cost.

End of theory.

INSIDER RESPONDS: OK. Consider me educated. I love the way blogging opens up these new channels of communication and insight..... But (in truely Davisian fashion, I'm going to offer a "Yes, but--") If I weren't hitting Arnold for refusing to commit to the debate, folks would be saying I was going easy on him, letting him off the hook for ducking the engagement. So we journos are damned if we do and....don't you feel sorry for us???

Posted by dweintraub at 8:57 PM



Times Poll finds recall lead narrowing

A new LA Times poll says the recall is nearly a dead heat, with 50 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed. The Times finds that the race is turning more partisan, with Democrats overwhelmingly opposed and Republicans in favor. But Republicans, the poll finds, are more energized and thus more likely to vote. Here is the link, which requires registration, and here is an excerpt from the story:


California voters are closely divided on whether to recall Gov. Gray Davis, and they are concerned about how the election will come off and its lasting impact on the state, according to a new Los Angeles Times poll.

The survey, which ended Thursday night, finds a state nearly cleaved in half by partisan divisions. Democrats are overwhelmingly negative in their assessments of the recall, while Republicans view the Oct. 7 vote in generally positive terms.

But in a danger sign for Davis, Republicans appear much more energized by the off-year election, meaning they are more likely to vote. At the same time, the governor has the support of just three in four of his fellow Democrats.

Overall, 50% of likely voters said they supported the effort to turn Davis out of office, while 45% were opposed. Most said their minds were firmly made up: just 4% of those surveyed said were still deciding how to vote.

Still, a great deal of volatility surrounds the election, which is unprecedented in California and marks just the second time in the nation's history that voters have considered recalling a governor in midterm. The size of the turnout will be decisive - and given the unique nature of the race it is difficult to project exactly who will go to the polls in just over six weeks.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:14 PM



Arnold in Reagan Country

The underground campaign by leading Republicans to winnow their field went public today when the Lincoln Club of Orange County – ground zero for conservative Republicans in California – endorsed Arnold and called on the other GOP candidates to drop out of the race. Arnold, campaigning, conveniently enough in nearby Huntington Beach, responded to reporters’ questions about the issue, discussing the unofficial Republican primary within the recall for the first time. He managed to treat the matter with the delicacy required while still leaving no doubt about his position:

“Everybody has to make their own decision,” he said. “These are all people I respect. They are all people who have worked very hard. They are going to have to make their own decision. I can’t make it for them. Obviously, mathematically speaking, it’s wise to have only one candidate.”

That was it as far as news, or something close to news, from Arnold’s event. But it is not, as Paul Harvey would say, the end of the story. The scene was incredible. I have been following candidates for governor in this state since 1986, and there simply has never been anything like this, or even close. The Schwarzenegger campaign kept the details about this event under wraps until early this morning to keep down the size of the crowd. A political campaign trying to keep down a crowd? The Orange County Register this morning carried a listing of where all the major candidates were appearing today – but it didn’t include Arnold coming to their readers’ own backyard. It didn’t matter.

I was there by 9 a.m. for the 12:30 pm event on Main Street, near the Huntington Beach Pier, and the sidewalks were already buzzing. By noon the place was a madhouse. A crowd of a couple hundred people stood outside a restaurant where he was coming to speak to a group of local business owners, while several dozen more onlookers leaned from balconies overhead. The throng spilled out into the cross street, which the police eventually blocked off to auto traffic. And a receiving line two or three deep on the sidewalk stretched several hundred feet down Main Street toward a store into which Arnold was headed. The crowd waited for over an hour under a hot midday sun to get a glimpse of him. As Arnold made that walk, the crush of reporters, fans and gawkers was overwhelming. A couple of small children who got in the way were nearly trampled. The closest thing to which I can compare it was the mosh pit at the Van’s Warped Tour punk concert I attended with my son a few weeks ago. People were screaming for Arnold, reaching out to touch him, seeking (and getting) autographs. My favorite was this one "The teachers are for you, Arnold! The teachers are for you!" (What, they didn't get the word from the CTA?)

Is this the best way to choose a governor? Not if you want to see the line items in the budget he might propose next January. But I talked to eight or ten local residents who had wandered onto the event and was struck by how little they cared about his specific policies. And it wasn’t just that they were star-struck. They were attracted to Arnold’s passion, his optimism, his heart, his take-charge attitude. They have a sense that things are going downhill in California, and they don’t want to hear excuses. They don’t want to hear that it was the private energy generators or the economy or the Bush Administration. They want to hear someone tell them that he can make it right again. That’s what they seem to be hearing from Arnold.

This was conservative Republican country, so it wasn’t a surprise that they were overwhelmingly in favor of the recall. But it was something of a surprise that they were so comfortable with Arnold. I didn’t hear anything about Prop. 13 or abortion or gay rights. I didn’t hear much pining for a “real Republican.” If this was any indication, Arnold is going to win over much of the Republican base. And he can keep wooing the center.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:54 PM



What is he afraid of?

I can't link to the story from my handheld, but I see the Contra Costa Times reports that Arnold is the only major candidate who hasn't agreed to a debate scheduled for Sept. 3. You knew it was a bad sign when he appointed a congressman to be his debate ''negotiator.'' What is there to negotiate? It's a legitimate venue. All the other major candidates are going to be there. Just show up. I know that the conventional wisdom is that A.S. doesn't need to debate because he is taking his campaign to Leno, Oprah and other nontraditional venues. But he showed Wednesday that he is capable of handling hostile questioning. He knows who he is and what he wants to say. If he ducks the first real debate, the media, and perhaps the voters, will rightly begin to question whether he is ready for this challenge. Plus it makes him look like the calculating pols he is supposedly trying to sweep out of the Capitol, making him look like a hypocrite and forfeiting his greatest natural advantage.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:43 AM



Taking it to the streets

Rumor has it that Arnold will be doing some retail-style campaigning in the southland later today. I am heading to the region now and will report back later.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:35 AM



Alien driver's license bill stalls

The controversial measure to allow illegal immigrants to obtain California driver's licenses hit a few snags in the Legislature Thursday, including a warning from the IRS that its taxpayer identification numbers should not be used to prove identity. For now the bill is stalled. But it's not dead, and Gray might still get his wish and see the measure on his desk. The gov seems to think this will be a big hit with Latino voters. Maybe, but I'm not so sure. And I think the potential backlash from others might outweigh any gain. The same might be true for Cruz. The story is in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:33 AM



See a movie, kill a cop?

Predictably, the Dems are hitting Arnold on his movie violence, suggesting that The Terminator's use of military-style assault weapons leads to mayhem on the streets. I'm not buying it, and I doubt the voters will either. It's probably a great opportunity for A.S. to talk about personal responsibility and the importance of having parents play a strong role in raising their children. He wasn't commenting Thursday, but I expect we will see him touch on this later in the campaign. Here is the story in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:27 AM



Yes/no/maybe

Feinstein might still be sore at Cruz, but Gray seems to be getting over it. At this point, he'll do whatever it takes to keep his job, even if it means endorsing the most prominent Democrat seeking to replace him. Huh? The LA Times reports that Gray is coming close to backing the no/yes strategy put forward by Cruz, apparently in hopes that a united front will clarify the message for Democrats and get more of the party faithful out to the polls. This race just gets stranger and stranger. Here is the story. Registration required: californiainsider/insider

Posted by dweintraub at 6:20 AM



August 21, 2003

That wacky state budget

There’s been some day-after buzz about Arnold’s statement Wednesday that the California budget is so “crazy” that he’ll need a 60-day audit after he’s elected to figure out where the money’s coming from and where it’s going. Some of the other candidates are suggesting that this shows his ignorance of state policy. That’s an easy enough shot to take. But as someone who has spent the last 15 years studying the budget every year from cover to cover, I think Arnold is more right than wrong. I don’t think the craziness absolves him of the obligation to spell out his plans in more detail. But the thing is seriously screwy. And some of the recent bookkeeping moves would shame Enron.

Consider:

--The state will delay a payment to the schools from the end of June until the first week of July next year. The schools will book the money as received in June, but the state won’t count it as paid until July. That will make the current year’s budget appear $1.1 billion smaller while adding that amount to the next fiscal year’s spending plan. Perhaps three or four people in the entire state can explain how all of that affects the constitutional provision requiring a minimum amount of funding for the schools.

--About $900 million of this year’s obligations under the Medi-Cal program won’t be counted until the next fiscal year, when the checks are actually cut. This makes the current year’s Medi-Cal program appear that much smaller, but forces an artificial leap when the new fiscal year begins.

--The state plans to sell about $1.8 billion in bonds to pay the taxpayers’ annual obligation to the employee pension fund. Such bonds are commonly used to pay an un-funded liability because of changes in pension rules or benefits. But this borrowing is being done simply because the state doesn’t have enough money to make its regular payment. Next year, the obligation will be even higher, and the state will have to pay that, plus the payment on the bond.

--The budget will raid the state transportation fund by taking $856 million in sales tax revenue on gasoline that was supposed to go for roads and transit and spending it on general government instead. This loan is to be repaid by 2009.

--The budget assumes that the state will sell about $2 billion in bonds secured by the flow of money from a legal settlement with the tobacco companies. That money was supposed to flow to state programs for 25 years to compensate taxpayers for the cost of providing health care to smokers. Instead, the state will spend it all in one year and then repay the bonds over 20 years.

--The state will sell a $10.7 billion bond measure to finance the deficit that was accumulated by the end of the last fiscal year. This bond will be repaid by a portion of the sales tax. But to get around a constitutional prohibition on such borrowing, the Legislature and Gov. Davis have created a special fund into which money from a portion the sales tax will flow until the bonds are repaid. This is not considered a debt because each year the Legislature will vote anew to use the money in the new fund to repay the bonds. The flow of money into the fund was created by increasing the state sales tax a half-cent, reducing the local sales tax by a half-cent, shifting property tax money from the schools to city and county governments to make up for the half-cent reduction in the sales tax, and then shifting tax money from the state to the schools to make up for their loss of property tax.

If that’s not crazy, I don’t know what is.


Posted by dweintraub at 8:39 PM



House members, Feinstein split on Cruz

Congressional Democrats fell into line behind Cruz Bustamante Thursday but U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced that she will not vote in the part of the election that allows voters to choose a potential replacement for Gray Davis should he be removed from office.

"I am not going to vote on the second part of the ballot. I am going to vote on the first part of the ballot and my vote is going to be to vote 'no' on the recall," Feinstein said at an appearance with Davis in Los Angeles.

Here is the AP story in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:22 PM



Sit-ups in the offing for Arnold flak?

UPDATE of the item below...

Fox has updated its story with a retraction from Walsh.

"Arnold Schwarzenegger has stated clearly his intention to cut taxes to make California's job climate a competitive one. Regrettably, in comments I made to Fox today, I left the impression that Arnold Schwarzenegger could consider increasing taxes based on economic conditions. I misspoke."

Here was my original item:

Schwarzenegger spokesman Sean Walsh says Arnold might raise taxes, according to Fox News. It's not clear if Walsh is merely repeating Arnold's "never say never" line or trying to give the candidate even more room than that to maneuver, but the story is likely to re-ignite the furor over exactly where Arnold stands on the issue.

A close reading of the quotes suggests that Walsh intended to make two points. One is what Arnold said Wednesday, that if a natural disaster hit and the treasury was bare, you might have to raise taxes to deal with it. The other is more subtle, and suggests that Arnold would consider raising taxes in one area while lowering them in another as part of a structural reform of state government, or perhaps state and local government. Walsh seems to say that the net result would be reducing, not raising taxes. But something tells me that's not the message that will come out of this story.

Money quote:

"We're not going to play into any particular interest group who wants to just whipsaw us and well, it has to be automatic tax increases or it has to be a no new taxes pledge," Walsh told Fox News. "What, per se, do you do if you cut taxes in a broad array of areas and you raise taxes in one particular area so from a net perspective taxes are lower but you get attacked for raising taxes?"

Posted by dweintraub at 1:11 PM



Big energy decision due from high court

Consumer groups are expecting a decision later this morning from the state Supreme Court in the case challenging the Public Utilities Commission plan to bail out Southern California Edison for its losses in the deregulation mess. Gray Davis and the PUC favored using ratepayer money to compensate the utility. Consumer groups argued that Edison corporate shareholders, not the ratepayers, should absorb the losses. Depending on how the decision goes, it could become a factor in the recall campaign.

UPDATE: The Supremes just ruled for the PUC (and by extension Davis) on procedural and substantive counts. Consumer groups will complaint that this cements a rip-off of the ratepayers. It will be interesting to see if they try to hang it on Davis.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:57 AM



The columnists weigh in

Here is my column from today's Bee on Arnold's Wednesday press conference. My take: he was poised, prepared, in command but vague on key points. And I still have a gut feeling he has the voters in this race pegged.

Meanwhile, down south, a sea-change is occuring at the LA Times, where the two main California columnists, George Skelton and Steve Lopez, have been mocking the recall and, to some extent, defending Gray. No longer. Today both columnists are gushing about Arnold's performance, with Skelton comparing him to Reagan (while dumping on Gray) and Lopez giving him high marks for good theater if not for his grasp of the details.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:07 AM



Gray's 'specific plans'

Interesting Gray Davis quote from the LA Times story on the Schwarzenegger press conference:

“Anyone who wants to take my job ought to have specific plans," he said. "What are they going to do on electricity? What are they going to do on the budget? What are they going to do on water to make sure we have enough water up and down the state? Not just sound bites, or rehashed phrases from old movies, but specific, concrete plans."

As it happens, the future of the state’s electricity system is still cloudy, and many in the industry believe it’s unclear whether the utilities or private generators are supposed to be responsible for building the new power plants California will need in the years ahead. Despite a debate raging in the Legislature and academia over this question, Davis has said almost nothing about it.

On the budget, Davis has acknowledged that the spending plan he signed last month will lead to a shortfall of at least $8 billion in the next fiscal year. He has offered nothing, not even a sound bite or rehashed movie phrase, suggesting how he would close that gap. He did promise to have a plan ready for lawmakers to tackle the deficit when they returned from summer recess this past Monday. But he never delivered it.

And on water, very little has been done during the Davis Administration to ensure that “we have enough water up and down the state.” Some experts in the field believe that the next prolonged drought could be catastrophic for the state, given the amount of population growth and development California has experienced with almost no expansion of water supply and storage.

Maybe the governor does have “specific plans” on these issues. But I haven’t heard them.


Posted by dweintraub at 6:29 AM



Arnold on illegal immigrants in the schools

The LA Weekly's Bill Bradley digs up an Arnold quote from a Q and A after a speech in San Francisco during the Prop. 49 campaign last year:

"I would never stand in the way of any child going to school, whether he or she is here legally or illegally, it does not matter."

The statement seems to contradict Arnold's claim that he voted for Prop. 187, the 1994 measure that sought to limit services to illegal immigrants, and Bradley notes that it is at odds with the campaign's suggestion that he might back the measure again if it were revived and placed on the ballot. In the piece, Bradley says the campaign won't reconcile the statements despite days of inquiries. And it looks as if he didn't ask Arnold himself in another one of those brief exchanges with the candidate that pepper his weekly dispatches.

NOTE: Bradley points out that he doesn't think Arnold's quote contradicts his current claim to have voted for 187, but I still do. Bradley intreprets "I would never..." to refer to the future, but it seems to me it could also be a description of one's past and future. If he had stood before that group in SF and said what he'd said and then added, by the way, I voted for 187, the statements would have sounded very inconsistent. Then and now.


Posted by dweintraub at 5:36 AM



Schwarzenegger ahead in PPIC poll

A new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows the recall leading by 22 points (58-36) among likely voters and Arnold Schwarzenegger leading Cruz Bustamante by a margin of 23-to-18 in the race to replace. The other candidates are all at 5 percent or less, with 32 percent undecided. The margin of error is plus or minus 3%. Here’s the full line-up.

23% Arnold Schwarzenegger
18% Cruz Bustamante
5% Tom McClintock
4% Bill Simon
3% Peter Ueberroth
3% Peter Camejo
3% Arianna Huffington
8% Someone else
32% don’t know

Other numbers:

66% say the state, generally, is going down the wrong track.
67% disapprove of the way Davis is doing his job (26% approve).
53% say the recall is a waste of money.
52% say the current recall is an appropriate use of the law.
80% say it’s a “good thing” the voters have the right to recall public officials.

And

89% say they are following the recall closely, while
77% say they intend to vote in the Oct. 7 election.

Is anyone paying attention to that huge turnout number that keeps showing up in the polls? If actual turnout is anything like what people are saying, the elections system is probably going to be overwhelmed. Also, a turnout of 60 percent would bring 1.5 million more people to the polls than voted last November. It would then take about 39 percent of that vote to equal Davis’ raw total from 2002.

To see the full poll, go here later today.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:13 AM



August 20, 2003

Arnold in his own words

Arnold on California:

"When I came to California 35 years ago, this was a place of great dreams. This state said to people everywhere, 'Come here, work hard, play by the rules and your dreams can come true.' What has happened to that feeling? What has happened to that optimism that this state once represented to the world? I believe with all my heart that we can bring that optimism back.

“The people of this state are working hard and raising their families. Our businesses are the most innovative on the face of the earth. We still have all the elements that made us great and prosperous. We have everything we need except leadership.”

For extended excerpts from his first formal press conference as a candidate, on the budget, taxes, Proposition 13, and more, go here.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:22 PM



Federal court decision in ACLU case

Rick Hasen posts his analysis of the federal court's decision in the punch card case allowing the election to go forward on October 7.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:35 PM



Move over, I'll drive...

