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California and the West

Controller Connell to Seek Reelection, Not Governorship

January 23, 1998| From Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — Ending speculation that she might become the only woman to run for governor this year, Democratic state Controller Kathleen Connell announced Thursday that she will seek reelection.

"I feel I can continue to serve the people of California by running, at this point, for controller," she said. "I think the field for governor is pretty well firmed up on the Democratic side."

She said she had received "volumes of phone calls" from supporters asking her to seek the nomination for governor. But, Connell said, "given the difficult year we have ahead of us in political life in California, I think my role as controller is a choice that is best for me."

Connell said she made her decision before U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein revealed Tuesday that she would not seek the governorship either. The controller added that her decision was independent of Feinstein's announcement.

However, Connell said, "I would have loved to have seen a woman running for governor."

Candidates in the Democratic race are Lt. Gov. Gray Davis and businessman Al Checchi. State Sen. John Vasconcellos and former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta are potential Democratic candidates. State Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren is the likely Republican nominee.

Connell is not likely to face a serious challenge in the controller's primary. San Mateo County Supervisor Ruben Barrales is running for the Republican nomination.

As the state's chief financial officer, Connell has taken an activist approach and consistently sought to maintain a high profile in a normally little-discussed office--practices that have galled some longtime government officials of both parties.

She has raised the hackles of Wilson administration officials and some Democrats by denouncing the fiscal practices of several state agencies, including the lottery, Medi-Cal and the Department of Corrections. Connell's statements that her performance audits of state agencies have resulted in $1 billion worth of state savings are disputed by the Wilson administration.

"She has one mode--threat. And no delivery system," said state Senate President Pro Tem Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward) in August.

On Thursday, Connell said she will seek passage this year of a bill to require performance audits of each state agency and department. If the bill does not become law this year, she said, she will seek its enactment through the initiative process in 2000.

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