Angelides for Governor

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.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

7 thoughts on “Angelides for Governor”

  1. Why do you say this is a no-brainer? Westly may have gone negative but frankly, with the kinds of skeletons Angelides has in his closet it's not exactly surprising nor irrelevant.
    For example. Meet Angelo Tsakopoulos.
    And no, I'm not really taking sides in this except to say I'm not really thrilled with either candidate. Honestly though I don't see any way I could stomach voting for Angelides. This kind of insider machine politiciking is how we got stuck with the governator in the first place. Bad Democrats are hardly better than Republicans.

  2. Oh Great! Divided and not happy with either side. The repugnicons couldn't have a hand in this could they?

  3. I dislike Westly because of those ads that he was running. I'm sure he was setting himself up for the general election, but the message I got was, "Vote for me because I'm not a moron like other Democrats." As a Democrat, that did not endear him to me.

  4. Angelides won't get my vote, for no other reason then his desire to crow that he is backed by Feinstein. Further, I question your hearsay evidence of Westly's on the job performance & I don't believe he was the first to go negative. Since when is restating excerpts of major CA newspaper editorials going negative?
    Angelides will be an old lapdog for our Dem. leaders who have repeatedly demonstrated they are incapable of making an oppositional argument.

  5. If you think Angelides will be a lapdog for anyone, you know very little about him. I'd be more worried that he'd be _too confrontational_ to get negotiated settlements with the Rs and more conservative Ds. But, given his massive success in organizing the party in the early '90s — changing CA from a red state that had voted six times in a row for Republicans for president, to the blue state we know today — I have faith that he can manage the job.

  6. Angelides just sucks at messaging, and politics in general. He has the liberal "argue facts and cite laundry lists" disease. I just don't want to vote for people without talent anymore.
    Sure he's a good guy policy wise. But running on raising taxes is simply stupid and naive.
    I think Westly's OK, and he certainly understands the game better than Phil. He's a much better horse to go against Arnold.
    This is a game, not a debating society, not a test of policy or progressive purity.

  7. Still undecided? So was I.
    I closed my eyes and decided to vote for the candidate that the repugs would NOT want as Ahnie's opponent.
    IMO any Dem votes un-cast are votes FOR The Terminator.

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