In another step toward rebuilding his government after painful defeats in the special election, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is removing one of his top deputies and installing two new aides in senior roles.
Schwarzenegger announced Friday that he was shifting his Cabinet secretary, Democrat Terry Tamminen, into a new job as an advisor on energy and environmental issues -- a far less influential post. Tamminen, one of the more liberal voices in Schwarzenegger’s inner circle, is valued by the governor for a creative mind, but colleagues say he was miscast in a job that requires strong administrative skills.
He will be replaced by Fred Aguiar, a former Republican state Assemblyman from Chino now serving as Schwarzenegger’s secretary for State and Consumer Services.
Schwarzenegger also hired an executive from an insurance lobbying trade association as a deputy responsible for devising policy. Dan Dunmoyer, a 43-year-old Republican, will fill the newly created position.
The shuffle comes at a time when Schwarzenegger is recasting his administration following a disastrous result in the Nov. 8 special election. The costly and divisive campaign culminated in the defeat of four initiatives that the governor had said were crucial to California’s future.
Last week, Schwarzenegger appointed as his new chief of staff Susan P. Kennedy, a Democratic activist and once a top aide to former Gov. Gray Davis. Her appointment infuriated members of Schwarzenegger’s GOP base. She replaced Patricia Clarey, who had deep ties to former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson’s administration.
On Friday, one member of the California Republican Party board resigned over Kennedy’s hire. Ed Laning, in an interview, said: “To me, the governor’s appointment of Susan Kennedy was a slap in the face to all Republican volunteers who worked hard on his campaigns and tried to move his agenda forward.”
In reassigning Tamminen and elevating two Republicans -- Aguiar and Dunmoyer -- Schwarzenegger appears to be rebalancing the administration to reassure conservatives dismayed by Kennedy’s selection.
Former state Senate Republican leader Jim Brulte said of Aguiar: “He’s a conservative Republican who never voted for a tax increase when he was in the Legislature.”
Dunmoyer was chief administrative officer for the Assembly’s Republican Caucus from 1984 to 1989. Assembly Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), a critic of the Kennedy appointment, said Dunmoyer is a “very conservative individual, so you’ve got a great deal of balance.”
However, Dunmoyer’s appointment was assailed by officials with a consumer organization that has been sharply critical of Schwarzenegger. Doug Heller, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said that in hiring Dunmoyer, the governor “might as well hand the government over to State Farm.”
“That, more than any of these other moves, is pretty brazen, to put the insurance industry’s longtime chief lobbyist at the helm of the administration,” Heller said. “It’s a startling move that should raise real concerns for California citizens. This is the insurance industry’s top lobbyist.”
Foundation officials say the insurance industry has contributed more than $2.1 million to Schwarzenegger’s campaign funds.
More changes are expected in Schwarzenegger’s senior ranks as Kennedy evaluates the staff -- and the staff evaluates Kennedy.
Rob Stutzman, the governor’s communications director, is leaving the administration soon to join the governor’s 2006 re-election campaign.
Stutzman is a conservative who found himself on occasion mustering an aggressive public defense of Schwarzenegger’s position -- only to see it change. Over the summer, he held a news conference about a multimillion-dollar contract Schwarzenegger had signed with a tabloid and fitness magazine publisher and dismissed concerns about the contract as “much ado about nothing.” A day later, Schwarzenegger dropped the contract.
Press secretary Margita Thompson and legislative director Richard Costigan are also said to be considering whether to stay.
Job candidates have been traipsing through the governor’s suite of offices in recent days, talking to First Lady Maria Shriver and making introductions. Administration officials are talking to journalists on both coasts about the communications director position.
One person brought in for interviews recently was David Lesher, director of the California Program for the New America Foundation and a former Los Angeles Times political reporter.
Tamminen was always one of the more eclectic members of the governor’s staff. A onetime pool cleaner and sheep rancher, he first served as the governor’s environmental protection secretary. Last year, Schwarzenegger brought him into the inner circle, making him the liaison to all government agencies.
With little government experience and a more liberal political grounding than most members of the governor’s team, he never quite fit in.
One person familiar with the workings of the governor’s office said Tamminen did not give the governor enough “early warning” about problems in the state prison system. A federal judge who appointed a receiver to take over prison healthcare recently criticized the state for slow progress in addressing a weak system that contributed to the death of roughly one inmate a week.
In another move, Schwarzenegger announced the appointment of his former legal affairs secretary, Peter Siggins, as a justice in the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.
Times staff writer Jordan Rau contributed to this report.