We won’t know for another four months whether Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman will square off as the finalists in California’s governor’s race. But if that’s the case, two issues are a virtual certainty: Whitman’s wealth, and the environment.
And this past weekend: a preview of coming attractions.
First, Meg’s mega-millions.
In an appearance before a gathering of young Democrats in San Francisco, Brown played the class-warfare card, pointing to Whitman’s $40 million investment in her own campaign.
“California is deeply in debt, you could say it’s bankrupt, and we can always find new sources of money but it’s always good to make use of the money you have and to get more out of every dollar, and I would say how one spends money in a campaign would be on indicator of how you might spend the people’s money.”
As for the environment, keep an eye on initiative
currently in circulation that would suspend the implementation of AB 32, the state’s climate-change law signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger, for the immediate future.
If the ballot measure passes in November, AB 32 would go on hold until California’s unemployment falls to where it stood in 2007. In other words, not anytime soon.
Here’s where the fun begins.
Once again, the political world seemingly revolves around Anold
of the initiative are counting on tea-party momentum to carry the day. Whitman would love to tap into that same anti-establishment sentiment, especially if she’s running against a long-in-the-tooth politician like Brown. And it wouldn’t be a big leap if she got on board, as she already supports a one-year suspension of AB 32.
But doing that risks the wrath of one Arnold Schwarzenegger, who sees AB 32 as his landmark achievement. Thus it’s no surprise that Brown, who’d sorely love the Governator’s endorsement, has already waded into the debate, as it were, by fiddling with the initiative’s title and description — one of the perks of being Attorney General.
And the measure potentially has California’s business community twixt and tween. They’re no fans of AB 32, as this blog item
shows. But they too don’t want to get on Schwarzenegger’s bad side, as a Republican governor is the business community’s best friend when it comes to vetoing liberal-drafted legislation.
Last week, Brown waded further into the debate when his office tinkered with the initiative by chucking its “California Jobs Initiative” title.
In its place, this nifty piece of government gobbledygook, meant to appal votes along the coast:
“Suspends State laws requiring reduced greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters. Requires State to abandon implementation of comprehensive greenhouse-gas-reduction program that includes increased renewable energy and cleaner fuel requirements, and mandatory emission reporting and fee requirements for major polluters such as power plants and oil refineries, until suspension is lifted.
It’s not the first time that an environmental initiative has impacted a governor’s race. You might recall Prop 128
— the Big Green initiative — and the 1990 contest between Pete Wilson and Dianne Feinstein.
The measure, which proposed to ban a slew of pesticides, raised a ruckus with the ag community and Central Valley voters. It went down to defeat on Election Day, as did Democrat DiFi, confirming the conventional wisdom at the time that Earth Day boasts didn’t translate in Election Day votes.
Twenty years later, in another open-seat election, the dynamics are different. The effort isn’t to get an environmental initiative enacted. Instead, this time around, it’s an initiative to put a current green law on hold.
Should make for a fun debate.