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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« August 2003 | | October 2003 »
September 30, 2003

Times Poll: Recall, Arnold in lead

The LA Times Poll has the recall leading 56-42 and Arnold leading the replacement race 40-32 over Bustamante, with McClintock at 15. Here is the story.

UPDATE: Here is the PDF with the full results. Note...Latinos back the recall by 50-47, and 37 percent intend to vote for either Schwarzenegger or McClintock.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:39 PM

"They are against food"

Cruz has played the race card -- in an interview in Spanish with Xochitl Arellano on KUVS, the Univision Television affiliate in Sacramento. The station has translated the interview and sent a transcript to reporters covering the campaign:

"No one is asking me how much money I get from the Latino community, or from African-Americans, or from people in the Jewish community, or any other group," said Bustamante. "No one else, just the indigenous tribal governments. Why is that?" When asked if he saw this as racial discrimination, Bustamante responded: "Well, that's how it is, I think, sometimes. And I believe we need leaders who can unite, not divide, people."

The lieutenant governor had strong words for his Republican opponents in the recall race. "People who are on the ballot - people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom McClintock - want Proposition 187 once again. They don't want driver's licenses for immigrants. They are against food. They are against access to colleges and access to schools. They are against the opportunity to organize labor unions. They are against so many of the values we have in our community. I think it's important to see who the enemy is... It's the Republican legislators, candidates, and officials who say that they don't want to solve our community's problems. That they don't want children to go to school. That they don't want driver's licenses. All of those are Republicans, they're not Democrats."

The gubernatorial candidate spoke out repeatedly on his support for immigrants, and expressed his hope that they would support him in the upcoming elections: "If every person in the immigrant communities went out and voted, I could succeed just with their votes."

To read the entire transcript, download the file here.

UPDATE. The Condor faults me here for heading my item with a direct quote from the transcript, "They are against food." He suggests that the Univision translation was less than accurate. He says the phrase Bustamante used doesn't have a perfect translation from Spanish to English, but he suggests a closer call would have been: "They are against good nutrition."

Posted by dweintraub at 5:39 PM

Gen. Clark to back Davis

The latest candidate to enter the Democratic presidential race – Gen. Wesley Clark – will be in California Wednesday to pay his respects to Davis and weigh in against the recall. Clark will be the sixth of the ten to stop by. The four who have not yet come to lend their support are Kucinich, Mosley-Braun, Sharpton and Gephardt, although all of them signed a letter urging voters to keep Davis in office.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:59 PM

Even if Davis loses, he stays for a while

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley said today that absentee voting so far is up more than 50 percent from last year’s election, even after a week of dead time while the federal courts put the election on hold. Shelley said 1.1 million Californians have voted already, compared to about 700,000 who had voted by this time in 2002. About 2.8 million Californians have requested absentee ballots. Shelley believes this to be a record but isn’t sure because counties haven’t kept records on this in the past.

In other news, Shelley laid out a timeline for a transition if Davis loses, and it’s going to shock some people: a new governor would probably not take office until Nov. 15, 39 days after the Oct. 7 election, and possibly as late as Nov. 25.

Shelley said the counties have 28 days to complete their official canvas of the vote, then 7 days to get Board of Supervisor sign-off. Shelley then has four days to certify the election. Finally, the winning candidate can take up to 10 days to be sworn in if he or she chooses.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:10 PM

Huffington's future

Almost overnight, conventional wisdom around the campaign has focused on Arianna Huffington and how long she will remain in the race. Many think that Cruz Bustamante’s endorsement of her public financing initiative Sunday was part of a choreographed dance leading up to her quitting the race and endorsing Cruz. At the moment she is hovering in the very low single digits, so it’s hard to say that her exit would have much of a direct effect on the race. But Bustamante needs all the help he can get, especially a jolt of something to bring him out of a long campaign stupor. Arianna is nothing if not a jolt. She would certainly send a signal to the left that it's ok to back Cruz, which can't hurt at this point.

UPDATE: She will announce her decision on Larry King Live, and now there's speculation that she won't go for Cruz but will just be No on Recall. That would be amazing given her condemnation of Gray and his special interest politics. I guess we will just have to watch and see.

UPDATE: Bill Bradley at the LA Weekly reports that Arianna will not endorse a candidate on question 2. He adds that actor Warren Beatty has been advising both Huffington and Davis during the recall. Read the whole thing here.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:31 PM

What a Schwarzenegger budget might look like

Here is my column from today's Bee, in which I note that none of the major candidates has leveled with the voters about the pain that will be required to balance the next state budget. I could do another whole column speculating about what a Schwarzenegger budget might look like if he is elected. My early guess is that the only way out for him would be the federal government. He has already dropped hints on this front, suggesting that the feds owe us for the cost of serving illegal immigrants, and noting that the state doesn't get back anywhere near what its residents pay in taxes to Washington. And wouldn't President Bush, seeking reelection in a tough economic and political climate, love to be the one to bail out California -- and Schwarzenegger -- from a mess left by the state's only Democratic governor in 20 years? Republicans in Congress, eager for fundraising and campaign help from their celebrity governor, might also go along. At a minimum they could structure some or all of it as a federal bailout package, a loan to be repaid over 20 years.

If Schwarzenegger could get something on the order of $5 billion from Bush, $1 billion from the Indians, and $1 billion from a McClintock-style scouring of state government, and couple that with $2 billion in budget cuts of the kind proposed earlier this year by Gray Davis but rejected by the Democrats in the Legislature, he might be in the ballpark of a balanced budget. But without money from Washington, big money, I don't see any way he could present a realistic plan by January to balance the books for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2004.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:40 AM

McClintock-Bustamante matchup

The CNN/USA Today poll asked voters to decide hypothetical matchups between Bustamante and each of the two leading Republican candidates. Among likely voters, Schwarzenegger beat Bustamante by 58-36. McClintock beat him 56-37. See the chart here. The questions are numbers 5 and 6.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:32 AM


Arnold Schwarzenegger has been blasted by the left for glorifying the use of make-believe guns in his movies. Now Dave Kopel at the National Review Online comments on Schwarzenegger's relative ignorance of California law governing the use of the real thing.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:19 AM

Absentee ballots surging again

More anecdotal evidence that a high turnout is in the offing: The Mercury reports that absentee voting has surged again since the court-induced delay was resolved, and the Chronicle notes that a record number of absentee ballots – 2.7 million – have been requested in this election. More than 1.1 million people have already voted by mail. And the flood of absentee ballots expected on election day will mean that if the race is close, the outcome might not be known for several days.

NOTE: An earlier version of this item repeated the Mercury's assertion that 1.7 million had already voted. The Secretary of State says 1.1 million have voted by mail already, still well ahead of last year's pace.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:57 AM

September 29, 2003

USA Today explains poll sample

Jim Norman, the polling editor of USA Today, has just sent me a note trying to answer some of the questions that have been raised about the poll released Sunday. I am reprinting most of it here:

"Gallup initially interviewed 1,007 Californians. Of those, 787 identified themselves as registered voters. Of those, 581 were deemed 'probable voters' based on their answers to two questions: (1) how likely they were to vote; and (2) how interested they were in the election.

"When weighting techniques were applied to the entire sample of 1,007, the 581 probable voters became 509. That's how we wound up with 51%, which represents the percentage of the voting-age population, not of registered voters. (Probable voters represented about 70% of self-identified registered voters -- but we know a lot of these people aren't telling the truth.)

"Voter turnout in California, as a percentage of the total voting-age population, for the last four presidential elections, according to the Census:
2000 46%
1996 48%
1992 53%
1988 52%

"Some further information: When looking at the weighted sample of registered voters, 34% were self-identified Republicans (no leaners) and 38% self-identified Democrats. When leaners (those who initially identified themselves as independents but said they leaned to one party or the other) are included, there were 44% Republicans and 48% Democrats. The 4-point gap closely corresponds to the 7-point gap Gallup found for Californians when they combined all of our 2002 polling.

"One other piece of information: Probable voters in this poll are not entirely comparable to Gallup's likely-voter model because the likely-voter model includes a question on how often people have voted in such elections before, and California hasn't had an election like this before."

Posted by dweintraub at 4:07 PM

Too little, too late?

This was given to me by a person whose motive was to get some good news out there about the state's budget picture, but here are the latest numbers on tax receipts from the state Department of Finance: An internal department memo says taxes due Sept. 15 ran ahead of forecast, and revenues overall for the month are expected to be about $400 million higher than projected. The memo says that income tax withholding was up $120 million, other personal income tax receipts are about $200 million ahead of projections, and corporate tax revenues are expected to end the month up about $75 million. No information is yet available on sales tax receipts for the month.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:00 PM

CRP backs Arnold

The California Republican Party board of directors has just voted to endorse Schwarzenegger in the race to replace Davis if he is recalled. I have questioned the value of this endorsement in the past, and even suggested that it might hurt Schwarzenegger as much as it helps him -- by making McClintock out to be a folk hero, or by giving Davis more ammo with which to rally the Democratic base. But people with experience in party politics say I am overlooking the fact that the endorsement allows Arnold to blanket California Republican voters with mail and phone calls reminding them that he is the official choice of their party, and that this alone is worth any blowback he gets from either McClintock or the Democrats. Perhaps. But I think this race might be beyond all that anyway. It really is now a campaign between Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, as perhaps it was destined to be from the start. If voters feel comfortable with Schwarzenegger, if they sense that he can do this job, then the recall will pass and he will probably win. If Davis can do something in the final week to dislodge that impression, with personal dirt or by making his case that Schwarzenegger is not ready for prime time, then the recall would fail. A Republican Party endorsement at this point seems almost beside the point.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:49 PM

An Issa-Davis debate?

Rep. Darrell Issa is challenging Davis to debate the recall, saying that since he was the major force behind it, Davis should argue its merits with him while staying out of the discussion on question 2. Creative ploy. But I doubt Davis will take him up on it. The success or failure of the recall probably rests now on voter perceptions of Schwarzenegger and whether he can do the job. He is the one Davis has to take down, not Issa.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:05 AM

More on CNN/USA Today poll

Here is a link to the USA Today chart on the CNN/USA Today Poll. It shows the 63-35 margin for the recall among "probable voters," which seems to be their word for what others call "likely" voters. Among all registered voters in this poll, the recall leads by a 55-41 margin. There remains some confusion about turnout assumptions. CNN reproted that the poll assumed a 51 percent turnout of eligible voters, which equates to about 70 percent of registered voters. This report from USA Today simply says that the sample of "probable voters" assumes a "51 percent turnout." It doesn't specify whether that is of registered voters or eligible voters. The distinction is very important.

UPDATE: Here are some more clues buried in footnotes spread among the poll charts. The poll appears to be based on 369 Democrats and Democrat/leaners and 356 Republican/Republican leaners out of a sample of 787 registered voters. I don't know what a "leaner" is when you are asking people how they are registered, but leaving that aside, this would mean the sample is 47 percent Democrat and 45 percent Republican. That's more of each group, and far fewer independents, than you normally see in a California poll sample. Beyond that, the poll charts note that there were 286 Republicans considered "most probable to vote." If that is out of the same subset of 581 "probable voters" listed at the bottom of the chart, Republicans as a share of the probable vote would be 49 percent. That's not impossible, if Republicans are supercharged to vote and Dems stay home, but it would certainly explain the huge margin for the recall that the poll found among "probable voters."

Posted by dweintraub at 8:49 AM

September 28, 2003

CNN: Recall winning big, Arnold in lead

A CNN/USA Today poll by Gallup released today shows the recall leading 63-35, with Schwarzenegger ahead of Bustamante in the replacement election 40-25, and McClintock at 18. The poll assumes that about half of eligible voters will go to the polls, compared to a little over one-third a year ago. That would equate to a turnout of about 70 percent of registered voters.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:03 AM

The Bustamante Juggernaut

Here is a sad story in the Monterey County Herald about a strange visit to Salinas by Cruz Bustamante.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:24 AM

Questions re Cruz's schooling, rental home

While everybody is bracing for late dirt on Arnold, two California papers today dish out some late dirt on Cruz:

The Fresno Bee reports that Bustamante, who completed his college degree late in life, was given preferential treatment by getting credit for a speech class he never attended. Cruz got the credit after a professor reviewed his public speeches for a few minutes and determined that he would get at least a “C” in the class if he were required to attend.

And the LA Times reports on Bustamante’s rental property and suggests strongly that he might have used it to improperly reduce his taxes. The home, which he rents through a federally subsidized program for low-income people, has also failed several inspections, the Times reports.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:34 AM

Editorials on the recall

Several of the state’s major papers ring in this morning with editorials on the recall – and almost all of them are negative. The Bee, the LA Times and the San Jose Mercury all recommend a No vote on the recall and pointedly refuse to endorse on the replacement question. The Times and the Bee take time to rip all the major contenders, while the Mercury pretty much ignores them. The San Diego Union-Tribune, meanwhile, endorses the recall after admitting its earlier misgivings, and endorses Arnold in the race to replace. UPDATE: The Long Beach Press-Telegram endorses Arnold.

Here are the editorials.

The Bee: Vote no on recall

The Bee’s separate editorial on the replacement election, No clear choice

UPDATE: The Bee's editorialists are offering their individual views on the replacement election at the Ed Board's blog, Fly on the Wall.

The LA Times: Why the Recall is Wrong

The Mercury: No…and nobody
and Davis is Lucky

The Union-Tribune: Davis must go
and Arnold the Outsider

Long Beach: Recall Davis, Elect Arnold

Posted by dweintraub at 7:24 AM

September 27, 2003

Republican Party directors call emergency meeting

The California Republican Party has scheduled an emergency board of directors meeting for Monday at 1 p.m. in Burbank to consider endorsing a candidate in the recall replacement election. It's clear that at least some of the directors want the party to go on record endorsing Arnold. Once again, this bullying of McClintock strikes me as futile. Unless he has sent a signal that he would withdraw if the pary directors endorse Arnold, I don't see how this will change anything, other than to give McClintock one more "backroom deal" to rail against and give his supporters one more reason to consider him a hero. Then again, with Arnold and Cruz running neck-and-neck, if Arnold can somehow take half or more of the 15 percent to 18 percent now backing McClintock, it might provide the margin of victory. I'm just not a fan of political parties, especially when they act this way, so I have a natural adverse reaction to this sort of thing. I still think Arnold gets those votes anyway on Election Day, but doing it this way further polarizes the race and makes it tougher for him to win crossover and independent votes.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:01 PM

What's next, an endorsement?

Final two paragraphs of a story posted today at CNN.Com:

"Saturday, Bustamante made the unusual move of praising one of the Republican contenders. Bustamante talked up McClintock, who has been taking votes from Schwarzenegger and could spoil the actor's chances if Davis were recalled -- thus allowing Bustamante a chance to win.

"'The one who's really been moving in this race has been Tom McClintock,' Bustamante said at a campaign stop in Los Angeles. 'Tom has done a good job to get up there. ... Tom has a really strong message, and there's a group of people out there who strongly believe in his values.'"

Thanks for the tip from reader JT.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:01 PM

Recall options market moving to Arnold

From time to time during this campaign we have checked in with the betting at, where you can buy futures contracts on the recall and the race to replace. In the latest trading, “recall fails” has dropped from 42 to 23 on a scale of 0-to-100 in just the past few days. A contract on Arnold to win has climbed from 34 to 56. And a contract for Cruz to win has fallen from 31 to 23. McClintock to win: 1.7. The way these contracts work is that you buy them on the trading block at a price set by the market, and if your pick wins, you get back 100. If your pick loses, you get nothing. Caveat: while there are 14,000 of these contracts in circulation, daily trading is quite light and might be subject to manipulation.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:13 PM

Cruz fumbles work comp issue

In the big debate Wednesday night, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante made what might have sounded to some viewers like a creative proposal for reforming workers compensation: give safety discounts to employers with injury-free worksites. Like “good driver” discounts in auto insurance, Bustamante said, his idea would reward good behavior and penalize bad behavior, presumably leading to lower rates for firms that do the right thing.

“There’s no incentive for a good workplace and a bad workplace because they get paid or they get a premium that’s exactly the same amount,” Bustamante said. “So if we were to provide a worker, a safe-workplace discount, and we’d be able to have an incentive for those people who are not doing a good job to do a better job, we could lower premiums on those that are good worksites and increase the premiums on those that have the bad worksites.”

Amazing concept. Maybe that’s why it has long been the concept at the heart of workers compensation insurance. Called “experience modification,” it works like this: every company is assessed a basic rate according to its industry, based broadly on the risk involved in its work. Roofers pay a lot more than paper pushers for each dollar of payroll. But after that rating is done, it is modified by experience. Just one expensive injury claim can drive a company’s rates up dramatically, by 50 percent or more. They generally stay up for three years and then decline only if the firm is claim-free. A good safety record gets you – guess what – a discount!

Cruz’s idea, in other words, already exists, as any insurance seller or business owner could have told him.

A few weeks ago, in a speech in Fresno, Bustamante gave a fundamentally incorrect description of the way the state got into its budget mess, arguably the number one issue in the recall election. This week, in the biggest debate of the campaign, Bustamante gave a fundamentally incorrect description of the way workers compensation works, arguably the second most important issue in the campaign and the issue at the heart of the debate over the state’s business climate.

People make mistakes. I understand that. But these statements were not on trivial matters. They were not off the cuff. And they reveal a total misunderstanding of the basic forces at work on the state’s most debated problems. Experience in government, it seems, is no guarantee that a candidate knows what he is talking about.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:01 PM

How the Dems are helping Tom

One of the untold stories of this campaign is the degree to which Democrats have helped Tom McClintock stay competitive in the race to replace. Everyone by now knows that the casino gaming tribes, which clearly favor Bustamante, are helping McClintock in what appears to be a strategy of pulling votes away from Schwarzenegger. But Democrats also have given McClintock a completely free pass on policy positions he has taken that are opposed to everything Democrats believe in.

This is why it’s pure fantasy for McClintock fans to say their man could win if only Schwarzenegger would pull out and endorse him. If McClintock ever became a real threat, the Democrats would take off the gloves and pummel him with the same social issues that they used against Republican nominees Dan Lungren in 1998 and Bill Simon last year.

When it was disclosed that Schwarzenegger voted for Proposition 187 in 1994, Democrats labeled the immigrant actor anti-immigrant. But McClintock not only voted for that measure, he wants to revive it today by re-opening a federal court case that Davis settled in 1999. Yet I haven’t heard Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres blasting McClintock lately.

McClintock also opposes abortion and would refuse to fund Medi-Cal abortions for poor women. But we haven’t seen Code Pink or NOW dogging McClintock with protests at every event.

McClintock opposes gun control and gay rights and supports Proposition 54, the Racial Privacy Initiative. He wants to eliminate the state Coastal Commission, an icon for a generation of environmentalists. Not a peep from Democratic-leaning interest groups on those issues.

Finally, McClintock, despite his reputation as a master of fiscal detail, has taken liberties on the budget that would get a serious candidate in serious trouble. His contention during this week’s debate that he could cut $18 billion in bureaucratic waste from the state budget “without breaking a sweat” was laughable. There is definitely waste to be cut from the budget, but most of what the state spends from its $71 billion general fund goes to people providing services, such as teachers and doctors, or directly to the poor in welfare payments or aid to the aged, blind and disabled. Yet McClintock’s far-fetched claim went unchallenged by Democrats.

The Democrats are aiding and abetting McClintock, just as they helped Bill Simon in last year’s Republican primary, because they fear the election of a moderate Republican, and they know that such a development would help Republicans regain a foothold in California politics.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:19 AM

Voter registration climbing

Voter registration for the Oct. 7 election will exceed last year's numbers, and turnout on Election Day probably will as well, the Chronicle reports. A survey of counties finds that the ranks of independent voters continue to grow, while Republicans are holding their own and Democrats are facing declines in key counties.

UPDATE: Keep your eye on the Central Valley. This was a surprising Davis stronghold in 1998, and drifted away from him in 2002. Now the Chronicle numbers show that Fresno County, where Republicans had a narrow 43.9-43.0 registration edge a year ago, is today 46.2 percent Republican to 40.5 percent Democrat. That is a massive change in just one year.

UPDATE 2: More anecdotal evidence that a big turnout is brewing, from Contra Costa and Alameda counties. In the Contra Costa Times.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:21 AM

Judge to Cruz: halt ads

The judge in the Bustamante contributions case ordered the lieutenant governor to make a "good faith" effort to halt the ads he is running and paying for with contributions raised from casino tribes and public employee unions in amounts that far exceed the $21,200 legal limit on campaign donations.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:14 AM

September 26, 2003

How to make Americans love politics

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post loved the recall debate -- and the format. Via Kausfiles.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:46 PM

Davis goes negative

Gray Davis has just rolled out his first negative ad of the campaign, hitting Schwarzenegger for what he says are misstatements on the budget. The ad says spending went up less under Davis than under both Browns, Deukmejian and Reagan, and notes that 47 other states have deficits “because of the national recession.” Then it adds: “Why can’t Arnold Schwarzenegger get his facts straight? He has no experience. …won’t answer press questions…won’t debate unless he has the questions in advance…and didn’t even bother to vote in 13 of 21 elections….Vote no on the recall.”