Having elbowed my way past the crew from Entertainment Tonight, the writer from Muscle and Fitness Magazine and more than 100 other journalists, I managed to get a seat at Arnold’s coming out party, I mean first formal press conference. It was quite a show. The candidate was in command, well prepared, at times serious and funny, and he sketched out a substantive vision for how he would approach the job of governor. He declared that he would not raise taxes (except perhaps after a natural disaster), that he would focus on workers compensation, reducing regulation, and fixing the state’s faltering unemployment insurance fund. He proposed a new constitutional spending limit. He said if Warren Buffett ever mentions Proposition 13 again he is going to make him drop and do 500 sit-ups. He said he was open to reexamining some of the recent labor protections that business groups are complaining about, including family leave and the eight-hour-day overtime standard. He said he was leaning against Proposition 54, Ward Connerly’s racial privacy initiative, but reserves the right to change his mind before the election. What he did not offer was a specific budget plan or any details on how he would close a multi-billion-dollar budget gap. He said people do not care about the numbers and figures, and besides, his experts have told him that nobody really knows how much money the state is spending, and how the state is spending it (and I think there is some truth to that). I asked him which programs he would cut, which I think people do care about, and he brushed off the question, saying that perhaps as the campaign moves on he will offer some details. But don’t count on it. In the end, it was clear to me that Californians, if they want Arnold to be their governor, are going to have to take a leap of faith, to buy into his leadership abilities, his charisma, his communication skills, all of which are considerable, and accept his vision that the budget can be balanced without new taxes or cuts in education even as he repeals the recent increase in the car tax. That’s not a reasonable proposition. But given the rest of his package, it might not matter.


Posted by dweintraub at 2:18 PM



The buck stops here, sort of

Here is my column from today's Bee, on the governor's obsession with blaming others and his failure to offer a positive vision for the future.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:34 AM



Arnold, not his advisers, will be the story today

Arnold's discussion with his economic advisers today will not be open to the press -- presumably to allow for that "full and frank" discussion which the political world is convinced cannot occur in an open forum. And given the coverage of Buffett's Prop. 13 remarks last week, it's perhaps understandable why A.S. doesn't want his advisers spouting off in front of the cameras. Arnold, we are told, will emerge after the meeting to take questions from the press in a formal news conference setting....

Posted by dweintraub at 6:59 AM



August 19, 2003

Recall Bustamante?

Rescue California, the Issa-backed committee that was formed to fund the recall of Gray Davis, has now turned its sights on Bustamante. The committee's press releases describe Cruz as part of the "Davis-Bustamante" team and today the committee attacked Bustamante's budget proposal as a fraud. Dave Gilliard, the committee's political consultant, told me his lawyers have opined that Rescue California is free to advocate for the recall and against any candidate as long as it doesn't campaign on behalf of anyone....

Posted by dweintraub at 8:09 PM



Davis delivers his they-a culpa

I attended Gray's speech at UCLA tonight and will be staying over to hear Arnold on Wednesday...The governor spoke before about 300 supporters, including a large number of union members, even some public employees wearing shirts demanding raises. Press reports in advance of the speech suggested that it would be a mea culpa, but it was more of a they-a culpa. He blamed the feds for the energy crisis and he blamed the economy for the budget crisis. The recall, he said, is not an expression of popular will but a right-wing coup with parallels to the Clinton impeachment. His speech will probably succeed in rallying the Democratic base to his side. But I didn't hear much that would convince independents or Republicans to support him. I'll have more in a special bonus column in the Bee on Wednesday.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:27 PM



Cruz proposes tax increase, health care mandate

Cruz Bustamante has produced a bold but politically risky proposal that he says would close the state’s budget gap while increasing spending on the schools and reducing the car tax for people whose vehicles are worth less than $20,000. The plan would raise taxes by $8 billion on the wealthy, business owners, commercial property, and on the users of cigarettes and alcohol. Bustamante said his proposal would cut $4.5 billion in spending, but $2 billion of that represents a shift in health care costs for the working poor from the general taxpayers to employers. His plan also projects savings of $500 million by fighting Medi-Cal fraud and $2 billion in unspecified cuts. If elected governor, Bustamante said, he would call a special session of the Legislature and introduce his plan. If it was rejected, he would gather signatures for a ballot measure and call a special election to put it to a vote of the people.

This is how strange the recall has become. The movement began with a small band of anti-tax conservatives. Now Bustamante is trying to harness the energy they unleashed to win support for what would be the biggest tax increase in state history.

Standing outside his suburban Sacramento home, Bustamante said his proposal represented the “tough love” needed to pull California out of its fiscal tailspin.

“The simple truth is that we all got into this mess together,” Bustamante said. “And we’re all going to have to get out the same way – together.”

But his plan’s details didn’t really call for togetherness so much as class warfare wrapped in a cloak of shared sacrifice. He wants to raise taxes on the wealthy, on business owners, on employers, while rolling back community college fees and car taxes on the owners of low-priced and modest vehicles.

And while Bustamante sought to downplay the difficulty of obtaining $2 billion in additional budget cuts from a Democratic Legislature, lawmakers this summer were deadlocked for weeks over spending cuts that totaled half that much. His savings in Medi-Cal and the $2 billion he says the state would save by shifting health care costs to employers are also problematic. So chances are his plan, even if approved, would still leave a significant gap in the budget.

On the other hand, you have to give Cruz points for guts. His proposal is far-reaching and seeks to consolidate and advance the agenda of the Democratic left at a time when most in that camp feel as if they are under a partisan assault that threatens everything in which they believe. Yet he managed to offer this agenda in a tone that was not combative. He’s offering his plan with rhetoric of inclusiveness and “working together.” If you didn’t know about the holes in it or realize its true scope, it might even leave you feeling warm and fuzzy.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:23 PM



Oprah v. Meet the Press

Arnold's first ads will begin running Wednesday, the same day he plans to meet privately with his team of economic advisers and then face the political press in an open-ended Q and A for the first time. Here is the story in the Bee. The candidate also plans to appear soon on Oprah, which spokesman Sean Walsh describes as part of a concerted effort to reach beyond the wonks who watch "Meet the Press" on Sunday morning.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:16 AM



A look inside Arnold's Inner-City games

Here is the first comprehensive look at Arnold's foundation that runs afterschool programs for kids across the country, and at what his experience there tells us about the actor's executive style and abilities. The LA Times reports that the programs have evolved from a loosely run network of locally controlled foundations to a more centrally driven program as Arnold has tried to make them more accountable for results. The piece includes a few quotes from the elusive candidate, in which he pretty much says the program has not lived up to his expectations but is confident that, now that he has retooled it, it will.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:08 AM



Davis to make plea to voters

Davis plans his mea culpa (sort of) speech this afternoon at UCLA, in which he will acknowledge some failings but make the case that the recall is part of a pattern of Republican refusal to accept the results of regular elections, The L.A. Times reports. The address will seek to link the recall to the attempt to impeach Clinton and the recent move by Texas Republicans to redraw district boundaries in mid-decade. The speech comes at a time when longtime Davis supporters are starting to hedge their bets by also backing Bustamante in the race to replace the governor should he be recalled.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:58 AM



August 18, 2003

Maybe the right Feinstein did run

In my column on Tuesday, to which I will link in the morning, I discuss some of the serious takes on state government, and serious proposals, floated by many of the 130 or so "also ran" candidates on the ballot. One I don't mention is Dan Feinstein. I wish I had. A reader just happened to point me to his campaign blog, which is great. And his top item at the moment is a spirited defense of the "circus." Check it out here for his story about the "chautauqua."

Excerpt:

Back in the day when the circus came into small towns to entertain, there was another type of show also passing through. It was called a "Chautauqua" (shE taw kwE). One source says Chatauquas could be thought of as a "rural 19th century American's Public Broadcasting System." These travelling shows provided education, a little entertainment - and sometimes religion - to people hungry for knowledge.

The concept was not just to entertain, but to edify. It was where "our ancestors went to recharge their intellectual batteries."

Posted by dweintraub at 8:15 PM



Another hurdle cleared

The Justice Department has cleared the recall election go forward in Monterey and the other counties challenged under the Voting Rights Act. But Justice hasn't ruled on the question of Prop. 54, which is supposed to be part of the ballot. So it's not clear this resolves anything. Plus the federal court in LA has yet to be heard from on the ACLU suit. Here's an AP story from SFGATE.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:01 PM



Arnold disagrees with his advisers; Arianna disagrees with herself

Reason's Matt Welch unearths quotes from Arianna backing Prop. 187 days before the 1994 election. Today she considers it the work of that evi devil and friend of Arnold, Pete Wilson. Link via LA Observed.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:56 PM



Wonder what the minions think of this

The interest groups have landed. The no/yes Cruz for Gov campaign has now won the support of some of the most powerful labor lobbies in Sacramento: the California Assn. of Highway Patrolmen, the California State Employees Assn. and the California Conference of Carpenters. Look for the money to follow. This was not in Gray Davis' grand plan.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:13 PM



Another win for democracy run amok

The Assembly, after years of struggle, just passed a consumer financial privacy protection bill on a 76-1 vote. The measure was a compromise crafted to beat a deadline for backers of a privacy initiative to turn in signatures that would have placed their measure on the ballot. The compromise was supported by consumer groups and the business community, which had opposed earlier efforts to prohibit firms from sharing personal information without the consent of consumers. This bill would not have passed but for the threat of the ballot measure. Critics of direct democracy, take note.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:22 PM



Update on ACLU case

Rick Hasen is now getting reports from his own correspondents attending the court hearings! He says his mole in federal court says the judge in the ACLU case expects to rule by Wednesday. I love this. It's participatory journalism....

OK, AP reporting the same thing (no link yet). But that's not as much fun.

Here is the AP story.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:18 PM



Arnie reaches out to the CTA

Arnold Schwarzenegger met via confernce call for 45 minutes today with the brass at the California Teachers Assn., which is considering endorsing in the recall. Anthony York has the details at politicalpulse.com

Posted by dweintraub at 4:05 PM



Latino legislators back Cruz

The Legislature's Latino Democratic caucus voted today to join the "no/yes" campaign, opposing the recall and backing Cruz as the just-in-case option. According to Sen. Richard Alarcon, the vote was unanimous, with 23 of 24 members attending. This will probably be the first of many such endorsements, with the major interest groups falling into line next.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:31 PM



Arnold v. Gray?

Arnold says he wants to debate Gray -- and the other major candidates in the race. He's appointing Rep. David Dreier to work out the details. Don't get too excited. Debate negotiations are notoriously fraught with posturing, stalling, setting of conditions that cannot be met. But the California Broadcasters Assn. is intent on proceeding with their plans for a Sept. 17 event featuring the top six candidates. As far as I know, they have set the terms and invited the candidates, avoiding a hopelessly protacted six-way negotiation. And if Arnold doesn't show for that, they will set an empty chair in his place...

Posted by dweintraub at 1:33 PM



The race to 40 percent

The political buzz at the moment is that Arnold is in trouble. And on the surface, his campaign looks shaky right now. But the deeper fault lines in this race still favor him. Other than Ueberroth, who has yet to be heard from, Arnold is the only candidate in the field who has the potential to win significant crossover votes while gaining a large share of the independent vote. That makes him the candidate to beat unless he simply runs a terrible campaign.

Unlike many of my colleagues, I think the winner in this race is going to clear 40 percent. I see the Democrats coalescing around Cruz. And I think the Republicans, or most of them, will eventually rally around one candidate.

No one is going to overshadow Schwarzenegger’s personality. But with pressure from Simon and McClintock mounting on the right and Bustamante looming on his left, it’s clear that Arnold is being squeezed on California’s ideological spectrum. The irony is that he’s probably perfectly positioned in the mainstream, even if so far he has done almost nothing to communicate that fact to the voters. Poll after poll and election after election have suggested that Californians want limited government that works -- with taxes as low as possible. They are willing to consider higher taxes, but they want to know the money is going for something they value, especially education. They support abortion rights, gay rights, and some gun control. They favor smart government regulation that protects the environment and they are becoming more supportive of health care programs for the poor. They hate the idea of special interests controlling the Capitol.

Simon and McClintock are to the right of the California mainstream on social issues and the environment, so they are running on one issue – smaller government. While I share their reflexes, polls suggest that Californians are unwilling to give up any of the government services they get now in exchange for the ideal of limited government. And while both candidates can credibly claim that there is still plenty of waste to cut in state government, I don’t think the budget can be balanced by cutting waste alone. The gap is too large, and most of the money is in transfer payments to program recipients, not bureaucrats. Californians are simply demanding more services than their taxes can support. The state must either cut programs or raise taxes or both.

Bustamante is in line with Californians on most social issues, but probably is to their left on taxes. He is set to propose a big tax increase this week as part of his plan to balance the budget. That will be a good chance to see how he plays. Gray Davis did something similar in January and then, when the heat got too strong, ran for cover. But Bustamante has the advantage of playing to only one party. If he can get the lion’s share of the Democratic votes in this race, he can win while the Republicans carve up their votes and the independents scatter to the winds.

Which leaves Arnold. Schwarzenegger is never going to get the hard-right or the hard-left vote, but with an effective campaign he can capture the middle. The fastest growing group of voters in California right now is the one made up of those who belong to no party or one of the minor parties. In the most recent Field Poll, Arnold led Bustamante 27-14 among this group, with more than half of them undecided or favoring minor candidates.

Right now, Field, based on its interviews with voters, is projecting turnout at 45 percent Democrat, 40 percent Republican and 15 percent independents and others, which is almost exactly what it was last November. If that held, and Arnold got 70 percent of the Republican vote, half the independents and 10 percent of Democrats, he’d finish with an even 40 percent of the total vote.

Bustamante could still top that, but he would have to come close to matching how Davis did last year among their own party. According to the LA Times exit poll in 2002, Davis got 81 percent of the Democrats’ votes, while getting 39 percent of the non-partisans and 12 percent of the Republicans. It’s hard to see Cruz getting even 5 percent of the Republican vote in this field, and he will probably not top 30 percent among the independents. If that’s the case, he would need to hold about 75 percent of the Democratic vote to clear 40 percent overall.

If Arnold can move up to either 15 percent of the Democratic vote or 80 percent of the Republican vote, he would begin to close in on 45 percent and be all but unstoppable. And that assumes that the turnout holds to what Field’s respondents are telling the pollsters now.

Even if Arnold collapses, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario that gets either McClintock or Simon to 40 percent. They are unlikely to pull many Democrats or independents and would thus need close to 100 percent of the Republican vote behind them. Not going to happen.


Posted by dweintraub at 8:56 AM



The week to come....

Get ready for a wild week:

Today, the Legislature returns to the Capitol for the final four weeks of the 2003 session, and Democratic lawmakers are itching to send Davis a bushel of bills, hoping to force him to sign them before the recall election as he seeks to bring Democratic voters back into his camp. Tax swaps, gay unions, privacy protections and health care are just a few of the issues on the table. The Bee's Jim Sanders sets the scene.

Also today, a federal court in Los Angeles hears the ACLU’s case to delay the election until March. This is the lawsuit challenging the planned use of punch card voting systems in the Oct. 7 election. For more details, check in with Election Law blogger Rick Hasen.

On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante plans to release a comprehensive budget plan built around the idea of repealing the recent tripling of the car tax and replacing it with higher taxes on the wealthy, cigarettes and possibly, alcohol. Bustamante on Sunday accused Davis of trying to undermine his campaign by persuading Democratic donors not to give to the lieutenant governor. Here's the story in the Bee.

Republican candidate Peter Ueberroth is scheduled to start rolling out his ideas this week in a series of interviews with the state’s political and business reporters.

Bill Simon has been putting the finishing touches on an updated budget plan and might be ready to roll that out by mid-week. Meanwhile, he is pressing Arnold to sign a "no new taxes" pledge.

Schwarzenegger plans a public meeting with economic advisers and others in Los Angeles Wednesday, according to Newsweek.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:11 AM



August 17, 2003

Arnold speaks! (On paper.)

The Schwarzenegger campaign has issued a statement in which Arnold reiterates his support for Prop. 13 and says he looks forward to hearing more "dynamic" ideas from Warren Buffett and George Shultz. No mention of Rob Lowe. There's not much new here, other than the statement is attributed to Arnold rather than Sean Walsh. And it will probably just revive a story that was dying down. Strange strategy.

The statement:

“I am extremely pleased I will be able to draw upon the wisdom of my friend Warren Buffett and other giants on the world stage such as Secretary George Shultz not only during this campaign, but also once I become governor.

"Warren and I have talked about Proposition 13, and he clearly understands my strong unequivocal support for the initiative.

“I supported Proposition 13 25 years ago, and I support it today. Two months ago I was honored to serve as the keynote speaker at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association Proposition 13 silver anniversary gala.

“Twenty-five years ago, the people rose up and demanded relief from outrageous property taxes. The politicians of California at that time were unresponsive to the people’s needs. Elderly Californians on fixed incomes were afraid that they could lose their homes. So the people showed the politicians who was the boss.

“Today, we are involved in a recall election because we again have a governor and government who have been unresponsive to the needs of the people.

“This is the principal reason I decided to run for governor. I am calling together the brightest minds in the business, financial and investment communities from throughout this state and country to help put California’s economy back on track and to help me formulate my economic agenda.

“I expect many dynamic ideas and policy recommendations from my team. But with regards to my position on Proposition 13, my position is rock solid in support of that initiative.”

