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Commentary | COLUMN RIGHT / DAN SCHNUR

Now, It's Davis' Turn to Make Explanations

Some names from his past: Rose Bird, John Huang, Dianne Feinstein and Leona Helmsley.

June 04, 1998|DAN SCHNUR | Dan Schnur is a Republican analyst and commentator

Gray Davis, by virtue of not being nasty and not being wealthy, has achieved the Democratic nomination for governor. Davis, who was the beneficiary of a voter backlash against the overwhelming amount of negative advertising run by opponent Al Checchi, attracted most of his support by offering himself as a more comfortable alternative to the erratic behavior of his wealthier foes.

But Davis faces a more formidable challenge in Republican nominee Dan Lungren, who can not only match Davis' experience, but who also is able to draw much stronger ideological distinctions than either of his primary opponents. For all those Californians who know him only as the anti-Checchi, Davis must be prepared to answer any number of questions about his political history, his governing philosophy and his own personal makeup.

Let us then help Davis begin his general election campaign with some questions that may fill in the blanks:

1) You have announced your opposition to all school voucher programs, including the proposed state-funded "opportunity scholarship" program that would allow disadvantaged students to attend the private or parochial school of their choice. As someone who attended a series of private schools as a youngster, can you explain your apparent belief that these young people are not entitled to the same level of educational opportunity that your parents were able to provide you?

2) Democratic legislative leaders have announced their opposition to using California's $4-billion budget surplus for a reduction in the state's car tax. State Senate leader John Burton has said that returning any of this money to the taxpayers would be "blowing it." Do you agree that working men and women are more likely to "blow" this money than the government?

3) Proponents of current bilingual education programs already have promised to fight the implementation of Proposition 227 in the courts. As an opponent of the initiative, will you join the court battle against it? Will you support the threats by some school administrators to consciously ignore the new law if it is upheld?

4) Mexican and U.S. government leaders agree that expanded trade between the two countries is the long-term answer to the problem of illegal immigration. How does your refusal to support the North American Free Trade Agreement address this critical issue?

5) During the 1990 campaign, you were a strong supporter of the so-called "Big Green" ballot initiative that would have imposed the most draconian environmental restrictions in the nation on California's farmers. Given the importance of agriculture to the state's economy, what would you tell the residents of the Central Valley and other agricultural strongholds about your understanding of their work?

6) The Democratic National Committee has returned all past contributions from suspected money-launderers Johnny Chung, John Huang and various subsidiaries of the Lippo Group of Indonesia. Why have you refused to return contributions your campaigns have received from those same sources? Does Chung's recent admission that he was given $300,000 by an officer of the Chinese People's Liberation Army to buy access into the American political system concern you or affect your decision to keep this money?

7) California law requires that a teenager must obtain her parents permission before using a tanning salon. Should the same requirement exist for an abortion?

8) Delaine Eastin, the Democratic superintendent of public instruction, is suing to prevent the San Francisco school system from abandoning a quota system that prohibits qualified Asian American students from attending the city's top public schools. Do you support her efforts?

9) You served as chief of staff to former Gov. Jerry Brown and participated in the selection of former justices Rose Bird and Cruz Reynoso to the state Supreme Court. Both were later removed by California's voters for repeatedly overturning death penalty sentences against convicted murders. Has your philosophy of judicial selection changed since then?

10) Last weekend, you attacked Gov. Pete Wilson as anti-Semitic and said that you were surprised that he had not been impeached. When asked by reporters to support your accusations, you responded by saying, "Well, sometimes you take a little political license in these campaigns." As a candidate who in 1992 ran an attack ad against U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein that compared her to Leona Helmsley, can you tell us how much more "political license" we should expect from you during this campaign?

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