Nevertheless, we're endorsing Newsom over his Republican opponent, Abel Maldonado, because there really isn't any choice. Maldonado is a big supporter of the death penalty (which Newsom opposes). He's pledged never to raise taxes (and Newsom is at least open to discussion on the issue). He used budget blackmail to force the awful open-primaries law onto the ballot. He's a supporter of big water projects like the peripheral canal. In the Legislature, he earned a 100 percent rating from the California Chamber of Commerce.
Newsom's a supporter of more funding for higher education (and the lieutenant governor sits on the University of California Board of Regents). He'd be at least a moderate environmentalist on the state Lands Commission. And he, like Brown, is devoting a lot of attention to improving the state's economy with green jobs.
We could do much worse than Newsom in the lieutenant governor's office. We could have Maldonado. Vote for Newsom.
SECRETARY OF STATE
California has had some problems with the office that runs elections and keeps corporate filings. Kevin Shelley had to resign from the job in 2005 in the face of allegations that a state grant of $125,000 was illegally diverted into his campaign account. But Bowen, by all accounts, has run a clean office. Her Republican opponent, Damon Dunn, a former professional football player and real estate agent, doesn't even have much support within his own party and is calling for mandatory ID checks at the ballot. This one's easy; vote for Bowen.
Chiang's been a perfectly decent controller, and at times has shown some political courage: When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to cut the pay of state employees to minimum-wage level, Chiang refused to go along — and forced the governor to back down. His opponent, state Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Los Angeles), wants to use to office to promote cuts in government spending. Vote for Chiang.
Lockyer's almost certain to win reelection as treasurer against a weak Republican, Mimi Walters. He's done an adequate job and pushed a few progressive things like using state bonds to promote alternative energy. Mostly, though, he seems to be waiting for his chance to run for governor — and if Jerry Brown loses, or wins and decides not to seek a second term, look for Lockyer to step up.
This is going to be close, and it's another clear choice. We've had our differences with Harris — she's trying too hard to be a tough-on-crime type, pushing some really dumb bills in Sacramento (like a measure that would bar sex offenders from ever using social networking sites on the Internet). And while she shouldn't take all the blame for the problems in the San Francisco crime lab, she should have known about the situation earlier and made more of a fuss. She's also been slow to respond to serious problem of prosecutors and the cops hiding information about police misconduct from defense lawyers that could be relevant to a case.
But her opponent, Los Angeles D.A. Steve Cooley, is bad news. He's a big proponent of the death penalty, and the ACLU last year described L.A. as the leading "killer county in the country." Cooley has proudly sent 50 people to death row since he became district attorney in 2001, and he vows to make it easier and more efficient for the state to kill people.
He's also a friend of big business who has vowed, even as attorney general, to make the state more friendly to employers -- presumably by slowing prosecutions of corporate wrongdoing.