Chris Daly) argue, persuasively, that the best way to get a better person in Room 200 is to ship Newsom off to an office in Sacramento where he can't do much harm and let the supervisors pick the next mayor.
But it's hard to endorse Newsom for any higher office. He's ducked on public power, allowing PG&E to come very close to blocking the city's community choice aggregation program (See editorial, page 5). His policies have promoted deporting kids and breaking up families. He's taken an approach to the city budget — no new revenue, just cuts — that's similar to what the Republican governor has done. He didn't even bother to come down and talk to us about this race. There's really no good argument for supporting the advancement of his political career.
Then there's Janice Hahn. She's a Los Angeles City Council member, the daughter of a former county supervisor, and the sister of a former mayor. She got in this race way before Newsom, and her nightmare campaign consultant, Garry South, acts as if she has some divine right to be the only Democrat running.
Hahn in not overly impressive as a candidate. When we met her, she seemed confused about some issues and scrambled to duck others. She told us she's not sure she's in favor of legalizing pot, but she isn't sure why she's not sure since she has no arguments against it. She won't take a position on a new peripheral canal, although she can't defend building one and says that protecting San Francisco Bay has to be a priority. She won't rule out offshore oil drilling, although she said she has yet to see a proposal she can support. Her main economic development proposal was to bring more film industry work to California, even if that means cutting taxes for the studios or locating the shoots on Indian land where there are fewer regulations.
On the other hand, she told us she wants to get rid of the two-thirds threshold in the state Legislature for passing a budget or raising taxes. She supports reinstating the car tax at pre-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger levels. She supports a split-roll measure to reform Prop. 13. She wants to see an oil-severance tax to fund education. She's one of the few statewide candidates who openly advocates higher taxes on the wealthy as part of the solution to the budget crisis.
We are under no illusions that Hahn will be able to use the weak office of lieutenant governor to move on any of these issues, and we're not at all sure she's ready to take over the top spot. But on the issues, she's clearly better than Newsom, so she gets our endorsements.
SECRETARY OF STATE, DEMOCRAT
Debra Bowen is the only Democrat running, a sign that pretty much everyone in the party thinks she's doing a fine job as Secretary of State. She's run a clean office and we see no reason to replace her.
Like Bowen, John Chiang has no opposition in the primary, and he's been a perfectly adequate controller. In fact, when Gov. Schwarzenegger tried two years ago to cut the pay of thousands of state employees to the minimum wage level, Chiang defied him and refused to change the paychecks — a move that forced the governor to back down. We just wish he'd play a more visible role in talking about the need for more tax revenue to balance the state's books.
Bill Lockyer keeps bouncing around Sacramento, waiting, perhaps, for his chance to be governor. He was attorney general. Now he's treasurer seeking a second term, which he will almost certainly win. He's done some good things, including trying to use state bonds to promote alternative energy, and has spoken out forcefully about the governor's efforts to defer deficit problems through dubious borrowing. He hasn't, however, come out in favor of higher taxes for the rich or a change in Prop.