Cal Gov Race: The Candidates Speak To FrumForum

May 4th, 2009 at 8:15 am | 10 Comments |

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Every year people say they vote for the best of the worst candidates. For the upcoming Governor’s race, viagra Republicans do not have that problem. They have an excellent choice of candidates: Tom Campbell, recipe Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman. All are intelligent, social moderates (in a state like California that is a plus) and high-achievers. An examination of their backgrounds can provide insight into each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

Tom Campbell is not a typical political candidate. He has been a Congressman, state Senator, California state’s Finance Director, a Professor of Law at Stanford University and Chapman University and Dean of the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley. He has a law degree and a Ph.D. in economics. 

He would make an extremely competent Governor because of his proven ability to work with California’s Democratic legislature.  Any Republican governor has to de-emphasize partisanship and instead emphasize collaboration, which is something Campbell has done in the past. As a Congressman, he worked closely with others on the joint economic committee. As a state senator, he was appointed to chair a committee even though the Democrats were the majority party. 

His economic background is another factor that makes him an appealing candidate. He told NewMajority, “Economic recovery was and remains my strong point” (Campbell has a Ph.D. in economics), as evidenced when he balanced the budget as California’s Finance Director. He drafted Proposition 76, which would have tied spending to the previous year’s revenues if it had passed. 

Campbell’s teaching experiences have helped him determine how to improve the quality of California’s educational system. He told NewMajority that as a professor, he has learned that small class sizes are needed to improve the quality of a student’s learning experience. While Dean of Berkeley’s School of Business, he helped increase the school’s ranking to number two in the country. 

NewMajority asked him to state his weaknesses. He was very honest when he noted that he was “not identified with the conservative wing of the Republican Party,” which will hurt him in the primary. Another weakness for Campbell is the fact that he has been involved with politics for a number of years; thus, being identified with the establishment.

The second candidate who interviewed with NewMajority was Steve Poizner. His background includes creating start- up companies and teaching in the public school system. In addition he was the director of critical infra-structure protection for the counter terrorism unit of the NSC, the co-founder of the California Charter Schools Association, and California’s Insurance Commissioner.

To be a successful governor the candidates’ resume should have a combination of political and business experience. Part of California’s huge deficit is due to businesses being driven out through regulations and high taxes. Poizner told NewMajority that his experiences as an” innovative czar” will enable him to “think it through the entrepreneurship prospective… The kind of environment needed to get the investor to make the decision that I want to start the company here in California.” He also showed innovation as insurance commissioner when he overhauled and downsized the state insurance system by eliminating needless jobs.  He used his knowledge of running a business to blend technology and efficiency to make a well functioning, modern unit. He hopes to use this experience to do the same in California.  

His work in the counter-terrorism unit shortly after 9-11 has given Poizner the knowledge to help protect California’s infrastructure against possible terrorist attacks. While working for the NSC he learned how to make the ports, grids and other structures safe.

By talking to rank and file teachers as a peer Poizner discovered what changes were needed to improve the conditions of local schools.  After teaching, he co-founded the California Charter School Association. Many argue that charter schools are not the answer to California’s educational woes. They point out that Poizner’s idea is not working by showing that test results of the Charter school students are not significantly different from those in public schools. 

Another criticism of Poizner is his inability to maintain campaign managers (he is now on his third) and his creation of a 2007 inaugural fund (an off the book entity of donor collections).  Poizner pointed out to NewMajority that he has been able “to tackle extremely hard problems and… succeeded.” Hopefully, he will be able to apply these skills to his own gubernatorial campaign.

Meg Whitman is the perceived front runner in the race for Governor. Her background includes an MBA from Harvard, and working for Fortune 500 companies such as Disney. In addition, she served as CEO of a start-up company (eBay) and as an advisor to the McCain campaign on technological and economic issues. 

Whitman is an entrepreneur who, as CEO of eBay, was able to expand the company from 30 employees with $4 million in revenues to 150,000 employees with $8 billion in revenues. San Diego Congressman Brian Bilbray, a Whitman supporter, told NewMajority “she knows what needs to be done and is able to communicate not only how it should be done but why.” A strong business background will enable Whitman to create an atmosphere favorable to business and tackle California’s problems from a business point of view. In addition, she was a pioneer as a female high level executive, which may help her get women to participate in government. This is evidenced when she recently created a women’s coalition, MEGa WOMEN. As Bilbray pointed out, “Her life is a story of taking tough situations and creating success stories out of it.”

A possible positive attribute is that she is a new face without much political involvement. Whitman is seen as being an outsider who is not beholden to special interest groups. However, when Schwarzenegger ran for office he was perceived as an outsider who would save California by tying spending to state’s revenues and curbing the legislators. With Whitman, some see her campaign as too similar to Schwarzenegger’s.

Another Whitman criticism is her reluctance to do in depth interviews where she details her vision and answers the tough questions. By running a campaign just based on rhetoric, she is perceived as avoiding core convictions.

