This is a no-brainer. They’re the campaign talking points, but they are true: when everyone else was afraid of the Governator, Angelides was the only statewide figure taking him on, and arguing that borrow-and-spend is not the responsible way to run a government. He’s saying the same thing now, and, yes, that means raising some taxes. But that’s what it means to be responsible.
Angelides is a real progressive: he has been the most successful and active state Treasurer since Jesse Unruh, who essentially invented the position in the 1970’s. He has led the way to make the state’s investment portfolio socially responsible, and has used the Treasurer’s chairmanship of several debt allocation commissions to push for smart growth. For example, he has given priority for funding affordable housing tax credits to those projects linked with transit. Angelides ran for the office in 1994 and lost; he ran again in 1998 and won. Put another way, he actually wanted to be Treasurer because he had a vision for what the office could accomplish. For the most part, he has succeeded.
By contrast, it’s hard to say what Steve Westly has done in his four years as state controller. The controller can audit state agencies, and that’s a potentially formidable power. Westly hasn’t done anything with it. Sacramento insiders note that he sometimes doesn’t show up for work for weeks at a time.
In recent weeks, this campaign has turned ugly. That is essentially Westly’s fault, who went negative and did so using Republican campaign tactics. His attack ads accused Angelides of being a big-government tax-and-spender: if I want that rhetoric, I’ll just vote for Arnold.
Angelides also had a good response that every progressive should take to heart. Westly insisted that he would only raise taxes “as a last resort.” Angelides countered, “what is a last resort? When we have a deficit for 10 years instead of 5? When we are 50th in per-pupil spending instead of 48th?” That’s exactly right.
Kos has decided to sit this one out on the grounds of being turned off by both sides’ negative attacks. He’s just wrong: that’s a mainstream media response. Westly started this thing, and Angelides was right not to let him get away with it. This is an easy, easy call.