The Times endorsed Bill Lockyer four years ago in his first run for state treasurer, but not without a hint of impatience. Here was a guy, our editorial noted, who attended law school and passed the bar exam while he was serving in the Legislature so that he was able to run for attorney general when he was termed out of the Senate. Then, when he was termed out as attorney general, he became part of a game of musical chairs in which he and the state's other top Democrats all sought to swap positions. We acknowledged that Lockyer would make a good treasurer, but we worried that in merely changing his Sacramento office, he might be approaching that point at which experience degenerates into rigidity and fatigue.
Our concern was misplaced. Lockyer turned out to be exactly the right person to have in charge of the state's investments during the nation's worst economic crisis since the Depression and California's worst succession of budget meltdowns ever. He showed creativity and good judgment in a series of moves to protect the state from Wall Street and from itself. The state has been well served with Lockyer in the post and would be well served by keeping him as treasurer for another four years.
Lockyer took the lead in a national campaign to stop the big rating agencies from unfairly penalizing public bond issuers, including California. Reforms that he pressed through Congress will in the long run save California taxpayers millions of dollars through lower interest payments.
At the same time, he did a first-rate job of promoting California bonds, which sold at an astonishing pace given the state's fiscal distress. He took a lead role in requiring the go-betweens who try to cut deals between CalPERS and companies bidding for the pension fund's investments to finally register as lobbyists so the public can better track any suspected inside dealing. And he used his position as the state's senior elected Democrat to ride herd on his party's leaders in the Legislature, demanding publicly that they bite the bullet, cut deeply and give up legally questionable schemes to make the budget appear balanced.
Challenging him is Republican state Sen. Mimi Walters of Laguna Niguel, who also brings some previous experience from the private financial sector. But Walters never once voted in favor of a budget during her tenure in Sacramento. When her party leaders put the state first and closed budget deals, Walters stood aloof. That's a marked contrast to Lockyer's let's-get-it-done approach to keeping California in business. The Times urges voters to keep Lockyer on the job.