Posted by dweintraub at 6:22 PM

Another million from Indians for Tom

According to the Secretary of State's web site, the Morongo Indians just dumped another $1.15 million into their television advertising campaign for Tom McClintock.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:41 PM

Dem polls show recall with double-digit lead

Everybody knows that candidates who are leading in the polls don't challenge their opponents to debate. So Gray's challenge to Arnold is a tip-off: the gov's momentum has slowed and he is in trouble, just a week and a weekend before the election. How much trouble?

My sources tell me that two Democratic polls, including one by the California Teachers Assn., show the recall leading 54-40 and 54-41. That's a lot of ground to make-up, even if you subscribe to the wisdom that Davis needs only to shave the 54 down to 49.9, which is true but makes the task seem somewhat easier than it is.

The race to replace in one of the Democratic polls is even between Cruz and Arnold at 30-29, with McClintock at 18. The CTA poll, I am told, has Arnold opening up a five-point lead at 31-26, with McClintock at 15. Still a ton of undecided voters out there.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:26 PM

Hewitt: Arnold should take on Gray

Author, commentator and radio host Hugh Hewitt has some advice for Schwarzenegger: accept Davis' challenge to debate, and then some. Agree to debate the governor, but only if he'll do three in three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday before the election. That would suck the air out of the other replacement candidates' campaigns and give Arnold a way to defend against last-minute Democratic hit pieces. Brilliant.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:54 PM

Arnold backs Indian gaming expansion

Beneath the debate strategy talk in the Contra Costa Times story on their interview with Arnold was some real news: he wants to expand Indian gaming, essentially adopting the position of the tribes, and without charging them a dime of tribute! Instead of paying him campaign contributions, he wants them to pay the state higher fees, which would have to be considered "mitigation" for the effects of their operations on their neighbors because they can't legally be taxed.

Money passage (pun intended):

On Thursday, he said he would seek a share of Indian gaming revenues similar to the 25 percent that Connecticut receives in agreements with gaming tribes there. That plan mirrors a call by Davis early this year to draw $1.5 billion in Indian gaming revenues. Davis has since retreated from the $1.5 billion goal.

"I want to help (gaming tribes) build it from a $5 billion industry to a $10 billion industry ... Let them increase the amount of slot machines. Boom, let their business go crazy. But let them participate and help us," he said. "It's not even an extra tax. It's just, be fair about this and just come in and give the state some money."

Posted by dweintraub at 3:28 PM

Must read

Michael Lewis captures the recall in a fantastic piece in Sunday's New York Times Magazine. The lead anecdote features an interview with the governor's neighbor, a woman who signed the recall petition and contributed $2,000 to Rescue California. The piece is very long, and very much worth reading.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:21 PM

More Indian money

Earlier today, the Pechanga Band of Mission Indians gave $1.5 million, and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation gave $400,000 to the First Americans for a Better California, their joint political action committee. The committee reported spending $473,000 on a mailing for Bustamante. A few minutes ago, the committee reported spending $1.5 million on a television ad buy for Bustamante.

The Pechanga Indians, meanwhile, gave $76,000 to the California Republican Assembly, a grass roots group that backs McClintock, and $49,000 to Tax Fighters for Tom McClintock. The Barona Indians gave $21,000 directly to McClintock.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:09 PM

Arnold: running for consultant-in-chief?

This morning, while I was waiting to do a segment on MSNBC, the network aired a piece of a television interview Schwarzenegger had done with the NBC affiliate in Sacramento. The clip they played showed Arnold talking about McClintock, and whether McClintock should drop out of the race, and whether he might directly ask McClintock to drop out of the race.

Returning to the office, I found that yesterday, Schwarzenegger also did a sit-down interview with the Los Angeles Daily News and the Contra Costa Times. Both stories led with lengthy coverage of Arnold's comments on his debate strategy, the fact that he hadn't wanted to share the spotlight with his opponents, but that he was pressured into it because he was tagged as afraid to debate. The headline on the Contra Costa story was "Pressure forced Arnold into Forum."

What is going on here? Is Arnold running for Gray Davis' job or Garry South's old job? I'd blame this on his handlers, but it also says something about Schwarzenegger's own political acumen. When you complain to reporters about the debate over debates taking attention away from your campaign's message, you have just created another day where the debate over debates takes away from your campaign's message. When the candidate is on the air talking about his desire to see an opponent drop from the race, he is not talking about his desire to clean up Sacramento, or improve the economy, or fix the schools. This seems pretty elementary to me.

If I am Schwarzenegger, I brush off every question about McClintock with a smile and a shrug, saying something like: "Well, we are both carrying a similar message in this campaign, that it's time for change in Sacramento. I am that change. And I look forward to working with Sen. McClintock when I become governor." Anything more than that is not just a distraction, it makes McClintock into a folk hero to the right.

If I'm Schwarzenegger and I'm asked about debates, I come up with something similarly mundane and unquotable and change the subject to political corruption or jobs.

At this point McClintock and Davis are the only ones talking about California. Bustamante has disappeared and Arnold is obsessed with political strategy.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:28 PM

The chat room

I did an hour-long online chat, or question and answer session, this morning about the recall and California politics with the readers of Here is a transcript.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:36 AM

September 25, 2003

Is there more to Arnold's Indian bashing?

I have been having a running, private e-mail debate with a non-partisan, non-aligned reader about Arnold’s ads attacking the Indian casino contributions. My correspondent, for whom I have high regard, suggests that the commercials fit a pattern for the Wilson team: they ran against Latinos in 1994 with Proposition 187, against blacks in 1995 (for Wilson’s short-lived presidential campaign) via affirmative action, and now the Indians, under cover of the political reform issue.

My first reaction to this charge was that it was nonsense. From everything I have heard (and not from the Schwarzenegger camp) polls show that the Indians are generally held in high esteem in California, that Californians want them to do well and support their right to run gambiling operations, and attacking them over their casinos is actually a risky strategy. While there might be a strain of anti-gambling sentiment in the electorate, there is no latent anti-Native American sentiment to tap. Besides that, the gaming tribes asked for it: they are the biggest spending interest group in California, they have been throwing their weight around in the Capitol, and they have spent millions of dollars to support Schwarzenegger’s two main opponents: Democrat Cruz Bustamante and Republican Tom McClintock. Schwarzenegger was making special interest influence a theme of his campaign before the Indians even got involved, and in a sense they walked right into his strategy.

But there is that pattern, and in fact it goes back further than my friend suggests. In 1990 Wilson surprised the political world by endorsing term limits, which were in part code for terminating Willie Brown, then the flamboyant, black speaker of the California Assembly. In 1992, in the mid-term elections, the Wilson operation ran against welfare mothers with a ballot measure that would have slashed their benefits. What to make of this, and how do the Indians fit in?

I think it might have more to do with the fact that Wilson and now Schwarzenegger have tried to perform uncomfortable balancing acts at the center of the political spectrum and toward the left of the Republican Party. It is difficult to energize your base when your key issues are children and education and the environment and other such squishy things. There are not too many angry white males beating down doors for the Hydrogen Highway. And even though Schwarzenegger shouldn't have any problem with the macho vote, he does have a problem with true believers in the party who need some raw meat to chew on.

Enter the Indians -- a perfect symbol of special interest influence running amok in Sacramento. My instincts tell me they are the scapegoat du jour not so much because they are an ethnic group but because they are the most convenient target through which the Wilson/Schwarzenegger team can rile up the Republican base, and they fit into Schwarzenegger's "Son of Hiram Johnson" campaign theme. But I am willing to entertain alternative explanations, especially from people who have hard data or intelligence to support the ethnic-based theory. Please let me know if you do.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:19 PM

Think Tom is dropping out?

Think again. The Morongo Band of Mission Indians just reported another $850,000 television ad buy for McClintock. From the Secretary of State's website, tip via RecallWatch.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:51 PM

Debate ratings soar

According to reports we are getting from the local stations, 25 percent of the available televisions in the Sacramento area tuned into the debate Wednesday night. That is huge for a political debate. Haven't seen the statewide numbers yet.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:43 PM

County chairmen back Arnold

The Republican County chairmen have just endorsed Schwarzenegger in a lopsided vote. Simon has also thrown in with him. Issa will probably be next. The Republican Establishment Primary is over, and Schwarzenegger has won. McClintock has three legislators and thousands of grass roots activists on his side. Even if he stays in, I think his share of the vote will begin to erode and Schwarzenegger's will rise. If it happens quickly enough to show in the next major poll, it could become a stampede.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:23 PM

All over the map

I can’t remember another political event that generated such widely divergent opinions as last night’s recall debate. I’ve talked to rabid Democrats who thought Arnold did great, and Arnold fans who thought he did poorly. I’ve talked to Republicans who liked Cruz, who thought he was on top of the issues and calm and collected, and Democrats who agreed with my take that he was terribly patronizing when he wasn’t comatose. Some people thought Davis won because the five on stage looked small, while others thought the debate was enlightening, fun and strengthened the case for the recall. The only common ground I am finding is that McClintock excelled by sticking to the issues, playing it straight and explaining the state’s problems and potential solutions in language that everyone could understand. And nearly everyone seems to think that Huffington was an outrageous distraction who took more away from the debate than she contributed. She and her staff – and the Democrats – are suggesting that her exchange with Arnold that prompted his “Terminator 4” line is going to destroy his support among women. Among women, and men, with whom I have talked, I’m not hearing that. She was so aggressive and so rude herself that I think she forfeited any right to play the victim.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:30 AM

September 24, 2003

No clear winner

I don't think anyone won this debate. Schwarzenegger seemed a little too trigger-happy with his quips and retorts, most if not all of which sounded rehearsed. Bustamante was calm and collected but also rude in a passive-aggressive kind of way. McClintock demonstrated his encyclopedic knowledge of state government, steady and stable as usual, but didn't do anything to wow you. Huffington was shrill and cock-sure while Camejo sounded like a Berkeley economic professor, confident in the justice inherent in his world view but not very realistic. Schwarzenegger said this would be the "Super Bowl" of debates, but his performance was more apt for a pre-season game. He didn't exactly embarrass himself, but neither did he score any touchdowns. It's possible his performance will play better with the casual viewer than a junkie like me. It can be dangerous to judge these affairs before seeing the clips that play on the nightly news. But to me he seemed not terribly distinguished, unable to float above the fray or take up much space in the debate. It's possible that he lost by not winning, but I don't think this debate will prove to be a turning point. The campaign continues toward the finish line pretty much as its been for several weeks: Schwarzenegger unable to shake off McClintock, consolidate the center-right vote and pull away from Bustamante.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:09 PM

Live from debate central

If the debate stories you read in your morning papers tomorrow seem a little cranky, here's why: the press facilities at the Sacramento State University debate hall are, well, less than ideal. The debate organizers have issued credentials to more than 500 media members from around the world. But the press room has space for only 50 or 60 reporters to work. Phone lines and power outlets are relatively scarce, and almost all the working space was taken before 4 p.m. To make matters worse, cell phones don't seem to be working inside the room. Say what you want about the press corps being spoiled and pampered, but when you invite folks to your place to do their job, you ought to provide the basic tools they need to work. Fortunately, your blogger arrived early and secured a prime spot, and with the help of an industrious colleague and a Sacramento State student, managed to tap into an unadvertised university wireless network. So no complaints here. But I'm feeling their pain.

UPDATE: I am told by a refugee from the overflow room that there is more space in the basement of the university library. But phone lines are going fast there as well. I still say: the crankiness quotient is and will be on the high side.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:14 PM

Arnold and the Indians

Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t letting up on the Indian gaming issue. He is hitting harder. Perhaps he realizes that this is not the kind of fight in which you can engage halfway. Once he decided to take them on, he opened himself to a potentially massive counterattack from the gaming tribes, and so now he must go all the way. Today his campaign released a new radio commercial in which an announcer cites the casino tribes as the most powerful special interest in California and notes that they have spent $120 million in the past five years. The ad cites a Sacramento Bee report about a closed-door meeting with the gaming interests where Davis, Bustamante and McClintock “all made promises” to them. It cites an LA Times story on the amount the tribes have given to each of the campaigns. “Only one major candidate doesn’t take their money,” the announcer says. “Arnold Schwarzenegger.” Cut to Arnold:

“Their casinos make billions, yet pay no taxes and virtually nothing to the state. Other states require revenue from Indian gaming, but not us. It’s time for them to pay their fair share. All the other major candidates take their money and pander to them. I don’t play that game.”

The ad is similar to the television commercial Schwarzenegger started running this week but adds the names of his opponents and the details about their relationships with the tribes – no small alteration. Schwarzenegger seems to think he has found the issue to make his “special interest” charge real to the voters, to solidify his position as the only viable outsider who can bring change to Sacramento, even as he has surrounded himself with some of the Capitol’s most experienced insiders. He just might end up making special interest money the number 1 topic for the rest of the campaign.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:01 PM

Gaming politics

John Fund of the Wall Street Journal comments astutely here about the rise of the gaming tribes as political players in California and provides new details about a strategy to use McClintock to undermine Schwarzenegger's campaign.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:44 PM

The sixth debater

Democrat Garrett Gruener, the Ask Jeeves founder trying to break out of “also-ran” status and into the top tier of candidates on the ballot, is going to use technology to try to insert himself into tonight’s debate. Gruener will be in a separate building at Sacramento State University, with a television, a digital recorder and a web camera trained on him, and his own moderator. Gruener will answer any questions put directly to the candidates and then respond in real time to the discussion among the five who are allowed into the debate hall. The whole thing will be webcast live on his site, which you can find here.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:19 PM

A fiscal house of (credit) cards

A Sacramento Superior Court judge has shaken the state’s fiscal house of cards with a ruling blocking the sale of nearly $2 billion in bonds the state hoped to use to pay its obligation to the pension fund this year. The pension bond sale was always the shakiest of the three debt pillars upon which the budget rests. But Tuesday’s ruling could lead to a similar ruling in a much more important case involving the $10.7 billion deficit bond that is the cornerstone of California’s fiscal plan. If a judge rules that this bond, too, violates a constitutional ban on borrowing more than $300,000 without a vote of the people, the state’s credit card will be taken away and budget writers will be forced to either raise taxes or cut spending to bridge the gap. Here is a wire story about the decision.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:12 AM

UCLA: recovery still a ways off

UCLA's respected Anderson Forecast project has scaled back its projections for California's economic recovery once again. Here is a story in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:10 AM

September 23, 2003

Brulte joins Arnold. What about Issa?

Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte, the state’s highest-ranking Republican elected official and a longtime ally of President Bush, endorsed Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor today. Rep. Darrell Issa, the San Diego County congressman who bankrolled the signature gathering for the recall, might be next. In a telephone interview today, Issa distanced himself from his comments Monday in which he said he might urge voters to reject the recall if both McClintock and Schwarzenegger stay in until the end. Issa told me that he will endorse one of two candidates by Sunday at the latest, and those around say he doesn’t intend to back McClintock. His Monday comments, Issa said, were meant as a “wake-up call” to fellow Republicans. “I am trying to make the picture crystal clear. Very clear. It’s unacceptable to have two candidates splitting 50, 55 percent of the vote so that the people of California will choose a pro-business candidate and not get one.” An endorsement from Issa would send a very strong signal to Republicans that Schwarzenegger is their man. It would also, potentially, further polarize the race, as Issa was never a popular figure with voters, who didn’t seem to like his original goal of helping to put the recall on the ballot with his money and then running for the office himself.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:56 PM

If I did it they'd be stick figures

The Bee's cartoonist, Rex Babin, joined me and the political press corps last weekend for a jaunt to San Diego for a Schwarzenegger event, then up to LA for the state Republican convention and Bill Clinton's appearance at the AME church. It wasn't exactly Fear and Loathing on the campaign trail, but Rex captured the scene well in a colorful sketchbook published Sunday. See it here.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:37 AM

9th Circuit analysis

Rick Hasen, who wanted to delay the election, posts his analysis of the 9th's decision here.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:25 AM


I think the 9th Circuit decision simply restarts the race, with eight days and who-knows-how-much voter focus having been taken away. Unlike a Supreme Court reversal, I don’t expect this decision to become an issue in the race, since it’s hard for Democrats to paint the liberal 9th as part of the right-wing conspiracy seeking to turn the state over to the Republicans.

All eyes now turn toward Wednesday’s debate, with the stakes higher than ever. Schwarzenegger must show that he is credible. He doesn't need to show he knows everything about state government, but he must show that he is sophisticated enough, savvy enough, to hold his own in the hardball world of the state Capitol. He has both raised and lowered expectations, raising them by describing this event as the “Super Bowl” of debates but lowering them by allowing himself to be painted as the guy who knows nothing about state government and is afraid to talk about it. Judging from the several free-wheeling press conferences I have seen him conduct with the political press corps, I think he is more than capable of shining in this debate. Bustamante, meanwhile, must shore up his Democratic base, which seems to be deserting him even as he has moved to the left. And he must persuade at least a few independents that he is more than just the candidate for the emerging Latino plurality and the Indian casinos. Look for him to appeal to the middle class with a call for increased spending on the public schools and a rollback of this year’s tuition increases in higher education. McClintock’s toughest moment will be in the Green Room, before the debate, when he must decide what tack he is going to take. If he really thinks he has a chance to win this thing, his only path to the top is through Arnold. Will he attack Schwarzenegger as an amateur dominated by the big-spending Wilson team, or will he focus on Bustamante, and on Davis, and try to shine by presenting his own passionate views about this crucial moment in California history? His answer to that question will affect not only his fortune but Schwarzenegger’s as well, and ultimately, perhaps, the recall election itself.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:58 AM

Ninth Circuit orders Oct. 7 election

Here is the link to the decision.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:07 AM

Issa: vote no if two Reeps stay in

Darrell Issa says he's going to advise a "no" vote on the recall if Schwarzenegger and McClintock are still exchanging blows on Election Day. The man who bankrolled the signature drive says he fears Republicans will split the vote and elect Cruz Bustamante the next governor. Here is the story in the Chronicle.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:43 AM

Voter interest running high

Voter interest in this election, measured by late registrations, is running somewhere between last year's governor's race and a typical presidential election. Here is a Mercury-News report on last-minute sign-ups in the Bay Area.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:21 AM

September 22, 2003

What the lawyers are saying

It looks as if the lawyers don't agree with my layman's prediction of an activist ruling reinstating the Oct. 7 election with conditions. Most of the takes I have read so far lean toward a simple ruling setting the election back on track with no bells and whistles. See Rick Hasen for his take and links to a few more. Hugh Hewitt doesn't say so explicitly here, but he did today when we chatted on the radio. How Appealing, meanwhile, blogs that the court will announce its decision in the morning, and he says he will post a wide range of legal reaction later today.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:21 PM

Latino caucus v. Latino kids

A few weeks ago I opined in this space that the members of the Legislature’s Latino Caucus, obsessed with ethnic identity, are pursuing policies that are damaging to the interests of their own people. We now turn to Exhibit A. Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh, chairman of the caucus, has been at war all year with the state Board of Education over how much time immigrant children should be required to study English each day. The state board’s answer: at least as much as native-English speakers, or 2½ hours a day. But Firebaugh argues that devoting that much time to English/language arts studies won’t leave enough time in the day for kids in bilingual education programs to study their core subjects in their native tongue. Now Firebaugh has a bill on the governor’s desk that would force the school board to take his side.

At issue is whether California schools will be required to follow the state’s standards in order to participate in the federal Leave No Child Behind program and obtain funds distributed by the feds. The school board, following state laws, says local schools can offer bilingual programs when parents request it, but they’ve still got to teach English to those kids. Firebaugh says ignore the standards and give them the money. He takes this position despite recent test scores showing that young children in bilingual programs are reaching proficiency on the state’s English and Language Arts standards at a far slower rate than children in other programs. They are the very children who need English instruction the most. Stopping them from getting it, I would argue, is against their long-term interests.

Note: This bill, AB 1485, would also roll back an important part of the state’s standardized testing program and weaken California’s commitment to education accountability. The bill was amended in the waning days of the legislative session to eliminate, except for third graders and eighth graders, that portion of the tests that seeks to ensure that California’s standards, and its student performance, are not slipping below national norms. The other part of the test, which measures how well our kids do on our standards in grades two through 11, would remain in place. But the check against national norms is crucial. Even if our students are doing fine on our California-only standards, it’s still vital to know how well they compare nationally. That’s the best check we have against moves to dumb down our benchmarks or change performance standards to make our students’ performance appear better than it really is.

