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Jon Fleischman

Senator Dave Cogdill Announces His Retirement

This afternoon I read a statement that State Senator Dave Cogdill plans on retiring from the legislature at the end of his first term in the legislature’s upper chamber, I contemplated what I wanted to say.  And decided to think about it for a little while.

Let me start this way.  I’ve known Senator Cogdill for some years now.  While not a close friend, I have known him to be an honorable person, and someone who is dedicated to the ideas of liberty and freedom for Californians.  I have found that you can tell a lot about the character of a legislator by the staff that they hire, and the loyalty engendered to that legislator by the people in their organization.  Chuck Hahn, Erin Guerero, Sabrina Lockhart, and for his time as leader, Ron Rogers are all people whom I respect greatly and it speaks volumes about Cogdill that these people have all been or continue to be a part of "Team Cogdill" — not to mention the other great people whom i just don’t know or know as well.

That said, I have to admit that my relations with the Senator pretty much flat-lined surrounding last February’s terrible budget deal.  I "get it" that Senator Cogdill did what he felt was in the best interests of the people of California when he, as the Republican Leader, negotiated and ultimately supported a budget deal that included not only an immediate two-plus year increase in state sales, income and car taxes (with a project hit of $16+ billion – making it the largest single tax increase ever for any state) but also launched onto the ballot a set of ill-advised ballot measures that included an extension of those same tax increases for two more years.

It would be fair to say that i was blown-away when this proposal came out of budget negotiations given that Cogdill along with Assemblyman Mike Villines, up until the time of the "deal", were forceful and articulate in every possible way (including many editorials on this website) about how tax increases were off of the table.

The conclusion that I came to was that the Big 5 process itself is fatally flawed.  It is almost strategically designed to take principled ideologues and wear then down to the point of physical and emotionally exhaustion, and as happened in February, led Californians to a higher tax burden, and to the tragic circumstance of honorable men such as Cogdill and Villines to have to be forever marred as people who broke their pledge to oppose higher taxes on the people they were elected to represent.

I am sad to have seen a flawed political system in Sacramento that took in a strong conservative and chewed him up to the point where he somehow became an advocate of higher taxes as some sort of necessary evil.

I admire the Senator’s dedication to finding a water policy solution for California.  While I think that the solution that he ultimately convinced his colleagues to place before voters spends way more than is necessary, and has too many projects of regional concern (aka PORC) — it does represent sincerity on Cogdill’s part to try and resolve a project that has hit the constituents of his Central Valley district harder than most.

I wish the Senator well.  I view him as a good man whose time as leader of Senate Republicans resulted in a political and policy tragedy.   For his part voters are just a little more cynical about the promise of Republicans to stop their taxes from going up.

Governor Schwarzenegger has said that he might appoint Senator Cogdill to serve out the unexpired remainder of John Garamendi’s term as Lt. Governor.  As choices go, Schwarzenegger could do a lot worse (Abel Maldonado)  assuming he wants to tap someone that supported the February budget deal.

6 Responses to “Senator Dave Cogdill Announces His Retirement”

  1. Says:

    Dave Cogdill is not only an honorable gentlemen he is also calm and collected in everything he says and does. He is retiring too early but he has certainly earned a respite.

  2. Says:

    He was very calm and collected when he voted for the largest tax increase in history. No wonder he is retiring. I wouldn’t want to face GOP primary voters if made a vote like that. Hopefully we can find someone who won’t cave so easily to Arnold and the Dems

  3. Says:

    I guess it’s easy to hide behind the computer screen and criticize a person you don’t even know, but I’m hanging with Bill Leonard, unless of course my association makes him less of the stellar conservative he is…and I’m sure that’s an option within the circular firing squad. Dave Cogdill is a classic example of a conservative who failed the litmus test of computer screen conservatives. God speed Dave.


  4. Says:

    The Buzz

    Buzz up!Published: Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
    Republican state Sen. Dave Cogdill of Modesto announced he would not seek a second term next year – a day after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Cogdill “absolutely” was on his short list for the open lieutenant governor’s job. Insiders warned of reading anything into the timing but also said Cogdill most likely would take the governor’s phone call should he dial his number.

  5. Says:

    Joe, I will start this comment by saying that I have tremendous respect for your ability and for the hard work you have personally put into working towards a Republican majority for the GOP (not only here in California, but nationally).

    That said, I don’t think it is fair to say that if we are critical of the decision of a Republican Leader to orchestrate a large tax increase that we are “hiding behind a computer screen” — I know Dave Cogdill, and I like him as a person. But that doesn’t mean that as someone who has spend more than two decades fighting for a Republican majority (as Executive Director of the California Republican Party, campaign manager for many candidates for legislative and statewide office, etectra) that it means that it isn’t fair to be critical of poor decisions. I believe bad policy makes for bad politics. The Senators decision to support a massive tax increase set us back, politically, in our quest to become a majority party.

    You reference a “circular firing squad” which is a reference to anytime a Republican is critical of the policy or political decisions of another Republican? If so, it begs the question of when you think that criticism of a Republican official IS appropriate.

    For my part, I believe that Republicans who support tax increases are the ones in the circular firing squad. It leaves the rest of us trying to make a case to voters that everyone in the party didn’t support what that person did when the voted for higher taxes.

    Dave Cogdill didn’t “fail the litmus test” of “computer screen conservatives” — he ran for and was elected to office on a pledge of opposing new taxes, and then violated that pledge. That’s on him, not me. And it is unfair to turn the tables around and make those of us critical of that decision into the bad guys.

    As I said, I with Dave Cogdill well in his future endeavors. I don’t think he is a bad guy. But no one twisted his arm and forced him support higher taxes. That was his own decision.

  6. Says:

    Jon, having just hung up with you mere seconds ago I’m posting this to ensure we’re clear. We definitely friends, and there’s too much good history between us, and while you may have thought I was referring to you (as if!), I wasn’t. You’re conservative credentials are beyond question. To think that I was considering you as one of the computer screen conservative crowd, was understandable given the frailties of this type of communication. Nope. You’re for real. A bit kooky, but tough not to love. My point really was to those that wanted to rag on Dave (not you) that the day of his announcment was not the day…and I thought Bill Leonard’s post was so on the mark, I wanted to reinforce it to the best of my feeble abilities.

    btw: I think you’re other friends would freak if they heard the music I heard on the back ground of your car this morning…it’s our secret.