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Many California voters more worried about state economy than national issues

By Sandhya Somashekhar

Newport Beach, Ca. -- Washington feels very far away from this upscale Orange County community, where voters in Tuesday's Republican primary expressed greater concern about the state economy than the national issues that have motivated voters in other elections around the country.

California faces a nearly $20 billion budget gap that has left the Democratic state legislature and the Republican governor deadlocked on whether to raise taxes or make deep cuts in welfare and other programs. On top of that, Republicans here say the tax and regulatory environment has grown so burdensome that companies are fleeing the state to places like Nevada, which has actively courted California businesses. Many worry that the state is on the verge of bankruptcy and that its governing structure makes it virtually ungovernable.

John Packer, 56, a real estate investor who has lived in California for 30 years, said he is one of those people thinking of leaving for a state with a friendlier business atmosphere. Beneath an overcast sky referred to as "the June gloom," he cast his ballot for former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate likely to win the gubernatorial nomination. But he did so without much enthusiasm.

"I really don't have a lot of confidence anybody can fix this," he said. "I'm worried Meg Whitman is too liberal and it will be like Schwarzenegger all over again."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's once sky-high approval ratings have plummeted in large part because of his management of the budget. Whitman has been attacked from the right as "Schwarzenegger in a skirt," even though she has promised to take a tougher stand with the legislature if elected.

Whitman's likely Democratic opponent is Attorney General Jerry Brown, a veteran politician who has touted his record as governor from 1975 to 1983 as evidence of his ability to solve the budget discord. Despite the anti-incumbent attitude around the country, he argued in a recent op-ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune that his knowledge of the ins and outs of California government qualify him for the post at a time when voter anxiety is reaching panic levels.

"This state can be governed," he wrote. "The next governor must have the preparation and know-how to get the job done. That is what I offer."

Whitman and her Republican primary foe, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, have both tried to position themselves as outsiders because of their business backgrounds. Poizner, who is also a former technology executive, has only held public office since 2007, and this is Whitman's first political campaign. But they have lately tried to bolster their government credentials to demonstrate that they can navigate Sacramento, and their supporters have also tried to spread the word.

"Anyone who thinks you can be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company without being political is fooling themselves," said Diane McGlinchey, a Whitman volunteer.

By Sandhya Somashekhar  |  June 8, 2010; 2:55 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

With an official unemployment rate of 12.6%, with the real rate probably about 18%, including persons who have given up looking for jobs or have part-time employment, but want, need full-time jobs, no wonder the economy in this state is the biggest concern to people. The state government is dysfunctional because the two political parties are hopeless. Democratic politicians are beholden to public employee unions and will, if they are able, perennially raise taxes on anyone or everybody to pay for the generous salaries, pension benefits of many state, local employees.

Republicans, on the other hand, are opposed to raising taxes on anyone, especially the wealthy. They only seek to reduce spending for the poor and needy, which most Democrats in the legislature seem to prefer over not kowtowing to their special interest groups.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | June 8, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

you Ca Rs are truly lame. You have had a R
Governor you inisted was necessary to undemocratically replace Gray Davis in a political coup for what 4 years or so, who
sets your state's agenda, has the veto power
and the bully pulpit and the power to communicate directly with 36 million Californians and yet you want to blame your
economic woes on Ds. As I recall Prop 13 was
the brain child of the GOP. You think just maybe capping property taxes might have had
something to do with your current woes? Ca
truly is ungovernable since no one there is willing to take responsibility for your mess.

Posted by: leichtman1 | June 8, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

No vote from Vietnamese community of 500,000 people for pro-communist gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, who, as governor of California in 1975, strongly opposed Vietnamese refugees settling in California while supporting amnesty to illegal immigrants from Mexico. In fact, he works for the interests of unions and illegal immigrants only, not for California. Worst still, Brown sided with notorious Cuban dictator Fidel Castro demanding a lift of U.S. embargo on communist Cuba for its human rights violations during his visit to Cuba in July 2000 to formalize the relationship between Brown's city of Oakland with its sister city Santiago de Cuba.