UPDATE: Here is the most recent Senate staff analysis of the bill. The bilingual issue discussed here is summarized in the second to last graph.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:37 PM

Splitting the baby

I think the recall case was decided in the first five minutes of oral arguments, when Judge Kozinski asked Tribe if the Berkeley study of punch cards researched what would happen to the “error rate” if the ballots were counted by hand rather than by machine. Prediction: the court will order that the election proceed on Oct. 7, accompanied by a massive voter education campaign about how to vote by punch card, and, possibly, a hand count of all the punch card ballots. Wouldn’t that be a great way for the liberals on the 9th to skewer the Supremes without postponing the election, by finding that Bush v. Gore, which stopped a hand count in Florida, actually requires one here? California, by the way, has statewide standards for manual counts, unlike Florida, which didn’t even seem to have consistent standards within counties. One final twist: the court might also give the plaintiffs their original demand by postponing the election on Proposition 54 until March. Be careful what you wish for.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:19 PM

Judge: Cruz can't accept big Indian money

A Sacramento Superior Court judge has just ruled that Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante cannot legally accept large contributions from the Indian casino tribes and use them to pay for television commercials showing him arguing against Proposition 54, the racial privacy initiative. The court ruled that the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission erred in advising state politicians that they could raise money in excess of the $21,200 limits if they had a political committee in place before the limits were approved by voters in November, 2000. The ruling seems to leave Bustamante with no choice but to return the millions in Indian casino contributions he has received, and the Indians no choice other than to launch independent campaigns on Bustamante’s behalf. Here is the full ruling.

UPDATE: The decision requires Cruz to give back only that portion of the money that he still has. Money already spent, which is probably most of what he has already received, won't be affected.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:36 PM

Those ubiquitous protesters

Two ways of covering Schwarzenegger’s press conference to unveil his environmental proposals. One style, in the Bee and the Mercury, describes the proposals, adds substantive reaction to them and mentions that there were protesters heckling Schwarzenegger about his Hummer and other issues. The other, in this case from the Chronicle, leads with the demonstration, saying the candidate was “dogged by persistent protesters and hecklers” as he tried to seize the environmental mantle. Both styles describe actual events and weave in material from elsewhere. So which is most accurate? Every reporter who covers campaigns knows that both major parties, but especially the Democrats, recruit volunteers and even use some paid staff to harass the opposition with signs and protests at their public events. It’s not as if these people suddenly materialized from the streets of Carpinteria and showed up on the beach to hound the leading Republican candidate. Should they be quoted? Yes, if they have something intelligent to say. Should their disruption be the story? I'd say no, unless that is the story, meaning a serious examination of the tactics used by one or both parties to keep the opposition candidates from communicating their message to the people of California. Otherwise it's like giving attention to a disruptive child, and encouraging tactics which may be amusing to us reporters but do nothing to further intelligent debate about the issues confronting California.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:05 AM

Color commentary

How Appealing is all over the 9th Circuit hearing with a pre-game show that shouldn't be missed. He also promises more blogging before, during and after the oral arguments, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:19 AM

September 21, 2003

Bee on the wall

The Bee's editorial board has begun a group blog, called Fly on the Wall, with the first order of business being discussion of the questions in advance of Wednesday's debate. Please visit early and often.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:56 PM

Arnold goes all wonky on us

Last November, Bill Simon, who opposed abortion rights, gun control, and gay rights and favored limited school vouchers, got 10 percent of the Democratic vote and 38 percent of the independent vote, according to the LA Times exit poll on election day. Right now, according to the Public Policy Institute Poll released today, Arnold Schwarzenegger has the support of 11 percent of the Democrats and 21 percent of independents. Today Schwarzenegger reached out to the center with a comprehensive environmental plan that could have been written by Bobby Kennedy Jr. (Oh yeah, it was!) He wants to build "hydrogen highways" with hydrogen filling stations every 20 miles, promote solar power and crack down on polluters. He does mention some market-based ideas, including congestion pricing and financial incentives to get drivers to junk old, polluting cars. One side note: with this proposal, Schwarzenegger now has an economic plan, a political reform plan and an environmental plan. Who does he think he is, the policy candidate? To see the whole thing, download the PDF file here.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:51 PM

Pregerson: Don't bet on ruling surviving

Eugene Volokh thinks Judge Pregerson's comments to the LA Times Saturday, in which he predicts that the three-judge panel's recall ruling will be overturned, are a violation of the judicial code of conduct. Link via LA Observed. And here is the original Times story. Registration required.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:40 PM

The bricklayer

The San Jose Mercury News offers another story raising questions about Schwarzenegger's immigration record, this one looking at whether his brief stint in the bricklaying business in the early 1970s violated the terms of his visa.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:24 AM

Or maybe you want to watch football

If, in advance of Monday's hearing, you're looking for some deeper insight into the issues at stake in the 9th Circuit recall case and background on the judges on the panel, your best bet is How Appealing, a blog by Philadelphia-based appellate lawyer Howard Bashman.

You might also try Election Law blogger Rick Hasen, with the caveat that he is a participant in the case on the side of the original plaintiffs: he wants the election delayed.

And for real junkies, try the eleciton law list-serv here. But be warned this is not a blog. It is a thread of sometimes hard-to-read emails from election law experts.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:14 AM

September 20, 2003

Cruz, Arnold tied in new poll

The drive to recall Gray Davis leads 53-42 among likely voters while the race to replace the governor remains a toss-up between Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, with state Sen. Tom McClintock trailing in third place, according to a new poll to be released Sunday by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The poll of 2,001 adults, including 1,033 likely voters, was conducted between Sept. 9 and 17. Among its findings:

--Support for the recall has dropped since the institute’s last survey a month ago, when the recall led 58-36 among likely voters.

--Cruz Bustamante leads the replacement election with 28 percent, with Arnold Schwarzenegger at 26 percent. That difference is within the poll’s margin of error and reflects a dead heat. Tom McClintock was third with 14 percent. A full 18 percent of voters remain undecided going into the campaign’s final two weeks.

--Bustamante so far has the support of just 49 percent of Democrats, with 11 percent saying they will back Schwarzenegger and 6 percent supporting McClintock.

--Schwarzenegger leads McClintock 47-24 among Republicans, with 7 percent saying they intend to vote for Bustamante.

--Among independents, Bustamante leads with 24 percent while Schwarzenegger has 21 percent and McClintock 12.

--Unlike other polls, which showed the state’s Latino vote badly split, the PPIC survey shows 49 percent of Latinos backing Democrat Bustamante. Schwarzenegger gets 15 percent and McClintock 9. The PPIC poll has by far the largest sample of Latinos of the three independent polls in California.

--Just under half of voters, or 49 percent, say the recall against Davis is an appropriate use of the provision, while 45 percent say it is not.

Look for the full poll to be posted some time Sunday here.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:06 PM

Sweat equity

A few days ago I asked for candidate ideas on balancing the budget. Randall Sprague is on the ballot, and has exactly one year's experience as a member of his homeowner's association board of directors. Here are his ideas on how to fix the state's fiscal mess. His most intriguing suggestion: let students work off some of their tuition by picking up the slack for laid off state workers. Mr. Sprague, meet the California State Employees Assn.!

Posted by dweintraub at 7:00 PM

The week ahead

Here’s a preview of the week ahead in the recall race:

Monday: All eyes will be on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal in San Francisco as an 11-judge panel that experts says is about as conservative as you can get from this court considers whether the election should continue as scheduled until Oct. 7 or be cancelled midstream and reset for a later date. The hearing begins at 1 p.m., with each side getting 30 minutes to argue its case.

Tuesday: Early betting is that a decision in the case could come as soon as Tuesday. If the election is left on Oct. 7, the campaign will resume in earnest as the plaintiffs in the case appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. No one thinks the high court would reverse such a ruling. If the 9th Circuit panel cancels the election, recall supporters will appeal to the Supremes, and what they might do then is a much tougher call.

Wednesday: The first and perhaps only debate in which Arnold Schwarzenegger has agreed to participate will begin at 6 p.m. at Sacramento State University. Other participants will be Tom McClintock, Arianna Huffington and Peter Camejo. Cruz Bustamante, the leading Democrat in the race, is still considering whether to participate. The debate promises to be a wide-open exchange, with opening questions pulled from among a dozen already made public, with each question followed by a no-holds-barred discussion among the candidates. Each of the participants will be able to rebut and question the others under the guidance of a moderator, with no pre-set time limits other than one-minute for the first answer to each question. See my earlier item here for a list of the questions.

This debate will be the most watched political event in California history, and the pressure will be on Schwarzenegger. If he can leave viewers feeling comfortable with him as a political figure and not just a celebrity, if he makes no major mistakes and demonstrates leadership qualities, he could get a major boost from the event heading down the stretch of the campaign. If he makes a blunder, looks foolish or out of his element, voters who have been on the fence might write him off and start thinking about their alternatives. Bustamante, meanwhile, has to show that he is more than a candidate of the casino Indian tribes and the state’s emerging Latino population. Look for him to appeal to the state’s middle class by bashing big business and promising to hold down and roll back college tuition while boosting funding for K-12 education. McClintock must convince Republicans that he can win if they abandon Schwarzenegger and he must show independents and Democrats why his conservative principles should appeal to them.

Thursday. The Republican Party’s county chairmen have scheduled a private meeting in Sacramento at which they will consider endorsing either Schwarzenegger or McClintock. Schwarzenegger has the edge here and, if he performs well at the debate, should win this unprecedented contest. This endorsement, if it comes, is the closest any candidate can come to getting the official stamp of the Republican Party. McClintock and his allies are already portraying the meeting as a potential “back-room deal” of party bosses aimed at railroading the rank and file into backing Schwarzenegger and forcing McClintock out of the race. It remains an open question whether winning this battle helps or hurts Schwarzenegger in the greater war. His aides are convinced that the way for him to win lies in sewing up the Republican vote, and they think he can do that by winning the visible backing of party leaders. But doing so amid criticism of the process from rank and file activists risks making him appear to be a typical politician and not the insurgent he started out to be. It also holds the danger of telling Democrats and independents, who lean left in this state, that this is a partisan race.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:51 AM

Davis signs partners bill

Governor Davis has taken the political ritual of burying controversial news on Friday afternoon to new heights, and now he seems to have extended the rule to cover even mildly risky moves, like yesterday’s signing of AB 205, the domestic partners legislation. The religious right hates this bill and has threatened to sue to block its enactment. Their beef: the voters said in 2000 that state-sanctioned marriage should be only between a man and a woman. But this bill doesn’t create gay marriage. It simply gives to domestic partners most of the same rights and responsibilities that married people have under state law. And polls have consistently shown that voters make this distinction. They want the institution of marriage restricted to heterosexual couples but want gay couples to be accorded the same rights and privileges they would have if they were married. If I were king I would get the government out of the marriage business entirely, privatize it and leave it up to couples to draft contracts that suited their needs. But there are certain issues like community property, child custody and child and spousal support obligations, mutual responsibility for debts and the right to make funeral arrangements, which have become the prevue of the state and will probably remain so. I see no problem in extending these rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples. Doing so carries no adverse effects for third parties, and in fact might be of benefit to those seeking to collect debts from domestic partners, and to the state if partners are required to pay child or spousal support that keeps their partners from needing state services. Here is the Bee’s story on the bill signing, and here is the latest legislative analysis of the measure.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:46 AM

What the tribes want

What do the Indians want from Sacramento? The LA Times answers the question here, in a comprehensive story on the growth of the tribal casino lobby and its political agenda in the Capitol. Registration required.

The Bee has a story here on recent casino tribe compacts containing an important new concession to their neighbors.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:45 AM

'Never mind'

The debate about the debate seems to be cooling down now that all of the potential participants have read the rules. McClintock agrees to participate after realizing that the format allows all the canididates to ask each other as many questions as they like, providing the possibility for what his campaign manager calls the "WWF" of debates. Bustamante is still checking. Here is the story in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:26 AM

September 19, 2003

Ted Costa rips Shelley's legal strategy

Recall sponsor Ted Costa’s lawyers have just filed a motion with the court asking to split the allotted 30 minutes of time with the attorney general, who is representing Secretary of State Kevin Shelley. The attorney general wants to keep the entire 30 minutes to himself. But Shelley, Costa argues in the motion, has confined his legal arguments to date in this case to process, arguing that the case is not properly before the court because the state’s settlement in a prior lawsuit allowed the use of punch card voting until March 2004. Shelley, the motion says, “has left it to Costa – a private citizen – to develop the entire factual record concerning competing voting technologies, to muster the constitutional arguments as to why the impeding election does not violate the Equal Protection Clause and to bring before the Court the manifold public policy concerns that auger against an injunction and for the People’s right to vote….In fairness to the public interests at stake, and for the sake of complete presentation of the case, the Court should allocate to Appellee Costa the bulk of Appellees’ collective argument time.”

Posted by dweintraub at 4:56 PM

The 9th Circuit lineup

How Appealing analyzes the 11-judge panel picked by lottery to review the three-judge panel's decision. His take: as conservative as it could get. Link via PrestoPundit.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:41 PM

Indian casino money for Cruz and Tom

The Pechanga/Sycuan Indians today reported spending $924,000 on mail and phone banks on behalf of Cruz Bustamante.

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians yesterday reported spending $471,000 on its first television buy for Tom McClintock.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:17 PM

Shelley: filing would reopen

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley said today that he believes the entire recall election will have to be restarted from the beginning if the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals does not reverse its three-judge panel’s ruling postponing the Oct. 7 election date. Shelley said that means candidate filing, which was such a zoo the first time around, would reopen, with a new filing deadline 59 days before the March 2 election, or any other election date set by the court. He also said he believes that ballots already cast, which now total more than 500,000, would have to be destroyed. But he wouldn’t say whether he intends to appeal to the Supreme Court if the 11-judge en banc panel does not vacate the earlier ruling. “Much of it depends on the timing,” he said, adding that voters and elections officials need a certain amount of time before the election to know for sure that the balloting will proceed.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:56 PM

9th Circuit to hear case en banc

The 9th Circuit has decided to review the three-judge panel's ruling postponing the Oct. 7 election. Here is a story on CNN.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:25 AM

Every planet on Earth

Gray Davis in his first term famously said that he thought the Legislature's job was to implement his vision. People have been asking him ever since what his vision is. He was asked again Wednesday night at his "town hall" forum with a friendly audience in Sacramento. He fumbled the question terribly with some much-quoted remarks about people from "every planet" settling in California. Below I have transcribed the entire answer. While it got better, and there are glimpses of some thought about the nature of California, he still, after nearly 30 years in state government and five as governor, has great trouble succinctly stating his view of where California is today and where he'd like to take it. Here is the full quote:

"My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state, ah, we have the sons and daughters of people from every planet, of every country on earth, in this state. We are about 50 years ahead of the rest to America. We have no ethnic majority any more. I want to prove we cannot just survive, we can succeed. Let me tell you why. Most of the of folks that come here are the sons and daughters of middle class parents someplace else, they are enterprising, hard working, and they are able to attract capital from whatever country they came from into whatever business they’re doing. And that creates jobs for folks that are already here, gives them opportunity. And that’s why I want to make sure education is open everybody, that we have scholarships for kids who get a B-average in their school and if they have financial challenges then we’ll pay for all the academic costs of any public college they can get admitted to on their own merit. That wasn’t the law before I became governor. It’s the law now. It’s a tremendous motivator for young people. It is also a way in which a teacher can motivate a young child who doesn’t have two nickels to their name. Because it doesn’t matter, if they get a B-average. I am very excited about this state. It has great opportunities. They say California rides point on America. Some things we do we do really well. Some thing we do not do as well. But I want to prove we can succeed, big time."

Posted by dweintraub at 10:37 AM

Let the sun shine, let...

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to open up California’s public records to public scrutiny would be a radical and long overdue transformation of the way state government does business. Veteran Capitol reporters know that the Public Records Act is misnamed. It should be the un-Public Records Act. It has so many exemptions that almost every important document in government hands is now secret. In particular, communications with the governor and drafts of proposals, as well as records of the governor’s schedule and with whom he is meeting, are all secret. Critics say government discussion would be “chilled” if bureaucrats and advisers knew their words would become public. I doubt it. Other states, particularly Florida, allow broad public access to government records and don’t seem to suffer from it. While some sensitive discussions would no doubt be re-routed, the state simply does too much business among too many people for everyone to be censoring or hiding their views all the time. Allowing public access to internal documents would give citizens a much better sense of how their government was being influenced, how decisions were being made, and on what information their servants were basing their actions. California reporters, and citizens who do this kind of work, know we are far more limited in our access to information than watchdogs in other states and even those who track the federal government. If a gnome in the Department of Finance warned Gray Davis that a fiscal train wreck was coming and he ignored it, we would never know, because current law keeps such correspondence secret. If someone advised Davis that the electricity industry was about to implode, we’d never know it, because all correspondence to the governor is exempt from the public records act. If the governor signs a bill at the bidding of a big donor despite credible evidence that the bill would harm the public interest, we would never know it, because advice to the governor on legislation from his departments is not public under the public records act. If a draft of an important report is altered later for political purposes, we’d probably never know about it, because it is very difficult to get drafts of reports from the executive branch. If Californians want to take back control of their government, they first need to know what their government is doing, and why. Re-writing the public records act to actually make records public would be a huge first step in that direction.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:02 AM

Floating above the fray

The next few days will be crucial to the campaign of Arnold Schwarzenegger if the Oct. 7 election date is restored by the courts. His one major remaining Republican rival, Tom McClintock, is about to benefit from television commercials paid for by the wealthiest interest group in California – the Indian tribes who run gambling casinos. McClintock and all the other candidates, meanwhile, are combining forces to ridicule the actor for ducking all but one debate, and for choosing as his only debate one with a format in which the questions have been released in advance. His opponents either don’t know or don’t care that the format also allows for 90 minutes of free-flowing give and take among all the candidates, with all of them free to ask each other any question they like. The media have picked up on the everybody-ganging-up-on-Arnold theme, which is more fun to write about than the sort of serious political reform proposals the candidate offered Thursday in Sacramento. How Schwarzenegger responds to all of this may well decide the election, which remains a toss-up in independent polling. If he stays above the fray, laughs off the attacks and notes that his foes are being financed by the very interest groups he has threatened to sweep from the Capitol, it could solidify his campaign and win support in the days leading up to the election (if there is one). If, on the other hand, he attacks and snipes and whines about his opponents (as he did on Thursday), voters will likely see him as weak and partisan, not the kind of leader who can bring people together for the greater good of the state. It is truly extraordinary to see candidates from across the political spectrum, including a major Republican and major Democrat, working together to undermine one of their rivals. That seems, again, to play right into Schwarzenegger’s hands, reinforcing the “outsider” persona that his own campaign has so far failed to emphasize. But as Reagan so often showed, words, gestures and body language matter at times like this. One example: I remember how Reagan almost never used the word “Democrat” when criticizing his opponents. I always assumed that this was because he wanted every possible Democrat to vote for him, and he figured that blasting the party by name would make its members defensive and less likely to support him. So he always said things like “there are those who would undermine our security…” or “my opponents say…” Schwarzenegger has his moments as a communicator, but he hasn’t mastered that skill of using words that unite even as they define his differences with the opposition. With intense interest focused on his every move, his every word, he will need that skill in the next few days, and in the debate next week, if he is going to win this campaign.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:18 AM

Schwarzenegger's reform proposals

Here is the Bee's story on Schwarzenegger's political reform proposals, the most comprehensive analysis of the package in any of today's papers.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:54 AM

Balloting slows

Nearly 500,000 ballots have already been cast, putting California on a pace to equal or surpass turnout in a regular general election. But what was a geyser has slowed to a trickle since the 9th Circuit court ruling. Here is a story from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:37 AM

September 18, 2003

Question time

AP has moved a story saying Bustamante, McClintock, Camejo and Hufffington are drafting a letter in which they will threaten to boycot next week's debate unless the sponsors drop 12 questions submitted by the public and already released and use a traditional format instead. It's not clear from the story whether the letter will really come together. There seems to be some question whether all the candidates are really willing to threaten to drop out. Stan Statham, president of the California Broadcasters Assn, says the format will not change.

A couple of things:

1. Schwarzenegger has already said they he would be happy to debate next Wednesday whether the questions are released in advance, or not.

2. The candidates, and to some extent the press, don't seem to understand that this is designed as a free-wheeling debate. The questions will be openers. After the first response, all the candidates get to jump in with rebuttal, followups, comment or whatever they like. The four who are complaining can spend all 90 minutes peppering Arnold with questions if they like. This would seem to hold the potential to be superior to any of the previous debates.

