Board of Equalization
Districts 2 - 40
Democrats: Phil Angelides of Sacramento, Mervin
Evans of Culver City, Albert Robles of South Gate. Republicans: Jan Goldsmith
of Poway, Curt Pringle of Garden Grove. American Independent: Edmon Kaiser
of Fresno. Libertarian: Jon Peterson of San Jose. Natural Law: Carlos
Aguirre of Laguna Niguel. Peace and Freedom: Jan Tucker of Toluca Lake.
This seat is fast becoming a launching pad for those
seeking higher office. It's also becoming a bivouac for primary mudfests when incumbents
step aside. It happened in 1994 when Democratic incumbent Kathleen Brown ran unsuccessfully
for governor, opening the door for former state Democratic Party Chairman Phil Angelides
and Senate President pro Tempore David Roberti to mix it up in the nastiest statewide
primary campaign that year. And now, thanks to Republican Treasurer Matt Fong's bid
for the U.S. Senate, the field is open for two termed-out GOP assemblymen - Jan Goldsmith
of Poway and Curt Pringle of Garden Grove - to dirty themselves.
Of the two, Pringle is the early front-runner according to a March Field Poll, despite
being a late entry into the race. Originally, Pringle planned a run for state controller,
until it became apparent incumbent Kathleen Connell was staying put. Pringle's move
to this race, in fact, bumped another GOP rival, San Mateo County Supervisor Ruben
Barrales, into the much tougher challenge against Connell. Pringle also tried unsuccessfully
to get Goldsmith out. But Goldsmith refused to accommodate Pringle - after all, the
San Diego assemblyman last year switched his plans for a controller run after the
former Assembly speaker indicated interest in the seat.
Pringle has attacked Goldsmith - a moderate pro-choice Republican - for trying to
reinvent himself as a conservative in order to appeal to the party's right wing.
Pringle also is reminding the party faithful that his opponent broke caucus ranks
during the stormy Doris Allen days of 1995 by welcoming the renegade Republican with
open arms after Democrats elected her speaker. Goldsmith, meanwhile, is reminding
folks of Pringle's infamous "poll guard" incident in 1988 and his involvement
in launching the recall of Allen which became scandalized by an effort to place a
decoy Democrat on the ballot.
Early in the campaign, Goldsmith enjoyed a huge advantage in endorsements, especially
among legislative members. But that was before Pringle switched to treasurer, after
which some Goldsmith supporters endorsed Pringle as well and in effect neutralized
some of Goldsmith's early work. An important endorsement Pringle did not get, though,
was that of the conservative California Republican Assembly, which some expected
would go automatically to the Orange County lawmaker. Recently, however, some right-wing
elements in the party have soured on Pringle because of his penchant for Capitol
deal making and for his support of a pro-choice Republican in a south coast congressional
special election. The CRA chose not to endorse anyone in the race - which Goldsmith's
camp considered as good as a victory.
Pringle did win the support of the incumbent Fong, in part because of Pringle's ability
to raise money; as of the first reporting period, Pringle led Goldsmith $273,000
to $43,000 in money raised. That ability, along with better statewide name recognition,
leads some Republicans to believe Pringle is the best chance to defeat Angelides
Raising and spending money is one thing at which Angelides - who faces no serious
opposition in his primary - excels. In 1994, Angelides outspent Fong two-to-one.
He's also capable of going negative if things get desperate - as evident when he
ran a television ad in '94 implying Roberti, a pro-life Democrat, supported the killing
of a Florida abortion doctor. Which means the November contest could be another ugly
one, whether it's Pringle or Goldsmith facing Angelides.
-- Article by Noel Brinkerhoff