Playing a new role of landlord, Gov. George Deukmejian has agreed to let Democratic Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy move into the choice state Capitol office suite that fellow Democratic state Controller Gray Davis fought to regain, McCarthy disclosed Wednesday.
The sprawling corner office suite with a sweeping view of picturesque Capitol Park was abandoned by Davis' predecessor, Democrat Ken Cory, last year in favor of the penthouse in an opulent glass and steel high-rise 10 blocks away. Cory did not seek reelection.
Davis, protesting that rent on the new headquarters of the controller was far too expensive, repeatedly pleaded with Deukmejian to allow him to move his personal offices back to the Capitol, the hub of political power in California. But Deukmejian noted that a five-year lease already had been signed and turned Davis down.
McCarthy, the No. 2 ranking state official behind the governor, occupies a cramped, windowless cubbyhole across a corridor from Deukmejian's expansive suite of offices. McCarthy and approximately 20 full-time employees plus helpers are crammed into about 3,300 square feet of space, including a room referred to as "the pit," where seven people and their desks are jammed into about 144 square feet.
McCarthy, a potential rival of Davis for the U.S. Senate or governorship, asked Deukmejian some time ago for the vacant office and said in response to a question at a breakfast of The Times Sacramento Bureau that the governor sent word Tuesday that McCarthy could move in and occupy almost 3,700 square feet in the controller's former office.
"It has windows!" McCarthy said.
Last month, a Deukmejian spokesman said that in addition to McCarthy and Davis, the State Police, legislators and other "outside interests" wanted the office. He also said discussions occurred among members of the governor's staff on extending Deukmejian's suite into the former controller's office.
Press Secretary Larry Thomas said on Wednesday that Deukmejian has been concerned that McCarthy's current office does not befit the lieutenant governor of California, but he added that the agreement with McCarthy on the office space is not quite final. "No one has given him a key. We haven't dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's, but that is the direction we are heading," Thomas said.