- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2003

The toughest challenge yet for California’s Republican governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger may be working with a Democratic-controlled state Legislature and a Democratic lieutenant governor who was his leading opponent in the election that recalled Gov. Gray Davis.

Senate Majority Leader John Burton, a Democrat, called on Mr. Davis during a speech yesterday to use his remaining days in power to fill vacant state judgeships and appointed positions before Mr. Schwarzenegger takes office next month.

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who lost to Mr. Schwarzenegger by 15 percentage points, didn’t initially acknowledge defeat early Tuesday evening, instead claiming victory for defeating a separate ballot proposal on race that he had campaigned against.

Later in the night, however, Mr. Bustamante returned to his supporters and conceded reluctantly.

“I may not be moving across the hall to the governor’s office but I’m not going anywhere.”

He also joked, “Arnold, you’re very famous for making movies all over the world. I want you to feel free to continue doing that. Go where you like. Feel free to stay as long as you like. I’ll be here, keeping an eye on things.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger often made light of the partisan predicament on the campaign trail, telling voters he was accustomed to dealing with Democrats because he is married to one. His wife is Kennedy family member Maria Shriver.

One of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s first and thorniest duties in office will be to draft a budget, which must gain two-thirds support from the Legislature.

Kam Kuwata, a consultant to California Democrats, said the budget will be Mr. Schwarzenegger’s biggest hurdle.

“What do you cut?” he asked. “People want no taxes and full services.”

Partisan difficulties between Mr. Schwarzenegger and Mr. Bustamante may not be as large as expected because the duties of California’s governor and lieutenant governor rarely overlap, experts say. The lieutenant governor’s role is to fill in for the governor if he is unable to serve or is out of state.

One exception, however, came in the late 1970s and early ‘80s when Republican Mike Curb served as lieutenant governor during Jerry Brown’s administration. Mr. Curb exercised some gubernatorial prerogatives, such as making policy proclamations and a judicial appointment, during Mr. Brown’s frequent absences while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“Curb thought he was really the governor and there were a couple of situations that really caused some trouble,” said Larry Berg, founding director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. But such conflicts are rare, he said.

California has had a governor and a lieutenant governor of different parties for 20 of the past 25 years, including the four years Mr. Davis was lieutenant governor under Gov. Pete Wilson.

• This article is based in part on wire-service reports.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide