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Wednesday, October 08, 2003

What is wrong with Democrats

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the Governor-Elect in California and the Democrats rolled over. They were not a major factor in the months prior to the election to recall in the first place and then once the recall election question was decided and a ballot date was set, the Democrats, aware of all the poll data, decided to "Tammy Wynette" the affair and stand by their man, the office holding Governor Gray Davis. Davis, who eeked out a win for a second term just a year ago, has never been a truly popular guy. And when the recall question arose, it was fairly easy to place a hugely popular unknown, Arnold, against the villainously-cast Davis. And the obvious result was that Davis was out, Arnold was in. But the bigger picture was the clear, strategic absence of the Democratic Party. Where were they? Bustamante was the only candidate they could get for the recall? There were no reports of any "draft candidate" movements. We read reports that Sen. Diane Fienstein wouldn't run, but no apparent move to draft her for a gubernatorial bid. We read that former California Congressman and Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta dipped his toes in the water, but no real organized draft to get the hugely popular retired politician in the race. And I have to think that had a more qualified candidate been presented to the voters, Arnold wouldn't have had the cake walk that he enjoyed yesterday. But maybe not. Maybe the whole thing was envitable as a message of change - the voters demanding that things change in Sacramento. California has its problems ahead. And many people have watched this election with a smirk and a grin on their face, but it is important to know that as California goes, so goes the nation. Many of the country's ballot initiative movements that appear on November ballots in this country had their start in California. Eighteen states have recall mechanisms. When a sitting governor with a reported 47% approval rating is tossed out of office, imagine the carnage that can and perhaps will, happen in other states when a governor holds a less than 47% approval rating? Maybe none. Maybe Calfornia will be it. And on the positive, California has tried to recall governors before, including Gov. Ronald Reagan, Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov. Pete Wilson, with the issue never even making it to the ballot. This is only the second governor in history to be recalled, the only other one was North Dakota in 1921. I also am watching and concerned for California, a major, major part of the nation's economy. It will be interesting and painful to watch as the gubernatorial neophyte takes the stage and lives by his campaign promises - no new taxes, no cuts in the education (40% of the budget) and slashing the recent tripling of the automobile tax ($4 billion dollars of revenue in a state with a projected $8 billion budget deficit) Any and all of his as yet-to- be-announced budget fixes will have to be presented to the Democratic-controlled state legislature.