[Metroactive News&Issues]

[ Metro | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

A Governor for the People

[whitespace] Gray Davis Metro endorses Gray Davis

California is at a crucial point in its history. Our industries, from agriculture to high tech, face a rapidly changing world economy. Our population, already straining the capacity of our highways, housing and natural resources, is set to explode again. Traffic, pollution, crime, lousy schools and a skyrocketing cost of living already deprive all of us of the lives we deserve.

Dan Lungren approaches these problems from the divisive position of an ideologue. His affable personality obscures a harshly judgmental approach to politics. He's a nice enough guy, but it's no exaggeration to say that he would be a dangerous governor.

Gray Davis takes a much more pragmatic approach. Although his too-careful campaign has made him appear to be the most aptly named candidate in recent memory, Davis' record shows that he is not only a hardworking, trustworthy civil servant, but also a fairly progressive leader.

Davis fought for the minimum wage and MediCal as lieutenant governor, and for state workers as controller--often battling head-to-head against his bosses, governors George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson. At the same time, he has worked up his own brand of post-liberal economic policy that has opened doors for new industries in the state while protecting workers and the environment.

Lungren, meanwhile, is an unapologetic believer in Reaganesque trickle-down economics. His only promise to ordinary workers, throughout his campaign, has been to further unbind the hand of capital: "less taxation, less regulation and less litigation."

Davis is at his best when dealing with the environment, while Lungren has revealed his extremism.

Davis pioneered the "debt-for-nature" concept, by which corporations can settle their debts to governments by turning over environmentally sensitive lands. He has also fought against offshore oil drilling and crusaded for the California Desert Protection Act--both still hot political issues within the state and in Washington, D.C.

As a member of the state Lands Commission, Davis aggressively pursued environmental lawbreakers. On that issue, the enforcement of environmental laws, Dan Lungren has aggressively shown his ideological passion.

Over his eight-year career as attorney general, Lungren took up only 16 cases against polluters. His predecessor brought 179 such cases into court. Even when Gov. Wilson urged him to file a legal brief upholding regulations at Lake Tahoe, Lungren refused. He also opposed a bill calling on the federal government to clean up military bases--the only AG in the nation, Republican or Democrat, who did not support the legislation.

In Congress, Lungren supported offshore oil drilling and the actions of renegade Interior Secretary James Watt, while opposing virtually every environmental law that came across his desk, including the Clean Water Act, which was opposed by only 11 members of Congress.

The next governor will play an extraordinary role in national politics. The state will undergo reapportionment next year, and the governor will help determine the shape and makeup of congressional districts. The outcome of congressional votes in eight districts could hang on how that process shakes out. It is no exaggeration to say that the victor in this race will play a key role in determining the makeup of Congress in the year 2000.

Political observers from coast to coast agree that this is the most important political race in the land. While Davis maintains a lead in the polls, it is possible that many voters--especially Democrats--creeped out by the scandalized political environment, will stay home on Election Day. If that happens, the wrong man will get the job for all the wrong reasons.

[ San Jose | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

From the October 22-28, 1998 issue of Metro.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.