Tom Campbell doesn’t always toe GOP party line

Though Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Campbell, while speaking at a business luncheon today in Berkeley, opened with the tried-and-true conservative tenet that “we ought not spend more than we have,” he described several of his policy stances that are blasphemous to much of the GOP base.

(1.) He repeated his call for a one-year, 10 percent hike in the state gas tax, a move he said would’ve obviated the need for deep education cuts and the state’s current plan to raid county and city coffers. Even with the tax hike, he said, Californians would still be paying far less for gas than they did last summer, and wouldn’t be mortgaging their kids’ education and their local services while doing so.

(2.) He said he favors stem-cell research, although he would’ve preferred that 2004’s Proposition 71 – which authorized California to sell $3 billion in bonds and pay out nearly $300 million a year for a decade to researchers for human embryonic stem-cell experiments – had a more solid fiscal plan for covering its own costs.

(3.) He talked about limiting the initiative process, so that all ballot measures requiring increased state spending gain the Legislative Analyst’s certification that there’s a proven way to pay for it built in.

(4.) If someone promises merely to root out “waste, fraud and abuse” as the centerpiece of his or her fiscal policy, “run from that candidate,” Campbell advised – that’s vague and rarely produces the touted savings, he said.

(5.) He questioned the wisdom of California’s legislative term limits, saying they prevent lawmakers from gaining the kind of experience and building the trusting relationships that allow for wise, balanced policy-making.

Add to that the facts that Campbell is pro-choice, pro-gay-rights and pro-gun-control (none of which came up in today’s fiscal lecture and discussion) and you’ve got a candidate who could conceivably fare well in a general election, but probably has a tough row to hoe in the GOP primary.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • John W

    I don’t see how he gets the GOP nomination, but I’d vote for him in a heartbeat if he did. He’s, by far, the best qualified candidate, announced or not, on either side of the aisle.

  • Jay

    According to a recent poll, about 77% of Republicans could imagine voting for Sarah Palin for President. That says much more about Republicans than it does about Sarah Palin. Now imagine Republicans giving their nomination to someone like Tom Campbell. THAT is quite a heavy tax on the imagination.

  • Mike F.

    77%? What poll is that from – Sarah Palin’s family? Tom Campbell could do it, as Meg Whitman does not have the lock yet.

  • BJD

    Campbell is far too honest to win in this state wide race…. but damn would I love to see him do it.

  • Arne Simonsen

    Neither do I and many other Independent Republicans!

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    I am not a member of Campbell’s fan club. In his last major race, a feeble challenge to DiFi, he came across as a snooty, schoolmarmish version of Ron Paul impersonating a Californian. His intelligence is not in question, his political skills are.

  • bjd

    I would love to see a republican who doesn’t look feeble in an election against DiFi. Unless you are Bi-sexual and married to a liberal, 36% of the vote is all you get!

  • John W

    After 40 years as a registered Democrat, I’m changing to “decline to state” in order to vote for Tom Campbell in the primary, even though it’s a long shot. I don’t agree with his vote to impeach Clinton and his position on 2/3rds to pass a budget (still would require if spending is more than inflation and population growth). But he is the only one running who isn’t pimping for either the unions or Grover, who isn’t on an ego trip, who has the expertise and credibility to put our fiscal house in order, and who has the integrity to say what he really thinks.