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TIMES ENDORSEMENTS

You can bank on him

October 11, 2006

SAY WHAT YOU WILL about Bill Lockyer, you can't deny that he's resourceful. While serving in the state Senate, he found the time to go to law school, earn a degree and pass the bar exam. By the time he was termed out, this bit of industry qualified him to run for attorney general. After serving ably for two terms, he was considered the Democrats' leading candidate for governor but opted instead to run for the less-glamorous but still-important office of treasurer. We endorse him for that post.

Lockyer's record marks him as an industrious and competent official with a penchant for making inappropriate remarks (joking about an Enron official being raped in prison, for example) and political grandstanding (like his lawsuit to hold automobile companies responsible for global warming). He won favorable settlements from energy companies that overcharged Californians during the 2000-01 energy crisis. He also built up the state's DNA database and beefed up the environmental and civil rights sections of the attorney general's office.

As treasurer, Lockyer can be expected to be a responsible investor of the $53-billion fund of public money under his control, as well as the millions more from two mammoth public employee pension funds. He promises careful oversight of new infrastructure bonds, if voters approve them, and has vowed to explore less traditional ways of financing future projects, such as partnerships with the private sector. His experience in Sacramento should stand him, and California, in good stead.

The flip side of that experience is that Lockyer is part of a team of retreads. The Democrats could come up with little more this year than an uninspiring game of statewide musical chairs, moving the attorney general into the treasurer's post, the lieutenant governor to insurance commissioner and the insurance commissioner to lieutenant governor, leaving the treasurer and the controller to duke it out last June for the right to run for governor.

Voters unhappy with the political do-se-do have little recourse in the Republicans, who rejected centrist Assemblyman Keith Richman in the primary and instead are offering Board of Equalization member Claude Parrish. Parrish is an affable man who stresses the need to make California's bonds more available to small investors. It is a narrow vision more appropriate to a local municipality than one of the world's biggest economies. On the tax board, Parrish has not always been a careful guardian of the public treasury. For example, he bucked the advice of his agency's staff and voted to open up new corporate tax breaks that cost the state millions of dollars.

The Times urges a vote for Lockyer.

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