California's Gamble

Will California's voters ever learn what they do to make a mess of their state's politics?

They elected a governor and many state legislators who accepted buckets of special-interest cash for election campaigns. Then those politicians overcommitted tax revenues - many for special interests - leaving enough red ink in the budget to fill a canyon.

Now, in the possible election of a new governor after a Oct. 7 recall vote against Gov. Gray Davis, voters are again favoring gubernatorial candidates who are taking big money from private interests with deep pockets.

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The worst example is the $3.8 million in Indian casino-gambling money given to the leading candidate, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. This attempt to influence state control and promote expansion of such casinos so embarrassed Mr. Bustamante that he's spending the money instead on TV ads against Prop. 54, the initiative that would limit the state's ability to collect and use racial and ethnic data. The ruse was transparent, however, as Bustamante will feature prominently in the commercials.

To "hedge their bets," casino influence peddlers also gave a smaller amount to the campaign of Republican candidate Tom McClintock.

Gaming money has gained great influence in many state capitals. Californians should beware of helping people become addicted to gambling who then lose their livelihoods.

Leading GOP candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger says he won't take casino money, but he did break a promise not to take special-interest money at all. Finding candidates who won't play money politics isn't easy, but California voters need to try.

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