By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR - Sara Amir
Tim Leslie, the Republican nominee for Lite-Gov, is, like Lungren, a right-wing ideologue; he was one of the leading supporters of the immigrant-bashing Proposition 187 in 1994. His Democratic opponent, former Assembly Speaker Cruz Bustamante, hails, alas, from the center-right of the party. As an assemblyman, Bustamante was a safe vote for agribusiness, to the continual frustration of environmental groups and the United Farm Workers; as speaker, he was largely ineffectual. That leaves Green Party nominee Sara Amir, an Iranian-born microbiologist who moved to the U.S. in 1981, and who currently oversees toxic-cleanup sites for the state Environmental Protection Agency. On matters of policy, Amir is both smart and progressive; on matters of politics, we find her largely self-marginalizing. Her goal, she says, is to help build progressive coalitions - a task, as she herself acknowledges, not made any easier by the electoral separatism of third-party politics. Nonetheless, Amir is merely muddled on matters of means, while Bustamante is addled on issues of ends. We're for Amir.
SECRETARY OF STATE - Michela Alioto
As the state's chief election officer, Republican incumbent Bill Jones has taken an activist role, and in one crucial instance, that activism has come close to slipping over into partisanship: his overzealous pursuit of Bob Dornan's unfounded claim that Loretta Sanchez won her congressional seat on the strength of noncitizen voters. Jones' chief opponent, 30-year-old Democratic nominee Michela Alioto, is a former staffer for Vice President Gore and a granddaughter of onetime San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto. Partially paralyzed at age 13 in a ski-lift accident, she's campaigning on a platform of making it easier for the disabled to vote and making the process more accessible generally. With voter turnout tumbling to pre-Jacksonian levels, Alioto could help provide a welcome antidote to the culture of civic disengagement. Despite our regard for Peace and Freedom Party candidate Israel Feuer, Alioto's our choice.
CONTROLLER - Kathleen Connell
Nearing the end of her first term as controller, Connell has overseen audits and identified savings in the state's Medi-Cal and lottery programs and a number of school and special districts, as well as in the state's costly prison system, where she argues for the redirection of nonviolent offenders to less pricey facilities. She's also put together a program offering tax credits to companies donating their equipment to community colleges. Connell has a clear vision of the state's larger needs and of how she can address at least some of them in her current position, to which she clearly deserves re-election.
TREASURER - Phil Angelides
Curt Pringle, the Republican nominee to succeed Matt Fong in the Treasurer's Office, personifies the moral decline of the Orange County Republican Party, if such a thing is possible. In 1988, then-Assembly candidate Pringle had the local GOP hire uniformed guards to patrol polling places in Latino precincts, with the clear intent of keeping Latino (and likely Democratic) voters from the polls. In 1995, Pringle's aides placed a phony Democratic candidate on the ballot in a recall election to help ensure that their candidate would win. (Two of his staffers later pleaded guilty to election-law violations.)
Now Pringle is asking voters to trust him to be the investment officer for the state's treasury and pension funds. His chief opponent, former California Democratic Party chair Phil Angelides, is not entirely a stranger to questionable campaign tactics either, having run an over-the-top attack ad against his primary opponent in his unsuccessful bid for this seat in 1994. Angelides' beliefs, however, are light-years from Pringle's purebred Neanderthalism. The Democratic candidate has devised a plan by which smaller municipalities and school districts can pool their bond issues to get a better deal on Wall Street. We think Angelides has the business smarts and the (moderately) progressive principles to make a first-rate chief investment officer for California.
ATTORNEY GENERAL - Bill Lockyer
Is there anyone less qualified to be California's next attorney general than Republican nominee Dave Stirling? Dan Lungren's chief deputy is an open and committed foe of all gun controls. The fact that his Democratic opponent, state Senator Bill Lockyer, is supported by almost every police organization in the state isn't simply because the cops think Lockyer is better on union issues. They also genuinely believe that the NRA-backed Stirling is a gun nut.
As onetime general counsel for the Agricultural Labor Relations Board and as a member of the state Assembly, Stirling displayed a consistent contempt for farm workers. Not surprisingly, agribusiness is his largest single backer in his race for A.G.
East Bay legislator Bill Lockyer, term-limited out of the Senate this year, has been by common consent Sacramento's reigning legislative genius over the past half-decade. In 1997, with rookie Speaker Bustamante fumbling in the Assembly, then-Senate leader Lockyer was the force that made both houses work, and the legislator most responsible for thwarting the machinations of Pete Wilson (and for deep-sixing many of the gov's more God-awful appointments). In his years in the Senate, Lockyer has steered to enactment bills that reduced the state-tax liability of working-class families, restored food stamps for legal immigrants, made California the first state with a hate-crimes statute, enabled the state public defender to better pursue death-penalty appeals, created the state's first whistle-blower protection law, strengthened the collection of child-support payments and required mediation in child-custody disputes. He would bring humane values, a first-rate intellect and considerable zeal to the A.G.'s post, and he has our enthusiastic support.