June 19, 2005

DEATH RATTLE?:

Special Election Rattles '06 Races: The governor's 'planned political earthquake' unsettles the budding campaigns of statewide candidates in the hunt for money, attention. (Michael Finnegan, June 19, 2005, LA Times)

The November special election ordered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has muddled the nascent campaigns of several dozen contenders for statewide office just as the 2006 races are taking shape.

Measures on the November ballot will devour millions of dollars that might otherwise flow to the 2006 candidates. The special election — smack in the middle of their campaigns — is also likely to disrupt efforts by the wide field of early contestants to rouse public attention.

Most significantly, it could eclipse the Democrats vying in the June 2006 primary for a shot at challenging the Republican governor if he seeks a second term.

"It sucks a lot of the energy out of California politics that would naturally be focused on the gubernatorial election," said Jude Barry, manager of state Controller Steve Westly's campaign for governor. [...]

The special election, described by one Schwarzenegger strategist as a "planned political earthquake," only heightens the 2006 campaign's unpredictability.

Schwarzenegger's ballot measures face fierce opposition from Democrats and organized labor. They would give governors more budget power and limit school spending when tax collections waned, restrict teacher tenure and change who draws election district lines. Beyond the governor's agenda, several other ballot measures on subjects such as prescription drug discounts are likely to spur major ad campaigns.

Among the open questions: If voters pass Schwarzenegger's initiatives, will he emerge strong enough to virtually guarantee his reelection? If so, can he carry other Republicans into statewide office, reversing a decade of broad Democratic gains in California?


The GOP is so moribund in CA there's really no downside here.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 19, 2005 12:55 PM
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