The causes for divorce
Last year Democratic Controller Steve Westly was Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's most visible ally in the campaign to pass Proposition 57, the ballot measure that allowed the state to sell $15 billion in bonds to pay off its debts.
This week, their fates came together in a different way: Westly announced his campaign for governor on Saturday, and on Tuesday a new Field Poll was released that showed Schwarzenegger's approval rating at 31 percent among adults and 37 percent among registered voters -- a dismal rating slightly below where Gray Davis stood a year before the recall.
Westly told me this week he makes no apologies for his decision to stand with Schwarzenegger on Proposition 57, and noted that Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer also endorsed the proposition, as did the state Democratic Party. As an added jab, Westly pointed out that he could remember only two extremists who opposed the measure: arch-conservative state Sen. Tom McClintock and Democratic Treasurer Phil Angelides. The treasurer, of course, is also seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006.
Westly says he's now divorced himself from Schwarzenegger and cited the Top Three reasons why the governor's star has faded:
1. "He's broken his promise to the children of California." Westly said the education coalition gave Schwarzenegger "a huge benefit by giving him a bit of a honeymoon" when they agreed to the Proposition 98 suspension last year. Going back on that deal was Strike One.
2. "He's clearly taken a turn to the right." Instead of focusing on bipartisan cooperation, Westly said, the governor has now chosen to fight nearly every group he disagrees with. Strike Two.
3. "The tone and tenor of what he's been saying has changed." With the governor's name-calling and his famous "kicking their butts" comment about nurses, Westly said it "almost seems that he's lost patience for the job." Strike Three.
What remains to be seen, of course, is whether that means the governor is out.
For more on my interview with Westly, see today's column in the Ventura County Star.