The candidates are starting to out themselves. I can already tell I'm gonna love it. Check out the pre-season warm up as reported in today's SF Chronicle:
State Attorney General Bill Lockyer and state Treasurer Phil Angelides became the first Democrats to say they will challenge Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should the popular Republican governor run for re-election next year.
Angelides became the first official Democratic challenger to the governor, kicking off his campaign Tuesday by charging Schwarzenegger has broken campaign promises and endorsed "Bush-Cheney policies of debt, division and diminished opportunity."
But Lockyer's comments, coming during a lunch with California reporters in Washington, D.C., caused the greater stir.
First, the attorney general said he plans to run for governor next year, adding "it's not a formal announcement, but that's what I'm working on."
Then, he criticized Schwarzenegger's leadership style, saying "I don't like to dwell on this. But it has a little bit of the sort of the odor of Austrian politics. There's a sort of arrogance of power that bothers me. You know, Arnold is still an Austrian citizen."
Asked pointedly if he were referring to Nazi-era Austria, the attorney general replied, "I'm just talking about the culture,'' he said, adding that there was a "long history from the Austria-Hungarian empire on, of sort of a more autocracy... it's a more elite system."
Karen Hanretty, spokeswoman for the California Republican Party, quickly responded, calling Lockyer's statements appalling and outrageous. She sought to tie Lockyer and Angelides together as out of the mainstream with state voters.
"We have two spokesmen for the California Democratic Party today, one of them promoting tax increases, and the other comparing the governor to the Nazis," she said.
With 15 months until the 2006 election for governor, and a full year before the Democratic primary, the efforts by Angelides and Lockyer signaled the start of an expensive and combative campaign to unseat the governor.