Disclosure: The idea of releasing the questions in advance was mine, and it was intended to engage the public in a discussion of the issues in advance of the debate, increasing expectations for the candidates to answer in more than sound bites.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:53 PM

I thought the GOP convention ended

At his press conference today on political reform, Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked a question he had to have expected, about the casino Indian tribes bankrolling commercials for Tom McClintock. The question gave Arnold the perfect opening to talk directly to the voters about the very issue he was discussing while at the same time taking a swipe at his last remaining major Republican opponent. He could have used the moment to say how this showed that the Indians have become the biggest, baddest special interest in Sacramento, and that by helping McClintock and Bustamante both they were playing a cynical game and proving that he, Schwarzenegger, is the man the special interests fear most. Instead, he gave reporters, and by extension readers and television viewers, a political consultant’s answer questioning McClintock’s loyalty to the Republican Party. Maybe it’s just me. But every time I hear a candidate talk about party loyalty, I want to tune him or her out. I don’t really care, ok? I care about the state, its problems, its future. I do not care whether Arnold thinks McClintock is a good Republican or a bad Republican. That’s not what this election is about. Here’s the quote:

“On what side is he on? Is he on the side of the Republicans, does he represent the Republicans, or does he represent Bustamante. Because he is taking money from the same Indian tribes that are financing (Bustamante’s) commercials, his TV spots and all that. He knows they are financing him not because they want him to be governor. They just want to interfere with the process so Bustamante wins. He has to decide which side he is on.”

Posted by dweintraub at 5:07 PM

Schwarzenegger's political reform plan

While the court battle and the debate over debates rages on, Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to burnish his policy credentials. His latest is a wide-ranging and detailed plan to clean up Sacramento with measures on open records, campaign fundraising, and redistricting. The plan would:

--Make access to public records a right of the people under the state constitution, covering both the legislative and executive branch and, like a model sunshine law in Florida, make public the appointments schedule of the governor and every other state official, drafts of state documents and internal e-mails.

--Ban political fundraising between the time the governor proposes a budget in January and signs one later in the year. Lately that’s been anytime between July and September. But Schwarzenegger aides said he also plans to overhaul the budget process in a way that would shorten the deliberation time-frame to between January and early May.

--Require immediate disclosure on the Internet of all campaign contributions and make willful violations of campaign finance laws a felony punishable by one year in prison.

--Take the job of drawing district lines out of the hands of the Legislature and give it to a three-person panel of retired judges chosen by lottery under the direction of the state Judicial Council.

Schwarzenegger also said he would not sign any bill that did not receive a full hearing by a policy committee in the Legislature prior to passage, a limitation aimed at ending the practice of “gut-and-amends” through which lawmakers strip bills of all their contents at the last minute and replace them with entirely new provisions that are passed without public scrutiny.

“There is no such thing,” Schwarzenegger said at a Sacramento press conference, “as democracy in the dark.”

If the past is any indication, most of these measures would have trouble getting through the state Legislature. But Schwarzengger has said before that he would be willing to go over the heads of lawmakers and take issues directly to the people on the ballot. Presumably he would be willing to do that with these proposals as well.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:33 PM

No safety net

Arnold Schwarzenegger took some more well deserved hits last night from his four remaining major opponents, all of whom participated in an LA Press Club debate in Los Angeles while Arnold was across the street chatting with Larry King, live. By ducking these debates, Schwarzenegger has managed to make his lack of substance The Issue in the campaign, at least as it’s reported in the mainstream press and on television. By agreeing only to the debate in which the questions have been released to the public in advance, he has reinforced the notion that he is an amateur who can’t handle the pressure of speaking off-the-cuff about the important issues facing the state. In truth, Schwarzenegger has been more accessible than Bustamante of late, and more detailed than McClintock. He just hasn’t wanted to share the stage with his opponents. And that, more than his desire to avoid serious discussion, might be the key behind his risky strategy. Schwarzenegger knows that if he shows up for these debates he will only elevate the stature of his opponents, who will piggyback on his fame to get attention for their own platforms. He thinks that by getting his message out on Larry King and Oprah and Howard Stern, he is reaching as many voters, or more, as he would by debating, and he is doing so in a friendly format where he can control the conversation. But his failure to debate has itself become such a big issue in the campaign that it is now a distraction that is undercutting his campaign. It has also put tremendous pressure on him to do well in next Wednesday’s affair, which will be the most-watched political event in California history. If he pulls it off, he could exceed the expectations of voters who have been told he has nothing of substance to offer, and that alone could rocket him to the head of the pack. But if he falters, he’s got no safety net to catch him, and it could be fatal.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:24 AM

Odd man out could be lucky one

If the Indian gaming money does for McClintock what it did for Bustamante, this race might be over -- with Schwarzenegger the runaway winner. After weeks of bad publicity surrounding his effort to accept huge contributions from the casinos despite state law limiting donations to $21,200, Bustamante has seen his negatives skyrocket toward 50 percent and his standing in the horserace polls decline. Now McClintock stands to be the beneficiary of at least $1 million in television advertising, perhaps more, paid for my the same Morongo Band that already has contributed to Cruz. You could say they are hedging their bets by backing various major candidates with whom they agree on gambling issues. You could also say they are using McClintock as a tool to undercut support for Schwarzenegger and elect Bustamante governor. If Schwarzenegger can get that message out, it could help him on two scores. First, it shows conservative Republicans that McClintock really is a spoiler in the race. Why else would the tribes that clearly prefer Democrat Bustamante support McClintock so generously? Second, the big spending fits into Schwarzenegger’s theme that the “special interests” are taking over Sacramento. There is no bigger donor these days than the casino tribes, and here they are playing on both sides in the race for governor. Even though the money being spent for McClintock isn’t going directly into his coffers, it’s still meant to help him, or Cruz. And the whole thing looks dirty. If Schwarzenegger can’t turn all of this to his own advantage, he probably doesn’t deserve to win.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:08 AM

Get connected

California Connected, a public affairs show on politics and policy in the Golden State that sometimes employs me as an analyst, is airing a special, hourlong show on the recall tonight at 8 p.m. on 10 stations in seven markets. If the show is up to their usual standards, it will be well-worth viewing. And unless I end up on the cutting-room floor, I will appear as an unpaid interviewee in a profile piece on Gray Davis.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:37 AM

Stand on a car with a bullhorn?

Growing increasingly irritated with Schwarzenegger's refusal to share a stage with them, the other major candidates, goaded by Bustamante, threaten to walk out of next Wednesday's debate at which Arnold has promised to appear and do their own outside the hall. The story is here in the Chronicle.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:32 AM

400,000 votes already cast

Halting the recall election would void 400,000 votes already cast, state officials say in their brief to the court. The story is here in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:15 AM

Hedging their bets

A major Southern California casino tribe that has already contributed to Cruz Bustamante is preparing to launch a statewide television ad campaign on behalf of Tom McClintock. Schwarzenegger supporters say it's a dirty trick. The story is here, in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:13 AM

Jay Leno's cars

Eleventh in Line is the first blogger I know of to answer the 12 recall debate questions online. She is a 22-year-old, libertarian-leaning Harry Potter fan from Long Beach who admits that 90 percent of what she would do the public wouldn't accept and 50 percent probably "wouldn't work." But I like her initiative. Others?

While we are at it, I've been juggling correspondence from some folks who say the candidate sphere is full of good ideas on balancing the budget. Any candidates out there who want to submit their ideas, feel free. I'll give you ink here.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:07 AM

September 17, 2003

Briefs posted in recall case

All the briefs are posted at the 9th Circuit website, here.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:03 PM

Sac County Registrar protests to 9th Circuit

Sacramento County Registrar Jill LaVine has filed a scathing letter of protest to the 9th Circuit describing what the county already has done to prepare for the Oct. 7 election, what will be lost if the election is delayed and the confusion that will result if the recall is combined with the March primary.

Money quote:

"The court ruling canceling the October 7, 2003 Statewide Special Election has already resulted in more confusion and antipathy than would ever potentially occur as a result of the continued use of the punch card voting system at issue."

LaVine also noted that the county's study of "residual votes" -- over-votes and under-votes" after the 2000 election turned up a rate of 1.687% of all ballots cast, which is well within the range of what is considered acceptable (and that includes intential abstentions). She said that percentage has remained constant since 1980.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:30 PM

Davis on tube tonight

Gray Davis has a town hall meeting in Sacramento tonight that will air locally and on CSPAN at 7 p.m. Skeptics might want to tune in. These affairs have actually been kind of interesting in that the audience is not hand picked; the Davis forces have no role in screening them or their questions. The guv can be expected to do his usual run of talking points, but in between you get a glimpse of what people are thinking about and how Davis deals with, or tries to deal with, real people. If you are in Sacramento, I am scheduled to do a preview of the event at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 10 and then return afterward to analyze it.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:15 PM

Don't look now

Could the March election be postponed, too? This case, set to be heard Oct. 8 by the 9th Circuit court, challenges the use of electronic voting machines that do not provide a verifiable paper trail. It was filed by a Libertarian activist and has nothing to do with the recall. But there it is.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:03 PM

Recall supporters file brief

Rescue California and recall proponent Ted Costa have filed their brief with the 9th Circuit Court. Read it here, a 24-page PDF file, if you like.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:39 PM

Should he stay or should he go now?

Former Reagan speech writer Peter Robinson and former Reagan lawyer Hugh Hewitt are engaged in an ongoing (now three parts) debate at National Review Online over whether McClintock should stay in or get out. It's worth reading, whether you share their conservative viewpoint or not.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:35 PM

Debate questions released

The California Broadcasters Association, sponsors of the Sept. 24 debate, have released 12 questions submitted by the public which might be asked during the debate. The questions will serve as openers for each segment of the debate, followed by a moderated exchange among the candidates, who will be free to ask follow-up questions or give rebuttal.

Followers of this blog know that this radical idea was mine. The risk is that the candidates, knowing the questions, will memorize answers to make themselves look good. But anyone who has ever watched a political debate knows that this happens anyway, as the candidates' staffs can usually predict with 99 percent accuracy what is coming. Now the public will be in on the secret as well, and the hope is that this will generate broad discussion of the issues in advance and raise the viewers' expectations for the answers.

I think 12 questions are too many. Such a high number makes it less likely that the press and public will chew them over during the next seven days. I would have used half that many. But that wasn't my call. It was probably done to deflect criticism that releasing the questions will allow the candidates to prepare. My understanding is that all 12 won't necessarily be used. It will depend on the flow of the debate.

Here are the questions:

How would you propose enhancing revenue and/or what specific cuts would you propose to achieve a balanced budget?

Leaders in the business community are convinced that this state is losing jobs and unable to attract new businesses. If you agree, what are two things you would change to make this a more business-friendly state? If you disagree, what are the misconceptions you would like to correct?

How are you going to insure that all Californians have adequate healthcare?

Everybody talks about wanting a colorblind society but what does that actually mean to you? In other words, how do we know when we have succeeded?

What should be the top priority for California right now?

If elected Governor, will you support the expansion of charter schools in California?

What do you expect to accomplish in the time remaining on Gray Davis’ term that he could not?

What is the single most important piece of legislation either signed or vetoed during this past legislative session?

Do you support reducing the Vehicle License Fee (car tax), and if so, where would you find the revenue to replace the loss to the budget?

What services will your Administration expect local governments to provide and what stable source of revenue will you give them to do it?

Under Governors Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan, California spent up to 20% of its General Fund on Infrastructure - such as roads, bridges, colleges,
hospitals and water systems. Now we spend closer to 1%. Proposition 53 on
the ballot raises that figure to 3%. What are your positions on Prop. 53 and what will you do to invest more in California's aging infrastructure?

As our population continues to age, the demand for government services to seniors will increase dramatically during the next decade. What do you intend to do to proactively manage this demand?

Here is the CBA press release in PDF file explaining the debate format.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:46 AM

Maybe his comeback story needs an asterisk

For the past week Tom McClintock has been saying he has the momentum in this race because he has come from “an asterisk behind Peter Camejo” in the polls a month ago to a strong third place today. He repeated this line several times at the Republican convention last weekend and in national television interviews. But it’s not true. While McClintock has improved his standing in recent polls, he was never worse than third in any public poll, and never came close to trailing the Green Party’s Camejo.

In the Field Poll released August 16, McClintock was third with 9 percent, just ahead of Bill Simon, who has now withdrawn. Camejo had 2 percent.

In the Public Policy Institute of California poll published Aug. 21, McClintock was third with 5 percent of the vote. Bill Simon and Peter Ueberroth had 4 percent each. Camejo had 3 percent.

And in the Los Angeles Times Poll published Aug. 24, McClintock was third with 12 percent, followed by Ueberroth, Simon and Arianna Huffington. Peter Camejo was tied with porn peddler Larry Flynt at 1 percent.

UPDATE: In a July 16 Field Poll, before the candidates filed, McClintock trailed Camejo by one point (8-7) in a field that included Dick Riordan. Without Riordan, the two were tied at 9 points. In a July 4 LA Times Poll that included Riordan but no Democrats, McClintock trailed Camejo 9-6.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:25 AM

Quid pro schmo?

Arnold Schwarzenegger survived his stint with radio shock jock Howard Stern today, a segment in which Stern seems to have intentionally turned it down a notch to protect his buddy from embarrassment. But the segment had its moments. Stern brought up Cruz Bustamante’s use of the “N-word” and asked why that wasn’t getting more attention. Schwarzenegger said “everybody makes a mistake” and that’s not what has put California in a bad way. Stern asked him if he wanted that “other jerk-off” Republican to get out of the race, and Arnold brushed off the question, saying he just needed to get his supporters to the polls. Stern asked if Arnold would repeal a Los Angeles law restricting lap dancing, and Arnold said no, that’s a matter of local control. As Arnold tried to drone on with a version of his stump speech, Stern kept trying to interrupt him with a demand that Schwarzenegger give him something in return for his support. Stern said he wanted something named after him – a road, a bridge, a school – or a job in the new administration which he could perform from New York. They settled on giving Stern a title, and Arnold promised to get back to him with something. But after the interview, Stern decided that having a park named for him would be even better, and he suggested that such a promise from Arnold would energize the show’s listeners and help the actor win “in a landslide.”

Posted by dweintraub at 9:07 AM

Move could have been triggered by single judge

As we await word from the Ninth Circuit today, there seems to be some confusion out there about exactly what has happened. Keep in mind that the call for briefs on the question of whether the case should be reheard by an 11-judge panel means only that at least one judge on the 26-member court raised questions about the initital ruling. It won't be until after the briefs are submitted that the full court votes on whether to move forward.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:25 AM

From bad to worse?

Los Angeles County's top elections official says combining the recall with the March primary would lead to worse voter confusion and more errors, the Daily News reports here.

And here is a Los Angeles Times editorial saying the same thing, and hoping that the Ninth Circuit listens. Registration required.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:19 AM

What will replace the punch cards?

Experts aren't wild about electronic voting systems, either. Here is a piece from the Contra Costa Times, and here is a story in the Chronicle reviewing the case against punch cards.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:14 AM

September 16, 2003

Talk about outreach

Arnold is scheduled to appear on Howard Stern Wednesday morning and Larry King Wednesday night.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:50 PM

Supreme intervention would backfire

A Ninth Circuit decision overturning its three-judge panel is probably the last chance for the recall proponents to succeed on Oct. 7. I am more and more convinced as I consider the politics of this that a Supreme Court decision reversing Monday's ruling and reinstating the election date would become a rallying point for many Democrats who previously cared little about Davis or his fate. The entire national Democratic Party would be mobilized in the final days to defeat the recall, to prevent "another Florida." And I think they would probably prevail.

UPDATE: Several readers have suggested that a unanimous or near-unanimous ruling by the Supremes would have a less explosive effect on the final days of the race than another 5-4 Florida-style ruling. I agree. And I should add here that my speculation about the effect of a Supreme Court ruling, like most opinions expressed on this blog, is just a gut feeling as of the moment I wrote it. It's the sense I'm getting from the buzz in the media and the streets about the appeals court ruling today. Might change tomorrow.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:35 PM

Shelley cancels presser

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley cancelled his scheduled 2 p.m. press conference on the recall case. He said his lawyers are preparing a brief to be submitted to the Ninth Circuit tomorrow.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:18 PM

Ninth Circuit might review case

The Ninth Circuit asks the parties to brief whether the recall case should be heard and reviewed by an 11-judge panel. Here's a short take from the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:31 PM

CalPERS takes aim at contracting out

CalPERS is close to adopting a policy that would restrict the state pension fund's investments in companies that contract with public agencies to provide services, the Bee reports this morning. Such contracts are viewed as a threat to public employee jobs. But using the power of the pension fund to punish law-abiding companies for saving the taxpayers' money would be a new level of arrogance for CalPERS. Especially since most of the money in the fund comes from taxpayers to begin with. At some point these people have to realize they are courting a public backlash. Shame on Controller Steve Westly, who ran for office as a "new Democrat" but now condemns the private provision of public services in terms as vehement as any union boss. Among the elected officials on the board, only Treasurer Phil Angelides is quoted raising any objection.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:19 AM

It wasn't the Los Angeles Mirror

Guess which newspaper referred to the original recall measure in 1910 as "freak legislation"? For the answer, read this history of the debate by Joshua Spivak posted at the History News Network.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:15 AM

In the name of democracy

If the recall is postponed, tens of thousands of ballots already cast will have to be destroyed. Here is the story in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:33 AM

A story in itself

Bombshell deep in the LA Times story on the court decision:

And voting officials, already struggling to produce an election on a short deadline, were handed a new problem to consider: whether combining the lengthy recall ballot with the primary in March would produce a behemoth too large for the newer voting machines to handle.

"It's more than a wrinkle," said Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Conny McCormack. "No one even asked the largest county in the state if we had the capacity to run it in March. The answer is no."

UPDATE: The Times did do a separate story, which is here, an excellent round up of potential problems mentioned by registrars around the state. I still think that when the person who runs elections in the state's largest county says on the record that she can't do this in March, that's worth a lead and a headline. The emphatic quote noted here did not even appear in the round-up. (I've changed the headline on this item to reflect the fact that The Times did do a story on these issues.)

Posted by dweintraub at 6:31 AM

'Why Polls Differ' -- the rebuttal

The Field Poll’s directors have published their own take on “Why Polls Differ”—a response to an LA Times piece last week attempting to explain why that paper’s results were significantly different from the Field Poll released just a few days earlier. Among other things, Field questions the composition of the Times’ sample, especially the 18 percent portion that was made up of blacks, Asians and other non-Hispanic minorities and went overwhelmingly against the recall. Those groups combined were significantly larger in the Times sample than in last year's election, and their opposition to the recall was greater in The Times Poll than it was in the Field Poll.

Read the whole thing in a PDF file here.

NOTE: This item is corrected from an earlier version that transposed the for and against in the discussion of the minority vote.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:09 AM

September 15, 2003

Shelley: assume election will be Oct. 7

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley says he will announce at 2 p.m. Tuesday his position on the Ninth Circuit ruling and, presumably, whether the state should appeal. He also issued a short memo to the counties instructing them to keep moving toward an Oct. 7 election and asking them to encourage voters to act as if the election will be held on that date.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:24 PM

The license bill referendum

Will Schwarzenegger now back the referendum on the driver's license bill? He has said he would "rescind" the law if he were elected, then elaborated to say he would ask the Legislature to repeal it, then go to the voters if they refuse. But why bother with all that when you can collect 400,000 signatures, keep the bill from becoming law Jan. 1 and let the people decide on March 2? The only plausible reason so far for Schwarzenegger staying off the referendum is that McClitnock got there first. But now Arnold has an incentive that might trump that judgment. If the referendum goes forward, it will be held on the same day as the recall election, assuming the Ninth Circuit decision stands. And wouldn't Schwarzenegger like to have a referendum on Gray's leadership held the same day as a referendum on the license bill?

Posted by dweintraub at 5:28 PM

Hasen's take

Here is an analysis of the Ninth Circuit decision by Rick Hasen, election law blogger and participant in this case. He tends to think that the Supremes will stay out of it.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:08 PM

What if the Supremes do this?

I'm intrigued by Daniel Wiener's prediction here that the Supremes will weigh in and issue a clever split decision, allowing the election to go forward on the recall but delaying the vote on Propositions 53 and 54 until March. The Ninth Circuit decision gives the Supremes some room to do this, and if they take it, the Democrats, and especially Cruz, could really be in trouble without Proposition 54 on the ballot to rail against.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:33 PM

McClintock to run for both offices if it comes to that

Folks who think this ruling might be a convenient way to get Tom McClintock out of the race, think again. If the election is delayed until March, McClintock just told me, he will launch a campaign for reelection to his state Senate seat concurrently with the campaign for governor. His campaign manager believes this is possible because the recall is a special election and the Senate campaign would be a regular election, two separate events even if they are held on the same day. I am sure we will hear more about this in the hours and days ahead.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:20 PM

First thoughts on court decision

In the rush to evaluate the potential effect of delaying the election until March, don't overlook the short-term effects that will be present no matter what the Supremes do with the Ninth Circuit Court decision. One is voter anger or frustration. I predict that the California electorate will be most unhappy with judicial intervention in their election. They might want to take that anger out on the closest institution, which right now would be the governor's office. Another effect is to force the candidates to campaign in a sort of suspended animation, with voters perceiving that there is a delay even as the candidates have to assume that the election will go forward on schedule. The court fight itself will overwhelm all other issues in the race for the next few days, and the position the candidates take in the legal battle could well end up becoming important in the campaign itself should it resume quickly.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:11 PM

September 14, 2003

Next new thing: dumb pols?

