Bozo for governor!

Well, at least Schwarzenegger has guts. Asked for his view on the gay-marriage issue, he boldly proclaimed: “I don’t want to get into that right now.” * [Looks as if he’s going to try to duck releasing his tax returns, too.]

He continues to propose spending more money on education and not raising taxes while closing a budget gap in the tens-of-billions range by attracting more business to the state (presumably using magic, or special effects, since he doesn’t say how he will do it, other than by providing “leadership”).

This combination of political courage and fiscal prudence has gained him endorsements from George W. Bush and Gary Coleman.

In other news: Ueberroth is in, which I think is probably good for Schwarzenegger, since Ueberroth with help split the numerate vote. On the other hand, Simon is apparently in — at least, that’s what his PR people told Bloomberg News * — which is certainly bad for Schwarzenegger. Simon can self-finance and will peel off some right-wing anti-Davis vote.

The LA Times reports that early polls show A.S. with about a quarter of the vote, and show that Bustamante trails A.S. by about the margin of the Garamendi supporters. *

It’s a tough situation for the Democrats. There are obvious advantages to a Latino candidate, but as far as I can tell everyone agrees that Bustamante is far from the brightest bulb on the tree. He apparently plans to finance his campaign by selling out to the tribes on casino issues. His one big accomplishment in the legislature was to insist that the University of California open a ninth campus at Merced, a dreary town in the Central Valley (Bustamante’s home base) whose location alone guarantees it medicority before it opens its doors. Given that UC was already in fairly bad fiscal shape even before the budget crunch, this was a fairly reckless act of vandalism.

So there are strong reasons to think that Garamendi would make a much better governor. But there isn’t much reason to think that Garamendi can be elected (assuming that two Democrats stay in the race) while Bustamante might be.

The good news for me is that the Fingernail Diet is supposed to just melt those extra pounds away.

Update Actually, if Ueberroth could be elected, he probably wouldn’t be a bad governor. His not being a Democrat wouldn’t bother me much, under the circumstances. But I don’t see how he pulls it off, with Riordan endorsing Schwarzenegger despite having Aaaaaahnold’s dagger still in his back.

Second update, Saturday evening Not such a bad day. Garamendi is out, which is good for Bustamante; Simon is in, which is bad for Schwarzenegger. The WaPo thinks Ueberroth will split the moderate-Republican vote with Schwarzenegger, rather than splitting the grown-up vote with Bustamente. Huffington is a wildcard; bad for Bustamante, but only if she gains traction. I’ve always thought of her as mostly a joke, but I can’t be sure that the hardcore crunchy-granolas will see her the way I do.

Still, with four non-trivial Republicans in the race (AS, Ueberroth, Simon, and McClintock) and only two non-trivial Democrats (Bustamante and Huffington) this could well be doable. There’s one more subtlety I hadn’t considered: Ward Connerly’s initiative to forbid the state to collect ethnic data will be on the ballot at the same time, and the Davis forces are expected to raise money against it as a way of evading campaign contribution limitations and pulling out the African-American and Latino vote. That may help Bustamante, and it will certainly hurt the Connerly initiative, which in my view is a thoroughly obscurantist and pernicious measure. However, with Bustamante in the race, I’m not sure that Latinos are going to vote to keep Davis in office, and that may limit how much energy Davis wants to put into the anti-Connerly cause.

Yesterday, faced with what seemed like the probability that dumping Davis would main getting Schwarzenegger instead, I was facing the grim prospect of voting against the recall. Now that seems much less likely to be necessary. Certainly if my choice is Bustamante or Davis, I want Bustamante; I’d rather have a governor owned by the tribal gambling interests than by the prison guards’ union. And I can’t agree that setting the precedent that a governor who doe a sufficiently rotten job get the boot is obviously a bad thing. Still and all, it’s a pretty sad set of choices.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com