Posted by: TIMNGUYEN1 | June 8, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

The comment below makes no sense. The current governor is a GOP, and look at the mess HE got us into!

Brown can actually WORK WITH the legislature, not against them. Just what we need, more GRIDLOCK!

As for liberal policies, every inch of progress this country has ever enjoyed came from the hand of a liberal.

Posted by: ethanquern | June 8, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

__________________________________________

Another liberal who doesn't know SH** about California. Arnold never had a chance against an entrenched ultra-liberal legislation who sets budgets. They continue to spend beyond belief, he threatens to veto their budgets, we all sit in limbo while nobody gets paid.

As for Jerry Brown... are you f'ing kidding?? Last time he was governor, he left California in it's worst recession ever up until that point. There's a reason they call him "Moonbeam" Brown. Doofus....

Posted by: RobParker | June 8, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

There’s another blogger that doesn’t know California,
And it WASN’T any “ultra liberals” that got us “into this mess”
It was Republican-run Enron and Jeff Skilling who’s doing time in prison, and Kenneth Lay who faked his own death to escape going to prison for 100+ years.

It was also a Republican who claimed he could fix the “mess” but couldn’t.


Posted by: lindalovejones | June 8, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

___________________________________________

Ignorant comment from someone who clearly doesn't live here. CA has been under liberal rule for over the past 20 years and we're paying the price today. When we have state and city governments here that focus more on bashing other states who work to solve their own problems rather than our own, all the while running businesses out of this state by the hundreds each year, we know it's just a matter of time until we fail. CA, as a state,used to have the world's 7th largest economy. No longer.

We're just a "preview" of where Obama's policies are taking our country.

I love CA but we're damaged goods under liberal policies. But we CAN fix it.

Posted by: RobParker | June 8, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

California will bankrupt itself due to the Democratic voting in LA, SF and Sacramento. I like to call them the welfare cities.
I'm sure Arizona would give California a little free electric and water.

Posted by: Soapbox310 | June 8, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

California is no longer governable.

It doesn't matter who wins because the problems are such that nobody can fix them.

Nobody can bust the public employee unions or rid the place of beaners.

Posted by: BattleOffSamar | June 8, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

The Mexicans, illegal and legal, and the labor movement led by Jewish anarchists and the drug sodden hippies have destroyed California. The hell with them all.

Posted by: ravitchn | June 8, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

so Aruld is the R liberal you complain of now.
I am in Texas with an ultraconservative R governor who you can gladly have. Dirty
little secret here in Texas is that our
budget deficit is larger than Ca's $18
billion and our governor refuses to take
stimulus money that would help us out of
the fix. And Ca. Without the federal stimulus
money you would be $5 billion further in the
hole. Incidentally stop your whining
about taxes. We have an 8 1/4 sales tax,
our property taxes are 3 times higher and
our governor just raised our business taxes.
If you want to blame your problem on anything
look in the mirror at Prop 13 which has devistated your tax base and destroyed your public schools, the brain child of Ca conservatives.

Posted by: leichtman1 | June 8, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Mickey Mouse could run Cali out of Disneyland and it won't make much difference.

Cali's issues are systemic. It's a state living in an economic hospice. The few remaining productive have finally been overrun by the takers. Thus, the remaining productive contributors can't wait to get the heck out of the sanctuary state.

If you like wonderful weather mixed with serial union-controlled government corruption and incompetence, then Cali's the place for you.

Posted by: bandcyuk | June 8, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

You mean that all the millions of dollars the Republican candidates are pouring into their campaigns hasn't helped boost the California economy?

Posted by: sensible | June 8, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

leichtman1 ; you missed the point. This is about California and yes, liberals in the state of California have driven the state to the brink of bankruptcy. The tremendous taxes on business and individuals drives the tax base away and the pensions being paid to govt employees is breaking the bank. George Bush had very little to do with California's current state of affairs.

