As Attorney General Bill Lockyer climbed onto the stage on election night, he was victorious. He had just dispatched his hapless Republican opponent by 17 percent and was flanked by his wife and fellow Democratic winners U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the next Attorney General Jerry Brown, and soon-to-be Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
But something was amiss.
He had been elected state treasurer, his second statewide constitutional office. But Lockyer, who continuously has held elected office since 1968, was supposed to have run for governor in 2006.
“That’s what people were gearing up for,” said Democratic strategist Darry Sragow.
Instead, Lockyer opted to sidestep an expensive primary battle with eventual Democratic nominee Phil Angelides, the current state treasurer, and state Controller Steve Westly. He took his campaign war chest–totaling more than $10 million–and coasted to victory as treasurer.
Today, that decision leaves him with more campaign cash than any other politician in California.
As of the latest filing period, Lockyer had more than $10.5 million cash on hand. Perhaps more remarkably, in 2006, an election year, Lockyer raised more money than he spent, taking in $1.54 million, while spending only $1.26 million.
The money puts Lockyer in the center of gubernatorial discussions after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was re-elected by a wide margin on Tuesday, is termed-out in 2010.
On Tuesday, Lockyer said he was focused on his new job.
“My general theory about these sort of things: The best politics is do the job well,” he said at the San Francisco victory party. “So I am thinking about being the treasurer and trying to do it well. And if somebody decides after they see a performance that I deserve a promotion well