Democrats Relent, Vote to Back Deukmejian’s Nominee for Treasurer
A Democratic-controlled Assembly committee, which just last month directed partisan jabs at Republican Gov. George Deukmejian’s nominee for state treasurer, relented Wednesday and recommended that the full Assembly confirm Auditor General Thomas W. Hayes.
The 19-member panel, acting without debate or further testimony, voted 11 to 0 to support Hayes’ nomination. Four Democrats on the committee, including Chairman Thomas M. Hannigan of Fairfield, joined with seven Republicans in approving Hayes, although most Democrats either failed to appear or did not vote.
After the session, a confident-sounding Hayes predicted that he would be confirmed by both houses when they meet today to consider his nomination.
“I actually expected a positive vote today and that’s what I got,” Hayes said. “I think it’s part of the process to give nominees a hard time and they certainly did give me a hard time at the first hearing. But this time it went very smoothly.”
The Senate Rules Committee has already voted unanimously to support Hayes. So Wednesday’s Assembly committee recommendation was generally seen as a sign of clear sailing ahead for Hayes.
Hayes is the governor’s second choice for the job. His first nominee, Rep. Daniel E. Lungren of Long Beach, won narrow Assembly approval early last year but was rejected in the Senate amid partisan opposition to his conservative voting record and his perceived ambition for higher office.
Hayes, by contrast, had never registered in a political party and had never run for office. But a promise to Deukmejian that he would register as a Republican and run for treasurer in 1990 fueled partisan concerns of several top Democrats in the Assembly.
Their opposition was strengthened by a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign launched by acting Treasurer Elizabeth Whitney, who hoped to hold on to the job so she could use it as a base to run for the office as a Democrat. Whitney took over the post after the death in August, 1987, of Democrat Jesse M. Unruh.
Wednesday’s committee vote followed a closed-door Democratic caucus in which opponents, led by Speaker Pro Tem Mike Roos and Caucus Chairwoman Maxine Waters, both of Los Angeles, failed to persuade their colleagues to join them in blocking Hayes.
Roos described the caucus discussion as “intense, with strong opinions” advanced by both sides. “A lot of (Democrats) are defaulting on the decision,” Roos told reporters after the vote. “They would rather get on with (dealing with) Proposition 103 and other concerns.”
Waters, however, said there may still be a chance to derail Hayes on the Assembly floor if Republicans are not unanimous in supporting his confirmation. Several Assembly Republicans, including GOP Leader Ross Johnson of La Habra, were angry with Deukmejian for choosing the politically independent Hayes rather than a Republican.
“If he does not have every Republican vote, I don’t know why Democrats should make him happy,” Waters said.
But a spokesman for the Republican leader said Johnson will vote for Hayes and “he thinks virtually all Republicans will vote for him as well. He doesn’t see any problems.”
According to Waters, Hayes may have shored up his support within the GOP by, among other things, promising a job in the treasurer’s office to former Assemblyman William P. Duplissea (R-San Carlos), who was defeated in the Nov. 8 election by Democrat Ted Lempert.
Hayes denied he had offered a job to Duplissea or anyone else, telling reporters: “I’ve not made one promise anywhere along the line.”
In a related development, Senate Majority Leader Barry Keene (D-Benicia) announced the introduction of legislation designed to curb the treasurer’s ability to use his office as a base to raise campaign money.
Keene’s bill would require the treasurer to justify to the Legislature every instance in which competitive bids were not used to select an underwriter for lucrative bond issues. The office currently has nearly unrestricted ability to select underwriters without competition, and many of the winners tend to be major contributors to the treasurer’s campaigns.