Posted by dweintraub at 7:51 PM



Better late than never

It's funny how the recall election, which was supposed to be a terrible distraction, seems to have focused certain people on getting their jobs done. Here is my column from Sunday's Bee on Gray's newfound enthusiasm for workers comp reform.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:15 PM



Arnold mum in budget survey

The LA Times sends a budget questionnaire to the top seven candidates, and everyone responds but Arnold. Some of their answers weren’t exactly definitive, but they did respond. Cruz seems to be the most specific, promising a package of $7.2 billion in tax increases and $4.5 billion in cuts that he plans to unveil this week. Ueberroth pledges to produce a comprehensive plan, and Simon already has hinted that he would do the same. McClintock has been laying out plans for a decade, so I’d expect him to pull all the elements together into one that he says would balance the budget. Yet it's clear that everyone's plans are still evolving.

Is Arnold’s refusal to play a problem? It’s certainly a perception problem, at minimum, with the traditional media. And if he keeps this up it’s going to become (it already has become) the dominant media characterization of his campaign. But he clearly has ideas of his own about how to communicate with the voters, and playing by the traditional rules isn’t one of them. That’s his prerogative. I’ve never been one to feel entitled to access or interviews with public officials or candidates. I get to write my columns whether they talk to me or not, and sometimes feeling obligated to include their spin just gets in the way of telling an accurate story. Since Gray Davis has been governor, I have never interviewed him one-on-one. Yet I think I’ve managed to paint a pretty good portrait of what kind of chief executive he has been. If Arnold keeps ducking us and doesn’t use another medium to lay out his plans, we’ll keep writing that he has no plans. If he goes on TV with something but won’t take questions from the press, we will write that he won’t take questions from the press. He knows that. And it’s up to him, and ultimately the voters, to decide whether that helps or hurts his campaign.

Here is the LA Times story on the survey. Registration required.


Posted by dweintraub at 10:51 AM



Field: voters unimpressed by Arnold's outsider status

The third installment of data from the recent Field Poll focuses exclusively on Arnold, and how voters reacted to 17 statements about his background and candidacy.

According to Field, voters tended to be impressed by Schwarzenegger’s business record, the fact that he doesn’t need to raise special interest money, and his experience as the sponsor of Proposition 49, the measure that expanded public funding for after-school programs. Voters were less moved by Arnold’s support of legal abortion or the idea that he is “exciting and has a dramatic personality.”

What hurts Arnold? The fact that he has not served in public office before, that he’s a Hollywood actor, and that he is NOT a career politician. Allegations of marital infidelity, his father’s history in the Nazi party in Austria, or the fact that he used steroids to build his body also hurt Arnold among potential voters, though not by as great a margin.

Arnold’s support of Proposition 187 helps him among Republicans but hurts him among Democrats, with the two sides offsetting each other.

To see the entire poll, go here.

Note: This item was corrected on Aug. 18 to reflect that the poll asked about his father's role in the Nazi party, not the Army.


Posted by dweintraub at 6:27 AM



August 16, 2003

The inner Dan

Here is an interview with me published at MediaMan.Com, an Australian media gossip site of sorts. I am pretty sure that the proprietor/interviewer did this solely to draw traffic to his place, since he began bugging me to post the link almost before the interview was done. But come to think of it, that's why I interview people, too, right? So if you are dying to learn about the real Dan Weintraub, check it out.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:03 PM



Keep your eye on ACLU case Monday

Rick Hasen analyzes the government's response in the ACLU case challening the use of punchcard ballots and finds it wanting. He says the argument comes down to saying that everyone agreed earlier that the punchcards would be phased out in March, so this case is moot. Excerpt:

On the law, the government fails to even mention, much less distinguish, the Black v. McGuffage case, a federal district court case holding that the use of punch card voting in some Illinois jurisdictions but not others in a statewide election violates equal protection. Black relied on Bush v. Gore, another case not even mentioned by the government. Nor does the government brief so much as mention the Section 2 voting rights act claim of the plaintiffs---a claim which is at least plausible, given the disparate impact of the election on minorities, who tend to live in counties using punchcards.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:54 PM



Davis agrees to sign gay partners bill

Gov. Gray Davis has promised to sign landmark legislation granting marriage-style rights, benefits and responsibilities to gay and lesbian domestic partners, according to a gay rights activist who participated in a conference call with a top aide to the governor on Saturday.

Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California, the bill’s sponsor, said the governor’s cabinet secretary, Daniel Zingale, and a political aide discussed the agreement in a call with gay rights activists Saturday. The bill, AB 205, would give same-sex registered domestic partners the right to own community property and would make them mutually responsible for each other’s debts. The bill would also treat domestic partners the same as married couples when they divorce and must deal with issues involving child custody and child and spousal support. The measure would also allow domestic partners to make each other's funeral arrangements, and would grant most of the rights and obligations now associated with marriage. The bill would not give domestic partners the right to joint tax filings.

The gay rights bill is at least the third controversial measure that Davis has promised to sign since he came under fire in the recall. He also said he would sign a bill to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, and another measure expanding financial privacy protections for consumers. In the past, Davis has almost never agreed to sign legislation before it reached his desk.

Kors said the domestic partners measure, which is due to be taken up Monday in a Senate committee and then sent quickly to the floor, will make California domestic partners essentially equivalent to partners who are joined under the Vermont civil unions law signed several years ago by then-governor and current presidential candidate Howard Dean.

Kors told me he believed the governor’s announcement would help Davis generate supporters in the gay community to fight the recall. He noted that Eric Bauman, a former aide to Davis in the governor’s office now working in the campaign to beat the recall, joined in the conference call Saturday.

“I think the governor sticking with his record of supporting equality for the (gay) community will energize the lesbian/gay community to help fight the recall and realize that there’s been more progress in California in the last four and a half years than any other place in the country,” Kors said. “The community is going to be energized.”

But the announcement will surely also energize the right wing of the Republican Party, which is strongly opposed to domestic partnerships. Many see these changes as undermining or directly violating the spirit of Proposition 22, which was approved by 61 percent of California voters in 2000 and defined marriage as only between one man and one woman. They will certainly seek to make the bill an issue in the campaign to recall Davis. Polls, however, have consistently shown that Californians, while they want to reserve marriage as something only for heterosexual couples, have supported granting most if not all of the rights and obligations that come with marriage to gay couples who register as domestic partners.

Business interests have also been sanguine about this issue. The state Chamber of Commerce has taken a neutral stance on the bill, and some studies suggest it will be a money-saver for business because of its rule requiring partners to assume each other’s debts. It is also estimated that the provision requiring partners to pay spousal and child support will save the state money in welfare payments.

UPDATE: The backlash has begun. Randy Thomasson, executive director of the Campaign for California Families, says Davis is pandering to his party's left wing in search of a base on which to build his political comeback.

“Gray Davis is jumping from the frying pan into the fire,” said Thomasson. “Apparently willing to offend average voters, he’s turning marriage and the people’s vote upside down in a desperate attempt to save his political skin by appealing to liberal activists.”

Thomasson also told me he does not think the voters support granting these rights to gays and lesbians. But a Field Poll in 1997 showed that even as Californians opposed gay marriage, they supported, by large majorities, giving marriage-like rights to gays who lived together. I don't know of any polling since then that has contradicted that result.

Those two polls are here and here.

I'm not saying that opinion polls are the thing upon which such decisions should be based. Only that, in this case, one can argue that Davis isn't violating the will of the voters who passed Proposition 22, because the voters make a distinction between the institution of marriage and the rights people should have in domestic parnterships.

I don't think signing this bill is going to hurt Davis on the merits (as if it would be possible for him to drop any further in the public's esteem). It might damage him if the public concludes, which it well could, that he is pandering as the clock ticks on the premature end of his second term.

The signing might have more of an effect on the Republican side of the ballot, where candidates will be asked where they stand. Simon and McClintock will certainly oppose it. Arnold might support it. More grist for the conservative mill.

UPDATE 2: Here is an analysis by opponents of domestic partnership rights of a more recent poll often cited as proof of public support for this measure.

UPDATE 3: Lt. Gov. Bustamante has also endorsed this bill, and in fact did so in its broader form before Davis agreed to sign it. The political play on this is bound to come down to how it is defined. If the public sees this bill as legalizing gay marriage, as opponents describe it, it hurts Davis, and Bustamante. If the voters see it as preserving traditional marriage while granting the same set of rights to domestic partners, it probably fades as an issue. I also think that the people who oppose this bill passionately would never vote to retain Davis or make Bustamante governor anyway. The people who support the bill, however, might be more in play, and would look to all the candidates for clues to how they stand on the issue.


Posted by dweintraub at 4:55 PM




Posted by dweintraub at 4:29 PM



Speaking of Prop. 13

The big new debate over Prop. 13, thanks to Warren Buffett, might shine a brighter spotlight on Senate Bill 17, which is moving through the Legislature and might be among those bills rushed to the governor's desk to beat the recall. The bill is the first step by those who believe in a "split roll" property tax that would reassess business property more frequently than residential. This one seeks to tweak the process by which commercial property is reassessed after a change of ownership. Supporters of the bill claim that property owners often put their buildings into trusts and partnerships which change hands over time without ever triggering the reassessment called for by Proposition 13. Business property owners and anti-tax groups oppose the measure, saying it's unnecessary and that any additional taxes they are assessed will simply be passed along to their tenants. Supporters of the bill believe it would bring in at least another $1 billion to local government coffers. I wouldn't be surprised if it found its way into a package of bills repealing the car tax and replacing the revenue with money from other sources. Perhaps Arnold, Gray and the others will tell us how they stand on this measure.

Here is a link to the bill and the most recent analyses by legislative committees.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:43 AM



An adult in the house

Peter Ueberroth, the former Olympics czar and baseball commissioner, has been quiet so far, but don’t lose sight of him. He could be the sleeper in this race. I have a hard time seeing any Republican rising to the lead spot if Arnold falters. I think Cruz then consolidates his position and takes it. But Ueberroth is going to be plugging away, spending enough so that he can’t be ignored while focusing on substance, policy and fixing California’s problems. This LA Times profile (registration required) seems to capture him well, warts and all. Some excerpts:

“As a leader, he's the kind of guy who carries the wounded and shoots the stragglers, and he shoots them very publicly," said John Rutledge, an economist and investor who has known Ueberroth for more than 20 years. "California right now doesn't need someone to coddle interest groups. We need someone to say this is broken and we need hard decisions. I can't think of anybody better at forcing people to come together in a room and fix something."


Ueberroth says he will make up for lost time with substance. Next week, he says, he will offer details on how he would repair the state's finances.

"We will be specific with a plan of what needs to be done," Ueberroth said. "I want to offer very direct changes — cost cuts, revenue building — that will balance this state's financial future. That's essential."

Ueberroth said he would discuss his proposals in 12 town hall-style meetings across the state. Analysts said getting his message heard above the din of 135 candidates, from the stripper to the actor, would be difficult.

"If Ueberroth has any chance, it would be that he could promise to be the grown-up who would settle things down," said John Zaller, a political science professor at UCLA. "But I don't think either the media or the public wants a grown-up at this point. Everyone is having too much fun."

Posted by dweintraub at 6:58 AM



Cruz, Arnold lead pack

A new Field Poll shows Cruz Bustamante and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a statistical dead-heat in the race to replace Gray Davis, with Bustamante at 25 percent among likely voters and Arnold trailing with 22. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 points. Trailing the leaders were the other major Republicans in the race, with Tom McClintock at 9 percent, Bill Simon with 8, and Peter Ueberroth with 5. Arianna Huffington had 4 percent and Peter Camejo had 2.

Among the more interesting numbers deeper in the poll:

No/Yes strategy working: Voters opposed to the recall who have made a choice in the replacement election are overwhelmingly for Bustamante, who gets 54 percent of the vote to just 2 percent for Schwarzenegger. But voters in favor of the recall spread their support around, with Arnold in first at 36 percent, followed by McClintock (14), Simon (13), and Bustamante with 7 percent.

Arnold goes both ways: Schwarzenegger has the most cross-over appeal, getting the support of 9 percent of Democrats. McClintock and Simon get 2 percent each from the opposite party, while Bustamante gets 4 percent from Republicans.

No pleasing some people: Last year voters said they didn’t like either choice. This year they have 135 choices and don’t seem much happier. Of the major candidates, only Arnold and Ueberroth have positive images. Arnold is at 44-40 while Ueberroth is at 32-26. Cruz is even (40-40) and McClintock is at 28-32, and Simon is at 32-54. Those lovable lefties seems to be irritating a lot of folks with their sermons on SUVs and the like: Huffington is at 18-53, and Camejo at 6-23. The huge number with no opinion of Ueberroth (42 percent) suggests he might be able to gain on the leaders with an aggressive early campaign reminding voters of his experience as head of the successful 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Splitzoid: The multiple Republican candidates are hindering their party’s chances of taking the governor’s office. Arnold gets 36 percent of his party’s vote, while McClintock (19) and Simon (17) combine for the same amount. Another way of looking at it is that if either McClintock or Simon dropped out, the other might pull even with Arnold on the strength of their support from the party’s conservative voters.

Brown like me: Cruz and Arnold are essentially tied among non-Hispanic white voters, while Cruz holds a nearly two-to-one edge (42-22) among Latinos. But overall, Cruz is leading the three top Republicans by the relatively narrow margin of 42-31 among Latinos.

Accurate? This poll raised eyebrows because it didn’t show the big Arnold lead that was evident in several network polls taken in the past 10 days. Republicans take it as a matter of faith that the Field Poll is slanted toward Democrats. But in the past four races for governor, two primaries and two generals, Field has been spot-on. In this case, I expected it to be a two-man race between Arnold and Cruz, so I am not terribly surprised. But I also think the polling in this race is going to be very erratic because of the unprecedented format of the election and the increased uncertainty about who is going to vote.

UPDATE: I found Field's published record of accuracy on their website. The last race in which the winner was not the leader in Field's final pre-election survey was the 1982 race for governor, in which George Deukmejian defeated Tom Bradley. And generally their margins have been pretty close to the mark.



Posted by dweintraub at 12:01 AM



August 15, 2003

He takes his lickings and keeps on...

Rob Stutzman, a spokesman for Arnold, says the candidate has supported Prop. 13 since 1978 and notes that the actor was the keynote speaker at the 25th anniversary gala held for the measure in June. "He is an admirer of Howard Jarvis and has referred to him as the original 'Tax Terminator,"' Stutzman told me. My sense is that Stutzman's parry is too little, and a bit too late. The campaign could have said this, or had Arnold say it, to the Wall Street Journal on Thursday as the paper was preparing its story quoting Buffett dissing the measure. Then they would have had an interesting story showing how Arnold is big enough to stand up to his closest friends and advisers, instead of a story and a day of talk-radio commentary questioning his commitment to a law he wholeheartedly supports. This was so bad it even gave Gray Davis the chance to strike a pose as a tax-cutter.

Arnold seems to think he is running a non-traditional campaign in which the voters won't pay attention to anything they read in the papers or see on television news. Actually, I think he is in a campaign where he has an opportunity to reach people both ways: through traditional and non-traditional means. That's a huge advantage. But to abandon one of the methods, the only one shown to work in recent times in California, because you are so confident that the other one will work perfectly, strikes me as needlessly arrogant to the point of being reckless. Sure, it might work. But why risk it when, without much effort, you could have the best of both worlds?

ALSO: PrestoPundit has a similar analysis here, with some amusing details about the skewering Arnold took on the popular KFI talk program John and Ken.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:51 PM



Another Florida parallel: military ballots

Rick Hasen has posted an analysis of the federal court ruling. He points out a footnote that mentions Monterey County has already missed the statutory deadline for sending out absentee ballots to California residents serving in the military overseas. Interesting. If Monterey County has missed the deadline, hasn't every other county? And won't someone be in state court Monday suing over that?

Posted by dweintraub at 8:30 PM



Court rules, possible hang-up on election date

A federal court has issued an order blocking Monterey County from mailing its overseas absentee ballots until the U.S. Justice Department decides whether the special election complies with the county's responsibilities under the Voting Rights Act. The order came in a case involving Proposition 54, Ward Connerly's racial privacy initiative. It's not clear whether the recall election could go on or if Monterey would have to hold all their ballots back. Rick Hasen has more at his Election Law blog.

UPDATE: According to MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the judge has applied the same order to the recall election.

Both orders in this case, however, will be moot if the Justice Department decides that the special election does not violate the voting rights of minorities.

Another federal court suit, filed by the ACLU, which raises constitutional questions about the special elections process, would be much more of a threat to the election date if it were to succeed at the trial court level.

Here is an AP story on the ruling.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:32 PM



Conservative Republican lawmaker backs Arnold

Assemblyman John Campbell of Irvine, one of the most conservative Republicans in the Legislature and one of the first to contribute to the Davis Recall campaign, has endorsed Arnold for governor. Campbell, speaking on Hugh Hewitt's nationally syndicated radio show, said he thinks Arnold's success in business and Hollywood and his star power would give him a bully pulpit from which to engage the public in a crusade for reform in California.

"We need a governor who has presence and can move public opinion so he can accomplish his agenda through a Legislature dominated by the other party," Campbell said.

