With just one week to go until the election, the shapes of things to come in California are coming further into focus. While Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Governor Jerry Brown enjoy wide leads in their respective races for governor and attorney general, and share a number of important views, more closely contested statewide races are becoming more defined.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown share important views.
Private tracking polls in the Democratic and Republican parties show the hotly contested races for lieutenant governor, controller, and secretary of state still within the margin of polling error. But in the race for state insurance commissioner, moderate Republican Steve Poizner has taken a statistically significant lead in the high single digits over his Democratic rival, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante.
Poizner, a super-rich Silicon Valley entrepreneur, is heavily outspending Bustamante, who is also a former Assembly speaker, racking up newspaper endorsements around the state and the backing of consumer advocate Harvey Rosenfield. On Sunday, Poizner even picked up the endorsement of La Opinion, the state’s leading Spanish language newspaper. Since Bustamante is one of the nation’s highest ranking Latino politicians, that was especially striking.
But Bustamante was wiped out by Schwarzenegger when he ran for governor in the 2003 recall election, resorting to taking millions in illegal donations from casino tribes in the campaign, a move which damaged his reputation. And Poizner, a great favorite of Schwarzenegger’s, has a good profile for a statewide California election, even for a regulatory office generally regarded as natural Democratic turf.
The other three highly competitive statewide races remain just that. The Democrats and Republicans vying for lieutenant governor, state controller, and secretary of state all remain in statistical dead heats.
In the race for controller, a high-ranking source says Republican Tony Strickland is getting nearly a million dollars more in help from Intuit, the tax software firm that had already spent a million on his behalf. On the other hand, another group of casino tribes is said to be moving to counter the help Strickland is getting from the “Team 2006” casino tribes with money for Democrat John Chiang.
Schwarzenegger and Brown are not in dead heats. The current moderate Republican governor and former Democratic governor now lead in their respective races for governor and state attorney general by landslide margins.
Brown’s lead over Republican Chuck Poochigian is wider than that of Schwarzenegger over Democrat Phil Angelides.
In addition to having near locks on the two most powerful state constitutional offices, Schwarzenegger and Brown — as seen in the NWN video above — both speak to many of the same themes and issues.
These are themes which define an emerging independent spirit that could transcend the conventional boundaries of the two parties.
In separate appearances, the current governor of California and former action superstar and the current Oakland mayor and former governor of California each speaks of the value and virtues of bipartisanship. Each focuses on the future and California’s role in defining it, with heavy emphasis on Washington’s failure in looking to the future.
Schwarzenegger and Brown both strongly emphasize the fight against climate change and global warming and the promise of stem cell research, and California’s leading role on those issues. Each sees California now and in the future as the seedbed of new technologies that have in the past and will in the future create new industries.
Both eschew the Democrat/Republican hyperpartisanship that has defined the current political era.