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GOP leaders, rank and file, watch governor’s policy moves closely

Suspicious Republicans are closely watching Gov. Schwarzenegger’s handling
of convicted killer Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams’ clemency hearing and a state
Supreme Court appointment to draw a bead on the influence of former Gray
Davis aide Susan Kennedy, who Schwarzenegger hired as his new chief of
staff.

“If he doesn’t fill that (court) position with an out-and-out conservative
Republican, it’s all over for him,” said one Capitol Republican, not a
conservative. “If he grants clemency to Tookie, it’s all over for him.”

A third major issue–a new deal by legislative leaders in both parties to
increase the minimum wage–is expected to be approved by the governor as part
of a policy package he’s developing for his January state of the state
speech. That, too, is likely to draw fire from Republicans fearful of
Kennedy’s influence–even though insiders say the deal was reached just
before she took over.

But Republicans appeared reassured late Friday when the governor named two new appointments to his top staff. He named Fred Aguiar, a Repunblican, as cabinet secretary, the No. 2 position in the governor’s executive circle. Aguiar currently serves as Schwarzenegger’s Consumer Affairs secretary and is a former assemblyman from the Inland Empire. Tamminen is being shifted to the position of environmental adviser to the governor. The governor also named Dan Dunmoyer, 43, as a policy adviser and deputy chief of staff. Dunmoyer, the president of the Personal Insurance Federation of California, is considered one of the top insurance industry lobbyists in Sacramento. Dunmoyer, a Republican, earlier served five years as executive officer of the Assembly Republican Caucus.

“‘Tookie’ and the Supreme Court–those are the two issues that will come up
before the end of the year, and they are definitely benchmark issues,” said
Senate GOP Leader Dick Ackerman, R-Irvine, who said Schwarzenegger’s fellow
Republicans were in a wait and see posture.

“Their (Republicans’) main concern is whether there would be any actions
that mainstream Republicans would consider to be inappropriate ones. But so
far, nothing’s happened, because she (Kennedy) hasn’t done anything, and she
hasn’t indicated where she might influence a decision.”

Republicans’ concerns over Schwarzenegger’s handling of the Williams case
intensified after it was disclosed that the governor did not plan to meet
with the victims’ families, but only with the lawyers involved in the case.

Williams, a co-founder of the Crips street gang, is scheduled to be executed
Dec. 13 at San Quentin. He was convicted in the murders of four people
during two separate robberies in 1979. An array of his supporters, including
Nobel laureates, entertainers and civil rights activists, have urged
Schwarzenegger to halt the execution.

State Sen. Tom McClintock of Thousand Oaks, a conservative Republican who
lost to Schwarzenegger in the 2003 recall election, was generally supportive
of Schwarzenegger’s selection of Kennedy, but said there were caveats.

“This was all hashed out two years ago during the recall. Anyone paying
attention to California politics knows the governor’s philosophy and that
his circle of advisers is, shall we say, eclectic.”

“I led the opposition to Kennedy’s appointment to the PUC (California Public
Utilities Commission) two years ago, and I haven’t changed my opinion one
bit. I think that appointment was a mistake.”

“But the proof is in the policy,” McClintock added. “As long as the
governor’s policies are consistent with Republican principles of individual
freedom and limited government, I would support him,” he said.

He said Republicans would be more careful around her when talking politics.
“I think it is only human nature that people will be more guarded in their
conversations around her,” he added.


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