Interesting article in the Washington Post today about a meeting being convened by University of Oklahoma President and former US Senator David Boren with a host of other former partisan officer holders. The press is spinning this as an opportunity for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to further explore an independent candidacy for President.
So why don’t we have more bipartisan cooperation in California? Some would look at the efforts of Governor Schwarzenegger and think this is the ticket to the political promised land. That would be folly.
The reality is that party primaries are what prevent this sort of thing from occurring. Schwarzenegger was elected Governor under a very strange set of circumstances and possibly the only way he could have won. I doubt if he could have beat Senator Tom McClintock in a Republican primary.
Let’s think about those Republican elected officials that have crossed the aisle regularly to work with the Democrats on an issue or issues.
Assemblyman Paul Horcher – recalled. worked for Willie Brown
Assembly Speaker Doris Allen – recalled
Assembly Speaker Brian Setencich – lost GOP primary, legal problems, worked for Willie Brown
Assemblyman Dick Dickerson – lost GOP primary
Assemblyman Anthony Pescetti — did not seek re-election
Assemblyman Dave Kelly – did not seek re-election
Assemblyman Mike Briggs – lost Congressional primary and Assembly primary
Assemblyman Keith Richman – lost GOP primary to probably the worst statewide candidate the Republicans have ever nominated
Next year we will have a couple more primaries that will drive this issue home for every Assemblymember to see.
Former Joe Canciamilla is going to get trounced by Assemblyman Mark De Saulnier in the Democratic primary for SD 7 (Torlakson). In addition, former Assemblyman Russ Bogh has shown that he will make a single budget vote by Assemblyman John Benoit for a "Gray Davis budget" to be the primary issue.
Senator Maldonado is going to be feeling some of this in November as many Republicans are going to be less enthusiastic about helping him to hold his seat.
This does not even include the leadership fights in the Assembly and Senate Republican caucuses over these same issues.
I’m not arguing that all of the people listed above were really involved in bipartisan cooperation. Some were just complete sell outs and suffered the appropriate political consequences. However, the hammer of the Republican primaries is so decisive that many shy away from this sort of political involvement.