The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

05 February 2005

CA: Demo Secretary of State Resigns in Disgrace

A blow to Dems in California today, as one of their best-connected parts of the liberal San Francisco Democrat machine, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, resigned in disgrace last night.

Just one day earlier, Shelley was still trying to fight corruption charges, but the walls were closing in on him:

(San Francisco Chronicle)

Sacramento -- Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez said Thursday that embattled Secretary of State Kevin Shelley could avoid testifying before a legislative panel probing possible misconduct in his office by resigning, for the first time raising the possibility that Shelley could sidestep a potentially grueling public inquest.

Nuñez also said he has spoken with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration about possible candidates to replace Shelley if he steps down.

"There have been some conversations between several people about who would be a replacement," Nuñez said. "There is no question that the governor's office is entertaining the idea of a replacement."

Shelley's planned appearance before the state Joint Legislative Audit Committee -- which is investigating his office's use of federal voting funds -- would place the San Francisco Democrat into a public arena facing questions under oath from lawmakers of both parties as state and federal investigations into his actions continue.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gets a rare opportunity to make a GOP appointment to a statewide constitutional office. One possibility is former Senator Bruce McPherson, whose first campaigns I worked on in the early 1990s. Given his close ties with Arnold in recent years, my guess is he has a very good chance of getting the nomination.

(San Francisco Chronicle)

The governor said in a statement that he would move quickly to name a successor, and some political observers said Schwarzenegger might take pains not to appear too partisan when making his choice.

"He needs somebody without even the slightest whiff of scandal, somebody who knows election law and ideally a nonpartisan figure or an elder statesman that could easily get through the Legislature," said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College.

Former state Sen. Ross Johnson is at the top of a list of replacements, which also includes Fred Aguiar, Schwarzenegger's secretary for state and consumer services, and former state Sen. Bruce McPherson.


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