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Fools Rush In

by Chris Woodrich, published

Why would anyone actually want to be the next governor of California?

It is probably one of the toughest in jobs in the nation. The next governor will find him or herself neck deep in a fiscal quagmire, a crippling drought, and a worsening recession. Put together, it is a situation worse than the one that led to Gray Davis' recall.

While legislators have hammered out a budget and at least for now staved off insolvency, our fiscal problems are not over. The Golden State has a deep structural deficit, which will rear its ugly head again next year around budget time. Whoever the next governor is, he or she will have to make more tough decisions.

For a Democrat, this could mean not restoring the funding to the state university system that was recently cut, getting more concessions from state employees or abandoning long-term environmental projects. For a Republican, this could likely mean letting the some of the recent, temporary tax increases to become permanent, sanctioning the early release of criminals to save costs in state corrections or possibly even going back on a no new taxes pledge.

Gov. Schwarzenegger has been forced to compromise on all fronts. The most recent budget has slashed education funding, angering Democrats and Unions, while simultaneously irking Republicans with tax increases. The next governor will have to make similar bargains. Would Schwarzenegger would do it all again given the option? Knowing that he traded several multi-million dollar movie deals for 8 years of flagellation, would he opt for a redo?

A number of high profile candidates are considering running on the Republican ticket. Businesswoman Meg Whitman has already thrown her hat into the ring, and fellow business woman Carly Fiorina is a possible candidate, although more likely as a candidate for the Senate. Bill Simon, an old guard conservative and former Assemblyman, will likely try again for the governor's mansion after failing to win against Gray Davis. Former Representative Tom Campbell and incumbent Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner round out a very impressive field.

Many high profile Democrats are also in the mix. San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom, has been angling for governor ever since his reelection. Lieutenant Gov. John Garamendi is a political veteran and will be a formidable opponent in the primary. Attorney General Jerry Brown has even more political experience, including eight previous years as governor. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez has formed an exploratory committee, although she may also be interested in a possible Senate seat. Although she has not formally announced, Senator Dianne Feinstein led all Democrats in a recent poll with 36 percent. Her stature and recognition give her a built-in advantage versus other lesser known potential candidates (for example State Senator Abel Maldonado's idol, John Chiang).

The next governor will have his or her hands full. They are guaranteed a difficult job that will make them enemies on all sides of the political spectrum, which will make seeking their party's nomination for reelection in 2014 difficult. There is even the possibility of another recall campaign. After the past year, why would anyone, save a committed masochist, want to be take on the task of leading this state?

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