| As promised, here is the first of the profiles, expect one covering Angelides within a week or so and Ahnold in another week:
Westly with former 49ers star safety Ronnie Lott.
Westly (website), the current state controller, announced very early (June 8, 2005 ) that he was challenging the Governator. While this is not suprising, Angelides did too, the suprising thing about Westly’s campaign is his former chumminess with Ahnold. More on that in a bit. First, a general introduction:
Westly, for a man in his forties, has a long history in politics. At various times in his political career he has been: state controller (current), DNC member (current, I believe), Cal. Dem. Party Treasurer (at age 23), an employee at the San Jose Office of Economic Development, and an employee of the U.S. Dept. of Energy. He has been a member of the DNC for around twenty years. That’s a lot of experience. Throw in his star turn at Ebay (where he netted lots of cash), and you have a formidable candidate.
Westly, in my own humble opinion, is a moderate through and through. That’s probably a good thing for the general election as Arnold’s unpopularity would probably be enough to win the election. Westly would probably admit to being a “social liberal and fiscal conservative.” What that really means for the state is unclear, but in the end would probably be a good thing. Davis's fiscal priorities were unclear, and Ahnold is far too beholden to the GOP base. While Westly's exact plans to balance the budget aren’t totally clear, his record of fiscal good judgement should stand as a good omen. But Westly cannot be portrayed as merely a fiscal conservative, he has lofty goals for the state of California. Certainly his promises are big. Some examples:
* Health insurance for every child : “Steve supports legislation that would raise the income threshold for subsidized healthcare and ensure coverage for every child in the State.”
* Environmental spending: “…Steve will invest in the next generation of pollution control technologies, strengthen the Cal-EPA and air boards, and demand that polluting factories be shut down.”
* Education Funding: “Steve fully supports the voter-approved commitment to public education funding, Proposition 98. When cost-of-living is considered, California still ranks near the bottom in per-pupil spending. That needs to change. Although additional resources are not the only aspect of improving our schools, they are a crucial first step toward reform. Additionally, Steve believes we should fund a system of universal preschool, which is why he supports the preschool initiative headed for the June ballot.”
These are all laudable goals, and I couldn’t agree more. The trying part, of course, is that the biggest problem involved in being a fiscal conservative and a social liberal is that occasionally money gets in the way of being liberal. Some issues it doesn’t really matter that much (gay marriage, abortion, etc.), but for school funding, it’s hard to be a good liberal without wanting to spend more money. As a self-described conservative and a social liberal, I have come upon these problems many times in the course of blogging, political discussions, etc. However, in times of budget shortfalls a fiscally conservative governor would be a valuable asset to the state (IMHO).
But Westly's campaign, for better or worse, will be somewhat of a struggle to make the Democratic voters forget that he colloborated with Ahnold in 2004. :
Twenty superstar tech execs met with California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Thursday as he and State Controller Steve Westly made a barnstorming junket to Silicon Valley to pump up support for his bond measure. 2/6/2004
He campaigned during the 2004 Primary Election for the Bond Measure that Ahnold propagated. And, an old version of Westly’s website (from Marching Orders blog) highlights an article from San Jose Magazine highlighting his connections to the Governator:
You probably recognize Steve Westly from the company he keeps. As State Controller, he’s been featured on the news and at political gatherings, hobnobbing with pal Arnold Schwarzenegger—and you probably recognize his name as being instrumental in shaping ultrasuccessful auction Web site eBay. But there’s more to Steve Westly than meets the eye. The former Stanford instructor counts his wife as one of his greatest inspirations, makes a point of catching “For Better or for Worse” and “Doonesbury” in the paper whenever he can, and hopes someday to return to the academic life—when he’s finished helping California overcome its budget crises, of course.
Now the Governator is less popular, and to Westly's credit, he can see the shifting political winds. More recently, Westly said that:
Westly, who backed the governor after Schwarzenegger first took office, said "the governor came into this election promising real reform" but had "taken a hard turn to the right" and become a fundraising machine for special interests. (SF Chron September 17, 2005
Now, I don’t particularly hold it against Westly that he thought it would be a good idea to cozy up to popular governor. Bipartisanship works sometimes. However, the question is whether Westly can defeat Angelides, who has been a consistent force against the governor. That being said, Westly would make an excellent general election candidate and a teriffic governor.