Now if only we knew what that agenda might be.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:00 PM



The Cruzinator

With Gray Davis starting to look like a bad memory, recall supporters are turning their sights on Cruz. Rescue California, the Issa-funded committee that's going to run a generic pro-recall campaign, attacked Bustamante today, trying to link him to the more unpopular democratic governor. Anthony York at Political Pulse has a good take on that story, and some plans Cruz is laying to appear gubernatorial next week.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:23 PM



The Commish opens his wallet

Peter Ueberroth has just contributed $1 million to his campaign.

I still see this as seed money. I see him making one rush at the leaders, and if he doesn't get traction, pulling back and waiting to see what happens to Arnold.

UPDATE
: Details on that first rush. Ueberroth is still hiring. He started with campaign manager Dan Schnur, plus advisers Bill Butcher and Bob Nelson. Now he's added a couple of refugees from the Issa camp, field director Scott Taylor and deputy press secretary Christine Rubin. Schnur says Ueberroth plans his first media appearances next week in LA, Sacramento and the Bay Area. The week after that, he'll begin a series of town hall meetings (not to be confused with a listening tour) that will be called "Carry a torch for Pete."


Posted by dweintraub at 3:08 PM



Let 1,000 democratic flowers bloom...

Speakng of serious candidates among the so-called also-rans, venture capitalist Garrett Gruener, one of those 49 Democrats on the ballot besides Cruz, just dumped $250,000 into his campaign fund. Gruener was an investor behind AskJeeves.com. His initial take:

"I'm running for governor because someone needs to tell the people of California the truth. The mess in Sacramento grows out of our inability to face up to the real costs of running the world's sixth-largest economy. Tough choices need to be made -- we need to cut back on excess and reinvest in growth. We need to be smarter and more strategic. I can help bring this discipline to Sacramento."

Posted by dweintraub at 2:43 PM



Lights out

The recall election is set for Oct. 7. An alert reader notes that in police radio and CB lingo, 10/7 is code for "out of service."

Posted by dweintraub at 10:59 AM



Schools chief lauds test results as sign of progress

California's annual school test scores have just been released, and Supt. Jack O'Connell is spinning them as good news. Of course that's always the case. We will take a look and report back our own conclusions. In the meantime, expect Davis to jump all over this story. Education reform is the one place the gov focused early and often and produced results. He embraced and expanded reforms put in place by Pete Wilson, and kept California on track to a standards-based public school system with testing and accountability. Still a long way to go, but if Gray had used his approach to education policy as a model for the rest of his administration, he wouldn't be facing a recall election today.

UPDATE: Here is an AP story on the scores, from SFGATE, concluding that they are a mixed bag. Making progress but still far short of federal (and state) goals.


Here is the state's press release.

Download file


Posted by dweintraub at 10:36 AM



Simon needles Arnold on Prop. 13

The first fallout from Buffett's attack on Prop. 13 arrives. Republican Bill Simon raps Buffett and calls on Arnold to renounce his sage's advice. "We already know that Arnold wants more revenue into the government's coffers to pay for increased social spending," Simon says in a statement. "Is this what he has in mind?"

Posted by dweintraub at 10:04 AM



Arnold and Proposition 13

Schwarzenegger adviser Warren Buffett, in an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, criticizes Proposition 13’s limit on property taxes, saying it makes little sense for him to pay $14,000 in annual property taxes on a half-million-dollar Nebraska home while paying just $2,264 on his $4 million house in Laguna Beach. This is likely to set off a firestorm in California’s conservative circles, where Proposition 13 is considered an untouchable foundation of state tax law. My thoughts: Nothing in government should be sacred. It is possible that after 25 years, some aspects of the state’s property tax system might be ready for change. A good argument can be made, for instance, that the lack of reassessment of business property has become a disincentive for the owners to improve or sell, leaving valuable property that is ripe for economic development in the hands of owners who are not putting the land to its highest and best use. This is a case of tax law distorting the normal operation of the market. Having said that, the core of Proposition 13, its protection against homeowners being driven from their houses by ever-rising assessments and taxes, has been and continues to be a valuable social reform. It is also the piece with which most voters identify. I think it’s great that Schwarzenegger is willing to listen to anybody’s ideas about reforms for California, and Buffett has certainly proven himself to be an intelligent observer, and participant, in economics and business. But Arnold is going to have to do something soon to demonstrate that while he listens to everyone, he comes to his own conclusions and he has ideas of his own. Otherwise he risks looking like Jerry Brown, paddling his political canoe first to the left, then to right, with no unifying vision, while his advisers confuse the public with a cacophony of provocative ideas that may or may not be going anywhere. The Wall Street Journal story on Buffett is available to paid subscribers only. Here is a short Reuters story summarzing the WSJ piece.


Posted by dweintraub at 7:47 AM



Field Poll on recall: The New Nixon

The first public poll since the recall campaign began is out, and for Gray Davis, the news is terrible. The Field Poll says the recall is ahead 58-37 among likely voters and 57-34 among all registered voters. The 21-point bulge among likely voters compares to an 8-point margin in favor of the recall just one month ago. This is the most humiliating published poll in the history of California governors. Davis is trailing, and trailing badly, among almost all demographic groups. And people don’t just dislike his policies and his performance. They dislike him personally. The details:

The recall is leading among Republicans by a 92-5 margin, and among non-partisans and minor party members by 59-32. Only Democrats oppose the recall, but more than one-quarter of them support it (27-67).

The poll’s turnout projection, though, remains fairly traditional, with Field anticipating that 45 percent of voters will be Democrats, 40 percent Republicans and 15 percent others. If Republican turnout is driven up by the party’s enthusiasm for the cause, the Davis numbers would tank even further.

The recall wins big among conservatives (87-7) and moderates (58-36) while losing among liberals (18-78).

It wins in every region of the state except the Bay Area. It wins big among men (61-35) but also prevails easily among women (55-38).

It wins with every age group, with the youngest, 18 to 39 year olds, giving it the biggest margin (62-33).

The recall wins among non-Hispanic whites (60-36) and among Latinos (55-35). Among other ethnic groups, it trails, 41-51.

It wins among people of all education levels, with the support dropping from 70-21 among those with a high school education or less to 49-46 among people who have done some post-graduate work at a university.

Not surprisingly, among those who voted for Republican Bill Simon last year, the recall leads 97-2. Among those who voted for a minor party candidate or did not vote, it leads 61-30. But even among Davis voters, the recall gets 22%, with 71 percent opposed.

The governor’s job rating: 22 percent approve, 70 percent disapprove. That’s the worst ever for a California governor and on par with the rating Californians gave Richard Nixon in 1974, just before he resigned. Nearly half of Democrats, or 49 percent, disapprove of the job Davis is doing.

Expectations game: 68 percent of voters expect Davis to be recalled, including one third of the “no” voters and nearly half of Democrats.

Taking it personally: 42 percent say they dislike Davis and disapprove of his policies. And another 16 percent say they dislike him even though they like his policies. Ouch.

Glimmer of hope: 49 percent say Davis should fight the recall, including 25 percent of those who intend to vote “yes.” Part of this might be due to fear that a resignation would short-circuit the election, which is not the case, or help his Lieutenant Governor, Cruz Bustamante, win the replacement election.

More hope:
By a narrow plurality, 47-43, voters still think that holding a recall election is a bad thing. But that margin is dropping, and it’s got to be troubling to Davis that he is losing in a landslide even though “bad thing” is still edging “good thing” in voters’ minds.

Best arguments for Davis: Voters are moved most by the argument that the recall is bad because with so many candidates, the winner is likely to get a small share of the total vote. Next best is the cost of the election, and then that the election is making California a laughing stock. Fewer than half the voters are moved by the idea that the election is coming too soon after Davis’ reelection last year, that there might be more recalls, or that a recall would bring greater instability and make matters worse.

Worst argument for the recall
: Ironically, it’s the one you hear the most. Only 40 percent agree that recalling Davis will make it easier to solve the state’s budget problems.

No information in this poll on the race to replace.

Find the entire poll here.


Posted by dweintraub at 5:01 AM



August 14, 2003

The week that was

The LA Weekly's Bill Bradley, former campaign aide to Democrats Gary Hart and Kathleen Brown, is the only California reporter with access to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Read his detailed dispatch on the days leading up to Arnold's decision here.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:53 PM



Demo coalition holds back

Building on my post Wednesday about the campaign to save "what's his name" and the Bee's story this morning on Big Labor's indecision about how far to go in defense of Davis, The LA Times weighs in with a more comprehensive survey of the interest groups that make up the Democratic coalition. The Times finds that while they all still oppose the recall, all the groups are also keeping their options open about endorsing a candidate in the replacement election. Here is The Times story. Registration required.


Posted by dweintraub at 9:31 PM



A surprise under the big top

Rick in Davis at The Likely Story has started a virtual debate on his site for gubernatorial candidates. He's inviting everyone, but it appears to be a forum for the unknown candidates. This site and the candidates' own web pages suggest that, contrary to most media reports, many of those running are serious about their endeavor. They might know that they have no chance of winning. But they also know that this is their one chance to have their ideas heard or seen by more than a few friends, neighbors and co-workers. And their ideas are serious. Other than the logistical difficulties that might be created on Election Day, I still see no downside to having scores of candidates running for governor.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:39 PM



The Brentwood Populist

In 1994, Michael Huffington ran for the U.S. Senate as an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration. It turned out that he and his then-wife, Arianna, had employed a maid who was not a legal resident of this country.

In 2003, Arianna Huffington is running for governor as an advocate of higher taxes. According to the Los Angeles Times, Huffington has used losses in her book-writing business to offset other income so that she has no state individual income tax bill.

Huffington also has launched a jihad against gas-guzzling SUVs, accusing those who drive them of supporting terrorism. But she has an 8,000 square foot home in Los Angeles which, presumably, is neither heated, cooled nor lit by solar power.

Points to ponder.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:02 PM



Candidate surfing

Damnum Absque Injuria has posted a complete list of replacement candidates with links to their websites here.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:50 PM



Debate details released

The Broadcasters Assn. has posted the details on its debate proposal:

Sept. 17, six candidates or all those above 10 percent in the polls; questions made public in advance.

See it here.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:29 AM



Quackenegger

The Bee's Gary Delsohn has a story on a number of new Schwarzenegger staffers who were part of the strange scheme that exploded in the face of former Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush, eventually forcing him to resign in the face of impeachment. If you want an even deeper look at the roots of that scandal, here is a story I did in 2000 for the Orange County Register that tells the narrative of how all those former Wilsonites came together to "help" Quackenbush implode.

Download file


Posted by dweintraub at 9:58 AM



August 13, 2003

Debate planned with new twist; blogger pats self on back

Somehow I think the debates in this campaign are not going to be the usual snoozers. I hear the networks are actually clamoring to put them on. And the hometown outfit -- the California Broadcasters Assn. -- is putting the finishing touches on a plan of its own. The details will be released today, but I understand the event is planned for mid-September and would include candidates that have met a minimum threshold in one of the three California-based public polls: Field, Public Policy Institute and L.A. Times. There would be a minimum of six candidates invited.

This isn’t official, but I have also been told that the debate organizers have adopted my proposal to publish the debate questions in advance. I picked up this idea long ago from Jay Rosen, a New York University Journalism Professor and press critic, and I have been flogging it ever since. It’s not as nutty as it sounds. First, in a traditional debate, the candidates have a pretty good idea anyway of what questions they will be asked. They prep for them endlessly with their staff and often provide canned responses that are safe and unenlightening. One reason they get away with that, ironically, is the pretense by all involved that the questions are actually a surprise and the answers spontaneous. Thus, the expectations for their responses are fairly low. If the candidates knew what questions were coming, and we knew they knew, voters might actually expect them to answer with a little more substance. That’s what competitive debaters do in real debates, by the way.

But there’s more. The idea of a political debate isn’t just to have the candidates sparring among themselves. It’s to have voters watch, be interested and talk about it. If the questions were widely circulated say, a week ahead of time, on television, in the newspapers, and on the Internet, it’s even possible that some of the queries could work their way into conversations people are having about the race, in person and on the web. People might talk about how they expect this or that candidate to answer, and what kind of answer they would be looking for. With any luck, an enterprising newspaper might publish background stories related to the questions to help novices better understand the topic. Or maybe the web might generate such material. The only major downside I can think of is that the format eliminates questions directed at only one candidate to explain a particular position or offer a defense against charges lobbed by an opponent. I doubt that's a fatal flaw.

Of course, with this method, there’s also no need for a panel of journalists to go on television and pose the questions. Think we can live without that?


Posted by dweintraub at 11:08 PM



Diamonds in the rough

Want to place a bet, or buy a futures contract, on the recall result? Tradesports.com is offering the action. No surprise: Arnold is the early favorite.

UPDATE: My source on this, Joshua Sharf, View from a Height, notes that the contracts sold on that site are, like the election, all or nothing. They pay 100 to the winner but nothing to the also-rans. So my earlier post suggesting that Huffington or Ueberroth might be undervalued is only true if you think that they might actually win and not just show well.

NOTE: I am not a registred securities trader and my analysis is offered merely for your entertainment.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:58 PM



Ballot complete: 135 candidates

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley just certified 135 candidates for the ballot.

UPDATE: The list includes:
50 Democrats
42 Republicans
32 Independents
4 Greens
3 Libertarians
2 Natural Laws
1 Peace and Freedom
1 American Independent

So much for the Democratic Party effort to keep their candidates off the ballot.

The total turned out to be significantly lower than the 247 estimated to have turned in the complete paperwork to qualify for the ballot. The drop-off came when many of the candidates fell short of the 65 valid signatures required to qualify. This will no doubt be welcome news to the county registrars, who have to prepare and count the ballots. It might even allow some of them to return to using voting systems that can count the ballots immediately, rather than having to sort multiple pages before tabulating them.

Here is the link to the list of candidates.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:17 PM



Pete always said he wished he could run again

One of the top news items in the papers this morning was the increasingly Wilsonian tone of the Schwarzenegger campaign. The list now includes, formally or informally, Bob White, Jeff Randle, Joe Shumate, Sean Walsh, Pat Clarey, Marty Wilson and, of course George Gorton. Gorton, who was the most visible Schwarzenegger aide in the run-up to the announcement (some thought too visible) was said in at least one account to have been demoted. I am not sure he is being demoted so much as surrounded.

These names will be unfamiliar to many of you. Insiders know them as the inner circle of the team that helped former Gov. Pete Wilson get elected and govern for two terms in the 1990s. Some are asking: is this good or bad for Arnold? My take is that the team is a good one, with several of the best campaign minds and managers the California Republicans have to offer. And I don't think their presence around Arnold is going to matter much to voters, even those who were not fond of their patriarch, former Gov. Pete Wilson.

What about Wilson himself? I have heard he values Arnold like a son and, were he dying, his last wish would be to see his political protege become governor. But I question whether a heavy public presence by Wilson really helps the cause. Loyalists who liked Wilson will certainly get the message by hearing about the campaign team. But an overt campaign role by the former governor carries with it some risk. Certain segments of the labor community, and certain parts of the Latino voter population, might be open to Arnold but consider Wilson a political devil whose presence must be exorcised from California. Wilson was also the father of electricity restructuring in California, an initiative with which Arnold will not want to be associated. More broadly, Arnold is trying to portray himself as a breath of fresh air, an outsider who will usher in a new era in Sacramento. But his campaign is starting to look like a run for a third Pete Wilson term. The message seems a tad mixed.

In the end, nobody, not even Wilson, is going to overshadow Arnold's personality and presence. Once the campaign gets going the Wilson issue will probably fade. But in the early stages, when there's not much going on, I get the sense that Wilson's high profile might be hurting Arnold more than it is helping.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:10 PM



Recalling what's-his-name would be 'bad for California'

A broad-based coalition of Democratic-leaning interest groups is preparing to launch a coordinated campaign to stop the recall of the governor – without, apparently, mentioning the governor’s name.

In a conference call with the press today, Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, was joined by representatives from League of Conservation Voters, the Congress of California Seniors, California Federation of Teachers, California Now, Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, the Building and Construction Trades, and others. Their message: the recall is bad for California. Pulaski said polling shows that 78 percent of Democrats respond favorably to that message when it is delivered by community groups they know and trust. So, for the next several weeks, these groups are going to sponsor an “issue of the week” to tell Californians why the recall is bad, and why the current administration has been good. But none of the reps who spoke in the first round of statements today mentioned Davis by name, and Pulaski said the groups don’t necessarily approve of Davis. They also won’t be jointly endorsing a candidate on the replacement ballot.

“It’s not about the governor,” Pulaski said. “We’re united against this recall because it’s an expensive mess that’s bad for California.” The effort will cost $2 million and will make up to 3 million phone calls against the recall.



Posted by dweintraub at 3:15 PM



Arnold tabs Buffett -- advocate of taxing the rich

Arnold's campaign has named investor Warren Buffett as a senior financial and economic adviser. That's a two-edged sword. Buffett is obviously a heavyweight who will give Arnold some credibility with voters on economic issues. But he's also been making an impassioned, national plea of late for keeping taxes high on the affluent. He opposed Bush's tax cut on stock dividends.

"Government can't deliver a free lunch to the country as a whole,'" Buffett wrote after the Senate approved Bush's plan. "It can, however, determine who pays for lunch. And last week the Senate handed the bill to the wrong party."

So, first question: does this mean Arnold will support the move now afoot in the Legislature to increase taxes on upper-income earners?

Posted by dweintraub at 12:16 PM



Inside out

From a loyal reader:

I've decided that you bloggers are like the 17th century French court: an obsessive social circle constantly calculating alliances (with other bloggers); gossipy and sometimes outrageously catty about people in power; carefully measuring the political climate, whispering rumors of beheadings; members of the highest reaches of the establishment but outsiders in an insider's world.

