Former California Gov. Gray Davis is a delegate this week to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Barack Obama will tonight accept his party's nomination for a second term. Davis, whose second term in office was cut short by the 2003 Recall Election, now lives in West L.A. and was mingling in the crowded lobby of the Time Warner Cable Arena when we caught up with him.
It's recently been reported that in California, voter registration for the Republican Party is in danger of falling being "decline to state." Why do you think this has happened?
Every party has a challenge to stay current, and I think [the GOP convention in] Tampa told you all you need to know about the Republican Party. They're basically mired in the 1950s. I lived though the '50s and it was a fine decade, but it was 60 years ago. So get with the times.
We're much more current, more diverse, more forward looking, more understanding that the economy has to be geared towards innovation and change for us to maintain the standard of life that we've become accustomed to. On every yardstick from social policy to economic development, even on national security, the Democratic Party is much more agile, much more forward looking.
It wasn't that long ago that the GOP dominated California politics, winning the state in presidential races, and a series of Republican governorships. Is there any danger that Democrats could also slip?
You always have to be vigilant and take nothing for granted. Up until '92, California was a reliable state for Republicans in presidential races. Ford beat Carter. Nixon beat Kennedy. But with the growth of the Hispanic community, and with our progressive attitude on the part of the electorate, Democrats have held sway.
You were Gov. Jerry Brown's chief of staff during his first time in the governor's office. How has he change since those early days?
Like a lot of us, he's matured but he's still unpredictable and very much his own person. It's hard to say he's a traditional Democrat or an independent. He's very much Jerry Brown.
Has Arnold Schwarzenegger shared any epiphanies about the realities of being governor since leaving office?
We were friends when he was in office and we remain friends. He realizes that you can't do everything. You have to pick your spots. But he made some fine contributions on political reform.