It’s been a little more than a month since the election – enough time to gather my thoughts and reflect on what comes next. Somewhat to my surprise, I really enjoyed the campaign. I didn’t like the outcome, but I enjoyed talking to people about their experiences and their opinions, and getting my ideas out through the press.

I wish the Governor-elect well. When I met with Peter Uberroth we agreed that the hardest day of campaigning would be much easier than the easiest day of being Governor. I’m not pleased (but not surprised) to see that the incoming administration is thinking about borrowing its way out of the fiscal mess in Sacramento. I suspect the Governor-elect has discovered, as I argued in my campaign, that the state’s problems can’t be solved through spending cuts alone. If we don’t also address the revenue side of the equation, we’ll saddle our children with an unfair financial burden for at least a generation. A spending cap is a good idea, in my opinion, but only if it is tied to increases in the overall state economy, rather than just inflation.

I’m going to use this website as a place to discuss and advocate for changes in which I believe. I’ll try to keep up this blog, and from time to time I'll update the position papers and the ideas section of the website. I envision it as a continuing campaign of ideas – a sort of virtual representation for those of us who feel as, I do, that our state government is not responding to our needs.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on November 15, 2003 at 10:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)


I voted today at the North Oakland Fire Station. I didn't vote for myself (although it was hard not to, especially because I think I'd make a good governor.) I voted NO on the recall and YES on Bustamante, just as I hope you have, or will.

The North Oakland Fire Station is located in the area destroyed by the 1991 Oakland Hills fire. Right after the fire I helped organize the North Hills Phoenix Association to help people recover from the disaster, deal with insurance companies, get utilities undergrounded, and build a fire station. The insurance companies were dealt with, the utilities were undergrounded and the North Oakland Fire Station was built. It was a bit odd, but rewarding, to vote in a fire station built, in some small part, as a result of my efforts. I take it as a sign that sometimes efforts lead to good things that you can't predict.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on October 7, 2003 at 05:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)

The Pipefitters' Union

I accompanied Cruz Bustamante today when he attended a rally at Local 250 of the Pipefitters' Union in Gardena. It was a classic labor rally, complete with hundreds of signs, lots of energy, and a barbeque. On the walls I noticed placards reading, "It's the 21st Century - are you keeping up your skills?"

Cruz did very well. His message -- that people deserve a fair deal and must fight against Republican efforts to undermine the social safety net -- resonated with this group. He proudly told the audience that Grey Davis had just signed SB2, guaranteeing that an additional 1 million working people in California will have access to health insurance. All in all a classic Democratic electoral effort.

The problem is that this classic Democratic constitutency is failing in the face of globalism and the leaders of the Democratic party have no idea how to remake it into a winning coalition. After 10 years of massive and expensive efforts to enroll new voters the two major parties have added about 130,000 voters a piece, while more than 1.3 million people have registered as "decline to state" voters.

We need to fashion a new social compact, one that allows businesses the resources and infrastructure they need to compete at a world class level, while improving the lives of average working people. I'm a Democrat because I believe that we need to make sure that we all succeed, but I'm also a businessman and I realize that there is no more productive force than entrepreneurs in a relatively free market.

California must compete for the top, there is no other way to finance our dreams. I believe President Clinton had it mostly right: balance the budget, run a lean government, invest in education and innovation, and continue to expand the safety net to the extent resources allow. Democrats need to hone this message and make it real for a whole new class of voters who have, incorrectly in my mind, come to the conclusion that Government is the problem. In fact, Government can either be a help or hinderance - it depends on the quality of our leaders and the attentiveness of our citizenry.

Written Sunday, October 5

Posted by Garrett Gruener on October 7, 2003 at 05:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery

On Friday the Contra Costa Times ran an article entitled, "Davis begins his final push, emphasizing the 'three Es'" Guess what Davis' three E's are: the economy, education and the environment.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on October 4, 2003 at 05:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

The Art of the Possible

Politics is the art of the possible.

My goal, from day one, has been to make the debate more substantive, to bring forward bold new ideas, to move the state off dead center, and to improve the quality of the political discussion. These are lofty aims and I've had more success with some than with others. But we've made progress, and I'm very proud of the type of campaign we've run. The day is coming when a candidate will be able to win based on ideas discussed on the Internet, rather than sound bites broadcast, at great cost, on television.

But not today. I've been against the recall from the outset. It's a highly partisan effort that won't improve the mangement of our state or allow us to break the deadlock in Sacramento. Likewise, from the beginning, I've said that I didn't want to help elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. This election could be close and, therefore, I've concluded that the right thing to do is to urge people to vote against the recall and for the most viable candidate closest to my positions. That person is Cruz Bustamante.

This was not an easy decision. I went into my first meeting with the Lt. Governor unsure of whether I would endorse him in the end. I talked with him extensively about my approach and my positions. Ultimately, I concluded that he's the best choice. I hope the recall is defeated, and failing that, that Cruz Bustamante is elected. I think I'd make a still better choice for Governor, but that's not in the cards this time around.

