Former Lt. Gov. Mike Curb, a successful Hollywood record producer, has been
out of office for more than two decades, but the conservative Republican’s
four-year stint in Sacramento is not forgotten. The 61-year-old Curb, still
retaining some of the boyish look he had in Sacramento, is a friend of
celebrities, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he’s well known in
the entertainment industry for his business acumen.
But in Sacramento, Curb is remembered for something else. He’s the guy who
tried to appoint judges to the bench when the real governor was out of town,
and then place other appointees throughout the government. Since then-Gov.
Jerry Brown was out of town a lot–he ran for president twice–and since the
lieutenant governor has little else to do, Curb had ample opportunity to
dabble during his term from 1979-1983.
The courts ultimately ruled that the duties of the governor devolve to the
lieutenant governor when the chief executive is out of the state–a decision
that Curb and his allies said validated his position. But the courts also
ruled that the governor had the right to rescind the appointments when he
Curb hoped to parlay this seesaw scuffle into a higher, even national,
political profile but it didn’t work out. He ran for governor to succeed
Brown but in the end–even though Curb sought to link himself to the popular
Ronald Reagan–California Republicans were not inclined to vote for Curb a
second time for statewide office. Curb lost in the primary to George
Deukmejian, an equally conservative, Long Beach Republican who is perhaps
best known in California for his unflagging support for prison construction,
the death penalty and anti-crime legislation.
Since Curb’s time, there have been tem limits, budget constraints and
numerous ballot initiatives mounted by–or against–virtually every major
special interest in the state. But despite the political warfare and
perennial gridlock, Curb says the state can be governed and political deals
can be cut.
“It’s all compromise,” Curb said in a 2003 interview with Fox News. “But
I’ve always believed that–particularly in the state of California. We’ll
let’s just look at the history. When we had a Republican governor and a