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WILSON WATCH : Not Bad

A few early gestures hardly establish the tone of an entire gubernatorial Administration, but there’s no gainsaying the effect and intention of Pete Wilson’s recent courtesy calls to the state Legislature.

After all, these informal talks between the governor-elect and top legislative leaders occcurred against the backdrop of years of glacial animosity between the outgoing governor and the Legislature. And that relationship of mutual suspicion, noncommunication and constant bickering contributed to the development of a measure of political gridlock that almost stopped Sacramento in its tracks last summer as the state wrestled to negotiate a 1991 budget.

So the simple gesture of a courtesy call sends an unmistakable message. It says that the new governor wants to work with the Legislature, not posture and pontificate. That the business of California is too important to become entombed in petty partisan bickering. That the new governor recognizes that it takes more than one side to negotiate and that Pete Wilson will not allow ceremony to stand in the way of accomplishment.

Often in the course of the hard-fought campaign, Wilson made a point of saying that he was not another Deukmejian. This was said without any intended cruelty, not only because the outgoing governor is a fellow Republican but also because Deukmejian is a man of integrity who deserves respect. Even so, Wilson repeatedly insisted that if elected he would be Pete Wilson and do things Pete Wilson’s way.

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It’s hard to fault the Pete Wilson style so far.


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