And I love every minute of it.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:40 AM



Keep your eye on the infrequent voter

Two pieces of anecdotal evidence that may be early indicators of Arnold's potential to blast through traditional political boundaries and appeal to a broad audience.

One is that I am now getting email spam from entrepreneurs hawking "Arnold for Governor" paraphenalia. I don't remember ever receiving such solicitations involving Davis -- or any other candidate. If people think they can make a buck by hitching themselves to a candidate for governor, something is up.

Second, I have received at least a dozen requests from readers trying to get in touch with Arnold's campaign to help his cause. That might not sound like a lot. But I have been covering politics for 20 years, and I doubt if in all that time I have received 12 such inquiries involving all the candidates I have covered, combined.

Just thought those were worth noting.


Posted by dweintraub at 6:53 AM



August 12, 2003

Would Gray resign?

With polls showing his support eroding daily, the Davis-resignation rumors are hot and heavy around the Capitol again. And the resignation question has never ceded its first-place spot atop the list of questions I get from readers. So I am going to make a confession. Knowing Davis as I do, I never thought I would say this, but today, for the first time, I started to think that it is possible he might resign before the election. His position has deteriorated horribly in the past week and it is difficult to imagine a campaign that could pull him out of his tailspin. He can't even get the voters' attention; how is he going to persuade them? If his current condition were to persist past Labor Day, I could see Clinton leaning on him to quit, and arranging a golden parachute for him at an LA law firm.

BUT--don't believe what you keep hearing from national television pundits and national columnists. A Davis resignation would not scuttle the recall election. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante would become governor, but the election would go forward, and a new governor could replace Cruz if Cruz failed to win the most votes. What happens to Cruz at that point is a subject of some debate. Some think he would be acting governor and return to his old job if he lost the election. Others think he would be out of a job completely at that point.

Why would Davis do this? He is not a big party man. He is certainly no friend of Cruz. The two detest each other, by most accounts, and the idea that Gray might take Cruz down with him is the one scenario that, while bizzare, makes the most sense. I could see Gray doing it if he thought it were in his self-interest, either to provide for a better retirement if he concluded he was toast anyway, or to avoid the shame of losing a 70-30 vote, if that's what the polls showed, or both.

Do I think it will happen? No. Could it happen? For the first time, I have to say the answer is yes. But it's still premature. Gray has not really even begun to fight.

For all the details on the Davis resignation scenario, see my earlier post here.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:05 PM



The blogosphere meets the recall

Hugh Hewitt has a great take on media -- and new media -- coverage of the recall. And I would have thought it was great even if he hadn't said nice things about me.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:03 PM



Playing two hands at once

Ever since Cruz Bustamante entered the race, it's been assumed that California's Indian tribes were going to pool their money and do independent expenditures on his behalf, expensive ads that get around the $21,000 limit on contributions. Now I am hearing rumblings that the Indians might think about helping Cruz in a more creative way as well. If they spent, say, $4 million on behalf of state Sen. Tom McClintock, the most conservative Republican in the race, they might pump McClintock's numbers up while hurting Arnold and not harming Cruz a bit. Remember, Cruz needs a split GOP vote to win. That would be one way to get it. Besides, as a libertarian-leaning Republican, McClintock is a natural ally of the Indians anyway.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:12 PM



Republicans for Cruz

Republican consultant Arnold Steinberg offers a counter-intuitive but, in my view, correct assessment: Cruz's best chance of winning comes if all four major Republican candidates run great campaigns.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:50 AM



Hot buttons can sometimes burn you

Here is my column from today's Sacramento Bee, on why Arnold might have been wise the other day to duck the question on paid family leave.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:36 AM



Hugh and Me

If you just can't get enough of me in print and on the web, you can always listen in to Hugh Hewitt's nationally syndicated radio show, on which I am appearing daily from now until Election Day. I do a six-minute report with Hugh, which we try to time at the bottom of the first half-hour of his show, typically 3:30 on the west coast but at different times depending on the market. Today I'm scheduled to appear at 4:30 p.m., or 90 minutes into the show....Hewitt also has a blog, filled with biting insights about national politics and California. You can find it, along with a list of stations on which you can hear us, here.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:33 AM



Last chance session

When lawmakers return to the Capitol for the end of the 2003 session Aug. 18, they will engage in four of the oddest weeks in the history of the Legislature. With Gov. Gray Davis campaigning to save his job in the recall election, the Democrats who control the Legislature will have to decide whether to cast their lot with him, try to help Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, or go their own way. Some, I'm told, will be rushing bills to the governor's desk by Aug. 29, even though the session won't end until Sept. 12. If a measure makes it to Davis by the earlier date, the governor must sign or veto it within 12 days, forcing him to act before the election. Bills passed later will be set aside, and Davis will not be required to sign or veto them until Oct. 12, five days after voters pass judgment on his future.

Meanwhile, pressure is building in the Legislature for the enactment of major changes to tax laws and other statutes. Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento is pushing an idea that would involve repealing the controversial car tax increase Davis enacted by administrative order, and replacing it with the same amount of revenue from new taxes on upper income Californians and cigarettes. Democrats would do this by a majority vote, rather than the two-thirds margin typically required of tax increases, because while they would be increasing some taxes, lawmakers would be lowering others, leaving the overall level of taxes the same. Politically, it's clear most Californians would prefer taxing the wealthy to taxing their cars, and that dynamic would put Republicans in a quandary. They would hate the idea of raising taxes by majority vote, and since they believe the car tax was increased illegally, they would argue that the taint of that move was attached to any change to which it was linked. But if they opposed Steinberg's idea, they would be in the position of blocking a middle class tax cut while protecting the wealthy. Bustamante has taken up this cause and will be pushing it aggressively. This might force other candidates, including the Republicans, to take a stand.

Look for other lawmakers to push a bill that would change the way business property is re-assessed in California, removing some of the protections that were part of the Legislature's implementation of Proposition 13. This could also be done by a simple majority, Democrats believe, and would raise more than $1 billion a year for the treasury.

Workers compensation reform will also be on the table, and the Legislature will be looking to make business-friendly improvements there to go along with any corporate hits they enact with changes in the tax laws.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:32 AM



August 11, 2003

78 percent say they intend to vote

A new MSNBC poll shows the recall winning by a wide margin and Schwarzenegger leading Bustamante in what, at this early date, looks like a two-man race.

UPDATE: With another 12 percent saying they will probably vote, that's simply an unbelievable number. I don't believe it. But we do know that there is extraordinary interest in this election. And if the election is held Oct. 7, the counties better start preparing for a typical general election turnout or greater, which at this point they are not doing....

Posted by dweintraub at 4:49 PM



Ballot order bingo

Here is Kevin Shelley's press release explaining his drawing for ballot order. The important thing to keep in mind is that the order rotates in each Assembly district, so no candidate is going to have an advantage by being first (or last) on the ballot.

Download file

Posted by dweintraub at 2:43 PM



Gray's dilemma

Gray Davis has a huge problem on his hands, one probably unprecedented in modern American politics. There is no model for how he can get himself out of it. The immediate problem is this: he is becoming irrelevant. With so much attention focused on the candidates, voters are weighing their options on question 2, and there are plenty at the moment. And many voters are simply assuming that Davis will be recalled on question one. The longer they assume that, the more comfortable they will become with the prospect, and it will become next to impossible to shift them away from it. Davis is faced with arguing that you shouldn't recall him even though you don't like him and you like one of the other candidates more. And you should take this stance out of some fear that recalls in general are bad for the state. It's not rational. Voters like choices. They're not going to forgo a choice out of a sense of "civic duty." They're going to vote their gut. And right now, at least, their gut is telling them to dump Gray. It will be fascinating to watch him try to turn this around.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:39 AM



Is the immigrant anti-immigrant?

Up early for another east coast TV gig, (MSNBC 6 am Pacific), I see that the Sacramento Bee leads with the story on Democrats rapping Arnold for having voted for Prop. 187 in 1994. That was the initiative that sought to end most public services to illlegal immigrants. Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres hit him on that, and for having former Gov. Pete Wilson as his campaign chairman. "There is a famous phrase in our community, and that is, 'Judge a person by the friends that he keeps,''' Torres said.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob Stutzman said this:

"Arnold was proud that he came to this country as an immigrant and was able to realize all of his dreams. He believes that we must protect the rule of law and that all immigrants are protected from exploitation when the laws of the land are followed."

How is this likely to play politically? The Bee's Talev points out that nearly 60 percent of Californians voted for the ballot measure, most of which was eventually thrown out in the courts. And the fierce criticism showered on Wilson at the time was mostly aimed at his use of the issue as a tool in his reelection campaign and his blurring of the lines between legal and illegal immigration.

Illegal immigration has receded as a front-burner issue in California, but it remains a concern to many state residents, especially in the south. And illegal immigration hurts those at the bottom of the income scale the most, because their wages are depressed by competititon from people who will work for minimum wage or sometimes less. I doubt Arnold is going to make this a plank in his campaign. But being a candidate who passionately supports legal immigration while drawing the line at those who break the law to enter this country does not seem to me to be a losing position.

With Cruz Bustamante emerging as the Democratic alternative should Davis be recalled, Democrats will try to use the issue to keep their base in Cruz's camp. But it's just as possible that independents and moderates in both parties could be turned off if the Democrats mount an aggressive defense of illegal immigration.

As an observer, I think the most important development in the entire story Sunday was that Arnold's campaign responded immediately, didn't say they didn't know how he voted or that Arnold couldn't remember how he voted, and put out a positive statement in which Arnold defended his position. If they had done otherwise, the story would have been not only that he might have backed 187 but that his campaign was in disarray in its early days. As it was, my paper described the campaign as "scrambling" in the lead paragraph of the lead story Monday. If this is scrambling, watch out when they get their legs under them...

NOTE: An earlier version of this item said "more than" 60 percent backed 187. It was actually nearly 60 percent, or 58.93 to be precise.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:30 AM



August 10, 2003

New poll: Arnold builds commanding lead

New CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows Arnold with widespread support among Californians.....42 percent say there is a good chance they will vote for him, while 22 percent name Cruz Bustamante as their favorite and 13 percent choose Bill Simon. A whopping 73 percent of those polled said they regard Arnold's candidacy seriously. Because of the nature of the election, CNN said its poll does not "project a winner" or predict how people will vote....Get used to that. You are going to be hearing a ton of disclaimers from the pollsters. And I think that's great...Here is the CNN write-up.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:05 PM



Elections officials warn of slow count

With 89 candidates having completed all the paperwork and another 104 in the pipeline, county elections officials warn that it may take days for them to count all the votes after the Oct. 7 election. The LA Times has the story.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:25 PM



Maybe Gray can blame Arnold for state deficit

Arnold is releasing his two most recent tax returns today. They are for 2000 and 2001. The return for 2002 hasn’t been prepared yet.

I haven’t seen the returns, but I got a briefing from his investment adviser. He said the numbers show the following:

2000
Adjusted gross income: $31 million
Federal tax paid: $8.5 million
California tax: $2.6 million
Donated to charity: $750,000

2001
Adjusted gross income: $26 million
Federal taxes: $7.4 million
State taxes: $1.9 million
Donated to charity: $4.2 million

My first reaction is that this shows how Arnold, like most wealthy Californians, took a hit between 2000 and 2001 that left him not only with less income, but paying less tax to the state. It appears his taxes dropped by a greater percentage than his income, and I’m curious why. (Probably the donations to charity.) But the overall trend – on both his income and his taxes -- is certainly consistent with what we know about the roots of California’s budget crisis.

As I have reported in my columns, California between 2000 and 2001 had perhaps the greatest leveling of its distribution of income of any society ever. The state’s most affluent residents got clobbered, and the treasury got clobbered in turn.

I am not suggesting that you feel sorry for Arnold, or for others in his class. But remember this: in the tax year 2000, California had 44,000 people who earned $1 million or more. They earned 21 percent of the state’s income and paid 37 percent of the income taxes, $15 billion in all. The following year, 29,000 people earned more than $1 million. Their incomes represented 12 percent of the money earned in the state, and they accounted for 25 percent of the tax paid, or $8 billion. That $7 billion drop was virtually all the decline in state taxes, the very decline that led to the deficit, since the state kept spending as if the money would keep pouring into the treasury.

Arnold’s personal income drop between 2000 and 2001 cost the treasury $700,000. That’s about 15 school teachers, or 10 firefighters at top pay. In California, when the rich get richer, government programs do better. And when they get poorer, the public sector takes the hit.

For a more comprehensive discussion of this issue, you can download a column I wrote on the topic in January.

Download file


Posted by dweintraub at 2:35 PM



What, no butterfly?


From a fan in Southern California:

CA BALLOT.jpg

Posted by dweintraub at 1:46 PM



How we got here

Need a break from all-recall-all-the-time? Check my column in today's Bee, which describes how the California Senate came to pass a $500-million-a-year pension increase for state employees after just 45 seconds of public discussion and no debate.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:55 PM



Shelley: 55 candidates' complete paperwork, so far

As of 12:20 a.m., the Secretary of State was reporting that 55 candidates had completed their paperwork to run for governor. Still dozens more being checked at the county level....

Posted by dweintraub at 6:38 AM



$chwarzenegger, Inc.

Arnold might not have heard the question the other day, but he knows the answer. His campaign plans to disclose his tax returns at a briefing later today. Contrast this with the summer-long dance last year over whether Republican nominee Bill Simon would disclose his returns. That was a clumsy drama that needlessly sapped energy from Simon's campaign. I am guessing -- just guessing -- that Arnold's promptness might indicate that he's paid a boatload of taxes on all that money he's earned. Tax returns also show how much money you have contributed to charity, and that's probably a number he won't mind having out there....

Also: My colleague Dale Kasler filed this quick look Sunday at the scope of Arnold's economic empire.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:28 AM



August 9, 2003

Recall up by 19, Arnold in lead--Time/CNN poll

A Time/CNN poll says 54 percent of Californians back the recall with 35 percent opposed. And 45 percent of Californians think Arnold is qualified to be governor, while 39 percent think he is not. Schwarzenegger leads the horserace poll with 25 percent, followed by Bustamante with 15 and the rest of the candidates bringing up the rear. Here is a Bloomberg story on the poll.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:44 PM



Still a circus?

As of 5:46 p.m., 41 people had been reported to the Secretary of State as completing the paperwork necessary to appear on the recall ballot. They are not certified yet, but that's how many there are. There still could be more. Aides to Kevin Shelley say many candidates showed up at the last minute at county registrars, and those papers are still being processed. We could get a few more, or dozens more. No one knows at this point. But it does seem clear that we won't have hundreds of candidates on the ballot. Somewhere between 50 and 100, in all likelihood.

We have about half a dozen major candidates and well known minor party or independents. Arnold, Simon, McClintock and Ueberroth on the Republican side, and Bustamante the lone major Democrat. Huffington is an independent, and Peter Camejo the Green. Let the festivities begin.

UPDATE: The wires are reporting that 90 candidates have filed. The Secretary of State cannot confirm this number. It may be from a survey of the counties, and it may reflect those last-minute candidates that we've already heard about....

Posted by dweintraub at 6:04 PM



This does seem strange

Mickey Kaus wonders why, in a huge field of candidates, no major figure has emerged to represent those concerned about illegal immigration, which has long been a strain in California politics. He suggests Republicans have given up on the issue in their search for the Hispanic vote, while Democrats are happy to help their labor union allies sign up more immigrant members. Meanwhile, the flow of illegals is depressing wages for legal immigrants and native citizens at the bottom of the wage scale.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:51 PM



The hybrid and the Hummer

Arnold and Arianna showed up at the same time to file their papers today, and I hear that Huffington stuck so close to Arnie's camera shot that she tripped over some of the news crews' cables. She also took advantage of the opportunity to slam A.S. for driving a "gas-guzzling S.U.V." Arianna drove a hybrid Toyota that gets 52 mpg, said CNN.

They added: Huffington is a co-founder of Americans for Fuel Efficient Cars, a nonprofit group that aims to persuade U.S. automakers to build vehicles that use less fuel. The group came under fire in January when it began running a series of ads that linked driving SUVs to supporting terrorism.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:34 PM



Non-verbal Communication 101

Supporters of the campaign to recall Gray Davis say they're filing a criminal complaint against Davis supporters who pushed and shoved them during a double-protest outside Sacramento's Sheraton Hotel Saturday morning. Fox News aired footage of the incident, and I viewed the raw footage in a Fox truck this afternoon. There was definitely an attempt by Gray's union supporters to intimidate the recall supporters. A handful of the Davis forces crossed the street and rushed the pro-recall group, at one point surrounding one of the recall supporters. Teri O'Rourke, a spokeswoman for Recall Gray Davis Committee, said one member of the group was injured when he was hit in the back and kicked in the leg. That violence, if it occured, wasn't visible on the tape I viewed. The incident took place outside a training session for union workers preparing to work against the recall. Among the skills being taught: communication.

To download the committee's press release, complete with a frame pulled from the Fox video, go here.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:25 PM



Garamendi out

John Garamendi has dropped out of the race for governor, the California Labor Federation tells us. Art Pulaski, executive secretary, says he had several "thoughtful conversations" with Garamendi over the past 24 hours until Garamendi, in Pulaski's words, "deferred his dreams for the sake of a principle." Democrats will now coalesce around Bustamante.

