Author’s Corner: Patrick Reddy

Patrick Reddy is a veteran California political analysis and the co-author of the new book “California After Arnold” detailing the Schwarzenegger administration’s impact on California and predictions for what to expect in 2010. His book is available through Algora publishing and

So tell us what you do outside of writing “California After Arnold.”
I used to work in the state legislature. I worked for eight years for the speaker’s office for member services, which is in the legislative unit. I monitored legislation in the judiciary, tax, reapportionment, housing and transportation committees. I would both monitor legislation and occasionally help write amendments. Then I worked a year as a legislative assistant to the office of senator Jenny Oropeza in Long Beach where I did the same thing, helped monitor legislation and occasionally help write it.  

Before that I was a pollster and political journalist at CNN. I assisted Bill Schneider of CNN with the exit polls on Election Day and was researching his weekly column and broadcasts on CNN.  

So you had a lot of this data before?
I did, yes. It grew out of a book Bill and I were working on years ago but never finished. After the state laid me off last winter, a friend, Rodger Carrick, an environmental lawyer in Los Angeles, suggested I use my knowledge and expertise to write a book on California.  

I’d known Steve Cummings [the other author] from the Kathleen Brown Campaign and other democratic campaigns over the years from which we’d stayed in touch. Steve has written four or five books before, so I called him up and said “What do you think of this idea?” and he thought it was great. He contacted his publishing company, Algora publishing in New York, and they just had a cancellation of a project so they had a spot open on their fall line-up. So they said, if you get it to us by September, we have a deal!

What kind of work went into putting this together?

A lot of it was research at the California archives, which is very convenient because it’s across the street from the Capitol. The one trip I had to make was to the Bay Area to get collection data from Oakland and San Francisco Boards of Elections.  

I would say it took three or four months. Of course, writing is a learning process, so every time I thought I was done, I realized I left something out and I had to go back to the archives. In particular with the issues, referendums and propositions we kept having to get more information on those because we wanted to make it as comprehensive as possible.  

And of course the folks at Berkeley, John Stiles and Susan Grant, were helpful. They have an archive of polls on California elections and they were quite helpful on getting me the data. I would have to go up there about once a month and get the data and so that’s basically the way it worked. We got the voting data itself from the archives on O Street and we got the exit poll data from the Berkeley archives.

Without all the data, who is your personal favorite for 2010?   
Well, I mean, I’m a Democrat, so I’ll be voting for Jerry Brown of course. Steve has worked for Jerry in the past. Steve’s a bit older than I am. He was part of the Brown administration in the seventies, and so was Rodger Carrick. I respect Jerry, he’s fine, and I probably would have voted for him over Gavin Newsom anyway. I think he is a strong candidate. I think the Republicans have a pretty good feel and they certainly have the money. If they have any skill in formulating and communicating a message they might do all right.  

You know, I think for some older voters some of Jerry’s past image problems might come up. But for people under 40, I mean, he left office in 1982, which is 28 years ago.  That makes him an historic figure in many ways. And there are so many under-thirty voters that Obama mobilized who are not going to have any memory of Governor Moonbeam and Linda Ronstadt all this other controversial stuff from the seventies. Zen Buddhism? They’re just not going to remember that. You might as well be talking to them about the Civil War.

So what aims do you hope to achieve with “California After Arnold”?

We’d like to explain to our readers, to the broader public where California’s been, how it got there and hopefully how we’re going in the future. Of course, the most obvious criticism of the book, which is defiantly factually true, is that, we’re not after Arnold yet. When it came out we still have another year left.  

We would like to do a second edition so we could have a much better perspective on the completion of the Schwarzenegger administration and be able to give them a final grade. We gave the governor a B minus preliminary grade, but that could obviously change. If he can whip the budget into shape, if he can get a water deal, if he can get a deal on schools, his legacy will be greatly improved.

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