Posted by: mmourges | June 8, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

California should have an open border with Mexico. We need more cheap labor and could get it even cheaper without any controls. Of course, those Hispanics living legally here would be cut out, but that's ok. They can move to some places else.

Posted by: speedo1 | June 8, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Republican, Democrat, it doesn't matter.

California is DOOMED.

To fix California, you would need to A) get rid of the illegal alien population and all their kids, and B)drastically cut the state bureaucracy.

Nobody has the guts to do either.

Without fixing those two problems, California will continue to drive out its productive population.

Posted by: pmendez | June 8, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Too bad voters cannot be trusted to do the best thing for their state.

They just want whats "best for them"... free money.

Eventually you run out of people's money to steal.

Or, as the case in CA, 2/3rds of those making a million or more a year have left.

Posted by: docwhocuts | June 8, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

huh????
"Remember, liberals and liberal policies got us into this mess."


George Bush is a liberal?
Apparently you were asleep for 8 years when he was handed a $150 billion dollar budget surplus in Feb 2001 that he quickly turned into a deficit with 2 wars, Medicare Part D, and a trillion dollar tax cut unpaid for.
As for the bank bailouts you alude to, last time I checked that was the brain child of R SOT Hank Paulson. Presumably he is the other liberal that you complain of.

Posted by: leichtman1 | June 8, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

California, down by 20 billion, still rules.

Posted by: Tess6 | June 8, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

TO: Oosik who wrote:
“With the projected tax revenues projected with the complete legalization of marijuana does anyone doubt CA doesn't pass it this year?”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Obviously, you don’t know California.
That’s a “No” on legalizing marijuana.

+++++++++++++++++

TO: dagner49 who wrote:
“you got to be kidding.cal residents worried about debt.all the way into re electing the same ultra liberals that got them into this mess.cut any of their insane state grants or social programs.never”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

There’s another blogger that doesn’t know California,
And it WASN’T any “ultra liberals” that got us “into this mess”
It was Republican-run Enron and Jeff Skilling who’s doing time in prison, and Kenneth Lay who faked his own death to escape going to prison for 100+ years.

It was also a Republican who claimed he could fix the “mess” but couldn’t.


Posted by: lindalovejones | June 8, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

WaPo on-line folks: Please cease and desist from ignorantly destroying the headlines. There is a difference between $20M and $20B.

Posted by: pptcmember | June 8, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

With the projected tax revenues projected with the complete legalization of marijuana does anyone doubt CA doesn't pass it this year?

Posted by: Oosik | June 8, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

If voters have had enough they need to stop voting for Republicans and Democrats. Neither one care about the people anymore. They're more like people supporting a sports team than the public servants they are supposed to be.
Pick a 3rd party candidate, any 3rd party candidate, and vote for them. Show Washington that they can't treat the government like it's a game anymore.

Posted by: DedTV | June 8, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

you got to be kidding.cal residents worried about debt.all the way into re electing the same ultra liberals that got them into this mess.cut any of their insane state grants or social programs.never

Posted by: dagner49 | June 8, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

California is swimming in a sea of red ink.This has been the most liberal state in the union and everybody who pays attention , knows that it has been libeeral policy that put you into the hell hole you now exist in.

Posted by: farmsnorton | June 8, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

So now California voters are worried about the state economy. Couldn't quite wrap their brains around the fact that money isn't infinite when they voted for all their liberal goodies huh?

Posted by: thebink | June 8, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

The comment below makes no sense. The current governor is a GOP, and look at the mess HE got us into!

Brown can actually WORK WITH the legislature, not against them. Just what we need, more GRIDLOCK!

As for liberal policies, every inch of progress this country has ever enjoyed came from the hand of a liberal.

Posted by: ethanquern | June 8, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

If voters have had enough, they should vote Republican. Remember, liberals and liberal policies got us into this mess.

Posted by: jkhamlin | June 8, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

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