UPDATE: here is the AP story in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:05 PM



And that was before telecommuting

Over the past few days, PrestoPundit has been all over the recall. He must have a team of researchers on five computers to keep up with all that's going on. When I've been out of the office and out of touch, I'll turn to PrestoPundit first for the latest news and tidbits. His most recent post notes that Arnold's biz degree was from the University of Wisconsin, Superior with classes taken at Santa Monica College, West L.A. University, and UCLA Extension.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:02 PM



Meanwhile...

While everyone was watching the political show, the state reported Friday that California lost another 21,000 jobs in July, with the biggest single loss coming fom government payrolls. Here is the press release and detailed data. Those not familiar with these reports will note that a separate "household survey" showed the state gaining, not losing jobs. But economists and employment experts tend to put more faith in the official state numbers.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:41 AM



A campaign like no other

The recall campaign now underway will really be several campaigns in one. They will each operate in their own spheres but will also overlap with each other at times. Following it all, and analyzing it, will be extremely tricky. If it’s a close race, I think the polls toward the end will be worthless. We have never been to this place before. The experts can’t rely on the past to predict the future, this time.

One of the campaigns will be about Gray Davis. Should he stay or should he go? Davis is the underdog in that race. A majority of the state’s voters think he is doing a bad job and the state is going down the wrong track. But that campaign won’t be conducted in isolation. As we consider his fate, we will be thinking about question two: if Davis goes, who should replace him? The governor had wanted this question to give people pause. But now, as the field shapes up, we know that there are plenty of candidates on the ballot who we could plausibly imagine serving as governor. This hurts Davis, because he risks being forgotten as we rush to examine the shiny new alternatives in the political shop window.

But the “race to replace” will be conducted on at least two different levels as well. One is within traditional political circles, the consultants, pundits, and analysts for whom politics is job one. This is the realm where most of the candidates – Garamendi, Simon, McClintock, Ueberroth – will be operating. But there will be another campaign, on television entertainment shows, on college campuses, in movie lines and elsewhere, in which one candidate – Arnold – will be trying to reach and motivate the 7.6 million California voters who are registered but did not vote in the last election. If Arnold can get just one out of seven of them, or 1 million people, to vote this time, for him, those new voters would probably provide the margin he would need to win.

Arnold has a huge advantage with these voters. He has universal name recognition and the ability to reach them with an attractive message: we need an outsider to “clean up the mess” in Sacramento. These are people who cared enough to register to vote but did not vote last time. Most of them probably feel disconnected from their government. Arnold gives them a chance to plug in. And they give him a chance to turn the tables on the traditional political process.

Wealthy candidates have not fared well in California. And Davis and the Democrats have tried to paint the recall as tainted by millionaires seeking to buy a public office. But Arnold isn’t going to sit back and take that punishment. He has gone on the offensive, using his wealth to his advantage. He has enough money, he has said several times, so that he doesn’t have to take campaign contributions from the interest groups buying influence in Sacramento. He will make decisions “for the people.” We can debate forever how he will know what “the people” want or need, and whether “special interest groups” aren’t simply collections of like-minded “people.” But Arnold’s got a powerful line and a brilliant strategy for minimizing the wealth issue or even making it work for him. Especially with those voters turned off by the connection between money and politics, who think that every politician is in the pocket of the big contributors.

The other thing about these voters is that, being casual observers of politics, they probably care less about the nitty-gritty policy details than do regular voters. This plays into Arnold’s other strength. He can appeal to them not with policy white papers but with calls for new leadership, shaking things up, bringing people together. He can run as the outsider. The Democrats already are telling us that Arnold has only voted occasionally. This can be a liability in a traditional campaign. It makes the candidate seem irresponsible. But watch for Arnold to turn this one around as well. I predict he will not apologize for his infrequent voting but try to use it to his advantage. “I have rarely voted because the candidates have all been terrible,” he will say. “They have all been the same. Professional politicians who didn’t connect with me, didn't speak to me.” Thus he becomes the voice of the occasional voter, their poster child. He gives them cover for their own lack of participation and a reason to change that now. It wasn't their fault they failed to vote. It was the politicians' fault. Now we can punish those pols for their sins.

Only one other candidate, Cruz Bustamante, has much chance of reaching new voters, of expanding the base. He would be the first Latino governor in modern times. California has about 2.5 million Latino voters. But exit polls suggest that only between one-fourth and one-third of them voted in the last election. If Cruz connects with them, is adopted by them, becomes their hope and aspiration, he could generate significant new turn-out and benefit from it. And his campaign for those votes will be largely unseen and, perhaps, undetected by the mainstream media, and by pollsters. Like Arnold’s attempt to reach disaffected voters, we may not know if Cruz’s campaign is working until Election Day.

Despite the record number of candidates, I would not be surprised if this became a two-man race. Arnold v. Cruz. The immigrant against the son of immigrants. Both of them are going to be doing everything they can to expand the number of people paying attention to politics and participating in it. Combine that with the more traditional, between-the-lines game to be played by most of the other candidates, plus the work of mavericks like commentator Arianna Huffington, and you have the chance for a huge voter turnout, perhaps greater than last year, perhaps greater than any recent election for governor.

And I thought the recall was supposed to be anti-democratic.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:20 AM



August 8, 2003

"What happens if Gray resigns?"

Although nobody in California politics -- including me -- expects Gray Davis to resign, the reading public is fixated on this question, and I continue to be deluged with emails asking what will happen if he does. Does Cruz become governor? Does the election go forward? Is it possible that Cruz could become governor to fill the vacancy, lose the election and be completely out of a job in the span of a few days? This is an especially delicious question now that Cruz has filed to run and Gray might have reason to take the lite-gov down with him.

Election law blogger Rick Hasen discusses the subject here and links us to a debate among other election law experts here. To this I add the perspective of the Secretary of State Shelley's communications director, Terri Carbaugh, in an interview with your blogger Friday afternoon.

First, though, I should say that it's been widely assumed that if Davis resigns, Bustamante becomes governor and the election goes forward. This is based on section 11302 of the Elections Code. But two questions arise:

1) What happens if voters reject the recall? and

2) What happens to Bustamante if the voters approve the recall and then select someone else to be governor? Is he out of a job altogether? Or does he go back to being lieutenant governor?

This news won't surprise you: the codes are all screwed up. Here is the section in question:

11302. If a vacancy occurs in an office after a recall petition is filed against the vacating officer, the recall election shall nevertheless proceed. The vacancy shall be filled as provided by law, but any person appointed to fill the vacancy shall hold office only until a successor is selected in accordance with Article 4 commencing with Section 11360) or Article 5 (commencing with Section 11380), and the successor qualifies for that office.

That's great, except that neither Section 11360 nor Section 11380 exist any longer. They were dropped from the code in one of those infamous "clean-ups" (which increasingly remind me of the way my kids "clean up" their rooms, by shoving stuff under the bed and into the closet.)

The SOS was kind enough to supply me with the wording of the now-missing sections. Section 11360 referred to the recall of city officers. Section 11380 referred to everyone else. The provisions are those that spell out the methods for holding the replacement election, and most of them have survived and live on under different section numbers.

According to Carbaugh, Shelley's conclusion is that if Gray resigns, Cruz becomes "acting governor" until the election. Then, if the voters reject the recall, Cruz remains governor and assumes the office until the next regularly scheduled election. If the voters approve the recall, and someone other than Cruz wins the replacement election, that person becomes governor and Cruz returns to his post as lieutenant governor.

Problem: nothing in the statutes says Cruz becomes acting governor rather than governor if a vacancy occurs due to resignation. In fact, Article V of the constitution says this:

The Lieutenant Governor shall become Governor when a vacancy occurs in the office of Governor.

It doesn't say acting governor. It says governor.

I also find nothing in the statutes or constitution that says how the Secretary of State should treat the recall question if Gray resigns. It says only that the lieutenant governor becomes governor and the election goes forward, with the winner becoming governor. The law ignores the question of what do do with the recall election itself at that point.

"This certainly is one of those legal issues that is far from crystal clear," Carbaugh said. Yup.

NOTE: My colleague Dan Walters, who was the first to raise the infamous "if appropriate" question, was also the first person I heard suggest the Cruz-is-out-of-a-job scenario. I withheld discussing it for a time while I waited for him to put it in print, but he is on vacation this week and the issue has now hit the blogosphere. Sorry Dan.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:46 PM



Chief Justice George says post-election challenge possible

While Chief Justice Ron George's dissent in the ballot qualification case was quoted in this morning's accounts of Thursday's court decisions, it was buried in most stories. Some readers might not have noticed a couple of provocative points. First, George, joined by Justice Moreno, joined those describing the recall as bordering on out of control:

The chaos, confusion, and circus-like atmosphere that has characterized the current recall process undoubtedly has been brought about in large measure by the extremely low threshold set by respondent for potential candidates to qualify for inclusion on the ballot to succeed to the office of Governor.

Then, he all but invited losing candidates or disgruntled voters to file challenges after the election alleging that the Secretary of State's easy qualification rules allowed illegitimate candidates to compete and unfairly altered the result:

For example, in the event the recall is successful, a second-place finisher in a crowded field to succeed to the office of Governor might be able to establish that the presence of dozens of legally unqualified candidates made the difference in his or her losing by a percentage point or two, and that he or she readily could have met the requirement of the much larger number of signatures required for a lawful nomination. Similarily, any voter might be able to bring suit, claiming that the victor's placement on the ballot was invalid and affected the outcome of the election. (See Gooch v. Hendrix (1993) 5 Cal.4th 266,285.) Should the vote to recall the Governor be successful, we may never know who would have been the legitimate winner of the vote succeed him, had lawful procedures been followed.

If we were to conclude after the recall election that the signature requirement for placement of candidates on the ballot set by respondent was inappropriate, we would have to nullify the election and cast our state into far more chaos and confusion than exists presently. Careful consideration and resolution of these issues prior to the election is well warranted despite the ensuing delay in the electoral process. By following the course of action, we would enhance rather than thwart the will of the people in exercising their right to vote at a properly conducted recall election.

To read the whole thing, go here and scroll down the narrow column until you get toward the bottom. The dissent begins with the words "For the reasons that follow..."

Posted by dweintraub at 6:54 PM



Ueberroth in

Peter Ueberroth has made his official announcement confirming that he will be a candidate for governor. The former baseball commissioner and Olympics czar is a registered Republican but says he will run informally as an "independent" and pledge to serve only through the end of the governor's term.

Key quote:

"California's problems need to be fixed and they need to be fixed now. But I have learned from experience that there are no solutions that are not bipartisan. The only way to successfully confront those challenges and have the opportunity to turn around California's economy is for Republicans and Democrats alike to put down their weapons of political and financial destruction and work together to solve this crisis. "

Ueberroth is an impressive guy who is well positioned in this race -- except that his position is pretty much the same as Arnold's, and Arnold seems destined to black out the attention Ueberroth needs to move forward. Despite his accomplishments, I doubt he is very well known today after many years out of the limelight. But if Arnold implodes, Ueberroth would be there to pick up the pieces.

NOTE: An earlier version of this item reported incorrectly that Ueberroth would run as a true independent.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:12 PM



As campaign ploy, photo is a bust

Several readers have e-mailed with notes about Drudge's latest posting on Arnold. It's a picture of the young Schwarzenegger with a nude woman on his shoulders, her breasts positioned a few inches above his head. I'd actually seen the same photo in the run-up to Arnold's decision on whether to run. It's being viewed as part of the attempt to throw dirt at him, to drive down his popularity. Or so people seem to think. If I were Arnold, I'd be putting such pictures out there myself. I can think of very few people who would decide not to vote for Arnold based on seeing that picture. And I can think of quite a few who might just decide to vote for him. Plus if there's a little more of this there will probably be a backlash against the traditional politicians in the race, who will be suspected of distributing it.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:51 PM



Encyclopedia California

As much as any reporter, I want to hear the policy details from Arnold and the other candidates for governor. I think they need to tell us how they would dig the state out of its fiscal crisis. But amid all the talk of the incredible complexity of state government, it is time to reveal a dirty little secret: it’s not rocket science. The key to being a good governor isn’t so much the set of facts you bring to the office -- but your willingness to learn new ones once you are there. That and the ability to make intelligent, reasoned judgments and to have some idea about where you’d like the state to go. Feinstein said the other day that she doubts any of the candidates could tell us much about the state’s Healthy Families program that provides insurance for the working poor. I am sure this is true (although I also know that Bill Simon has studied up on that one). But I’m not sure it matters. We are electing a governor, not a director of Health Services. The state has hundreds of such programs under its control. No candidate, no governor, can be expected to know much about many of them. Besides, new issues pop up every day. When they do, a governor’s staff investigates them, gathers the information and briefs the chief executive. It’s the governor’s job to engage, to be curious, to ask probing questions, to decide and then to follow up. Those qualities are far more important than an encyclopedic knowledge of state government.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:08 AM



Beware the FEC

One issue I haven't seen mentioned in the coverage of Issa's withdrawal is the case pending against him at the Federal Elections Commission for the way he funded the recall. If the FEC were to rule mid-campaign that Issa's actions violated the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law (even though that law might well be deemed unconstitutional at some point), the decision would have finished off what was already a struggling Issa effort. I once thought that an FEC bombshell in, say, mid-September, might help Gray label the whole thing illegitimate. But Davis is going to need more than that to save himself now. And with Issa out, the potential taint from an "illegal fundraising" headline probably declines.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:35 AM



An endorsement with some mileage?

Mickey Kaus suggests here that he thinks Arianna is just dying to drop out and throw her support to Arnold. Kaus says Arnold might need to make some public gesture to win over the nation's most notable sworn enemy of the SUV. How about junking his Hummer?

Posted by dweintraub at 6:13 AM



Kudos to state high court

Up early, thanks to the needs of CNN and the west coast time difference, so what is there for me to do but read Supreme Court decisions? It’s funny how some things that we try to make so complicated turn out to be so simple. Just a week or two after the state’s politicians and media were obsessing on whether the words “if appropriate” in the constitution meant that we wouldn’t get a successor election in the recall, California's highest court dispensed with two lawsuits on the matter with a calm, common-sense – and unanimous – reading of the law. You will probably only get the news in your morning paper, and not the actual words of the decision. Here's the money quote:

Further, the circumstances relating to the origin of the “if appropriate” language in article II, section 15, subdivision (a), make it clear that this language was added simply to recognize that the election of a successor at a recall election is not appropriate when the subject of the recall election is a justice of the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court. The “if appropriate” clause was added at the same time, and to the same paragraph, as language explicitly providing that there shall not be any candidacy for a potential successor in the case of a recall election for an appellate justice, and was inserted to make the first sentence of the paragraph consistent with this addition….If an appellate justice is recalled, a successor is appointed by the Governor pursuant to the provisions of article VI, section 16, subdivision (d) of the California Constitution. Nothing in article II, section 15, subdivisions (a) or (c), or in the history of the California constitutional recall procedure as a whole, indicates that it is not appropriate to include a list of potential successor candidates when a recall election involves the office of Governor. Accordingly, the petition is denied.

I guess they thought the memory of Barry Keene, the former legislator who claimed that he wrote the words to ban a successor election, was faulty.


Posted by dweintraub at 5:39 AM



August 7, 2003

Rolling downhill

From a reader: "Darrell Issa got run over by his own snowball."

Posted by dweintraub at 5:43 PM



Westly staying put

In case anybody was wondering, state Controller Steve Westly, the former eBay executive and Stanford Business School professor, says he will stand by his commitment not to run for governor this year. Must be lonely.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:33 PM



Court rejects all five suits

The election is on. Gray Davis is not on both ends of the ballot. The court has rejected all five lawsuits, ruling unanimously on four of them. In the fifth, the case involving the signature requirements for getting on the ballot, It was a 5-2 vote. The federal courts still have jurisdiction over one of the voting rights cases.

from the court:

The California Supreme Court today unanimously denied relief in four of the five cases filed before it involving the special recall election set for October 7, 2003. In the fifth case, Burton v. Shelley, the court denied relief by a 5-2 vote, which was accompanied by a “speaking order” subscribed to by a majority of the court, a “speaking concurrence” subscribed to by Justice Joyce Kennard, and a “speaking dissent” signed by Chief Justice Ronald M. George and Justice Carlos Moreno. A list of the five cases that were denied today by the California Supreme Court appears at the end of this advisory.

In an order signed by Justices Marvin Baxter, Katherine Werdegar, Ming Chin, and Janice Rogers Brown, the majority concluded that the Secretary of State’s selection of a 65 to 100 signature requirement for candidates’ nominating papers and a $3500 filing fee was appropriate for placing an individual on the ballot for the office of Governor should the recall election be successful. Justice Kennard filed a separate concurring order in which she relied solely on the principle of affording deference to the exercise of discretion by the Secretary of State.

In their dissent, Chief Justice George and Justice Moreno concluded that there are substantial questions concerning the legality of the procedure selected by the Secretary of State in the context of a statewide recall election, given the history of the recall procedure in the state and the provisions of the current statutory scheme. For the reasons stated in their dissent, they would have ordered the Secretary of State not to take further steps to prepare for the state recall election until the issues could be fully considered and resolved by the court.

The three separate orders in the Burton case are attached, as well as a speaking order issued in Frankel v. Shelley. The other three cases were summarily denied.

The five cases in which the court denied review, in order of their date of filing, are:

1. Eisenberg v. Shelley, S117763. (Asserts that the placement of two initiatives on the recall ballot is inappropriate because the recall election is not a “special statewide election” within the meaning of the applicable constitutional provisions.)

