The Best and the Brightest?

Recruiting candidates for unwinnable legislative seats is always a challenge. So it’s never too much of a surprise to see only one major party candidate running in some uber-red or uber-blue district. But it’s generally not too challenging to find somebody to run for a winnable seat.  But if you look at the job description, and it is tough to see the glamour. Let’s take a look at some of the gloriousness of the job:

• It’s a temporary job. You get 6 or 8 years in office, and then have to find another gig.

• Unless you get to the Big 5, you aren’t affecting any major decisions. Let’s face it, you can nibble around the edges, but these days, the budget is the final 8 innings of the 9 inning game.

• You don’t really run anything. Staff and lobbyists have grown more powerful than members who will quickly move on.

Sounds like a blast huh? Well, no surprise that legislators and people who would have formerly been interested in the job are shrugging their shoulders and looking for somewhere else to land. Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz to the LA City Council, John Benoit to the Riverside Board of Supes, etc. Shane Goldmacher takes a look at the phenomenon:

“Who wants to grow up and be held in low esteem by 87% of the people and have to deal with the budget and not have a darned thing to say about it?” asked Juan Arambula, an independent assemblyman from Fresno who has decided not to run for the state Senate next year after his term in the lower house ends.

The path to political power was once clear: a steady climb from local to state to national office. Now, more officials are bouncing from local to state office and back again. (LA Times)

Of course, you could probably always write some version of this story, especially in the post-term limits days. But with the increasing consolidation of power in the Big 5 and the budget nightmares, you are talking about some big messes, and not a lot of mops to us to clean up the place.

So, who’s up for a legislative run?

7 thoughts on “The Best and the Brightest?”

  1.    The election for the council is today. If he does win then there will be a special election for his Assembly seat (which would be one reason to vote against him, although he is the better candidate for Councilmember.)

  2. Just got an email from the Ventura County Democrats asking me to stop her from becoming Ventura County Treasurer-Tax Collector. Sure, she’s termed out of the Assembly, but it’s yet another sign of how legislators on both sides are looking for the exits.

    It’s yet another example of how term limits has destroyed our legislature. What we’re going to see is the worst aspects of a Parliamentary system (which has its advantages in other respects), in that the leadership will make all the decisions and have even greater power in determining who fills the backbench seats. You’ll have people looking for warm bodies, and those warm bodies will be paying even less attention to legislation and the issues and spending even more time looking to raise money for some other campaign.

  3. LA City Council is NOT a lower office.  People who aren’t from here might not understand that, but let me list some things:

    1) You get a guaranteed 12 years–three 4-year terms.  Incumbent City Council people are rarely kicked out, unless you ignore your constituents like Jack Weiss, and even then he almost won citywide.

    2) You represent just as many people, and your voice is far more important.  What’s better–being one of 80, or one of 15?

    3) The money is better.  Highest-paid City Council in the nation.

    4) No travel.  You can live and work in your own city instead of having to jet up to Sacramento.

    5) Lastly, you don’t have to feel so damn helpless.

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