Last week, a field poll released findings that gave former California Governor and current State Attorney General Jerry Brown an average 20-point lead over the other candidates currently running for 2010 Governor’s race.
While this is an interesting tidbit, this politico for one is hoping that this poll is more of a reflection of Brown’s name recognition–and not an indication that the best plan California can come up with is to bring back a former governor!
However, when considering the possible candidates (as Brown has not officially announced he’s running—but he’s clearly running) I wonder—what is going to happen in the Golden State? Let’s consider the other contenders:
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom: If you’re like the ladies in my office, he had you at “Hello.” Aside from his strongest asset, he’s the only contender besides Brown with actual governing experience. However, as our esteemed editor has pointed out, Mayor Newsom needs to improve his decision-making abilities and start connecting with Californians–well, not the ladies . . . he’s done enough of that!
Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman : I’ve always tried to bring a balanced approach to my views of those who I disagree with, but Ms. Whitman doesn’t know the first thing about government or how to run one. Conservatives always tout their business experience as credentials in running for office. The truth is, the reason why this argument fails (time after time) is that Government is not a business. The governor doesn’t report to the shareholders or board of directors, you can’t sell stock to raise capital, and you can’t solve spending problems through mass layoffs. All of these arguments are the cornerstone of Ms. Whitman’s campaign.
Further (and Ms. Whitman, I hope you’re paying attention here), economic prosperity comes from two sources: the state (a.k.a. government) and entrepreneurship (business/the market). Without one, the other cannot exist. In this case, if there were mass layoffs, as Ms. Whitman recently proposed (to the tune of 30,000 state workers), that means fewer lower- and middle-class jobs, which translates to less spending on products, and even leads to fewer people buying useless crap on eBay! (Admission: I’ve actually purchased many useful things on eBay . . . but you get the idea.)
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner: I have nothing against Mr. Poizner, and to be honest, from a non-partisan perspective he has some great ideas about California. However, much as I dinged Ms. Whitman schemes, the same applies to Mr. Poizner. His “MBA approach” to solving California’s problems include mandatory 15% expenditure cuts across the board. Mr. Poizner is so devoted to his 15% cut that he’s focused on bringing that 15% cut to 25% of the population, which is only about 1/3 of actual voters. Electoral math works, but isn’t a big selling point to the out-of-work middle-class Californian.
These are the leading candidates to govern the world’s eighth largest economy. Do you find yourself saying, “really . . . is this the best we have to offer?” Moonbeam, the Gavinator, Mrs. MBA, and Poindexter…anyone feel like “none of the above?”
Who then would I suggest you ask?
Well lets look at one from each party.
I personally like former Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg. Since hitting his term limit in the Legislature, Mr. Hertzberg has worked with renewable energy firms internationally and spearheaded the “California Forward” initiative, which aims to bring our out-of-date initiative system up-to-date. Honorable mentionL Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who has been present in California politics long enough to be taken seriously as a prospective candidate.
Republican: State Senator Roy Ashburn is one Republican that comes to mind. While I can’t say I’ve always agreed with his views, he is so well respected in the Legislature (by both parties) I would be wrong if I didn’t apply the term Statesmen to his political posture. Plus, Senator Ashburn is the type of politico who could bring California’s “Big 5” in for meetings all day, and then share a drink and build camaraderie with his political opponents. Honorable mention: former State Assembly Member Greg Aghazarian.
All-in-all, there is some talent out there. However, it is my opinion (and sincere hope) that the best candidate has not yet thrown his or her name in the ring. Otherwise, we run the growing possibility of turning our state backwards–again.