[Denied unanimously.]

2. Frankel v. Shelley, S117770. (Seeks to omit from the recall ballot a list of candidates seeking election to the office of Governor and contending that if a majority vote in favor of the recall, the Lieutenant Governor will automatically succeed to the office of Governor.) [Denied unanimously; see attached order.]

3. Byrnes v. Bustamante, S117832. (Raises the same issue as in Frankel concerning the succession of the Lieutenant Governor should the recall election succeed.) [Denied unanimously.]

4. Burton (Mark) v. Shelley, S117834. (Involves the nomination requirements for candidates to be placed on the recall ballot.) [Denied 5 to 2; see attached orders.]

5. Davis v. Shelley, S117921. (Asserts that because of potential use of punch card ballots and consolidation of polling places, voters in some counties will be denied their equal protection right to have their votes count as much as others; that the California Constitution’s prohibition on permitting the officer who is the subject of recall election from being on the ballot to pick a successor in the event of a recall violates the equal protection rights of such candidate’s supporters; and that California’s recall process violates the federal constitutional guarantee of a republican form of government by frustrating majority rule. [Denied unanimously.]


Posted by dweintraub at 4:43 PM



Justice delayed

The Supreme Court has put off its announcement three or four times already. Something tells me that if they were merely refusing to hear these cases, it wouldn't be taking this long. Unless they want to say why they are refusing to hear them. It's other worldy for all this commotion to be going on with the candidates while the court is behind closed doors taking the first steps toward deciding whether the candidates will even have a race in which to run.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:05 PM



A candidate every minute

Issa is out (but will still help fund the recall), Simon and Garamendi are talking about running, and of course Bustamante made it official this morning that he is in. People are laughing off the "No on Recall--Yes on Bustamante" line, but I'm not ready to say it's a loser. Even if the recall wins in a landslide, 35 percent to 40 percent of the voters will probably vote no. If Cruz can train them to then vote yes on him, he's more than competitive. Bustamante also attacked the tripling of the car tax, which he said is unfair to the poor, and backed a plan to replace it with higher taxes on the wealthy and alcohol. That's a tack that's going to have some resonance. The legislature might even take it up before the election, giving Cruz a chance to show his leadership credentials in the midst of the campaign....

Posted by dweintraub at 12:48 PM



Movin' on up...

At least Arnold himself never said he wouldn't run. Now we're getting the guys who swore as recently as July 24 that they would not be on the ballot. Cruz is set to pull his papers for his campaign for governor at 10 am today. What's next, Feinstein?

Posted by dweintraub at 6:38 AM



Bad omen

This LA Times story saying Riordan was stunned by Arnold's announcement is a bad sign. If Schwarzenegger really expects to change the tone -- and substance -- of what's going down in the Capitol, he's going to do it not with Terminator-like force but with determination, persuasion and charm. The current occupant has no friends. But if this is the way Arnold treats his good pals, he's not going to be trusted any more than Davis....He couldn't have called the guy?

Posted by dweintraub at 6:35 AM



Ueberroth takes a look

When Arnold heads down to the Registrar of Voters to pull his papers later today, he just might run into another moderate Republican outsider with a desire to shake up Sacramento. Peter Ueberroth, the investor, former baseball commissioner, former Olympics czar, and the 1984 Time Magazine Man of the Year, is thinking about running for governor. Ueberroth is basically a more mature, seasoned version of Arnold, without the celebrity status. He's a Mr. Fix-it who could sell himself as a short-term caretaker who would solve the state's problems. But I'm not sure how he fits into this race. With so much else going on, it's possible that even a guy of his stature could get lost in the shuffle.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:24 AM



August 6, 2003

The fun begins

The campaign to recall Gray Davis began to take shape Wednesday as U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced she is out and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and commentator Arianna Huffington said they would run. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, meanwhile, met with political advisers to try to decide whether he should abide by a Democratic pact to stand behind Gov. Gray Davis, or break free and launch a run for the top job himself.

I have said before that I thought if Schwarzenegger ran he would win. While I made that comment with the assumption that top Democrats were telling the truth about not running to replace Davis, I haven’t seen anything today that would change my sense of the race. I still think Arnold is the man to beat.

His decision to announce on Leno perturbed a lot of the usual commentators, but I had no problem with it. His task is to communicate with as many people possible as quickly as possible. That was the best way to do it. (He could have gone without the bikini wax line, however.) More impressive was his first press conference as a candidate, when he vowed to go to Sacramento and “clean house.”

Schwarzenegger quickly displayed the cross-party appeal that will make him formidable. He talked about his coming to America as an immigrant and achieving his dreams. He talked about providing opportunity for all. He talked about leadership. And he talked about something that too few Sacramento politicians seem to realize: you can’t have any government programs unless you first have employers and good jobs, people who are earning money and paying taxes.

“The most important thing is that we bring business back in California,” he said. “More businesses are leaving California than ever before. When business comes back, revenue comes back. When revenues come back, we can afford all kinds of programs that are very important.”

Schwarzenegger also tried to use his personal wealth as a political advantage, contrasting himself with those who must pander to interest groups in order to raise money for their campaigns.

“I don’t need to take money from anybody,” he said. “I have plenty of money myself. I will make decisions for the people.”

This was the easy part, of course, announcing his candidacy in a fairly controlled environment. Now he gets to start answering the fun questions. Will you raise taxes? If not, how will you balance the budget? What do you think of the Colorado River deal? Do you support civil unions for gays? How would you reform workers compensation? Exactly what would you do to lure business back to the state?

He is not going to answer all of these questions. And most voters won’t expect him to. But how he handles them will shape how seriously he is treated as a candidate.

Democratic consultant Darry Sragow said tonight that Arnold's opener was great, but people aren't looking for inspiration, they're looking for someone who can manage the state through tough times. I don't think so. I think Gray Davis is a daily reminder of what can happen when someone with "experience money can't buy," or the "best-trained governor" in waiting the state has ever produced takes office. It's not about management. It's about engagement. It's about leadership and relationships, with others in the political process, and with voters.

Arnold has the potential to bring hundreds of thousands of voters to the polls who otherwise would not have participated in this election. While he is running as a Republican, I think he will get most of the independent vote and virtually all of the moderate Republican vote while making serious inroads among Democrats, even if a well known Democrat runs. He will leave perhaps 30 to 40 percent of the Republican vote, the core conservatives, to be split among whatever combination of Issa, Simon and McClintock remain in the race.

Arianna Huffington is running as an independent in a loose alliance with Green Party candidate Peter Camejo, with some hope of combining their support for Arianna at some point. It remains to be seen if that will work. It seems flaky to me. Huffington has a saleable message. She may have money behind her. But I think Arnold just takes all the air out of her campaign. He is the millionaire populist in this race, not her. He is the real celebrity, not her. He is the one who people will think can smash the special interests, not her. I think she remains an interesting but marginalized candidate.

On the Democratic side? Rumors persist that Cruz Bustamante and Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi might still jump in. Bustamante could be formidable. If he is able to raise a few bucks and benefit from some independent expenditures from political action committees, he could make a run at it. He will get some attention as potentially the first Hispanic governor in the modern history of the state. And he will get a bump from being lieutenant governor, which, as Gray Davis showed, is a title voters think means something.

Gray who? Oh yeah. He is still the governor, after all. Now that his vast right-wing conspiracy is being swallowed whole inside a mutli-partisan populist revolt, his best chance is to declare the thing a circus and hope voters trek to the polls to express their dissatisfaction. That or hope people feel sorry for him because so many candidates are picking on him. Or, finally, that people will be upset that someone might become governor with a smaller plurality than he won a year ago. None of these strategies seem very promising to me. Gray, in fact, risks everyone almost forgetting about him in their rush to evaluate the challengers. Don’t count him out. He has risen from the dead before. But if he does it this time it will truly be a miracle.

And to those still wringing their hands about the effect all of this has on the “political process,” I have this to say. Tonight and Thursday, more people will be talking and thinking about California politics and government than ever before. And from the looks of it, those people will have more viable choices in an election for governor than ever before. Commentators have been complaining about the lack of civic engagement and the lack of decent choices for a long time. Now we have engagement, and we have choices. Relax. Enjoy it.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:52 PM



Cruz rethinking his intent

Keep your eye on Cruz Bustamante. The lieutenant governor spent the day huddled in meetings with his political consultant, Richie Ross. I’m told he’s definitely reconsidering his “intent” not to run. And after the edict issued by the unions Tuesday, Cruz could even run as the one Democrat willing to cross the party’s top special interest contributor. “No interest group tells me what to do,” he’d say…


Posted by dweintraub at 6:21 PM



Arnold running for governor

Arnold Schwarzenegger is running for govenor, Fox News reports.

This from AP:

“The politicians are fiddling, fumbling and failing,” he said. “The man that is failing the people more than anyone is Gray Davis. “He is failing them terribly, and this is why he needs to be recalled and this is why I am going to run for governor.”

UPDATE: The Davis forces respond that "one more candidate" has entered the ring. It's still a conspiracy, they say, of Republicans "bent on pushing their harmful agenda on California." That's their story and they are sticking to it.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:15 PM



Supreme Court to rule tomorrow

The California Supreme Court has just announced that it will act on all five cases pending on the recall before the close of business tomorrow.

UPDATE: Court spokeswoman Lynn Holton says the court will issue orders either denying review or taking up the cases. If the court decides to take up one or more of the cases, the justices will call for additional briefing and hold oral arguments before issuing an opinion.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:00 PM



Issa good to go

Just as rumors that he might drop out started circulating in Sacramento, Rep. Darrell Issa, the first candidate to declare his intent to run in the recall, says he'll officially announce his candidacy Friday morning in San Diego. Issa has been laying low since spending $1.5 million to help qualify the recall. He has taken a number of hits from Davis and the media regarding a past checkered with run-ins with the law. Now, apparently, he's ready to run.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:06 PM



Huffington says she is in

Arianna comes out firing, with slams at the “right-wing power grab” behind the recall, President Bush and the Democratic establishment in Sacramento, which her campaign accuses of giving prison guards raises while laying off teachers. Her big policy pitch is to close tax loopholes for corporations. “Working families,” she says, “should not carry the privileged on their backs.” Sounds as if she is going for the Howard Dean vote in this election. With some money behind her, she might cause some damage.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:49 AM



Feinstein declares she will not run

Dianne Feinstein says emphatically that she will not run for governor in the recall election, which she condemns as a frivolous carnival likely to have "dark repercussions." Her statement isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of Davis, with only one mention of the governor by name and no praise for the job he's done in office:

Nine months ago, 3.5 million Californians voted in a fair election to reelect Governor Davis. I believe he should be given the opportunity to finish his term.

Instead, most of the statement describes her problems with the recall process, and the fact that she believes many of the candidates running will have little or no knowledge of the problems facing the state.

Her departure will probably lead top Democrats to turn next to Leon Panetta, the former congressman and White House chief of staff under Clinton. If he doesn't run, this could open the floodgates for second-tier Dems to jump in, including several constitutional officers.

But another possibility is that former LA Mayor Dick Riordan will become, in effect, the de facto Democratic candidate, with the unspoken assurance that he does not intend to run for a full term in 2006 if he wins this year. That would leave the ambitious group of officers -- Bustamante, Lockyer, Angelides, Westly -- with some comfort that they would be running for an open seat in three years. But it's still hard to imagine all of them standing down when each one knows that if he alone runs he would have a decent chance of winning.

To see Feinstein's statement: Download file

Posted by dweintraub at 7:14 AM



Days of decision

As the recall circus competes for front page space with the Kobe circus, final decisions are expected today from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arianna Huffington, and Darrell Issa, while Dick Riordan, Bill Simon and the entire Democratic Party continue to weigh their options. Meanwhile, a couple of more intriguing names to add to the list:

--Former Secretary of State March Fong Eu, 81, who says in the Sacramento Bee she will run if Feinstein does not.

--Actor Gary Coleman, whose name is being placed in nomination with the help of the East Bay Express, an alternative Oakland-based paper.

On a more serious note, the Chron reports that Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi could be the first big-name Dem to break ranks and decide to run. Though the paper cites no source for this speculation, it makes sense. Garamendi has great name ID and little to lose since he is termed out and not considered likely to be able to compete in a wide-open Democratic Primary in 2006.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:10 AM



White House fingerprints

A memo from a grass roots Republican operative mentioning support from a Bush campaign representative in California has renewed speculation about the president’s role in the recall campaign. The White House insists Bush forces aren’t involved, and Mindy Tucker, the San Diego-based campaign rep, says she’s aiding the recall independently of her work for the president’s reelection team. But Republican consultant Sean Walsh has a more realistic assessment: the recall is going to provide lots of political opportunities, and it’s smart for Bush to be ready to take advantage of them. Here’s the story in the SF Chronicle.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:06 AM



August 5, 2003

Presidential hopefuls chime in

Calling California a “Democratic holdout” against President Bush and a state that has charted a progressive agenda that can be a model for America, the nine Democratic candidates for president have signed a letter condemning the attempt to recall Gray Davis. The candidates urged all California voters to reject the recall and Democrats across America to stand “against this costly Republican power grab.” Nice gesture. Ok, we get it. Establishment Democrats hate the recall. I don’t think the letter is going to have much effect. Other than scaring the beejesus out of the rest of the country. A model for America? Yikes.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:57 PM



Union leaders stand behind gov

Organized labor is making one last stab and preserving Democratic support for Davis, issuing a press release today backing Davis and releasing the text of a letter sent Monday to the state's top Democratic officeholders. The letter was from Art Pulaski, executive secretary of the California Labor Federation.

Here is the text:

The Executive Council of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO met on
Saturday, August 2. The Council unanimously reiterated the strong, unequivocal position of the labor movement in California regarding the recall.

We are united against the recall of Governor Davis and urge all potential
democratic candidates to stay off the recall ballot and join with us in support of the Governor. United we will defeat this ultra-conservative coup attempt.

We anticipate that you will work with us over the next week to maintain this
clear, united message and that you will do everything in your power to campaign against the recall between now and the election.

s/Art Pulaski
California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO

Posted by dweintraub at 3:21 PM



Arianna edges closer

Arianna Huffington is holding a press conference in the morning to announce her decision on whether to run for governor. In an email greeting to supporters passed along by a reader, she says this:

“You've been reading every week my outrage at the state
of our politics, and I would love it if you could be
there to join me as I make the leap from analysis to
action -- from columnist to candidate.”

Sounds to me as if she is running. We’ll find out tomorrow.


Posted by dweintraub at 3:16 PM



Dr. Hasen dissects Gray's lawsuit

Election Law blogger Rick Hasen has posted an excellent summary and analysis of the three parts of Gray's lawsuit here. Also, links to the filings.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:26 AM



Perata: this can't be about Gray

"If it's a campaign about Gray Davis, we lose. I think it's pretty clear," said state Sen. Don Perata, D-Oakland. "My own experience tells me that, and my own constituency as well. And I represent one of the most liberal districts in the state of California. There will not be people coming out motivated to save Gray Davis." From the San Francisco Chronicle.


Posted by dweintraub at 6:46 AM



Davis has four days to save his job

The story of the day this morning is the increasing discomfort of California's Democratic officeholders, who fear Davis is going down and want an alternative on the ballot for fellow Democrats to vote for. The Bee's version of this story is here.

This is the kind of thing that can build on itself very quickly, because the consultants are polling just about every night now. Yesterday's headlines said Davis was trying to delay the election or challenge the rules. Not good. Today's headlines say fellow Democrats are losing faith in him. Not good. Later this week, the headlines are going to say, in all likelihood, that former LA Mayor Dick Riordan is entering the race. Not good (for Gray). By Friday, his numbers might be on life-support. And that is when his fellow Dems will gather to decide whether to stand by him or pull the plug.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:39 AM



August 4, 2003

Thinking outside the Box(er)

Barbara Boxer has been stirring the pot of late, trying to get her fellow Democrats to think about whether they need to dump Gray and settle on an alternative. Whom might she have in mind? A reader has a rather intriguing suggestion:

Here's an unconventional theory (of course, with the recall, unconventional thinking is now the norm):

The Democrats' best bet to defeat the recall is to have a sizeable number of Republicans vote against it. How to do that? As you note, labeling the whole process a "circus" won't work. Rather, the Democrats should put up a single candidate on the replacement ballot, one with high name recognition and holding statewide office, someone with a legitimate chance of winning. Like a United States Senator. No, not that one; the other one.

Yes, run Barbara Boxer to replace Gray Davis. With even just a few serious (or semi-serious) Republicans running to split the Republican vote and a core loyal liberal Boxer following (plus other Democrats with noone else to vote for), Boxer would have a decent chance of winning a plurality.

Now, ask Republican voters this question: if recalling Gray Davis means there would be a good chance that Barbara Boxer would become governor, are you still going to vote "yes" on the recall? In other words (actually, in Clint Eastwood's words), "Do you feel lucky today?" I think that a substantial number of Republicans would not risk having a Governor Boxer who, among other things, could appoint John Burton or Willie Brown to replace her in Washington.

Davis's campaign theme already is, "Defeat the Recall; It Could Be Worse." (OK, I'm paraphrasing.) But, right now, that theme resonates only with some Democrats. If the Democrats had a poison-pill Boxer candidacy for Republicans to fear, Davis could unite a disparate electorate under a single banner. How ironic would that be?