''I have an I.Q. of 100 plus a little bit. I have to work real hard to get things when I read.”

--Rep. Darrell Issa, in interview with the New York Times, July 23

"I'm not the smartest guy. I never was the smartest guy in class. So maybe on an intellectual basis, I couldn't speak to anybody, but I figured guys like me hired guys like that."

--Cruz Bustamante, quoted in Associated Press article, Aug. 23

“I know I’m not the smartest guy in the world. I know there are a lot of issues I don’t know about. I know there’s a lot of things to be learned.”

--Arnold Schwarzenegger, at “Ask Arnold” forum Sept. 12 in San Diego.

“I’m not all that smart.”

--Bill Clinton, Sept. 14 in Los Angeles, interpreting the words of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, when he wrote, “I know in part.” Clinton quoted the scripture to explain that no human is perfect, even Gray Davis. “He might have made a mistake or two,” the former president said of the governor.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:03 PM

Clinton's sermon for Gray

Former President Bill Clinton campaigned for Gray Davis today, delivering a low-key but heartfelt speech to an overflow crowd at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. There’s nothing in politics quite like hearing Bill Clinton deliver a speech in a black church, and there may be no place in America where Clinton was and is more popular than in that spot. After a warm-up from the purple and gold-clad Unity Choir and a typically partisan governor, Clinton took something of a high road, choosing to deliver his version of a civics lesson rather than blame Davis’ fate on the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that he believed was behind his impeachment.

Clinton sounded sensible, warning that the recall, if successful, would breed more recalls, and telling the parishioners that if Davis is thrown out, no executive will ever make a tough decision again. But Clinton's California history was a little on the weak side, and he left out one glaring fact about how Davis got into this predicament.

“When the voters a very long time ago put the recall in the constitution of California,” Clinton said, “it was supposed to be triggered in extreme cases, when you had someone who was corrupt and just would not go, or someone who was physically or mentally incapacitated. Neither is the case here.”

But that’s not why the recall was put into the constitution. It was put there to give the voters the ability to remove a state officer for any reason, and specifically for dissatisfaction with his or her performance in office. For corruption we have impeachment. And for incapacity we have a special commission empowered to remove the governor from office. The recall, for better or worse, requires no malfeasance, requires nothing other than the will of the people to act.

Clinton went on:

“I’ve been there. I’ve made hard decisions. I have done things that were unpopular.
You hire somebody in an election and you say, ‘Here’s your employment contract. Through good times and bad we are giving you a contract for four years. And then in four years we will make a judgment about what you have done…’

“This recall basically says, ‘In the meanwhile, if you do something we don’t like, we may throw you out the first chance we get. Now, if you do this, who will ever make a hard decision again?”

Clinton here touched on what is probably the best general argument against the recall provision. It puts every governor on probation, makes them too beholden to public opinion, potentially keeps them from taking bold and courageous action that might offend voters in the short term even if it’s good for the state in the long term.

One problem: does that sound like Gray Davis? Davis is not being recalled because people were unhappy with his decisions. He is being recalled because people are unhappy with his lack of decisions. With his procrastinating on the energy crisis until it was too late, with his refusal to deal with the state’s declining fiscal situation until the problem grew into a massive and unmanageable shortfall.

So while Clinton’s argument might have some merit in the abstract, it doesn’t apply here. The first statewide recall in 100 years in California doesn’t spring from the very impulse Clinton suggests is the provision’s fatal flaw. So maybe it’s not such a fatal flaw after all.

One other thing Clinton said, which might have been most apt of all:

"Politics has tides. Sometimes we're coming in. And sometimes we're getting washed out."

PrestoPundit reviews my review and concludes that I am a wimp for not calling Clinton a liar.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:20 PM

What might have been

Bill Clinton on his near-miss with California government:

“In 1978, I was elected governor. I was the youngest governor in the country. I was 32 years old. I was dumb enough to think for a moment I was somebody. In 1980 I was the youngest ex-governor…You could have made a lot of money if you’d bought stock in me back then. Because my price was low.

“We had two-year terms. Everything that could go wrong did. Gray Davis had been Jerry Brown’s chief of staff. And he left. And Jerry Brown called me … and he said, ‘You ought to come out here and be my chief of staff.’ He said, ‘I can’t believe they beat you on that little tax increase.’ He said, ‘I’ll just let you run the governor’s office. You’ll have a great time and you’ll love California.’ I’ve often wondered what would have happened to me if I had taken the governor up on his offer.”

--from Clinton's speech on behalf of Gray Davis today at the First AME Church in Los Angeles. Clinton said this was a story even Gray Davis didn't know. I have never seen it reported, if it ever was.

UPDATE: An alert reader informs me that this has been reported, in David Maraniss' Clinton biography, "First in his Class."

Posted by dweintraub at 7:48 PM

The extra electorate

The conventional wisdom seems to be moving quickly toward a position that the electorate in this campaign will be substantially similar to that in past races. I'm not yet convinced. Schwarzenegger is set to appear this week on Oprah, Larry King and, possibly, Howard Stern. More such appearances may follow. The LA Times Poll, meanwhile, reports that 98 percent of voters are following news of the campaign. I still think that a lot of public opinion on this thing is flying below the traditional radar. Reports focus on the relatively small number of new voters who are registering. But I think they are the leading indicator, and the real interest will come from voters who are registered but do not vote regularly. Seven million of them in last year's election alone. Twice as many registered voters stayed home as went to the polls and voted for Gray. Will they all stay home again?

Posted by dweintraub at 7:52 AM

New math

Ask Schwarzenegger if he thinks McClintock should withdraw and he will say that "mathematically speaking" it is better to have one major Republican candidate in the race than two. That's true, of course. But Arnold might want to check his math, or at least the numerical analysis of one of his pollsters. An internal memo released over the weekend by the Schwarzenegger campaign suggests that Democratic crossover voting will be minimal on Oct. 7. “The days when we can count on 20 percent or more of registered Democrats crossing over are long gone,” writes pollster Jan van Lohuizen. But later in the memo, van Lohuizen says that Bustamante’s share of the Democratic vote will be a minimum of 60% “and could go as high as 70%.” He suggests that Arnold will get up to 20 percent of the Dem vote with the rest splitting among minor candidates or not voting at all in the replacement election. So, which is it?

Posted by dweintraub at 7:24 AM

September 13, 2003

County chairmen for Arnold

If anything concrete on the unity front comes out of the state Republican convention this weekend in Los Angeles, it might be a statement from the county chairmen expressing support for Arnold Schwarzenegger and, possibly, urging McClintock to drop out of the race. Both candidates met with about 40 to 45 chairmen in separate private meetings this afternoon, and several of those present said afterward that the party officials, in a show of hands, were overwhelmingly for Schwarzenegger. “There was a really strong sense that it’s time to unite behind one candidate, and one candidate needs to drop out,” said John Duncan, Marin County chairman and an informal adviser to the Schwarzenegger campaign. “There was frustration voiced by many chairman of vast ideological differences, frustration that we are missing an opportunity here. It’s time to make a deal, to unite behind Arnold Schwarzenegger and move on.” While other county chairmen said it wasn’t clear that the sense was that McClintock should drop out, at least half a dozen I interviewed after the meetings agreed that the sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of Schwarzenegger. The chairmen were talking late Saturday about drafting a letter to make their views formal and public.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:11 PM

Preaching to the choir

The California Republican Party’s version of the Moral Majority – Californians for Moral Government – launched an attack on Arnold Schwarzenegger Saturday, saying he lacked the “necessary moral standards” to govern California. The Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the group and longtime head of the Traditional Values Coalition, unveiled a television commercial in which a picture of Schwarzenegger morphs into Gray Davis as an announcer says there’s no difference between the two on abortion, gay rights, taxes and other issues. “When it comes to important issues, Arnold Schwarzenegger is no better than Gray Davis,” the ad says. “If all we’re doing is trading one bad, tax-raising liberal for another, why bother with the recall?” The ad stops short of endorsing state Sen. Tom McClintock, but Sheldon and his political consultant made it clear that their hearts were with him. The reverend said he ad will run on FoxNews and on Christian broadcasting stations.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:10 PM

The next governor?

McClintock made it very clear today that he isn't going anywhere, and said once again that he believes he can win. He also said that he thinks his voters will shift to Schwarzenegger at the end if they conclude that he cannot win. Finally, in what hinted of concession even if McClintock didn't mean it as such, he said this about Schwarzenegger:

“I would suggest that he start thinking about the future of our state and start concentrating on learning the intricacies of state public policy. It is absolutely essential that the next governor have the experience and the vision and a clear plan to change the direction of this state. And he needs to work on that.”

Posted by dweintraub at 6:08 PM

McClintock on workers comp

I asked Tom McClintock this afternoon the same question I asked Arnold last night: what are you proposing as a reform of workers compensation that the Legislature did not pass this week? I asked McClintock to tell me the single most important proposal in his package that was left out of the legislative reform. Here was his answer:

“Require clinical verification of physical injuries before we compensate them. Require by some objective medical standard that the injury actually exists. Aches and pains and worries are a part of life and we will bankrupt our economy if we continue to pay people who have them.”

Posted by dweintraub at 6:05 PM

Speaking of illegal immigration...

The San Jose Mercury News examines the details of Schwarzenegger's first year in America, suggesting that his widely reported relationship with his body-building sponsor may have violated the terms of his visa.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:18 AM

The bogus bill

After his San Diego “Ask Arnold” event, I asked Schwarzenegger exactly what was missing from the workers compensation overhaul the Legislature passed this week. In other words, if he were governor, what would he have demanded that lawmakers did not produce? He declined to answer, falling back again on his general talking points and insisting that the package adopted by lawmakers was not sufficient, but refusing to say why it was not sufficient.

Here is his entire answer:

“What is the number one thing you want to accomplish in workers compensation? You want to take 10 billion dollars out of that whole thing, so that we can lower the rates. We have to lower the rates to half in order for businesses to survive. There’s no indication that it will do that, that it will even save one penny. Experts have already said next year the costs will increase to 80 billion dollars. So I think it is one of those things you see quite frequently now before elections: Let’s patch it up quickly. It’s a bogus bill. It’s pre-election kind of work. And it doesn’t accomplish anything…There is again a lack of leadership there. Because they saw the last five years where we were going. They saw the increases in workers compensation. If they would have been out there and listened to what the people are saying, what the businesses are saying, they would have started working on it already two years ago. And fixed the problem. What you have to do is listen to the business leaders, and listen to the people that own the little shops, the little vendors. They just cannot take it the way it is right now.”

I tried to follow up, asking him again what he was proposing that the Legislature had not done. He declined to answer again.

“The whole thing doesn’t work. It is patched together, thrown together, it’s bogus. We have to start fresh. The first thing I will do is have a special session of the Legislature and demand we have workers compensation reform and really lower the costs so that people can survive in the business. That’s what this is about.”

This is not new, of course. We know by now that Schwarzenegger is not a policy wonk. He intends to lead with broad strokes while delegating the nitty-gritty to others. And I don’t expect him, or any candidate, to be able to recite chapter and verse on every issue discussed in the Legislature. But Schwarzenegger has chosen to make this issue the centerpiece of his economic plan. I would expect his staff to follow the negotiations, compare them to his proposals, and find at least one specific, major reform that he wants to see adopted and then brief him on that issue so he can respond to a question like this. And I would expect the candidate to insist on it.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:06 AM

Two against one no advantage

This AP story highlights the problems Republicans are facing as they conduct a party primary at the same time Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante is running as if he is in a general election.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:42 AM

September 12, 2003

Feels like the first time...

Arnold Schwarzenegger, on what he expects to do at the state Republican Convention this weekend in Los Angeles:

"I have never been to the convention. This is the first time for me. So I have no idea what goes on at the Republican convention. If there’s any politicking going on, any negotiating, anything like that. All I know is I will go there, I will present my case, I will tell them my vision, and I hope it can rally them up and have them follow me and say, 'he’s the man.'''

(From his comments after an "Ask Arnold" event in San Diego.)

Posted by dweintraub at 11:08 PM

Calling out the big dog

Author and talk radio host Hugh Hewitt has been leading the informal "conservatives for Arnold" team from the beginning, and has been merciless in his criticism of McClintock for staying in the race. Here is his latest, which pines for conservative favorite Bruce Herschensohn to endorse Arnold and ease McClintock out.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:48 AM

Times v. Field

The Times' David Lauter explains here some reasons why the paper's poll might differ from the Field Poll released last week. Notable is that the Times Poll included more conservatives and fewer liberals, while Field's sample identified itself as more moderate than those who voted a year ago. Registration required.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:40 AM

Davis suddenly speedy on appointments

Lots of meaty stuff from the news side of the Bee this morning:

A story here on Davis rushing to fill every appointed state job with supporters and cronies before Oct. 7.

A piece here on doubts raised about the savings claimed in the workers compensation reform package.

An article here regarding some of the problems with SB 2, the bill to require employers to provide health insurance to their workers.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:55 AM

September 11, 2003

Times Poll shows recall in dead heat

The latest LA Times Poll is out, and the Great Poll Debate will continue. Just a few days after the Field Poll showed the recall leading 55-40, the Times has it in a dead heat at 50-47. The Times’ candidate race is closer to Field, with the exception of a big lift for McClintock: Bustamante, 30, Schwarzenegger 25, McClintock 18. This is a big drop from Bustamante's 13 point lead in the last Times Poll, with most of the erosion coming from Cruz's slide rather than Arnold's improvement. The poll also shows some interesting shifts deeper in the numbers. Bustamante’s support among Latinos has declined from 51 percent to 47 percent while Schwarzenegger’s has nearly tripled from 12 percent to 30 percent. McClintock, meanwhile, continues to see his image and rating improve, even among Democrats. The poll also found moderates more inclined to support the recall today than a month ago, even as the overall lead slipped. I am sure this thing will be chewed on for several days to come.

Here is the PDF file: Download file

Posted by dweintraub at 10:46 PM

Hasen on 9th Circuit hearing

Rick Hasen, who filed a brief in support of the ACLU position in the punchcard case, offers his analysis here of the 9th Circuit court hearing today. In much greater detail, he echoes the wire service view that the three-judge panel seemed to be leaning toward delaying the election.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:24 PM

Seeds of a deal?

People listening closely to Tom McClintock throughout the campaign know that he’s always implied he believed voters would drop him for Arnold Schwarzenegger on Election Day if they concluded that he had no chance to win. Now he’s made that very clear in an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes” show:

“There'd be no need to pull out in that case,” McClintock said of the possibility that he remains a distant third. "My support would go to Arnold if it looks like Arnold's the only hope of stopping Cruz Bustamante, and I think Arnold's support would come to me if our momentum continues and they realize they can actually have their first choice and he can win."

While some people might not take seriously the senator’s belief that “Arnold’s support would come to me,” McClintock’s take might contain the seeds of a peace pact between the two leading Republican candidates.

What if the two candidates, after this weekend’s Republican convention, issued a joint statement pledging to focus their campaigns against Bustamante and not one another, and urging their supporters to unite on Election Day behind whichever candidate they (the voters) believed had the best chance of winning?

This would end the talk of getting McClintock out of the race, save Arnold from Tom’s sniping, and unite the party behind its common cause. McClintock, through his comments, is already signaling as much to his supporters. For Arnold to do so would seem to be a risk: he could elevate McClintock by implicitly acknowledging that the senator might have a chance to win. But since most people don’t think McClintock does have a chance, all Arnold would really be doing is gaining Tom’s support for joining forces at the end.

Another option: the two could agree this weekend to throw their support behind whichever Republican candidate is leading in the average of the three most recent independent polls by some date, say Oct. 1. Again, a stacked deck for Arnold, since he is leading handily in the polls. But also a way for Schwarzenegger to show he’s not afraid to compete, a chance for McClintock to pull off an upset, and a graceful way to end the feuding with no hard feelings.

Here is a story from the Bee on McClintock’s comments.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:18 AM

Wait til Arnie's auditor sees this one

The state has reached agreements with most of its public employee unions on the salary concessions that are supposed to save taxpayers money. But what they really are planning to do is put 5 percent of the workers' pay on a credit card and charge it for 15 years. Here's how the string of transactions will work.

First, the background:

For the past year, the state has been making the employees' 5 percent contribution to the retirement fund, in addition to the taxpayers' normal obligation.

Effective July 1, the state stopped paying that 5 percent on behalf of the workers, forcing them to pick it up themselves again, and replaced it with a 5 percent pay increase. Effectively, that was a wash for the employees in their take-home pay. They got 5 percent more from the state and then paid 5 percent more toward their retirement.

Now the new stuff:

The employees will defer their 5 percent salary increase for one year, and in exchange will be given one extra day off per month. If they don't use the day off, they can bank it and cash it in at retirement.

If this were the end of the story, it would amount to a 5 percent reduction in take home pay in exchange for a 5 percent reduction in time worked. The state would save money up front and then pay some of it out over time as the workers who didn't use their days off retired.

But it's not the end of the story.

The state will also pay the 5 percent employee contribution again into the pension fund, stretching the one-year, $360 million obligation over 15 years, and paying interest, if the pension fund board decides that's kosher. This brings the workers' take home pay back to where it was June 30. Now they get the same amount of pay for 5 percent less work.

But that's not all.

The state will also promise to pay at least 80 percent of the employees' health care costs, up from the current 72 percent. That's an open-ended deal because no one knows how high those costs will go next year -- and they have been rising fast. The employees' union estimates that health premiums will increase by 18 percent Jan. 1.

Finally, the five percent pay increase that went on the books July 1 but which, technically, the employees will forgo for one year, will remain in the salary schedule. Which means that when these agreements expire next year, the pay increase will automatically kick in again.

The state says all these transactions will result in a net savings to taxpayers. But it's pretty clear that the only savings comes from postponing the employees' obligation to their retirement fund for one year, and having the taxpayers pick up that obligation and pay it over 15 years.

It's just another credit card transaction.

Here is a PDF file containing the union's description of the deal.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:16 AM

Davis apologizes for slur

The governor apologizes for his remark that you "shouldn't be governor unless you can pronounce the name of the state." But he doesn't apologize to Schwarzenegger, and he demands that Schwarzenegger apologize for supporting a 1994 ballot measure also backed by 59 percent of California voters. Curious. Here is the story in the Bee, which first reported the governor's slur over the weekend.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:23 AM

September 10, 2003

Clinton to pray for Davis

The ex-president will begin a campaign swing for Davis at a south Los Angeles church. It's not clear if he will stump for the gov beyond Sunday. Here's an AP story.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:43 PM

GOP lawmakers seek to invalidate drivers license

Thirty-eight Republican members of the California Legislature have signed a letter asking United States Attorney General John Ashcroft to invalidate the California driver’s license as “a reliable and acceptable” form of identification and documentation. The letter comes as Republicans seek to block through a referendum SB 60, which would give illegal immigrants the right to obtain driver’s licenses in California. The bill, signed by Gov. Gray Davis last week, will become law Jan. 1 unless opponents gather more than 400,000 valid signatures in 90 days, which would trigger an election to decide the measure's fate. The action the Republicans are seeking would make the California driver’s license invalid as identification at the nation’s airports, presumably forcing Californians who want to fly to use a passport as their ID at the security gate. Californians without a passport would be out of luck.

"Our attempts to ensure the security of the California Drivers License have fallen upon deaf ears in the California Legislature and we now are concerned that terrorists or other criminals may legally obtain a California divers license with the intent to use the document to assist them in terrorist or criminal acts against the United States," said the letter, which was circulated by Assemblyman Russ Bogh.

Although the letter states that the new law "will allow any person to receive a drivers license with no proof of who they claim to be," SB 60 actually requires applicants to submit a birth certificate and one other form of identification. The thrust of the law is to allow any resident of California -- even those here illegally -- to get a license, and it allows applicants to use a Taxpayer Identification Number rather than a Social Security number as one form of identification.

Even if Ashcroft were to go along with the Republicans' request, as a practical matter the issue might matter only if the referendum fails to qualify for the ballot. If it does qualify, the bill will not become law on schedule Jan. 1 but will be blocked pending the election, which would be March 2.

State Sen. Tom McClintock, who is running for governor and supports the referendum, did not sign the letter.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:54 PM

Arnold's eco-adviser

Arnold is beginning to learn how difficult it might be to govern California, a centrist state, from the center. One day after being hammered from the left on his environmental credentials, Schwarzenegger is being hit from the right on the same issue. This piece in the conservative California Political Review investigates Schwarzenegger's relationship with the enviro to the stars, Bonnie Reiss.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:22 PM

The Tom and Arnold Show

With Peter Ueberroth out of the race, all Republican eyes now turn toward State. Sen. Tom McClintock, and the effort by some party leaders and the Schwarzenegger campaign to get him to withdraw. The problem for Schwarzenegger is that while having McClintock out might be good for him, the process of getting him out is quite bad. In the end, Schwarzenegger might be better off simply ignoring McClintock. Here’s why.

