Before getting to Free Will's endorsement for the Republican nomination for governor, a few thoughts.
First, it's notable that there is no real social conservative presence in this race. Yeah, yeah. I know that Steve Poizner has campaigned as a conservative, and has even obtained the very valuable endorsement of people like Tom McClintock. But, Poizner's conservatism sounds like it's been cribbed from six months worth of talk radio. Worse, his conservative credentials are about as wide and deep as Carly Fiorina's, meaning there is simply no evidence of his conservatism that pre-dates his political career. Not only that, his red-meat politicking has done absolutely no good. Meanwhile, Meg Whitman has pretty much cruised to victory - with a short hiccup in May - without campaigning on any social issues whatsoever (and I suspect she would come down on the "socially liberal" side if pressed). No, this is an election purely about the economy and the size of government.
Second, this race really underscores what a huge disappointment the Schwarzenegger administration has been, especially to the Republicans who voted for him in 2003. He literally rode into office on a reformist wave arising from an unprecedented recall election, with the charisma and political support to change the direction of California government. And nothing came of it. Instead, we are in a worse position, with the "reformer" having moved towards the pseudo-UN-member grandiosity that seems to afflict many members of California's political elite. The calls to "blow up the boxes" quickly gave way to cap-and-trade and high speed rail boondoggles of the sort that have distracted and bankrupted the state. That Republicans are again running on a reform agenda 7 years after the recall campaign should be a plain embarrassment.
Still, it is 2010, and I don't think I need to repeat recent history. California is enduring a crisis, and it is a crisis of Big Government of the sort that is the default preference of the state's progressives, liberals, and occasional moderate Republicans. If there's one thing the last 7 years have taught us, it is that you can't count on charisma or even winning elections. If a Republican is going to govern California, that person needs a plan and that plan needs to be one that can be implemented on the day after the Inauguration. And, the person with that sort of plan is Meg Whitman.
Whitman's plan is just that: a plan. To spur growth and job creation, she would cut taxes on business and capitol gains. To improve education - one of the biggest line items on the budget and one of the areas where the state should be involved - Whitman would reform the many fiscal straight jackets that well-meaning reformers have placed education spending into over the last 20 years. To rein in state spending, she would put in place a spending cap tied to GDP and bring welfare reform to California. These are Whitman's goals. She is not running on a grab bag of policy proposals, but rather on a focused series of reforms. California needs this a lot more than it needs the "all things to all people" politicking of the past.
No, Whitman is not dynamic or even particularly political. I suspect she will find governing to be much more difficult than running a multi-national corporation. Sadly, she can't fire the teacher's unions, the SEIU, the open borders advocates, or the poverty pimps who have done so much to drive the state into a fiscal and cultural cul-de-sac. Indeed, they will not go quietly, and are already casting Whitman in the role of evil Republican billionaire. Funny how the media works; just a few years ago she was a sophisticated tech executive with real feminist credentials as a woman who could exercise real power in the business world. Now she's an out-of-control right winger. If anyone can show me one conservative "right wing" position she has taken, I will eat two hats; mine and yours.
It's hard to believe that, after 20 years of liberal governance leading to an economic depression and a bankrupt government, any Democrat could win the governor's race; but Jerry Brown is apparently ready to run a strong campaign and the many people with their hands in California's till will be there to drag him across the finish line. Republicans have already tried to run the state with a charismatic celebrity promising hope and change. This time, a dose of Meg Whitman's frank pragmatism is the better path.