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Fix My Ticket: Why Lite Gov Candidates May Matter

Apr28

California has no history of major party candidates for governor and lite gov running as a single entry, but both sides in the 2010 campaign are suddenly talking ticket.

“I can’t recall any time that the governor ran with a lieutenant governor as a team – that would be unique,” the venerable Allan Hoffenblum told Calbuzz.*

Co-founder and publisher of the invaluable California Target Book, and a recovering Republican consultant, Hoffenblum added: “Often as not, they kind of run away from each other.”

Despite bipartisan memories of politically troubled lieutenant governors of the past (see Curb, Mike and Dymally, Mervyn), there’s widespread chatter among California’s chattering class these days over scenarios that posit the major candidates for governor may actually benefit – or actually suffer – from their party’s nominees for lite guv.

On the Republican side, the confirmation of Abel Maldonado to fill the #2 spot has sparked speculation that GOP front-runner Meg Whitman could boost her general election chances, if she wins the nomination, by raising Abel to a veritable partnership position on the ticket.

Hoffenblum said that in order to win election, Whitman’s must pull at least one third of the Latino vote, and having the first Republican Latino to hold statewide office since 1875 , who happens to speak Spanish, could help.

“I can see Meg trying to work closely with Abel Maldonado,” Hoffenblum told us. “Nothing would be better for her.”

Of course, the notion depends entirely on Maldonado surviving a primary battle against state Senator Sam Aanestad, in one of those chest-beating fight-for-the-soul of the Republican party type things .

Longtime political analyst Tony Quinn, Hoffenblum’s Target Book colleague, agreed that Maldonado could prove an asset to eMeg, and suggested that eMeg might even discover a sudden rush of generosity towards Maldonado.

Although a gov-lite gov mutual aid pact has “never happened before,” Quinn said, Maldonado “could definitely help her.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see her try to help Maldonado get the nomination sub rosa,” he added. “It would be smart for her to see that he gets the nomination.”

(Calbuzz sez: We would not be too surprised if eMeg finds a spare $1 million in the sofa cushions and feels a sudden onset of generosity towards Maldonado.)

Even if Maldo wins the nomination, and even if he helps Whitman in the general, of course, he could still easily lose in November to the Democrats, among whom there’s some top-of-the-ticket intrigue as well.

With San Francisco Mayor Prince Gavin Newsom and L.A. City Council member Janice Hahn competing for the nomination, her handlers unveiled “Jerry and Janice” campaign signs at the party convention this month.

Planned and produced without the assent of Jerry Brown’s campaign for governor, the slogan served the purpose of sharply making the political point that, even if Hahn didn’t help Brown, as a woman from Southern California, she potentially would hurt him less than having Newsom running for lieutenant governor.

Having two white male San Francisco Bay Democrats at the top of the ballot would give Republicans a big target, not only ideologically, in a year when voters are worried about government spending, but also demographically, in a campaign where the GOP could turn the tables and become the party offering diversity in its statewide slate.

Offshore update: With the still growing oil spill off the coast of Louisiana now about 2,000 square miles in size, NASA has produced some extraordinary images of the mess.

As we’ve reported, the political fallout from the spill could impact the future  chances Governor Schwarzmuscle’s pet Tranquillon Ridge project. First shot comes from Assemblyman Pedro Nava, a staunch foe of the proposal who was recently named the new chair of the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials committee; he plans to hold “an investigative hearing” in Hermosa Beach on Friday to examine the “threats” posed by drilling.

“Given the disaster in the Gulf, we need to evaluate the dangers posed by both off-shore and on-shore oil drilling in California,” Nava said in a statement announcing the hearing.  “Many parts of the state are impacted by oil development and drilling.  Whether it is Hermosa Beach and Baldwin Hills in Los Angeles County or Santa Barbara…we must make sure that we do not have the type of catastrophe that is occurring in the Gulf of Mexico.”

First the verdict, then the trial.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: Calbuzz mistakenly reported the other day that Jerry Brown had sold the state airplane. We couldn’t remember where we got that alleged factoid which, the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters informed us, was wrong. Ronald Reagan sold the plane. Tuesday, we found the source of our mistake: it was in Jerry Brown’s own video — the one they showed at the Democratic Party state convention and the one that’s on his web site here (or at least it was before we spoke to Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer who tried to argue that it wasn’t their mistake, they just pulled together news clips!). “He sold the governor’s executive jet and travels commercially,” the narrator intones in the video. After first trying to argue that the mistake was Mike Wallace’s or Morley Safer’s, Glazer finally said, “I’m sorry that our video had a factual inaccuracy and you reprinted it.”

* From the Calbuzz Department of Corrections: Steve Merksamer and Kurt Schuparra, two of the sharpest guys in Sacramento, noted a couple of instances where candidates for  governor and lieutenant governor ran as a team.

According to Kurt, “In 1966, Ronald Reagan and Robert Finch ran ads in the LA Times and other papers, with a picture of them together, urging voters to “Elect California’s new team,” a duo with “common sense and integrity” and committed to dealing firmly with ‘Beatniks, taxes, riots, [and] crime.’  Like Reagan, Finch won by a wide margin.”

In addition, says Steve, “Reagan and Ed Reinecke ran as a ticket in 1970.  Advertising was joint and billboards throughout the state said “reelect Reagan/Reinecke Team 70.”

We note that Finch later joined Richard Nixon’s administration as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and later as Counselor to the President  until his resignation in 1973. Reinecke resigned his post after he was indicted by the Watergate Grand Jury in 1974 on three counts of perjury before Sam Ervin’s Senate Watergate Committee.


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There are 2 comments for this post

  1. avatar Ave7 says:

    The idea of running as a team at the top of the ticket is about as exciting as demon sheep. Well, less exciting actually.

    Voters have never assigned much value to the Vice Presidential nomination, even though that person is “a heartbeat away.” California voters know their Lite Gov is even less important. Even though the Lite Govs have more access to executive power (every time the real Gov leaves the state), they never actually use that power because of the “Curb Rule” (see Curb, Mike).

    The voters are so disinterested in the “team” approach that Davis and Bustamante are the only Gov/Lite Gov combination in recent history to be of the same party. (And wow, what a party that was…)

    Contrary to the analysis above, Gray Davis campaigned regularly with Cruz Bustamante in 1998 to mobilize the Latino vote. Not that Latinos needed the help, given their desire to make the Republican party pay dearly for Prop 187.

  2. avatar jim sweeney says:

    Regarding a lieutenant governor on the ticket: a few of us hacks are old enough to remember Linda Breakstone asking George Deukmejian if he favored Mike Curb or H.L. Richardson in the 1986 GOP primary. Deukmejian waited a second, then said, “I’ll take you.” No offense to Linda, but he was probably relieved that Leo McCarthy won in November …

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