Common Cause and the other proponents of an independent redistricting initiative now in circulation, having landed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a prominent supporter last week, can also count on the backing of former Democratic controller and gubernatorial candidate Steve Westly.
Westly told me today that he hasn't yet been asked to publicly support the measure, but has already personally decided it would be a good thing. "Democrats are supposed to be the party of good government," he said.
Four similar initiatives have failed over the last 25 years, each suffering from the perception that it was a Republican power grab cloaked in the mantle of good-government reform. It this one is to meet a different fate at the ballot box, it will need the backing of prominent Democrats such as Westly to balance Schwarzenegger in order to persuade middle-of-the-road voters that it is truly bipartisan reform.
On another legislative reform issue, Westly said he has been approached by the Proposition 93 campaign and that an announcement could be coming soon of his support for the term-limits initiative on the Feb. 5 ballot. The campaign, he said, is putting together a coalition of supporters who do not currently hold elected office. Westly said he was around Sacramento long enough during his one term as controller to understand the importance of having legislators with some experience.
The former controller's status among state Democrats will surely rise if, as recent polling suggests, Barack Obama's campaign gets a boost in the Iowa caucus. Westly was among the first Californians to sign on to the Obama campaign and has been an energetic backer. He hosted a very successful Silicon Valley fund-raiser last month at his Atherton home, and plans to be on stage with the candidate tomorrow evening (Monday) in Universal City. The California event comes on the heels of two days of rallys with Oprah Winfrey in Iowa and South Carolina. The headliners in Universal City -- the Goo Goo Dolls -- are likely to attract a different demographic group than Winfrey