Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,

So, it looks like the Tsunami is coming. Sixty Senate seats? Fifty-four Assembly seats? What do you think of the possibility of some Democratic super-majorities?

 — Counting Chickens in Chino

Hey Counting,

Like I said last week, I’m not a big believer in polls, especially this year. And I have a hard time believing that Saxby Chambliss or Mitch McConnell are going to go down. And that goes double for Audra Strickland, Cameron Smythe and some of these other Republicans that are supposedly on the Democratic target list now.

Of course, I reserve the right to be wrong. And I reserve the right to never talk about the fact that I got it wrong. That’s what having a newspaper column is all about.

That being said, everyone except the people who wear elephant boxer shorts under their pin-striped suits seem willing to concede that Democratic majorities are going to expand. Is that a good thing? Perhaps.

Of course, there are political perils for Democrats. They will be the ones in charge, and if anything goes wrong in the next two years, it will be their fault. The last time we had Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and Democratic control of the White House was in 1992. If memory serves, that didn’t work out so well for the Democrats two years later.

But hey, there are worse things in the world than being in charge, and being held accountable. God forbid any politician take any responsibility for something that goes on in their government. That violates some sort of central tenant, or biological law, of politics and politicians. Personally, after eight years of crying and complaining, the Democrats probably deserve to take a crack at this thing. And if they get it wrong, they deserve to be punished. Severely. We’re talking strung up by the nose-hairs kind of punished. But hey, that comes with the territory, right?

So, what does it all mean for California? Tidal waves to happen here, too. Back during the national Republican blowout in 1994, Democrats lost five of the statewide office seats, and lost control of the Assembly. Well, sort of, but even that is only thanks to the political acrobatics of Willie Brown. Point being that if Democrats have a good night on Tuesday, they are liable to pick up some seats here in California, too.

But if they don’t get to 54, is this state really going to be easier to govern? Would Gov. Schwarzenegger’s job be easier if he had an Assembly with 50 or 51 Democratic votes? Unlikely, unless the governor has learned some lessons from the last couple of years.
If he’s smart, and we can have that discussion later, the governor will work hard to court new Republican members early. There are some starts coming, people like Nathan Fletcher from San Diego, who seems like a pretty reasonable guy. Of course, there’s a chance that memberitis can set in, but that’s why it’s so important for Schwarzenegger to act now.

The budget stand-off dragged on in part because the governor had nothing to offer Republicans. Remember Assembly Republicans mockingly put on name tags when the governor came in to talk during the budget stand-off.

He’s still the governor of the state, and one of the biggest stars on the planet. Luckily for Schwarzenegger, he gets a chance, thanks to term limits, to start over. If the governor wants votes for his budget in July, which by all accounts looks like a stinker, he’s gotta start schmoozing now.

So, some unsolicited advice to the Governor: Get to know the 30 Republican Assemblymembers, and court them. Take them to dinner, make dirty jokes in their presence, buy them some lederhosen – something to establish some kind of relationship. Pretend to care just a little bit. You may find it pays dividends come budget season.

Want to see more stories like this? Sign up for The Roundup, the free daily newsletter about California politics from the editors of Capitol Weekly. Stay up to date on the news you need to know.

Sign up below, then look for a confirmation email in your inbox.


Support for Capitol Weekly is Provided by: