Campbell (R-Irvine) is an Assemblyman representing the 70th District
in Orange County. Mr. Campbell is the Vice-Chairman of the Assembly
Budget Committee. He is the only CPA in the California State legislature
and recently received a national award as Freshman Republican
Legislator of the Year. He represents the cities of Newport Beach,
Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Tustin, Aliso Viejo, Laguna
Woods and Lake Forest. He can be reached through his Assembly
and through the website
for his California Senate campaign.
And it’s a good thing too...
[John Campbell] 8/27/03
California, of course,
is known for its earthquakes. These notable earthquakes do
include such ones as Northridge and Landers and
Loma Prieta. But the earthquakes to which I refer are ones like
the reform movement of Governor Hiram Johnson in the early part
of the last century or the Proposition 13 taxpayer revolt of
the late 1970’s. These were earthquakes of public opinion.
Political ground was moved by the sheer force of a populace disgusted
with the status quo and unafraid of significant change. Voters
caused an upheaval of the establishment in government.
case, what started here in California spread across the nation.
We have always been a state to start trends, not follow
them. That can happen in politics as much as in industry or in
This state has been quiet for a while. But, it's 2003
and all the seeds of a new political earthquake have been sown.
are up in arms because they pay so much and get so little for
it. Voters feel disenfranchised and unrepresented. Incompetence
and corruption run rampant in Sacramento. Businesses are overburdened
with valueless costs and regulation imposed by an abusive and
unaccountable government. And they are all nearing the boiling
point and ready to rise up.
“Oh come on Assemblyman” some of you may be saying. “People
aren’t happy but calling it an earthquake is simple hyperbole”.
I don’t think so. Here are 5 pieces of evidence that we
are experiencing something more than just cyclical voter unrest:
The Recall: Recall attempts have been organized
against every Governor since the recall was added to the state
in 1911. None ever came close to qualifying for the ballot until
this one. As one of the first elected officials to endorse the
recall and a state co-chair, I have been privy to focus groups
and polling on the effort. Voters understand that you should
not recall someone simply because you disagree with their policies.
They want Davis recalled because they believe he is incompetent
and untrustworthy. They also believe he is bought and paid for
by special interests (primarily unions and trial lawyers) and
that he has been elected 5 times to statewide office and has
been Governor for 5 years and he will not change. Nearly 1.8
million people signed the recall petition over about a 90 day
period. The Secretary of State found only 1.3 million to be valid
because not all were submitted in time and some were invalid
addresses, etc. The point is that fully 30% of the number of
people who voted in the last gubernatorial election chose to
sign the recall petition. Random samples indicate that 30% of
the signers were registered Democrats. No this recall is no small
thing. An enormous volume of people were involved, and they understand
the gravity and historic nature of their actions.
State Budget: The
state budget has been in “crisis” for
3 years now. As a result of these last 3 budgets, we are guaranteed
to be in “crisis” for at least another two. The debt
service and rollovers and shifts of the last few budgets will
ensure that even a robust economic recovery will not dig the
state out of the hole in which it finds itself. So, although
taxes have now gone up for 3 years in a row, people will still
be concerned about funding shortages for local schools and colleges
and roads. We pay a lot and get very little for it.
Incident: Democratic Legislative leaders having a secret
strategy meeting in Sacramento inadvertently left on
microphones which broadcast their conversations all over the
capitol. Tapes of these conversations show that Democrats planned
to hold up a budget agreement and cause people to “feel
pain” in order to benefit “Democrats in the recall” and
their initiative to lower the voting threshold for tax increases
to 55% (inaptly named Budget Accountability Act). Voters are
rightly disgusted with these blatant attempts by very powerful
officials to “win” politically whatever the cost,
consequences or means.
Wrong Direction: The
recent Field Poll shows that only 18% of registered voters
believe that California
is heading “in
the right direction”. 75% believe we are headed on the “wrong
track”. These are the worst scores in 10 years. The Approval
ratings of the Governor (23%) and the Legislature (18%) are the
worst ever measured. People are more than unhappy. They are dissatisfied
with their government at historic levels.
Voter Registration: In
the last 3 months, of new voters in Orange County, only 8%
with the party that is in complete
control of state government in California and which controls
both the U.S. Senate and Congressional delegations to Washington
D.C. from this state. Minor parties registered almost the same
number of voters. That’s unbelievable! For the party in
charge (Democrats) to have such an abysmal showing means that
the public is nearly universally seeing them as the cause of
and bereft of solutions for them. Republicans registered 5 times
as many which was a good showing. But still more registered under
no party. That means they are disgusted with the majority Democrats
and are not yet sure about the minority Republicans, but want
to vote because they know things must change. Oh, you say, this
is only Orange County and this is a Republican area. But the
trends around the state are similar even in Democratic counties.
submit to you that even if you think that any one of these
factors is no big deal, in concert they are significant. They
are indications of a public that is unhappy with government,
mistrusts that government and its motives and is ready to accept
radical changes that heretofore would have been considered
The fact that this is happening while Democrats are in unprecedented
control of our state government does not bode well for the
fortunes of their party. Whether or not Republicans are the main
of this unrest will hinge on whether our party can provide
leaders and a vision that the people can embrace. I believe we
is not a one day earthquake. This unrest is so deep and so broad
that it will take 3 years to fully play out. Voters
are ready to change the way their elected officials are chosen
and the terms under which they serve. Taxpayers ready to ensure
that less of their money is taken, and that that which is taken
is spent wisely. People are ready to make government more accountable,
and to put in safeguards against the excesses of another Gray
Davis. Parents want to see their local cities and schools have
more control over their own resources.
How high on the Richter
scale will this earthquake measure? I’m
not sure. But it is ready to happen. And its affects may be felt
all across the country.