But, for those who have supported me and my effort, don't worry. I 'm going to keep website alive and I will stay involved.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on October 4, 2003 at 04:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Yes on Bustamante

It's been a long day. I'll write more about my decision to withdraw from the gubernatorial race and endorse Lt. Governor Bustamante after a good night's sleep. But briefly, after much deliberation, I concluded that endorsing Cruz was the right thing to do, both because he is a good guy and because I can't stand the thought of helping to elect Arnold. Cruz is an experienced leader who might actually be able to drive through the grand compromise we need in Sacramento. Arnold, by contrast, has demonstrated nothing but arrogance and irresponsible disregard for the facts. I look at Arnold and I see George Bush in Terminator clothing.

But most of all, I feel good that my campaign of serious ideas about serious challenges has reached thousands of Californians and I'm looking forward to building on what we've achieved.

More tomorrow.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on October 2, 2003 at 10:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

Jordan's Report

A few weeks ago Jordan, a sixth-grader from Redlands, posted a comment on my website asking for help on a report for school. My daughter replied and now he's sent us his finished product. Here's an excerpt:

"My opinion is that Garrett would make a great governor. In my book he meets all of my standards. In the qualifications I think he is good enough to be the president. I think the reason Garrett is not one of the top candidates is because people don’t think with logic until it’s too late. Someday it is going to get us in very deep debt and we’re going to regret it."

He's obviously a thoughtful voter-to-be.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on September 29, 2003 at 10:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

No On The Recall

In case anyone missed it the first couple of hundred times I said it, I'm urging everyone to vote no on the recall. This isn't because I think Governor Davis has done a good job. In fact I've been disappointed by many of his choices and actions. However, I believe that government by recall is bad for the state. It's destabilizing and demoralizing. It's impossible to run the world's 6th largest economy if the governor is in constant danger of being recalled. We have regularly scheduled elections. Lets stick with them.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on September 29, 2003 at 09:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Looking For a Vote I Can Live With

This from Susanna Cooper of the Sacramento Bee editorial board in today's "Recall Fly on the Wall":

My feeling late last week was that the recall would fail, and that freed me up to vote my conscience without carrying the guilt of a throwaway vote. Like Mark, my unfettered vote would go to Garrett Gruener (one more plug for his web site here). What I liked most about him was his ability to talk straight about the state's challenges and his ideas for solving them; he can explain, to pick one example, the need to close Prop. 13's commercial property tax loophole in a way that is understandable and compelling but not dumbed-down. That's the kind of leadership we need. Under normal circumstances I'd be wary of the fact that he hasn't held public office of any kind (would it hurt to try your hand at city council or Assembly before you run for governor?) but these aren't normal circumstances.

Today I'm less certain about the recall outcome, and feel more obliged to vote "responsibly." But how, when the choice is between Bustamante and Schwarzenegger? I'm a lifelong Democrat, but Bustamante has blown it with me. From the dirty money (from which he now wants Arianna to help wean him -- what kind of pathetic publicity stunt was that?), to his pandering on gas-price regulation, to his campaign, in which he's basically not made himself any more available for serious questioning than Schwarzenegger. Tom points out that Bustamante is the candidate most likely to protect funding for public schools -- okay, yes, that's important to me, too -- but I worry about his susceptibility to the forces in the Legislature that would undo education reforms that have made the system more accountable to the public.

That brings me to Arnold, and I just can't go there.

So I'm back to Garrett Gruener, with the full realization that a vote for him may be a vote for Schwarzenegger. But I want to punch that card without feeling like I need to go home and shower afterwards. So be it.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on September 29, 2003 at 09:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

No Go, Mr. S.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the well known economist and political analyst, wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal last week. (Well, at least it appeared under his byline.) His message: it's all about cutting taxes and state expenditures. If state government would get out of the way, Californians would be happy, healthy, educated and employed.

That, Mr. S. is more fantastic than the most fantastic of your movies -- and much more dangerous.

Mr. Schwarzenegger claims to be a fiscal conservative. Actually, there are two critical tenets of fiscal conservatism that he appears not to understand. First, and foremost, is fiscal responsiblity, which requires telling the truth even if the truth is harsh and doesn't get you any votes. Second is investment for growth. Great businesses continue to invest for the future no matter what short-term fiscal problems arise. Invest or die is a good conservative business principle.

State government has a major role in the investments that attract businesses. Mr. Schwarzenegger's claim that it's possible to increase investment, lower taxes and AND balance the budget is no more than irresponsible pandering to voters. We know, even if the Terminator doesn't, that there's no free lunch.

Many thanks to Steve Levy of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, and one of the most thoughtful thinkers around. Read his paper for an excellent analysis of the role of state government in creating a climate for job growth in California.

Written Saturday, September 27

Posted by Garrett Gruener on September 29, 2003 at 10:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (15)