Is it possible to have a truly nonpartisan state office in California? Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) proposed this week making the job of secretary of state a nonpartisan position. Currently, candidates cite a party affiliation, and the seven candidates now running for the job include Democrats and Republicans, along with a Green Party member and an independent.
Gorell didn’t cite any specific incidents of partisan dealings in the secretary of state’s office, which oversees elections and processes campaign finance and lobbying disclosures. But the specter of the 2000 presidential election and the seemingly political decisions made by then-Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, a Republican, hangs over the office.
In theory, the job of secretary of state should be a nonpartisan office. As former Assemblyman Fred Keeley told The Times, “There should not be even the suggestion that someone with partisan motives has their finger on the scale while overseeing our elections.”
It’s a good concept and certainly worth exploring, but the skeptic in me wonders if it’s possible to make any statewide office truly nonpartisan -- particularly when California has term limits and politicians constantly plot their next job in order to stay in office.
Just because the post of secretary of state would be a nonpartisan office doesn’t mean partisan candidates wouldn’t run for the job, or that their party leanings wouldn’t influence the leadership of the person in office. If, heaven forbid, we ever have a Florida-like recount situation in California, would a politically ambitious or loyal Democrat or Republican really ignore party ties because the office is nonpartisan?
Will making the secretary of state post nonpartisan increase the chance for an independent or third-party candidate win? Maybe, but probably not -- because winning statewide office takes money and name recognition that established party candidates have. What’s the practical effect?
Must-read headlines from L.A. to CA:
Did you expect our City Council to act in our best interests earlier this week when it approved a 25 year, $48 million giveaway to the developer of The Village at Westfield Topanga, the $70 billion Westfield Group that is controlled by Frank Lowy, an 83 year old Australian entrepreneur who is one of the richest men in the world? Dream on!
Calif. high-speed rail agency will appeal judge’s latest ruling, Fresno Bee
The California High-Speed Rail Authority plans to appeal a court ruling that would send the agency to trial on whether its planned bullet train can live up to performance requirements required under state law.
State Sen. De Leon urges probe of former Vernon official's pension, Los Angeles Times
The highest-paid pensioner in California's largest retirement system continues to receive more than $500,000 annually, even though officials promised almost two years ago his retirement pay would be dramatically cut. After an angry state senator confronted them Thursday, pension officials said they would cut the payments to former Vernon administrator Bruce Malkenhorst to almost $116,000 a year starting in April.
Will the real creator of bitcoin please stand up? Los Angeles Times
"I never was involved," Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto insists. Journalists were camped out in front of his Temple City home amid a frenzy of speculation he is the man behind bitcoin.