Overall, the three candidates have many more plusses to their resumes than minuses. All of them were entrepreneurs who built up their organizations successfully and will use their experiences to rejuvenate California. As Ronald Reagan once said, “We in government should learn to look at our country with the eyes of the entrepreneur; seeing possibilities where others see only problems.” Each of these candidates has the ability to do just that.

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • barker13

    Dear Elise,Re: Campbell:”…proven ability to work with Californias Democratic legislature.”Work with to what goals…??? Could you be a bit more specific?”…de-emphasize partisanship and instead emphasize collaboration…”Collaboration on what, specifically…??? What policies? What actions? What legislation?”As a Congressman, he worked closely with others on the joint economic committee.”To what result…???BILL

  • barker13

    Dear Elise,Re: Poizner:”…test results of the Charter school students are not significantly different from those in public schools.”You’re talking specifically California? If so, is there anything about the way California regulates charter schools that accounts for these outcomes?Re: Whitman:No questions. (*SHRUG*)Anyway… thanks in advance, Elise, for any additional insights.BILL

  • RLHotchkiss

    The fundamental problem in California politics is that legislative Republicans simply refuse to bargain. Democrats simply have no one to reach out to make compromises with. The huge failure of the current governor is that he could not bring any significant number of Republican legislatures with him. For years now the Republicans have run the budget and the Democrats everything else. And even if their was a compromise made it could immediately be undone by a proposition.None of the current candidates on the Republican side have addressed these issues. Unless a Republican governor can claim to negotiate for his or her party and have enough popular support to prevent deals being undone by the initiative process, there is simply no reason for moderates to give their votes to a Republican.

  • barker13

    Re: RLHotchkiss; 8:35 PM –”For years now the Republicans have run the budget and the Democrats everything else.”HUH…?!?!How’s THAT work…???Haven’t the Democrats controlled both Houses of the California Legislature for the past 12 years…???BILL

  • RLHotchkiss

    n California a budget takes a super majority so the Republicans have a veto over any budget. Especially the tax policy of California is essentially been guided by the minority party and prop 13.For the average Californian, the increase in student fees in universities, the massive cuts in classes offered and other cuts in services are much more apparent than the tax increases. These cuts have been because of the Republican minority. And if the proposition for continued sales tax does not increase more drastic cuts will come. It will not be hard at all to lay the blame at the feet of the Republican party.I didn’t move to Nevada, I moved to California. I think you will be surprised by the number of people who aren’t interested in turning the state into another Nevada. And we can never compete with Nevada on costs because Real Estate prices are so much higher in California.

  • ditka

    The last time Tom Campbell ran statewide he got crushed, what makes you think this time will be different?

  • Bulldoglover100

    Thanks for the indepth information. We need to be doing just this for each state that has an uncoming election.A place where people can be told to go check the creds without all the hoopla and a place that gives the good side and the bad. By listing the weak points it takes the ammo away from the other side.

  • Realist

    WTF???”Michael Steele has an interesting message for moderates, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. During a news conference at the Wisconsin GOP convention on Friday, Steele said moderates are welcome to join the Republican Party — but not to change it.”All you moderates out there, y’all come. I mean, that’s the message,” Steele said. “The message of this party is this is a big table for everyone to have a seat. I have a place setting with your name on the front.”But, he added: “Understand that when you come into someone’s house, you’re not looking to change it. You come in because that’s the place you want to be.”"WTF??? He he kidding with this nonsense? I originally supported Steele because I understood that his (and NM’s) stated mission was to recruit Republican candidates that can win general elections. Where is the incentive for such candidates to run for office after hearing this piece of drivel. Good grief.

  • cb55

    The republicans in CA bargain everytime. The democratic legislature gets what they want everytime.I know because the republicans hold out on tax increases- they are held responsible by media types, liberals, and sometimes moderates for the budget mess. But in the end, the Republicans cave in on a bad deal everytime. I wish Californians, and commentators that flock to this site would start accepting the fact, that the budget will alway be a mess because of reckless spending. Every budget from now on is going to involve borrowing or taxing, and it is going to involve blaming republicans because they do not bend right away. Can we all just start realizing- it does not matter how many seats republicans have in our state government anymore. They will keep being forced to cave, yet be made out to be the bad guy everytime. And because of the way the state is ran- which republicans in the legislature have really no control over- we are always going to have a budget crisis in CA. Also, Elise Cooper’s favorable opinion on some of these candidates sound like having another Arnold Swarzennegger. I am a Republican, and will always vote Republican, but when there is really little difference between the parties- I do not see why I should care whether my party wins or not. It does not make a big difference.

  • Andy

    Trying to blame Republicans for the problems of the State of CA doesn’t make much sense. Blaming the Democrats who have a huge control of the state senate and assembly, and the voters who keep blindly passing ballot initiatives does though. CA has the highest tax rate and unemployment rate in the country, and is usually rated the most business unfriendly. The excessive regulation probably also plays somewhat of a role in the outrageous housing costs. As long as the religious right maintains its dictatorial role over the Republican Party, I’m going to remain an independent. It’s too embarrassing to be a Republican right now. The Party needs to split in two.