Posted by dweintraub at 5:12 PM



Bock is in

Former Green and Independent, now Democrat, Audie Bock says she is filing her papers today, which would make her the first candidate to officially enter the fray. And the former Assemblywoman from the East Bay comes in with a blast at party elites for trying to keep Democratic candidates off the ballot:

“Leading Democrats are increasingly voicing their belief that a majority of California voters will vote to recall Governor Davis. Yet, none of the prospective Democrat candidates that our party’s establishment has suggested as an alternative to Davis have themselves supported the recall. I find it contemptuous that the elite of our party acknowledge the will of the electorate to recall Governor Davis yet defiantly oppose it and instead suggest alternative candidates to Davis who themselves oppose the recall.

“Governor Davis will be recalled on October 7th. And when voters select his replacement it must be someone who shares the view of the electorate that a change in our state’s government desperately needs to take place. I am the only Democrat alternative to Gray Davis who is in step with the thinking of California voters.”

Bock is a longshot at best. But she is smart, feisty and colorful, and she's not part of the vast right-wing conspiracy. Her barbs from the left are not going to help Gray.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:16 PM



Putting his money where his mouth isn't

Arnold has been silent on whether or not he will run for governor. We won't know for sure until Wednesday. But we do know as of today that his interest in the recall is more than casual. The Rescue California committee has just filed an electronic report with the Secretary of State's office disclosing a $50,000 contribution to the recall campaign received from Schwarzenegger on Aug. 3.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:02 PM



McClintock to file Tuesday

State Sen. Tom McClintock says he's in, and he will file the final papers necessary to qualify as a candidate for governor in Ventura tomorrow. Look for him to try to ride the car tax issue long and hard while stressing government reform and trying to connect with the Republican grass roots who are at the core of the recall's support. He's no millionaire, and it will be difficult for him to raise enough money to be noticed in a crowded field. He might end up fighting for the conservative base with both Issa and Simon. It's not clear what if anything he can do to win crossover votes from independents and Democrats. But he has name ID from two statewide campaigns and he has credibility with the media from being right so many times about the budget. Don't count him out.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:18 PM



Davis suit filed

Davis has filed his lawsuit. To see the papers in pdf form, go here, at findlaw.com.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:23 PM



Democrats getting queasy

I get the impression that all hell is breaking loose in Democratic ranks today. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s comments over the weekend urging her fellow Democrats to keep their options open are almost certainly a reflection of new polling data showing Davis losing ground in his battle to beat the recall. I am told the latest numbers show the gap widening rather than closing, with the remaining undecided voters so virulently anti-Davis that it’s just a matter of them waiting to see a candidate they can back. And Dick Riordan, who would attract considerable support from independents and Democrats, is waiting in the wings. This afternoon, Democrats in the state Senate will meet behind closed doors and are likely to discuss, among other things, whether they should remain united behind Davis. There’s increasingly talk among top Democrats about an alternative candidate. If not Feinstein, then Leon Panetta’s name is still kicking around. The Democratic constitutional officers, meanwhile, haven’t completely closed the door on a campaign, and a move by any one of them could trigger a rush for the exits. With the Saturday deadline approaching for candidates to declare, and the courts weighing several lawsuits aimed at delaying or scuttling the vote, this will be a crazy week in California.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:51 AM



Warning: A good-news government story

Fresno County has come up with a brilliant way to save money and help assure that an Oct. 7 election can be pulled off efficiently. Top county managers, including at least one elected county supervisor, will work at the polls on Election Day. County elections officials are hoping to fill at least one-third of their staffing needs in this way. Here is the story, in the Fresno Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:07 AM



Davis: rules aren't fair

I will leave to the lawyers (for a while) the job of sorting out the legal claims in the suit to be filed today by Gray Davis challenging the rules in the recall election. But since I think that a huge part of the motive here is not to sway the courts but to sway public opinion with a "fairness" argument, I will take a whack at that issue right now. My take: the recall rules are not unfair.

Gray’s claim is that the rules are unfair because he is not allowed to run to replace himself should he be recalled. But Davis is on the ballot. He is running in and up or down referendum on his governorship. Everybody gets to vote, and if a majority votes in favor of the recall, Gray goes. If a majority opposes the recall, he stays. That’s his chance, and there is nothing unfair about it.

Next, if Davis is recalled, the voters have just said they want him out. It is perfectly natural to ask, since we have removed him, with whom should we replace him? That’s the next election, held at the same time. Gray’s theory is that one of those candidates, in a crowded field, could get fewer votes than he got, or, to put it another way, fewer than voted against the recall. But this means nothing. They are separate elections. There is no reason that the votes cast in one should be compared to the votes cast in the other.

The problem with Gray’s reasoning is that he is condemning the rules by forecasting the result. Using his logic, the same rules would suddenly be fair if only two people were to run in the replacement election, and one were to get 60 percent of the vote. Under this scenario, the new governor would have received more votes in the replacement election than the old governor got in the recall portion of the ballot. But the same rules cannot be both fair and unfair depending upon the result they produce. His argument falls apart.

This is not to say that it is wise to choose the next governor in a race where the winner might get only a plurality. I’m not as bothered by this as some people, but I certainly understand the argument against it. That issue, however, is one for election reformers and the people of California to debate, not lawyers. It may be that after this election (if it’s ever held) the people might want to add a run-off to the replacement election for those cases in which no candidate gets a majority. But that doesn’t mean it’s unfair to win in a plurality, and it’s certainly not unfair to Davis. As is so often the case these days, the answer is to legislate, not litigate.

ADD: Davis also plans to challenge the date of the election using some of the same reasoning advanced by the NAACP, that it's unfair to minority voters if there are fewer polling places than in the last election. Although I think that argument smacks of racial condescension, I am assuming it will get a better hearing in the courts. I'll address it in more detail later.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:27 AM



August 3, 2003

Transgenders for Davis

Late on Saturday, after the budget had been signed and all the Capitol reporters were chasing that story, Gray Davis announced that he had signed into law AB 196, the bill that prohibits employment and housing discrimination against transgenders, or people who perceive their gender as different from the one with which they were born. While this bill presumably affects a tiny number of people, it's understandably causing fits in the religious and business communities. Religious conservatives are upset over state sanctioning of rights for crossdressers. The business community fears this opens a can of legal worms that will be difficult to adhere to and costly to enforce. The idea behind the bill is to stop employers from forcing men to dress "like men" and women to dress "like women" if the men and women in question think of themselves as the opposite of what they appear to be to others.

Personally, I think employers should be free to tell their employees to dress like Martians if they want to, and employees should be free to accept a job under those conditions or look for a different one. And that goes for heterosexuals, homosexuals, transsexuals and transgenders. Yes, I am saying that I believe my boss has the right to ask me to wear a dress to work tomorrow. And if I don't want to do it, I have the right to go work someplace else where the dress code is more to my liking, or to start my own newspaper, where I can write the dress code myself. If you want a more common example, how about neck ties? I hate them, and they make me extremely uncomfortable. If I had a choice I would never wear one again for the rest of my life. But I believe my employer has the right to order me to wear one to work, whether I want to or not. And again, well, you know my answer... Mutual consent: a novel idea, no? To get an idea of the potential complexity of this new requirement on California business, read this summary prepared by the state Senate staff:

This bill imports the definition of gender from
hate crimes statutes that prohibit violence against any
person on the grounds of gender or perceived gender into
the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), thereby
extending the FEHA prohibition against discrimination to
that based on perceptions of an individual's gender,
regardless of whether the perceived gender characteristics
are different from those traditionally associated with the
individual's sex at birth. (Read the entire bill analysis here.)


Now for the question that will accompany every Davis action from now on. Will this help or hurt him in the recall? I think it will depend on the reaction, and whether the revulsion extends beyond the constituencies already outraged and to the general public. Based on the Davis campaign to date, it appears that the governor has concluded that everyone who is going to vote to recall him has already decided to do so, and now it's time to use the powers of his office and his argument to energize others who might support him to do so and get out to vote rather than sitting on the sidelines. But I am thinking that he must have signed this bill because he thought it was the right thing to do. The additional votes he could possibly get from any good will on this bill are miniscule, and the penalty from vetoeing it would have been small. But the risk he takes in signing it are, I think, quite large.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:50 PM



The phony war

Here is my column from today's Sacramento Bee, on why the budget Davis signed Saturday merely postpones the inevitable day of reckoning with California's fiscal crisis.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:10 AM



babincandidates.gif

Rex Babin on the growing list of candidates for governor. To see the full image, go here.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:56 AM



The inner Gray

Gray Davis on Howard Kaloogian, the leader of one of three committees that collected signatures to qualify the recall:

"Someone ought to put him out of his misery. Aren't there minimal standards to get on CNN? Or can anyone walking down the street say, 'Hey I want to say something negative about Davis. Put me on the TV.'?"

From Margaret Talev's article in the Sacramento Bee on the mood of the governor as the recall election became a reality.

Also this: Davis adviser Garry South says he told the governor early on to expect prominent Democrats to join the fray:

"I told him back in February when this thing reared its head ... that even though it would be highly desirable to keep all Democrats out of the race, that I just didn't think there was any way it could be done."

Posted by dweintraub at 6:30 AM



Poll: Recall ahead 54-39

The Chron reports that a California Teachers Assn. poll conducted before the budget deal showed the recall gap widening, to 54-39. That's actually the same gap shown in the last Field Poll among all voters. The gap in the Field Poll narrowed when the survey was limited to likely voters only. Not clear which sample the CTA was using. Democratic consultant Darry Sragow says he hasn't seen any poll results lately but is hearing that the gap is "15 to 20" points. If that persists this week, the pressure on Democrats to field a candidate in the replacement election will be intense.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:01 AM



At least this time he admits it

"This is wrong and this is bad policy, but I'm going to sign this budget nonetheless, because the cost of not signing it is too high," --Gray Davis, upon signing the 2003-04 California budget, from the Associated Press.

Here is a link to the budget documents.

Better yet, here is the non-partisan legislative analyst's take on the spending plan.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:01 AM



August 2, 2003

Simon says: Gray's budget another phony

Gray hasn't even signed the budget yet and Bill Simon is already out with a response. And it's one which tries to undermine any claims of progress Davis makes about this budget by taking you back to a year ago, when the gov downplayed the state's coming fiscal trainwreck.

“This budget is not a solution, it’s a surrender," Simon says. "It simply puts the problem off for years to come, which is this Governor’s signature response to every problem. By signing this budget, Gray Davis has mortgaged the future of our children and our state in a desperate attempt to save his own political hide. But the people will not be fooled, not now and not ever again, by Gray Davis."

Well said. It sounds as if Simon is serious about running again. First question: what would he have done instead? And no fair saying he would have avoided the problem. We'll stipulate to that. But the problem is here and it's now. If he were governor, how would he get us out of it?

Posted by dweintraub at 11:15 AM



Lawyers exploring: Let Gray Run

The Merc says Gray's lawyers are considering a new legal avenue: the election is unconstitutional because it denies the governor the right to run to replace himself. Aside from the legal theory, which is dubious at best, this angle highlights one major distinction between Florida 2000 and California 2003. In Florida, with the votes already having been cast and only the final prize at stake, both sides were free to engage in an all-out legal war without much fear of the political consequences. Sure, the candidates, mostly Gore, had to be careful to keep enough political support to sustain the legal strategy, but, except in the case of the dispute over military ballots, the two concerns didn't overlap much. Now it's different. Gray must be careful not to let his legal strategy undermine his relationship, such as it is, with the voters. And while claiming that it's not fair to keep him off the ballot might ring true with some, it also might strike many as complaining about the rules in the middle of the game. To the extent that Davis is seen as trying to subvert the will of the people, prevent or delay the election, or rig the rules to help him survive, he will look weaker, and it will make it that much harder for him to recover the kind of support he needs to prevail on Oct. 7.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:03 AM



$3,500 is a lot of jack for a gag

As of 4 p.m. Friday, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley reported that nearly 300 people had taken the first steps toward running in the recall -- but that exactly zero had completed the process to qualify for the ballot. If we end up with "only" 50 or 60 candidates instead of hundreds, will the relative dearth of candidates take the wind of out of the "it's a circus" sails?

Posted by dweintraub at 6:54 AM



Talk about crazy

The study of the psychological roots of conservatism that grouped Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Ronald Reagan, and Rush Limbaugh was funded by federal grants, reports Byron York in the National Review Online. The study’s authors received $1.2 million in federal funds, including money from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Science Foundation. By the way, York’s piece also notes that the study’s lead author was a Stanford University professor. The work has been linked to Berkeley because two co-authors came from Cal and the school was the first to trumpet the findings widely.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:44 AM



Hurry up and wait

Election law blogger Rick Hasen says the recall lawsuit to watch at the moment is the one that hasn’t been filed yet. I agree. He’s talking about the threat by the NAACP to sue over the use of punchcard voting, and perhaps also the issue of consolidated precincts depriving some voters (namely minorities) of an equal chance to vote or to have their vote counted. Hasen expects the suit to rely on – ready? – Bush v. Gore, the December, 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended litigation over the presidential election. Hasen says it’s quite likely that a federal judge will postpone the election to resolve these issues, and he expects the Ninth Circuit and eventually the Supreme Court to be involved.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:19 AM



August 1, 2003

The Hustler

Porn publisher Larry Flynt has taken out papers to run for governor and says he might invest some of his own money in the race if people take him seriously. He’d solve the state’s budget problems by expanding slot machine gambling, he says. "California is the most progressive state in the union," said Flynt, 61, according to the AP. "I don't think anyone here will have a problem with a smut peddler as governor." Flynt is a Democrat. I honestly have no idea how to assess him as a potential factor. I still think it’s possible that the voters are going to ignore all the fringe candidates, even those with money to spend, and focus on the people with either political or some other experience that makes it possible to imagine them as governors. There is a theory that if enough of the Flynts of the world get in, the voters will reject the whole thing as a joke and reject the recall. This theory has some appeal, but at the moment I’m not buying it. If people think the recall is a joke, they are likely to laugh at it – then stay home. The people who are serious about the recall, I think, will still vote.

Another thought: During a normal campaign, political reporters won't be caught dead writing about the third party or independent candidates or the major party candidates who are considered unelectable. They absolutely hate it. Those candidates are always complaining that they can't get any attention in the media. Who knew that all they had to do was replicate themselves and all in the sudden reporters would dub them "the circus" and write about them every day?

Posted by dweintraub at 7:14 PM



How the counties estimate recall costs

The San Jose Merc reports this morning that the official estimated cost of the recall has risen to more than $60 million. This number is going to continue to be an issue in the campaign, and I am trying to assess how it was derived. For those curious about how the counties estimate their costs, I have obtained this spreadsheet from Los Angeles County that shows a considerable amount of detail. It's not enough to make a definitive evaluation, but it's a lot more than I have seen from any other county. LA County estimates its costs between $13 million and $23 million, depending on the number of polling places that are opened.

Download file

Posted by dweintraub at 1:17 PM



Lockyer: Davis must cease "puke politics"

In the most explosive comments yet aimed at Davis by a fellow Democrat, Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer tells the Sacramento Bee that “prominent Democrats” will leave Davis for Riordan if the governor runs another of his famous negative campaigns.

"If they do the trashy campaign on Dick Riordan ... I think there are going to be prominent Democrats that will defect and just say, 'We're tired of that puke politics. Don't you dare do it again or we're just going to help pull the plug.' There is a growing list of prominent Democrats that, if that's how it evolves, are going to jump ship."

Lockyer wouldn’t say if he would be among them. A couple of thoughts: This makes Gray look not only bad, but small. To have a junior member of the executive branch, in an on-the-record interview, issue an ultimatum to the governor about how to campaign makes it utterly clear to voters that Davis simply cannot lead this state. As for the substance of Lockyer’s threat, consider this: Davis knows no other way to run. And if he doesn’t attack, his chances of winning are greatly reduced. So if Davis follows Lockyer's advice, he risks losing the recall, and if he defies him, he risks losing big-name Democrats, which would mean losing the recall. The plot thickens.


Posted by dweintraub at 5:56 AM



375-0801babin.gif

Bee cartoonist Rex Babin on the Democrat discomfort with Gray.

To see it full size, click here.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:55 AM



Riordan putting the team together

In the Mercury News, unpaid Riordan adviser Clint Reilly says Riordan is assembling his campaign team. He says it will include longtime adviser Noelia Rodriguez, now working as Laura Bush’s press secretary, and George Gorton, the former Pete Wilson hand who was to run Arnold’s campaign if there was one. Reilly will not be part of the group.

For Riordan fans, this is very good news. It is crucial that Riordan have someone on his team he deeply trusts, and someone who can speak the truth to him without fear. That's Rodriguez. And it is just as important that he have an experienced hand to help him focus his message and prevent the kind of issue free-lancing that distracted and undermined his campaign last year. That would be Gorton. Gorton, by the way, is the only Republican consultant to win a top-of-the-ticket race in California in 15 years. He did so several times with Wilson.

If Riordan runs, look for Arnold to play a visible role, and if he wins, look for Riordan to appoint Arnold to a prominent volunteer post, perhaps as head of a commission to jump-start California’s economy. That would add another credential to Arnold’s resume and help prepare him for the future run he apparently still wants to make. I know we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, but even in a blog, it doesn’t hurt to think long-term once in a while.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:50 AM



Arnold to announce decision, then chat with Leno

In another late-night round of phone-calls, Arnie’s people – this time it’s media adviser Sean Walsh -- put out word that the actor will announce his decision next Wednesday, shortly before appearing on the Jay Leno show. And he’s still “leaning against” running for governor.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:42 AM



 
 

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