Every time a Democrat or moderate independent hears about Arnold wanting Tom out, that voter gets the message that this is a partisan race. Arnold thus undercuts his chance to attract crossover votes from fiscally conservative Democrats and independents who have not voted Republican in the past but are comfortable with Schwarzenegger on the Democrat hot buttons of guns, abortion and the environment.

This is still a Democrat-leaning state, with independents tending to side with Democrats in recent years. That’s where the votes are. Yet this feud, rather than the future of California, will be the dominant story of the next several days, especially with the state Republican Party meeting in Los Angeles over the weekend. There, McClintock will try to corner Schwarzenegger on the issues, challenging him to debate and sicking his grass roots supporters on him. The more Schwarzenegger gets drawn into that tangle, the smaller he looks on the statewide stage.

I am not even sure any longer that the conventional wisdom is right that Schwarzenegger would be better off with McClintock out. He would have been better off had McClintock never got in. But now the terrain is different. First, McClintock isn’t just attacking Schwarzenegger. He is attacking Cruz, big time, on radio and television just about every day. This indirectly helps Schwarzenegger by relieving him of some of that messy duty. Second, if McClintock quits, his diehard supporters on the right might lose interest in the recall and simply stay home on Election Day. That could provide Davis with the margin he needs to defeat the recall, and even if it didn’t, it wouldn’t help Schwarzenegger any on question 2.

In the end, Schwarzenegger might be better off with McClintock in the race but stuck at 12 percent to 14 percent right up until the eve of the election. If McClintock were to pull out a week to ten days before Election Day, even his most ardent supporters would have to admit that he gave it all he had and simply could not break into the top tier. They might then grudgingly shift to Arnold. Even if McClintock stays in to the end, many of his supporters, if he remains a distant third in the polls, will likely shift to Schwarzenegger in the ballot booth rather than risk a Bustamante Administration.

Finally, the obsession with McClintock makes Schwarzenegger look weak. If he is such a strong candidate, why can’t he simply go out and campaign rather than worrying about who else is running?

Posted by dweintraub at 2:30 PM

Voter reg and the recall

Voter registration numbers released recently by the Secretary of State were a bit muddled because they included the regular purge of voters who have died or otherwise moved on since last year, making it difficult to discern what effect, if any, the recall is having on voter interest in politics. But an analysis done for the Assembly Republicans using monthly surveys of all 58 county registrars suggests that there has been a fairly dramatic surge in registration since the recall became a hot issue. At this point it looks as if independents are gaining while Republicans are holding their own and Democrats bringing up the rear.

The numbers say that since May, California’s voter rolls have expanded by a net of about 194,000. Of those, more than half, or about 94,000, have been either minor party or decline-to-state registrations. About 80,000 have registered Republican, while 20,000 have registered as Democrats. The separate categories are net figures and thus could also reflect changes in registration of those who were already on the rolls.

The numbers for August were even more striking, according to this analysis. There were 72,000 new voters in that month alone. The change in party registration, meanwhile, breaks down this way: 39,000, or 55 percent, were third party or independent registrations. About 23,000, or 32 percent, were Republicans. And 9,000, or 13 percent, were Democrats.

These numbers, while impressive, still represent a tiny portion of the state’s 15 million registered voters. But if they represent a trend, and if the reflect the current thinking of the broader electorate, they could be significant.

For more on the numbers, Download file

Here is a link to the Secretary of State’s official numbers through Aug. 8.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:24 PM

Last-minute education bills

With a flood of legislation headed to the governor’s desk at the close of the legislative session, among the bills still pending are three education-related measures amended at the last minute to dramatically change their content. They are:

AB 163 (Assemblyman Nation), which would add 4 new political appointees to the staff of state schools Supt. Jack O’Connell. The superintendent would get two new deputy superintendents and two new associate superintendents.

SB 644 (Sen. Burton) would require the governor to appoint one member to the Community College board of governors who is a classified employee of the system, selected from a list of nominees provided by the union, the California School Employees Assn. The union rep would replace one of the public members that now serve on the board.

AB 610 (Assemblyman Diaz) redirects $55 million from the California State University’s much-criticized new computer system known as CMS and directs the university system to spend part of the money reducing the recent fee increases and part of it on outreach programs.

In addition, AB 356 (Hancock), while not a last-minute bill, would remove second-graders from the state’s standardized testing program., despite evidence that this early data helps the schools identity children who are struggling and get them the help they need before its too late.

NOTE: An earlier version of this item implied that these bills were already headed to the governor's desk. Not yet.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:14 PM

Poll: voters oppose license bill

More than eight out of every ten voters say three issues are “very important” to them in deciding whom they will support for governor on Oct. 7: the state’s economy, the public schools, and reducing the budget deficit, according to a Field Poll released today. Other top issues include health care, taxes, crime, electricity and illegal immigration.

Several issues were more important to Bustamante voters than to others: the schools, health care, the interests of women, the environment, gun control, the interests of minorities, and abortion.

Issues that were more important to Schwarzenegger and McClintock voters: reducing the deficit, taxes, encouraging business, electricity, illegal immigration (including the recently signed driver’s license bill), the vehicle license fee, workers compensation, Proposition 13, gasoline prices, and “upholding family values” (cited by 82 percent of Schwarzenegger supporters!)

By a 59-34 margin, voters disapprove of the bill Gov. Gray Davis signed last week to allow illegal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. The bill is opposed by 66 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 57 percent of blacks, 52 percent of Asians and 34 percent of Latinos, though the ethnic sample used here is very small and prone to a wide margin of error. Interestingly, 30 percent of those who say they support Bustamante oppose the driver’s license bill, while 88 percent of McClintock voters oppose it and 84 percent of Schwarzenegger backers do so.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:09 AM

September 9, 2003

'Yes on Bustamante/Yes on Bustamante'

The Associated Press has a story on the wire saying that the Bustamante campaign is “officially abandoning” its no-on-recall strategy and is focusing exclusively on electing Cruz governor. While that’s been evident in practice for many days now, this would be the first time Bustamante or his campaign team acknowledged as much in public. Cruz of course still officially opposes the recall. He's just admitting now that his opposition is no longer part of his campaign strategy.

Here is the key quote from Richie Ross, Bustamante’s chief consultant, who says the shift was brought on by Bustamante’s increasingly unfavorable image among the voters:

“We have been put in a position of constantly defending negative charges That has resulted in this increasing unfavorable number and has caused us to shift more of our emphasis to presenting a positive case to the voters as to why Cruz Bustamante would be an excellent governor."

Here is the story.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:54 PM

Enviros back Cruz

The Democratic coalition continued to gather around the candidacy of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante Tuesday as three environmental groups endorsed the No on Recall/Yes on Bustamante effort. The Sierra Club, the California League of Conservation Voters and Vote the Coast praised Bustamante’s environmental record and questioned Schwarzenegger’s fitness to be governor.

To see the League’s statement, go here.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:46 PM

The Peter Principle

I think the Ueberroth vote, such as it was, essentially scatters to the winds. He was a Republican running as an independent, a non-ideological if essentially conservative figure. I would guess his votes would spread out pretty evenly among the top three, and everyone would move up a tick or two. If Ueberroth were to endorse Schwarzenegger, it would help Arnold with his inside game, his attempt to persuade regular voters that he’s a serious political figure. If Ueberroth were to endorse McClintock in a sort of “stop-Arnold” coalition, it would probably be a major blow. The biggest effect of him dropping out is what won’t happen: he was sitting on a couple million dollars that he could have used for a decent TV ad buy. That definitely would have hurt Schwarzenegger’s attempt to gain momentum as the Republican alternative to Cruz.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:21 PM

Chamber poll shows Ueberroth vote splits

In a long and very interesting poll published today by the California Chamber of Commerce (which has endorsed Schwarzenegger), Ueberroth backers were asked who they would support if he withdrew. This had to be a very small sample, but this is what they said:

Schwarzenegger: 34
McClintock: 21
Bustamante: 23

The poll is a bit dated, but there's lots of other stuff to chew on, including these head-to-head match-ups:

Schwarzenegger 49
Bustamante 42


McClintock 41
Bustamante 47

The main recall replacement numbers were 33 for Cruz, 28 for Arnold and 12 for Tom.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:47 PM

CNN: Ueberroth dropping out

Peter Ueberroth has scheduled a press conference for 1 pm to discuss the future of his campaign, and CNN says he is dropping out. No endorsement planned for today.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:55 AM

Legal v. illegal immigration

Here is my column from today's Bee, an analysis of the different takes of Arnold and Cruz on immigration policy.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:59 AM

September 8, 2003

Latino vote up for grabs

By now most of you know at least the basics in the latest Field Poll: Recall still leading but by a smaller margin than three weeks ago, 55-40. Bustamante leading Schwarzenegger 30-25 with McClintock at 13. Here are some other interesting numbers from deeper in the poll:

--The race without Tom McClintock: Arnold leads, 33-31.

--Among Latinos, Cruz leads Arnold by only 36-26, with McClintock getting 10. Arnold actually does better among Latinos (26) than among non-Hispanic whites (25), which helps explain why Cruz is trying so hard to paint him as anti-immigrant.

--20 percent of “yes” voters are undecided on for whom they will vote in the race to replace while only 10 percent of “no” voters haven’t made up their minds.

--Cruz’s image rating has declined markedly since the last poll. It was 40/40 favorable to unfavorable. Now it’s 40/49. Political experts say this number is the best predictor of ultimate outcome (in a two person race). Arnold’s rating is 43-43.

--McClintock is the only major candidate to improve his image rating considerably, going from 28/32 to 38/37.

--McClintock also scores best on a question asking voters what kind of job they think each of the candidates would do as governor. He gets a 35/19 excellent to poor ratio, while Cruz is at 36/31 and Arnold at 40/35. (Gray is at 29/46).

--57 percent of Asian, 54 percent of Latinos and 26 percent of blacks support the recall.

Good news for Gray: 59 percent say he should fight the recall rather than resign, up from 49 percent three weeks ago. This is a potential well of support that Davis might call upon. Then again, much of that change is coming from Republicans, who may fear that a Davis resignation would mean a Bustamante governorship.

Here is the number to watch:
Among those who did not vote last year or voted for someone other than Davis and Simon, the recall leads 61-28. I still think those are the people who are going to decide the outcome of this election. If they vote.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:53 PM

Man of the people

I saw my first Gray Davis town hall tonight, and if nothing else, it was a testament to the power of the recall. There he was, the most important man in California government, sitting awkwardly in a stiff plastic chair on a riser in front of 35 African-American residents, activists and business owners from South Los Angeles who would never have had this chance if not for the recall. The meeting was held in a small, stuffy conference room in the corner of the Baldwin Hills shopping mall, tucked between the Sears and an LAPD substation. It was taped for cablecast Tuesday night by the local public access crew. Glamorous it was not. The citizens were picked by two local community newspapers, and they were a tough crowd. Though inclined to support the governor as the leader of the Democratic Party, they were not there to give him a free ride. They wanted to know about racial profiling and schools and why he was spending so much money on the prisons. First question: Now that you’ve bought off the Latino vote with the driver’s license bill, what are you going to give us in exchange for our support? Davis handled the evening well, in the sense that he made the case he came to make against the recall (it would cause instability) and he ticked off all the things he had done for the community. But he ducked many of the questions, lectured a bit too much even he praised the power of listening, and still seemed uncomfortable in these environs. So much so that afterward when I approached him he greeted me quite warmly, like a long-lost friend, when, given our relationship, we have been anything but. Any port in a storm.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:47 PM

McClintock pushes referendum on license bill

Tom McClintock just made the formal announcement that he will join the effort that seeks to qualify and pass a referendum to keep the driver's license bill, SB 60, from becoming law.

"There is only one purpose for this bill: it is to place valid state identification documents in the hands of illegal immigrants. And the only reason for doing that is to undermine enforcement of our immigration laws."

To qualify the referendum, opponents of the bill would have to collect about 400,000 valid signatures in 90 days. The question would then go on the next ballot, which would be the March 2 primary.

The referendum, of course, like the recall was part of the series of citizen democracy reforms approved by voters in 1911 at the urging of then-Gov. Hiram Johnson.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:58 AM

What a kidder

Davis says he was "just joking" when he said you shouldn't be governor of California "unless you can pronounce the name of the state." Perhaps Davis realized Sunday that Arnold's "Cal-ee-for-nee-ah" is closer to a Spanish pronunciation of the state's name than Davis' own New York accent....Here is the story in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:40 AM

September 7, 2003

Cruz ignorant on roots of budget gap

Everything was set up perfectly for Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante Sunday. About 2,000 cheering, sign-waving supporters filled a hall in the Fresno Convention Center to wish their “favorite son” well in his run for governor. Friendly legislators from the Capitol came down to rev up the crowd, with each focusing all their love on Bustamante, not even mentioning Gov. Gray Davis or the attempt to defeat the recall election aiming to remove him. Cameras were poised to film a campaign commercial as Cruz arrived to the strains of John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Small Town.” Coatless, beaming, Bustamante had the look of a governor, of a leader ready to tackle California’s persistent budget crisis with the authority of a man schooled in the ways of the Capitol.

Then he spoke. With just a few words tucked in the middle of his speech, Bustamante demonstrated that despite the image, despite the build-up, despite the resume, his knowledge of state government and its problems is woefully thin.

Sounding no more informed than a cranky letter writer to the local paper, Bustamante badly mischaracterized the roots of California’s budget crisis, falsely claiming that the electricity purchases the state made on behalf of the utilities in 2001 erased the budget surplus and forced the state to cut vital programs. While that's a widely held perception among the general public, it is completely untrue, and any second-year staffer in the Legislature could tell you so.

“We had a $10 billion surplus and they stole it from us,” Bustamante said in his speech. “And now…education funding has been cut and our car tax has been tripled.”

In fact, the energy purchases made by the state in the winter and spring of 2001 were reimbursed by a bond sold on Wall Street, which will be repaid over time by a surcharge on electricity rates. That was always the plan, and everyone in the Capitol knew it. The electricity purchases had no effect on the state’s budget situation, which deteriorated when tax revenues declined and state spending did not, creating several years of deficits.

This was no side issue. It’s not some obscure fact that the lieutenant governor might not be expected to know. It is the fundamental issue at the heart of the recall campaign – what happened to the surplus? – and Bustamante’s misstatement of it was no mere slip of the tongue. After the speech, when reporters pressed him to explain himself, Bustamante repeated his assertion that the money for electricity drained the general fund. His comments suggest that despite five years in the Assembly and five years as lieutenant governor, Bustamante does not understand the basics of the state’s financial picture.

“In order to be able to get the resources that we needed to be with our budget, we had to pay substantial amounts of money out of our coffers, in order to be able to pay those electric bills,” Bustamante told reporters. “We had to pay for that. That money came out of the taxpayers.

“They gouged us,” he said of the energy companies. “They took our money. No matter what you say or how you couch it, those folks took our money. As a result, that’s put us in the deficit situation we are in today.”

It will be interesting to see how many papers report Bustamante’s ignorance Monday morning. The political press corps has a way of avoiding such things, of averting its eyes so as to not give up the secret that many of the people in high places in Sacramento really have very little understanding of the subjects about which they are talking, and making decisions. But Bustamante is no longer filling time in a do-nothing job. He’s a leading candidate for the second most powerful executive position in government in this country. Perhaps it’s time to hold him accountable.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:19 PM

Cruz shifts his tainted money

Hoping to quell a firestorm over his acceptance of millions of dollars in potentially illegal contributions, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante announces that he will shift the money from his own campaign committee to one that will fight Proposition 54, Ward Connerly’s Racial Privacy Initiative. The ads Bustamante buys with the money from casino interests and public employee unions, which far exceeded the $21,200 limit on contributions to candidates, will still promote him, just not directly. Here is the story in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:20 AM

Davis slurs Schwarzenegger, immigrants

Gray Davis, the leader of the party that pretends to be in favor of inclusion, takes aim at Schwarzenegger and says "You shouldn't be governor unless you can pronounce the name of the state." If everything Davis had done, or not done, in the past five years had not already qualified him to be recalled, this alone might do so. It's disgusting. It's hateful. And it totally undermines any claim Davis has to the moral high ground. The comment came, incredibly, as Davis was reassuring an overzealous supporter who had shouted out "He's a foreigner!" during a Davis speech and then approached the governor to apologize for his outburst. And lest anybody think it was an a aberration, a Davis appointee speaking later Saturday to crowd in Alhambra picked up the same theme. “He can’t even speak English,” Sukhee Kang, warming up an Asian American rally for Davis, said of Schwarzenegger. “How can he govern the state?”

Here is the story in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:12 AM

September 6, 2003

Howard Dean joins the chorus

Howard Dean weighs in on the recall, joining the chorus of folks who claim that allowing people to vote twice in 11 months is anti-democratic. They clearly think that if they keep saying this enough someone might believe them. But it simply isn't true. The recall, if anything, is too democratic. Here is the story. And here is his key quote:

"I believe the right wing of the Republican Party is deliberately undermining the democratic underpinnings of this country. I believe they do not care what Americans think and they do not accept the legitimacy of our elections and have now, for the fourth time in the fourth state, attempted to do what they can to remove democracy from America."

Does this candidate for president really believe that if the recall succeeds, it will "undermine the democratic underpinnings" of the country, that it will "remove democracy" from America? Please.

I really do hope that voter turnout on Oct. 7 is more than it was last November, and that the winner, whoever he or she is, gets more votes than Davis got last year. Maybe that will finally wake these people up.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:20 PM

Arnold on workers comp

It’s almost become a cliché in Sacramento that workers compensation premiums are among the highest in the nation while benefits to truly injured workers are among the lowest. But the past few days, Schwarzenegger has been using an example he picked up on the campaign trail to bring that gap vividly to light. It’s a glimpse of Arnold at his rhetorical best, where, as today at the Farm Bureau, he actually had business owners pulling for higher benefits for the workers. Here is what he said to prompt the cheers:

“This is terrible, to pay those fees, those increases, and then the benefits are so little for the workers. The other day I met a man, who was in a wheelchair, down in Long Beach. He said to me, that he fell down an elevator shaft. He can never work again. He is in a wheelchair. He only gets 800 dollars a month. Now what happened with all those increases? Hundreds of percent increases in workers compensation costs. But this poor man only gets 800 dollars. So someone is creaming off the top. And we have to have workers compensation reform.”

Here is a summary of the reforms he has proposed so far, according to a statement from his campaign:

--Implement objective and enforceable utilization guidelines and establish a well-defined network of providers to reduce the unnecessary use of medical services.

--Eliminate excessive permanent disability payments by adopting American Medical Association guidelines for claims.

--Reform state vocational rehabilitation programs so that individuals can be more effectively and efficiently trained for new jobs and careers.

--Reduce litigation by adopting an Independent Medical Review process for claims and limiting the grounds to appeal these rulings in court.

--Audit the State Compensation Insurance Fund to identify any operational and fiscal issues.

--Appoint a new team to the Division of Workers’ Compensation, and making cost containment job one, in response to recent state audit.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:15 PM

Arnold's layered look

Continuing his inside/outside campaign for governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger picked up two more establishment endorsements today—from the California Farm Bureau and the Western Growers Assn. Agricultural leaders said they were backing Arnold because they are upset by five years of what they said was neglect and abuse from the Davis Administration and fear a Bustamante Administration would be even worse. The endorsements come one day after the California Chamber of Commerce endorsed Arnold, breaking with a tradition of staying neutral in statewide races. The moves are further evidence of the oddball nature of this campaign, as Arnold criss-crosses the state asking voters to help him smash the “special interests” and then meets with and accepts the backing of some of the biggest interest groups in the state. But Arnold has defined special interests, for now, as the two biggest-spending interests that directly negotiate with the governor for financial gain: the public employee unions and the casino Indian tribes. I asked him what separated those interests from his own donors, what made his opponents’ donors so bad and his so good. Here was his answer:

“Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. I never said that any of those people are bad. There s a difference. I think we need lobbyists to listen to. I think it’s good to have all these different interests, and all this, they are fighting for their causes. What I am saying is, you cannot expect to represent the people of California if you are taking money from a union and you know that down the line you are going to be sitting across the table from them and you negotiate. Because as soon as you take their money, you then owe them something. It’s the old rule. Campaign contributions come in, favors go out and the people are hurting. That’s what we want to stop…Everyone means well who wants to do business. But I think you have to put a certain kind of rule there, where I say I can’t take this, I can’t take that, I can only go so far with that. I basically put my own rules and regulations there and said this is as far as I go, I am not going to take any money from Indian tribes, gaming tribes, I am not going to take any money from the unions.”

