Sunday, May 14, 2006

California: Westly centrist Dem candidate

TMCNet/Fresno BeeMay 13, 2006 EDITORIAL:

Westly for governor: Democrats best served by centrist in race with Schwarzenegger.
(Fresno Bee (CA) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) May 13--The choice in the Democratic primary for governor is a simple one. California needs a chief executive who can pull together the many political constituencies required to resolve the serious problems facing the Golden State. Controller Steve Westly is a Democrat who can work with Republicans and independents. Democratic voters should support him on June 6.
Westly's opponent, Treasurer Phil Angelides, is extremely partisan and views public policy through the lens of party affiliation. California in the 21st century is too complicated a state to have solutions born of such tired old politics.
Westly is better equipped to represent California Democrats, who are much more moderate than those who control the party machinery. A matchup in November between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Westly would give California voters a choice among candidates who aren't from the extreme wings of their parties. Too often in California, at least one of the major party nominees comes from the party fringe.
Angelides falls in that class. Our biggest problem with him is his coziness with public employee unions, which have used their political strength in Sacramento to kill reasonable governmental reforms while gathering taxpayer-financed goodies for their members.
Westly, 49, is from the Silicon Valley and earned his fortune with the online auction firm eBay. He believes strongly in investing in the public education system, environmental protection and keeping the state's economy vibrant so there are resources to meet the needs of the state.
He got sideways with Democratic leaders in 2004 when he campaigned with Schwarzenegger on behalf of two initiatives that helped restructure the state's massive debt. We saw that as a strength. Westly put principle over party on the issue, demonstrating his often-repeated statement: "I'm here to fix things,"
It's a good thing, too. The state might have gone bankrupt without some common sense being brought to its finances.
Westly wants to solve the state's budget problems by targeting tax cheats, changing the state lottery and making state purchasing practices more efficient. We should be doing all of that, but it won't solve the structural problems and much more will have to be done.
We like Westly's approach to problems. He thinks there are creative answers to most of the pressing issues, and he is willing to take chances. Angelides' default position on most problems is tax increases. They may be appropriate at times, but you have to make a case for them.
Westly has a bachelor's degree in history from Stanford University, and a master's degree in business administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
He left eBay in 2000 to run for office and in 2002 was elected state controller.
Democrats should support Westly on June 6. He would bring talent and passion to the governor's office. Most of all, he can work with the entire state, and not just the well-connected constituencies that dominate Sacramento.
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