California had already long since been in a state of economic turmoil when the country was hit by the 2008 recession. In 2003, we recalled our governor for the first time over economic mismanagement and a majority of us thought it was a good idea to elect the Terminator. But apparently Arnold isn’t from the future or he would have seen what was coming. Unemployment in California is 2.4 percent above the national average and our budget deficit exceeds $20 billion. The entrepreneurs and college educated workers are moving out but the hippies and wannabe actors are still moving in.
Now it’s time to elect a new governor. The challenges in Sacramento should be a crown jewel for an ambitious politician. California is the largest, richest, most influential state in the union. With the fate of California entwined with the fate of America, I am certain that whoever can fix California’s economy will one day be president of the United States if they want to be. But with the primary election coming up in June, our nationally known public figures (Antonio Villaraigosa, Gavin Newsom, and Dianne Feinstein) have all dropped out. This leaves just State Attorney General Jerry Brown and Former EBay CEO Meg Whitman as the leading candidates.
Brown has an impressive resume. As a former mayor and governor, he knows the state and its politics. He’s sensibly moderate on most issues and has a record of fiscal responsibility. But anyone born after 1980 probably has no idea who he is. His recent accomplishments as California Attorney General include suing an electronic cigarette company over false advertising and petitioning the state Supreme Court to classify bicycle foot pegs as a deadly weapon.
He is essentially the presumptive Democratic nominee and he hasn’t even declared his candidacy. The delayed declare is sometimes used as a political strategy. The idea is that an undeclared candidate will retain their current popularity because they won’t face political attacks from rival candidates. But waiting this long is making him look aloof, indecisive, and disinterested in the office he’s running for.
Whitman is essentially running for Schwarzenegger’s third term. Like Schwarzenegger, she is a super rich Republican with no experience in government and wants to try her hand at politics. She is promising exactly what Schwarzenegger promised when he was running which includes low taxes, balanced budgets, and smaller government.
She is touting her experience as the CEO of EBay as her qualification to be governor. But experience in the privet sector doesn’t translate to experience in government. If elected, she’ll soon find out that the governor doesn’t have the same power over the state that a CEO has over a corporation. A CEO has to appease shareholders and a board of directors, but essentially they are the boss and their orders are followed. A governor has to share power with the assembly, mayors, supervisors, unions, courts, city councils, and voter ballot initiatives. They can give orders, but nobody is under any obligation to follow them. A strong leader like Whitman will never be able to compromise with the assembly, much less get the assembly to compromise with itself. She is Schwarzenegger minus the charisma and environmentalism. With her, we will end up with the same gridlock we’ve had for years.
As a state, we have are looking to hire someone for one of the most important political positions in the country and so far the only serious applicants are Brown and Whitman, a man who’s not even sure he wants the job and a woman who holds the same positions as our current unpopular governor. It’s either a sign that our challenges are too daunting to overcome or an opening for real candidate to emerge.