Schwarzenegger’s aides said the campaign is still formulating a policy that will spell out exactly where the candidate draws the line. Senior Adviser Mike Murphy said Schwarzenegger would take money from political action committees, but spokesman Sean Walsh said the campaign wouldn’t be taking money from “single issue” political action committees. But neither could define on Saturday what a single-issue PAC might be. Murphy did say that neither the Farm Bureau nor the Western Growers would fall under the ban.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:33 PM

MAPA comes to defense of MEChA

Firing another salvo in the ethnic wars swirling around the recall, the Mexican American Political Association plans to honor MEChA at an endorsement convention and Latino Youth Summit next week in Buena Park. The move is clearly in reaction to the heat MEChA -- and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante -- are getting for the student organization's links to a radical manifesto calling for the liberation of the American Southwest as an Hispanic homeland.

“It’s a privilege and an honor to pay tribute to the work MEChA has done in its almost thirty-five years of existence,” said MAPA President Nativo V. Lopez.

That’s the same Lopez who was recalled from office a few months ago by voters – mostly Latino parents -- in the Santa Ana Unified School District upset by district mismanagement and Lopez’s support for bilingual education, as well as his attempts to undermine Proposition 227.

MAPA describes itself as a “multi-partisan” advocacy organization “dedicated to the constitutional and democratic principles of political freedom and representation for the Mexican, Mexican-American and Latino people in the United States.”

Posted by dweintraub at 12:05 PM

Ueberroth: give tax credits for new jobs

Peter Ueberroth today proposed state tax credits for businesses that create new jobs. Ueberroth says the state should give companies a credit of half the personal income tax paid by employees who get new jobs paying $30,000 a year or more with at least basic health benefits. The candidate offered the idea as an alternative to SB 2, the measure under consideration in the Legislature that would force employers to provide health insurance for their workers. The idea is part of what Ueberroth is calling his “California Works Again” plan to create a better business climate in the state. He said he would appoint a “Jobs Commissioner” to oversee the program with a person in each state legislative district to help steer businesses through problems with the state bureaucracy.

It’s not clear how much effect such a tax credit would have on job creation. While the credit Ueberroth is proposing would mean little at the $30,000 level, because most workers at that income level pay little or no state income tax, it might help at least offset some of the costs of the health benefits at higher wage levels. It also could mean an administrative nightmare as companies and the state wrestle over what is a new job versus an old job, or when companies reduce their workforce one year and then expand it the next. It might be better to simply look for ways for the state to get out of the way, rather than adding new programs that encourage firms to game the bureaucracy for marginal economic gains. But if it’s the thought that counts, Ueberroth is on the right track, looking for ways to provide incentives for business to create jobs and offer benefits rather than adopting one-size-fits-all mandates that force social policies down their throats.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:28 AM

Big fight for absentees looms

Absentee voting could play a big role in deciding the winner of the recall campaign, and the candidates have already begun the fight. Schwarzenegger appears to be first out of the gate with an aggressive effort to encourage voters to apply for mail-in ballots and then cast them for him. Here is a story in the San Jose Mercury.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:33 AM

Indivisible, with liberty...

A Latino group organizing a Mexican Independence Day parade in Los Angeles withdraws an invitation to Schwarzenegger after deciding that his presence would be "divisive." There's that word again. Like something out Orwell's 1984, it's a word that has come to mean its opposite.Here is the story from the Daily Bulletin.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:22 AM

September 5, 2003

Driving the voters to distraction

Here is a story on Davis signing the bill allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses, and Schwarzenegger's criticism of same. The story notes that Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer withdrew his support for the bill this week out of concerns that it would make it easier for people who shouldn't have guns to buy them. This is one of those rare instances where Gray is signing a bill that would seem to be highly unpopular with the voters. Not only is there opposition to giving official sanction to people who are in the state illegally, but there are also security concerns in this age of terrorism about giving driver's licenses to people who are not citizens. Finally, there is the issue of the 180-degree turn Davis took on this bill from a year ago, when he vetoed a version that actually had more security safeguards than this measure.

For context, you might want to read this column I wrote a year ago praising Davis for vetoing the bill, even if he was doing so for the wrong reasons.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:37 PM

The two Mikes

I covered Arnold’s speech to the California Chamber of Commerce today, and his press conference immediately following, on a bluff above the beach in Dana Point, in southern Orange County. After Arnold spoke, one of his senior advisers, Mike Murphy, the former John McCain operative, spun the press for a minute or two. I thought you might want to see a mostly unedited transcript of what that sounds like. Then, as I was leaving the event, I interviewed a few people who were hanging out on the street hoping to see the candidate. One of them was Mike Kennedy, a Republican who is very much for the recall and said he was excited at first about Arnold but has cooled to him recently because of his failure to show for the debate and his lack of detail on the issues. I thought his comments were also worth reproducing here, because I think he is reflective of the buzz going on around the campaign, and the problems Arnold has caused for himself by ducking tough questioning until now. I do think if Kennedy had been inside the hall with the chamber suits he would have come away impressed, so it's likely that his comments are a lagging indicator. But they're relevant nonetheless. Here are the two Mikes:

Senior Adviser Mike Murphy, explaining the campaign’s strategy, taking a shot at Bustamante’s special interest money and defending Arnold against the charge that he is anti-woman:

“What we have been trying to do now, is get him out, just about every day, at public events, talking about what he’s for. We’re doing both more policy oriented events, like this group, and also give you guys avails. We’re also doing more people-oriented events, we have got some town halls coming up, a whole bunch of stuff, so we are going to be working every day to get his message out because we think it’s a great message.

“We are feeling really good about the last 72 hours. We can kind of just feel it all, because we had a little stumbling around there for a while and now we think we’re cooking. We have faith in our guy. We want to get him out there talking to everybody.

“This is going to be a great campaign. There is only one candidate who is about change. I think the contrast today was very clear. He was talking about jobs, and the crisis in the economy in California. And the other candidates were defending more of the status quo.

“Today I read in the paper, as did Arnold, we were talking about it coming over here, $700,000 from a single union that has a an employer relationship with the state. Now, perfectly legal…but it’s wrong. It’s a symbol of everything people want to change. And I think what I am seeing is a morphing of all the abuses of the Davis Administration becoming the everyday operating behavior of candidate Bustamante. So I think people are very tired of rent-a-governors here. They want somebody who’s got the independence to clean things up.”

What about women’s groups complaining about his comments in magazine interviews?

“I think it’s background noise in the campaign. Everybody who knows Arnold knows he is very strong for women’s rights. I have been working with this organization now, and there are a lot of very strong women around who have a lot to do with it. So I think it’s a ludicrous charge. I think it’s background noise. I think the people of California would be much happier to see the candidates talk about what they are going to do for jobs and the economy and to clean up this mess in Sacramento than to play these kinds of silly games on the sidelines.”

Here is Mike Kennedy, 49, a Republican voter from Laguna Niguel, on Arnold:

“He hasn’t given us any reason to believe he’s got the answer to fix this $38 billion deficit that we’ve got. He’s running on his popularity and his charisma and that’s a wonderful thing, but…I want to hear more detail, what he’s going to do to fix this $38 billion deficit. He’s not going to address Prop 13, he’s not going to address DMV fees, let’s hear him make a stand.”

I told Kennedy that Arnold, while offering more specifics today, also repeated his stance that the public doesn’t need to hear all the details. Here was Arnold’s quote:

“Everyone is talking about the details. Details, details, details. Sacramento is filled with warehouses of details. But the thing they are lacking is leadership. The thing that Sacramento is lacking is backbone.”

Kennedy agreed, but still wanted more: “I think that’s a legitimate position. And again, what is going to be his plan? I know he can’t fix it overnight. But what’s going to be his plan on energy? What’s going to be his plan on property tax, DMV fees, gasoline tax? Obviously we, the residents of the state of California are going to have to pay, it’s just when, where and how much.

“My main thing is whoever takes over this next office, what checks and balances are going to be put in place so that when it starts to slide the wrong way, who puts the brakes on and when?
“He’s got charisma. He’s been a good businessman. From what I understand he’s acquired a bunch of wealth outside his movie career. But he hasn’t told me or anybody else how he’s qualified to run the state of California. Is he a prepared trouble shooter to go in and fix things? It’s one thing to run a company, all things being equal, can he go in and fix the problems, this tremendous deficit, and who gets cut and who doesn’t? I mean that’s a tough task for anybody, not just him. He’s kind of like on the fence right now and hasn’t made a commitment to anybody.”

Posted by dweintraub at 12:39 PM

Arnold opposes health care mandate

Arnold Schwarzenegger said today he opposes Senate Bill 2, the measure to require employers of more than 20 workers to pay a tax or provide health insurance to their employees. The measure is strongly backed by organized labor and is the centerpiece of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante's social agenda. Gov. Gray Davis has not said whether he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk, though lawmakers in the Capitol expect him to do so.

Schwarzenegger criticized the bill as an undue burden on business while speaking to reporters in Dana Point after addressing the board of directors of the California Chamber of Commerce. In his talk to the chamber, he also detailed his ideas for workers compensation reform and said he would support a restructuring of state and local finance to give more revenue, and more control, to local governments.

Here is what he said about the proposed health care mandate:

“All of those are great ideas, but right now we cannot have anything because there is such a burden on businesses right now. So we need to really, not do anything, add any expenses, to our workers and to our employers. We really have to slow that down. Those are all great ideas. I want everyone to have health care. I want every child to have health care. I want everyone to have the best education, to have the best disability, to have all the best things in the world, but we have to first look at where do we get the money for those things. So right now we have to be disciplined, and really think about those things, of how are we going to move on.”

Posted by dweintraub at 11:51 AM

Submit your question for CBA debate

To submit a question for the Sept. 24 recall debate sponsored by the California Broadcasters Assn. , send a postcard to this address:

California Decides 2003
915 L Street #C440
Sacramento, CA 95814

Posted by dweintraub at 8:37 AM

Torres critical of Bustamante fundraising

Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres tells the Mercury News that he thinks Bustamante's contributions from the tribes are legal but misguided because they will make him look bad in a high-profile race.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:46 AM

Arnold breaks the media logjam

Arnold sat for his first extended interviews with the print media Thursday, including one with the Los Angeles Times. He offered a few new specifics on his plans for workers comp, said he misspoke when he said early in the campaing that he wouldn't take any private contributions, and expressed his disdain for the process of raising money. He said to offer more details now about his economic plans would be foolish without more information, making him just "another politician." Here is the story. Registration required.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:40 AM

September 4, 2003

Weintraub to Earth! Come in.

Mickey Kaus thinks I've left the planet because I suggested, and the California Broadcasters picked up, a radical new idea for a political debate: publish the questions in advance. But I think it's Mickey and the rest of the traditional political crowd who have lost touch with reality. Debates as we know them are phony affairs where reporters pretend to ask tough questions and candidates pretend to answer them. Then the pundits rate the pols on their performance. They have nothing to do with governing and rarely tell us anything we had not already known. If I had my way, there would be ONE question Sept. 24 and the whole world would know it today: What are you going to do to bring state spending and revenues back into balance? The candidates would go at it for 90 minutes, with one moderator on hand to keep the peace and keep their feet to the fire. You think this would be easy for Arnold? What exactly would he say after mentioning his famous 60-day audit, the "crazy deficit" and waste, fraud and abuse? Education is off the table? Then how do you get $12 billion out of $45 billion in spending? Could he even talk about the budget for three minutes without making a fool of himself? I'd like to see. Could he answer Tom McClintock's followups on spending, or Arianna's on taxes? I'd like to know. If he could survive that test, I would be much more comfortable about his ability to solve the problem than I would be seeing him bat away "surprise" questions about offshore oil and water policy in 15 or 30-second pops. Let's give it a chance, people. It might just work. If not, what have we lost? Another one of those truely illuminating traditional debates? Wow.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:09 PM

For ad, Arnold discovers detail, but it's wrong

Arnold's campaign ad saying the state is losing $29 million a day is untrue, notes Finance Director Steve Peace. That figure is apparently based on the outdated estimate of a $38 billion budget shortfall, which many of the candidates are still using on the campaign trail. But the budget passed this summer shrunk that gap, mainly with borrowing and other stop-gap measures. Peace tells the Sacramento Bee here the state is actually taking in more than it's spending, and even if you account for one-time measures that will disappear at the end of the year the daily shortfall would be more like $7 million. Finally, I find it odd that Arnold says he must wait for a 60-day audit after the election to assess the state's fiscal condition but he can put out an ad detailing the problem down to a daily number....

Posted by dweintraub at 7:34 AM

Circling the wagons

From the Contra Costa Times debate transcript, here is the best exchange of the night, when most of the other candidates gave Cruz the business for selling out to the gambling tribes:















Posted by dweintraub at 7:19 AM

September 3, 2003

And the winner is...

First impressions from the debate, which I watched, spin-free, on television from the safety of my Sacramento office:

Gray Davis got the first half-hour to himself, and he must have said 11 times that he was committed to “connecting” more with the voters. But like the writing teacher who used to say to us, “don’t tell me, show me,” I’d like to actually see Gray connecting rather than hearing him talk about it all night. When a lay questioner told him his story – unemployed tech engineer, angry, worried about jobs shipped overseas – Gray acknowledged his pain but then went on to say that he favored punishing corporations that register abroad to avoid paying taxes. I know if I were in that guy’s shoes, nothing would tick me off more than hearing the governor trying to score political points rather than addressing my concerns.

While everyone has been nagging Gray to admit the mistakes he claims to now realize he made, Cruz jumped in without even being asked and acknowledged that he was wrong to have voted for the 1996 bill that deregulated electricity in California, a bill of which he was a co-author. Perhaps he thinks that vote might yet come back to haunt him?

Arianna Huffington has a good thing going with her jihad against the prison industrial complex and the correctional officers union. She said she wants teachers to be paid more than prison guards and later said one theme of her campaign is “books, not bars.”

Tom McClintock’s performance reminded me of the old line that when you tell the truth, you don’t have to worry about keeping your stories straight. Whatever you might think of him and his ideas, it can’t be said that McClintock trims his sails to match his audience. This is a man who knows what he believes and isn’t going to be shaken from it. He also knows how to say it in 60 seconds if that is what you give him, or 30, or even 15. He distinguished himself as a conservative’s conservative, on everything from taxes to abortion, the death penalty, immigration and the environment. I still don’t think he’s in the mainstream of the electorate, but he has the look of a guy who is willing to wait for the rest of us to figure out what he’s known all along.

Peter Ueberroth looked lackluster and unsure of himself once again. I did like the way he kept bringing everything back to the jobs issue, to the point that he even drew a back-handed compliment from the moderator for staying “on message.” He also resolutely stuck to his pledge not to criticize anyone, for anything. I thought he might have wanted to reconsider that vow after Arianna, reacting to Ueberroth’s defense of corporations, asked, “How dumb is that on a scale of one to ten?” But no.

Peter Camejo struck a blow for political correctness when he noted that he was for allowing illegal immigrants to remain in California – that is, the descendants of illegal European immigrants who landed in America hundreds of years ago. Hah hah. But while he’s fine with the Latinos who he said had claim to this land for thousands of years, he was cool to the true natives, the Indian tribes, and their number one industry. “Casinos are not good thing,” he said.

Arnold might have been right after all to skip this debate. He certainly suffered no direct damage on television Wednesday for his absence. A few Warren Buffett comments and one cute line from Cruz. Had he been there, he might have outshone these folks, but then again he might have been dragged down to their level. By staying away it’s possible he might have left some viewers wishing he were there, not so they could see him grilled by a panel of journos but so he could brighten the afternoon a bit. Of course, he is likely to take a bigger beating in the morning papers, which will make more of his absence and keep the buzz going about his unwillingness to answer questions.

The big winner in the debate: marijuana. All five candidates declared their support for making it available for medicinal purposes. It was the only thing on which they all agreed.

UPDATE: AskJeeves.Com founder Garrett Gruener, a Democrat running for governor, attended the debate and answered the questions in real time on his web site. He seems to have snuck in a few phantom questions while he was at it, as if there weren't enough asked as it was. God bless him. Here's the link.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:00 PM

FPPC sues Connerly

The Fair Political Practices Commission has filed suit today against Ward Connerly and the American Civil Rights Coalition seeking to force Connerly to disclose the source of nearly $2 million in contributions toward his campaign for Proposition 54, the racial privacy initiative. According to the commission, this is the first time the FPPC has ever filed suit to force disclosure of campaign contributions before an election. Here is the FPPC press release on the matter.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:25 PM

Political day-traders turning bullish on Cruz

Don’t trust the polls? How about the betting parlor? The futures contracts on the recall at have shown a steady decline in confidence in an Arnold victory along with a steady rise in expectations for Cruz. Today, for the first time, the two have flipped positions and Cruz is considered the more likely winner. This is the same kind of intelligence-gathering operation proposed by Admiral Pointdexter for ferreting out terror plots before Congress got wind of his scheme and pressured the White House to kill the idea….Of course, given the relatively small number of trades, the recall futures market is probably prone to manipulation by insider trading.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:31 PM moves in

The MoveOn.Org political action committee, which supports left-leaning candidates with an Internet-based political network, is moving on to the recall campaign. The group is asking its members for help in generating 1 million online pledges from Californians pledging to vote against the recall. The pledge drive bears watching because MoveOn has demonstrated the ability to use the Internet to generate political action, and the recall itself was birthed in part with help from the Internet. Oddly enough, however, the MoveOn campaign is titled “recall no, democracy yes” and claims that the recall is anti-democratic. Perhaps the MoveOn folks haven’t heard about the 1.3 million valid signatures on the recall petitions or the 8 million or more voters expected to turn out on Oct. 7. If anything, the recall can be criticized for being too democratic. Anti-democratic it most assuredly is not.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:14 PM

More Arnold ads

Arnold’s putting out two more ads today, neither of which is as catchy as the commercial attacking special interest influence that he released yesterday. Both ads show him talking about the budget with campaign volunteers in a cafeteria setting. In what almost seems like a playful jab at the political press, Arnold tells his listeners in one of the ads that his campaign is all about “big change” and adds that “the people have a right to know what that means for them.” He then offers his “plan” for fixing the budget: “Audit everything, open the books. And then, we end the crazy deficit spending.” Will this mean cutting education, someone asks. “No,” Arnold says flatly. “We can fix this mess without hurting the schools. For me, the children come first. Always have. Always will.”

Arnold’s “plan” is of course more of a slogan than a blueprint for change. The outline he’s sketched so far – cutting the car tax while protecting school spending – would force him to cut about $12 billion from the $45 billion portion of the budget not spent on K-12 public education. And he has offered no specific ideas about how he would do this. The audit he describes is supposed to tell him how big the deficit really is, not what to cut, so it’s not as if they would help him chart his course.

These ads are aimed at voters who aren’t paying much attention, are upset about deficit spending, want to shake things up but don’t want to give anything up. In that sense they are aimed squarely at the California mainstream. But unless Arnold is going to offer a more detailed prescription for how to balance the budget without deep cuts or tax increases, he’s being intellectually dishonest.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:06 AM

On playing favorites

A funny thing has happened in the past couple of days. After posting item after item ripping Schwarzenegger for his refusal to answer questions, for his refusal to debate, for his lack of specifics and for specifics that don’t add up, for breaking his promises on negative campaigning and on accepting special interest money, I posted a few items critical of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. Suddenly readers (some Democratic officials, some not) are questioning my “objectivity.” One said the “relish” with which I attacked Cruz while giving Arnold a “free pass” was unbecoming of a political journalist in my position.

So let me clarify: I am an opinion writer. I express my opinions. Ideologically, from what I can tell, Schwarzenegger is closer to my view of the world than Cruz. When I am weighing in on public policy, about taxes and spending and regulation and government mandates on employers, my takes are going to tend to be closer to Arnold’s than to Bustamante’s. But when I am talking about integrity, honesty, claims, campaign tactics and the like, I play no favorites, and never have.

Fortunately, all of my posts are archived under the button to the right side of this page. But here's a helpful cheat-sheet for those keeping score at home:

On September 1, after Arnold’s appearance at the state fair, I criticized him for ducking questions, and said his campaign tactics were creating an impression that he is “unwilling or unable to answer tough questions. By extension, the message is that he is unprepared to govern.”

On August 27, I criticized Arnold for taking special interest money after saying he wouldn’t, suggesting his flip-flop made him look “like a hypocrite or a liar.”

On August 26, I criticized Arnold for taking a personal swipe at Cruz after promising to refrain from negative campaigning. The attack, I said, “makes him look small.”

On August 25, in my first post on Arnold taking special interest money, I said his flip-flop presented a “mixed message, to put it mildly, and an outright distortion or lie, if you want to place it in the worst light.”

On August 22, when Arnold’s campaign said he wouldn’t join in the first debate, I said the decision “made him look like the calculating pols he is supposedly trying to sweep out of the Capitol.”

And on Aug. 20, I said Arnold’s declaration that he could repeal the car tax, raise no other taxes and still balance the budget while leaving education off the table was “not a reasonable proposition.”

