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Republican Candidates For Governor Are Focusing On Immigration


The Republican candidates for California governor are taking differing stances on Arizona's new immigration law. We're joined on Morning Edition by nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy.

The Republican candidates for California governor are taking differing stances on Arizona's new immigration law. It's almost like 1994 all over again when immigration was a hot-button issue, but what about jobs and the economy? We're joined on Morning Edition by nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy.

DWANE BROWN: Leo, why are the GOP candidates even positioning themselves on this contentious issue?

LEO MCELROY: Because it is the most visible way for them to try to demonstrate to the Republican base that they're prepared to throw red meat to the lions. This is an issue that's sparked a lot of debate. Governor Schwarzenegger was giving a speech in Georgia and mentioned that he would not give a similar speech in Arizona, because with his accent he was afraid he'd be pulled over and asked for identification. So everybody's talking about it. This is a way for Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner to try to demonstrate to the conservatives,who dominate the Republican primary process, that they are true conservatives. And Poizner is leaning a lot farther over in support of the Arizona law than Meg Whitman is. He's backing it pretty solidly, and trying to establish his credentials that way.

BROWN: But what about the issue of jobs and the economy? We have a 12 percent unemployment rate here.

MCELROY: That's right. We have a serious problem here. But everybody knows that jobs and the economy are a problem, so the question comes up, why are they going to address an issue where they can't differentiate themselves. Both of them are talking about jobs and the economy, but the details are pretty woefully lacking, and they're not alone in this. You're not seeing anybody on the other side of the aisle saying anything very meaningful about boosting jobs or helping the economy, either. The truth is, it's a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a puzzle.

PAMELA DAVIS: Why is the cost of the special election to fill Abel Maldonado's seat still creating waves?

MCELROY: Well, this was a whole political puzzle. If you remember the confirmation of Abel Maldonado as leutenant gvernor was held up by Democrats who wanted to make sure that they did it late enough that the runoff election could be held in conjunction with the November elections. The reason for that is Democrats turn out more for regular elections than they do for special elections, and they would like to win that Senate seat over in the Monterey area. The governor foiled that by calling the special election much earlier, and as a result of holding two special elections, those counties are stuck with a tab of about $6 million, and there's a lot of complaining about this, but the truth is it's political games on both sides, and currently the governor's one up.

BROWN: So what do you think the governor is going to come up with his budget proposal when he releases it, expected on Friday. Any big surprises, are we going to have a balanced budget proposal by the middle of next month?

MCELROY: If you get a balanced budget proposal in any form by the middle of next year it would be miraculous. The truth is that we are so far out of balance that it's become almost ridiculous. There was hope that the gap would close a little bit because of tax receipts, which were starting to run pretty well this year. And then April came along, and instead of being a boom month for the state taking in money, it was a bust. It fell far below what anybody expected, and in fact our tax receipts for the year are less than anticipated, instead of more, and the deficit has grown. And nobody in the capital seems to have any concrete ideas as to ways to fix this.

DAVIS: Nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy. Leo, thanks for joining us this morning.

MCELROY: You bet.

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