Posted by dweintraub at 9:37 AM

The real smoking guns

Gun control is often a big issue in California campaigns for governor. It's one of the hot-buttons with which Democrats have hit Republican candidates in recent years. In this race it's almost been lost in the shuffle, which is probably a good thing, given that its past prominence has been completely out of proportion to its importance as an issue affecting the day-to-day lives of most Californians. But for die-hards, the Bee today presents a comprehensive look at the candidates' positions on gun issues, which among other things reveals new details about Arnold's take on weapons and the state's role in controlling their use. He appears to be in favor of most of the recent and proposed legislation pushed by Democrats. If you are looking for a Second Amendment candidate, Tom McClintock is your man. Here is the story. For those of you with access to the print version of the story, it comes with a handy chart comparing the candidates' posiitons.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:32 AM

Bustmante ignores campaign finance limits

In 2000 the voters of California approved a ballot measure limiting contributions to candidates to an amount now set at $21,200. On Tuesday the Viejas Tribe of Indians announced it would give Cruz Bustamante $1.5 million toward his campaign for governor. The tribe and the Bustamante campaign believe they can accomplish this exchange because Bustamante, as an incumbent, had a campaign committee in place before the law limiting contributions passed. Typically voters pay little attention to campaign money and candidates exploiting what they believe are loopholes in the law. But in a campaign in which one of the major issues is the influence of special interests on state government, and Gov. Gray Davis' devotion to them, it will be interesting to see if voters embrace a candidate who so openly flouts the spirt of the law, not just any law, but a law passed by the people. I opposed Proposition 34 because I believe all such limits are misguided, and I favor immediate and full disclosure of all contributions while letting the voters decide whether the money is important to them. But it's the law of the land. And as long as it is, as a voter, I expect every candidate to follow it. I think Bustamante's refusal to do so raises important questions about his commitment to the rule of law generally, and whether this would set a precedent for how he would act as governor. Here is the Bee's complete story on the matter.

UPDATE: Here is a comprehensive story by LA Times writer Dan Morain explaining the campaign finance rules and the various loopholes. Morain is the California journalist who knows more about campaign finance than anyone else and writes about it with authority. Registration required.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:22 AM

Question time

The California Broadcasters Association is taking a lot of heat lately for its decision to release questions in advance of its debate scheduled for Sept. 24. Since this was an idea I first floated to the association as a member of an advisory panel on gubernatorial debates, I want to defend their decision and explain the rationale again.

The point is not just to let the candidates know the questions. The point is to let the public know the questions, in hopes of stimulating discussion in advance on the key issues the candidates will confront. The candidates and their staffs can usually predict most of the questions that will come in a typical debate. But the phony spontaneity of the events allows the politicians to get away with evasive answers that dodge the questions while quickly moving to prepared talking points. By publishing the questions in advance, the hope is that viewers will be looking for more complete answers and will more easily spot the evasions. If the plan works as hoped, the major newspapers will publish the questions along with a guide to viewers offering background on the issues at stake.

For example, suppose one of the questions is, “Do you believe that the budget can be balanced without a tax increase, and if so, how?” Publishing this ahead of time is not going to give any candidate an advantage. They all know that such a question is likely to come in a debate. But it’s a crucial question for the public to be discussing, and it would be great if the newspapers provided in advance an in-depth backgrounder on the budget numbers, the size of the shortfall, where most of the money goes and what might have to be cut if taxes are not raised. They would have this information not only as they watched the debate but before and after as they batted the questions around with family, friends and co-workers.

Is all of this a bit idealistic? Sure. But the point of a campaign debate is not to measure on-stage performance skills, which are never again put to such a test in the real life of a politician. It’s to engage candidates and voters in a discussion of the issues that matter to the state. This format has a better chance of doing that than any ever used before.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:11 AM

September 2, 2003

More big Indian money for Cruz

The Indian money for Cruz keeps piling up. He's collected or has pledges for $2.8 million so far, according to this blurb from the Bee, a figure that includes a $1.5 million contribution and pledge for a $500,000 get-out-the-vote drive from the Viejas Band. This is a high-risk move. In one sense Cruz has little choice because he won't get this much money anywhere else. But if Arnold is successful in painting the Indians and their gaming operations as evil special interests, they could become a very large weight around Cruz's neck. I haven't seen polling on the Indians' image. I am thinking that on the surface Californians favor them -- hey, let them do what they can to get on their economic feet. But I also think a well crafted campaign about traffic, water use, and values, with a Las Vegas connection thrown in, could persuade voters that the Indian gaming operations are not the same as the Native Americans who still have a warm spot in our hearts.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:30 PM

'Game over'

Arnold is putting out new ad, a quick 15-second spot focused on special interest politics. It features a nifty line he used Monday in Sacramento and is sure to catch the viewers' attention:

"Here's how it works: money comes in, favors go out. The people lose. We need to send a message: game over."

Can't get much clearer than that. Maybe he will buy some time to air it during Wednesday's debate.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:11 PM

Gray and Sharon on NBC

Tom Brokaw interviews Gray and Sharon Davis on NBC News tonight. Long interview, not a whole lot of substance, but some more attempts by Gray to make amends. He says he is trying to "connect" with the voters, show his feelings and be more in touch. Sharon says she was shocked that voters could try to recall a governor for nothing more serious than having "gray hair."

Here is the transcript.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:07 PM

Feinstein ad on recall: 'Just say no'

The anti-recall ads taped by Sen. Dianne Feinstein are set to begin airing Wednesday, the campaign says. There are two ads, and both play to the voters’ fears about the uncertain effects of the recall. In one, Feinstein notes that Davis was just elected last year and says that “the recall is creating uncertainty and instability. It’s bad for our economy, it’s bad for jobs and it’s bad for California.”

In the second ad, Feinstein mentions the 135 candidates and says that one could win with “15 percent of the vote” – a prospect that looks increasingly unlikely at this point. “Will they be qualified?” she asks. “Where will they stand on the issues? What will the uncertainty do to our economy?” She then puts in a pitch for Gray: “The governor deserves the chance to keep working on issues we care about: like education, health care and important new privacy legislation.” And she closes with a line Cruz won’t like: “On the recall,” she says, “just say no.”

Feinstein is easily the most popular politician in California. If anybody can turn around the momentum for Gray, it’s her. A campaign spokesman says the first buy will be about $1 million, enough to penetrate the viewership in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Monterey. The ads’ message hits all the buttons the pollsters have said might move voters. It will be interesting to see if it does.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the ads.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:18 PM

The health care mandate

Here's an issue that every candidate for governor should be asked to address: Senate Bill 2, John Burton’s measure to require employers of more than 20 workers to provide health insurance to their employees. Burton wants this measure as the cornerstone of his legacy as he moves toward the end of his long legislative career. He’s linked it to workers compensation reform, telling businesses that if they want savings in the injured workers program they are going to have to support his bill to move the state toward universal health care. If it passes and is signed by Gov. Gray Davis, SB 2 would be a landmark expansion of government’s role in health care, turning over to an appointed board major decisions about the cost and shape of health benefits enjoyed by most California workers. It would mandate that affected companies pay a fee to the state or exempt themselves by paying at least 80 percent of the premium to provide state-approved insurance benefits to their workers. Here are at least three concerns people should have about this bill:

--The assumption: Why should this burden be borne by employers, with what is essentially a tax on hiring? If society decides that everyone should have health insurance, shouldn’t everyone pay for it? It's dangerous to saddle small employers with this cost at a time when the state is desperately trying to create a climate conducive to job creation.

--The threshold: The bill as currently drafted kicks in for employers with 20 or more workers. That means a company with 19 employees that wants to hire one more will have to figure in the cost of providing insurance to all 20 employees, at an estimated total cost of $20,000 or more per year. This seems likely to discourage small firms from expanding beyond that point. It also might serve as an incentive for firms with 20 to 25 employees to trim their payrolls to avoid the mandate.

--The cost: Other health programs under government control, such as Medi-Cal and workers compensation, have had trouble containing costs. What will happen if health insurance companies, guaranteed a steady flow of customers, continue to increase their premiums as they have in recent years? Will employers be asked to shoulder a larger and larger cost for this care?

This is a huge change in California law and its economic policy. It would be unwise to push it through without a very thorough review of the assumptions and details behind the change, and a worst-case-scenario examination of the possible consequences of the bill.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:49 AM

Peter's gentle nudge

Peter Ueberroth has promised to run a positive campaign and never attack any of his opponents. So how does he handle the issue of Arnold possibly ducking the first debate? By calling on him, gently but directly, to join in so that more people will watch and the Yes on Recall message will get out to more voters. Here is an excerpt from the statement put out by his campaign (including a few typos):

I’m here today to urge Arnold Schwarzenegger to join the other candidates for the campaign’s first debate. The voters deserve to hear all of us discuss our plans to put California back on track. Being part of these debates shows respect for the voters and the process. So I hope he’ll reconsider and be there on Wednesday night.

The debate shouldn’t be about the candidates criticizing each other. I’ve promised not to criticize other candidates. This debate should be about saving jobs, balancing the budget, and fixing education. It doesn’t need to be about mudslinging and name-calling. It can be and should be an educational experience.

Here’s the point: ratings will double or triple if Arnold is there. Many more voters will hear why this recall has become a mandate. So he’d be doing a great service for the voters and for the recall campaign. One debate later in the campaign is good. But we need to get started right now.

Giving voters a chance to hear him several times before Election Day is good for him. It’s good for the voters. And it’s good for the democratic process.

Arnold, you’re a great communicator. Come tell the voters why you should be governor. Come talk to voters about putting California back on track. All the candidates want the recall to succeed – it’s become a mandate for change. There are only five weeks to go in the campaign, it’s important that the recall succeed. You can help make that happen. By waiting to debate, Schwarzenegger will keep many absentee voters from making a fully informed decision. Last year, two million Californians voted absentee. Many of those absentee voters won’t hear him debate before they vote. Many are military personnel stationed elsewhere.

We have created an online petition to urge him to join the debate on my website, Voters can sign petition encouraging him to join us.

I’ll be there Wednesday night. I’ll attend several other debates as well. So will other major candidates.

But everyone benefits by full participation, so I hope Arnold Schwarzenegger will change his mind and be there as well.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:40 AM

September 1, 2003

Forget MEChA--how about bilingual ed?

Let us hope that Cruz Bustamante’s belated renunciation of ethnic nationalism ends the furor over his long-ago membership in the MEChA organization for Mexican-American college students. While Bustamante at first tried to portray MEChA as a harmless social organization, it’s clear from the organization’s founding principles that ethnic nationalism was and is a major part of its identity. Cruz should have and could have easily condemned that side of the group’s activities while explaining that his interest in joining came from a different place.

Tacitus, a blogger whom I believe was the first to push this issue and kept pushing it until the mainstream media began picking it up, wonders why it took Cruz so long to say he doesn’t support separatism. The reason, no doubt, is that Cruz came of age in politics as part of the Latino Democratic Caucus in the California Legislature, where ethnic identity politics – the belief that you define people first by their ethnic group rather than as individuals -- is an unwritten requirement for membership. Bustamante, ironically, was never one of the more radical members of this group of legislators, as far as I could tell, and there’s evidence that even as a kid he did not believe personally in separating himself from members of other ethnic groups. But he certainly owed his elevation to the job of Assembly Speaker to his ethnic background and to the support he received from fellow Latinos. If his name had been Charles Bustmont rather than Cruz Bustamante, he would have finished his legislative career as an anonymous back-bencher. Thus there is reason to wonder how he would handle ethnic issues as governor.

And while people can debate forever whether MEChA and its more virulent cousins do or do not advocate ethnic separatism, it’s indisputably true that the Legislature’s Latino Caucus advocates policies that are destructive to their own people and to greater California, in the name of ethnic unity. Ethnic preferences gave a handful of favored Latinos a leg up into the universities while our public high schools were allowed to graduate (or see drop out) hundreds of thousands of functionally illiterate Latino kids. Bilingual education doomed young Latino children to second-class status by preventing them from learning English. But ballot measures to rein in both practices were opposed by every elected Latino Democrat in state office, including Bustamante, and not just opposed but condemned as somehow hateful. Now Bustamante is busy demonizing Proposition 54, a controversial but well-meaning ballot initiative that seeks to make the government color-blind by prohibiting, in most cases, the collection of ethnic and racial data on state forms. Finally, there is the question of the state’s public school standards and accountability movement, which was created with support from Latino legislators but is now endangered and not assured the same kind of backing in its fight to survive.

I don’t know of anyone who seriously believes that Bustamante supports, or ever supported, the creation of a separate Chicano nation on land to be taken back from the United States. But he does support ethnic-identity politics in the here and now, in a way that is insidious, in a fashion that works its way into everything he stands for and represents as a politician. Perhaps now that he has come clean on MEChA, that is what the media should be hounding Bustamante to explain.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:57 PM

'Meet the Press,' Arnold-style

arnold and press 2.jpg

Arnold held another of his crowd-wades and media scrums today, at the California State Fair in Sacramento. It was slightly more organized than the Huntington Beach event a couple of weeks ago, but the effect was hardly different. He appeared at a staged voter-registration booth with volunteers set up as props registering voters and signing up to register. He said a few words about the importance of registering to vote, tossed a few Tee-shirts into the crowd and then went into the fair, where he was mobbed by fans and well-wishers before and after a short question and answer, or question and statement, exchange with the press. These things are becoming symbolic of a campaign that is operating on at least two levels. On one level is Arnold’s relationship with the political press, which is arms-length, to say the least. He appears sporadically, usually in a state of commotion, and reporters shout questions at him which he usually declines to answer, or simply launches into a full-blown filibuster getting across the message points he wants to deliver. Asked today why he is taking money from the special interests when he said he would not do so, Arnold simply defined away the question, saying that the Indian tribes and the unions are special interests while his well-heeled donors are just nice people who want to help him out. “The contributions come in, favors go out, the people suffer,” he said of Gov. Davis. Then, in what is becoming the signature Schwarzenegger device, he repeated a statement over and over and chopped his hand for emphasis, making an arc across his audience from right to left, like a sprinkler watering a lawn. “This administration is not representing you,” he said, chopping to his right, “It’s not representing you, it’s not representing you, it’s not representing you. It’s representing the special interests.”

His relationship with the public, meanwhile, is far more intimate. He all but dives into the crowds, shaking hands, holding babies, signing autographs. He beams his broad smile, agrees with most everything everyone says, leads people to believe that he is one with them. Today he told one woman that the children and the schools would be his top priority, and that he supports “more teachers, more classrooms…everything.” Another voter urged him to support “higher wages” – and Arnold launched into a story about his days working with his hands, as a bricklayer. He knows how it is for working people, he said. He did not climb his way up through the halls of Sacramento. But of course, while Arnold might support “higher wages” as a concept (who doesn’t?), he does not, as far as we know, support any government mandate that would seek to increase the minimum wage or create a living wage. Although I have seen candidates tell the truth in these situations (Bill Simon among them), it is probably not reasonable to expect a politician to volunteer a disagreeable position. An honest answer might be that he will do all he can to help the private sector create high-paying jobs. But Arnold doesn’t even offer that level of specificity. A question from a nearby reporter about the prevailing wage – the government-mandated wage standard that forces public agencies to pay what amount to union wages on construction projects – goes unanswered. So too do questions about the 8-hour-day overtime standard and about the state’s new paid family leave program, which business groups say should top the list of anyone looking to lift oppressive government regulations off their backs. He offered a few more statistics and a new anecdote illustrating problems in the workers compensation system for injured workers, but still no proposals for how to fix the troubled program.

With each of these events, and with each turned down interview request, the press grows more and more frustrated, and you see that in some of the coverage of his campaign stops. It will surely be a major theme this week if Arnold, as advertised, ducks the first debate Wednesday among the major candidates. But Arnold clearly believes that he doesn’t need the press, and he doesn’t need to answer reporters’ questions. He gets on the television news whether his answers are on point or not, and he acts as if he doesn’t believe that many voters read newspapers. I still think he has created an unnecessary buzz around the campaign, a message that is repeated so often and so widely that it must be reaching the electorate: he is unwilling or unable to answer tough questions. By extension, the message is that he is unprepared to govern. And given that his greatest potential weakness is the voters’ sense that he’s not ready for prime time politics, his strategy only seems to feed that impression. I am not among those who believe a candidate or government official has an “obligation” to give time to the political press. But neither do I think Arnold is serving his own interests by being so dismissive of the people who buy ink by the barrel. He just seems to be making trouble for himself.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:55 PM

The recall in American history

Here is a bit of history on the debate over the recall at the time of the American Revolution, from a New York lawyer who wrote a master's thesis on the subject.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:23 PM

Look who's driving the wedge now

Cruz’s appearance on "Face the Nation" Sunday and his campaign manager’s comments in the Bee this morning suggest that Bustamante is going to try the ethnic left’s favorite trick: yelling “divisiveness” in a crowded political theater.

The issue is immigration, and Bustamante seems to think he has Arnold on the run. But Cruz is wrong on the facts, and I think he is also wrong on the strategy.

First, the facts. Cruz says Arnold is “running on wedge-issue politics” and is trying “to take on immigrants in this state.” This is a classic example of the Big Lie, folks. What do you do when you are running against an immigrant who happens to be white and have considerable appeal among Latinos? You try to paint him as anti-immigrant. I have heard Arnold speak about immigrants several times now during this campaign, and every time it has been in glowing terms. He tells his own story about arriving here with next to nothing and achieving the American dream, and says he wants the same opportunities available for every newcomer. As far as I know, there is not a single quote (from this year or 25 years ago) in which Arnold has been critical of immigrants.

But Arnold has committed two sins in the Church of Cruz. He says he voted for Proposition 187, the 1994 ballot measure that would have eliminated most public services to illegal immigrants in California. And he opposes legislation pending this year that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

Arnold did not campaign for 187, and has not mentioned it in this campaign except when asked, and he acknowledged that he voted for it. Why? Because he believes in the rule of law, and the idea that immigrants should follow the law, and that those who do not should not be rewarded for their law-breaking. He also believes that illegal immigration leads to exploitation of immigrants by employers and others who know that they can get away with bad behavior because people who are here without proper documents are reluctant to complain to authorities for fear of being deported. Reasonable people can differ on the idea behind Prop. 187, and whether the risk to society from eliminating services actually might have outweighed the harm in providing those benefits. I voted against it because I couldn’t accept the short-term consequences of kicking those kids out of school and leaving them on the streets, even if, in the long-term, this might have resulted in the desirable result of less illegal immigration. But one could also argue that the children of legal immigrants would be most helped by such a policy, because the billions of dollars we now spend annually educating illegal immigrants could instead be focused on newcomers who arrived lawfully, or at least have legal status. In any event, the fact that Arnold voted the way he did and now, under questioning, acknowledges having done so, does not represent campaigning on “wedge issues.”

Arnold has also said that he opposes legislation to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Does this make him anti-immigrant? Well, let’s see. No less a figure than Gov. Gray Davis vetoed such legislation one year ago. Davis said he was concerned that the bill would represent a security risk, allowing terrorists and other unsavory figures to get a license and use it to infiltrate our society. Does this make Davis anti-immigrant? It turns out the governor now supports a new version of the bill, a version that includes fewer safeguards than the bill he vetoed last year. Davis announced his support while speaking to a Latino group that promised to back him in the recall if he changed his position. But whether you believe that it is simply wrong to give people here unlawfully a symbol of legal status, or that the bill's particulars are a potential logistical nightmare, there are many good reasons to oppose the bill. (For a Senate analysis of SB 60 that discusses these flaws, go here.) The current bill has been strongly opposed by the fraud investigators at the Department of Motor Vehicles, who say it is a dangerous piece of legislation. Arnold agrees with the fraud investigators. So in Cruz’s eyes, he is anti-immigrant.

Cruz’s facts are plainly wrong, yet his strategy, cynical as it is, could still be wise. But I don’t think it is. Nearly 60 percent of California voters passed 187 in 1994, and the famous “backlash,” such as it was, came more from the tone than the substance of that campaign, and the way then-Gov. Pete Wilson seemed to blend the issues of legal and illegal immigration into one potent issue. Arnold had nothing to do with that campaign, having merely participated as a voter, clearly on the side of large majority of his fellow Californians. Yes, Wilson supports him now, and his campaign team is full of Wilsonistas, but I haven't seen anything from them on this issue that even hints of racial politics. And while I have yet to see any polls on the driver’s license issue, I have to think it’s a loser with most voters. In both cases, Arnold is in sync with the electorate while doing nothing to suggest that immigrants (even illegals) are bad people. He just happens to have some policy positions on illegal immigration that are not in line with the Democratic Latino Caucus in the Legislature.

But in today’s world, disagreeing with the left on issues of race is not allowed. Intelligent discussion on these matters is decried as “wedge politics.” And an immigrant candidate with a positive outlook on the role of immigrants in society must be slimed. Ask yourself: which candidate is being “divisive” here?

NOTE: During my recent absence, the issue of Cruz and the Latino student group known as Mecha came up in the campaign. I intend to address that separately in a post coming to this space soon.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:31 AM



At Crossroads, a panel of experts and the public debate the future of health care in California. We'd like you to join the conversation.

Daniel Weintraub


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