LA Times endorses Republican in controller race: ‘California needs a fiscal watchdog’
The Los Angeles Times’s editorial board announced on Thursday that it was endorsing Republican Lanhee Chen in California’s controller race, saying “California needs a fiscal watchdog.”
The newspaper’s editorial board said they were endorsing Chen because they believe that the controller, who looks at how taxpayer money is being spent by government divisions and can audit government agencies, “should be as independent from the party in power as possible.”
The editorial board touted Chen’s previous experience working on then-Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign as policy director and serving on the Social Security Advisory Board as an Obama appointee.
“Chen demonstrates a clear understanding of the possibilities and limitations of the controller’s office — and vowed he will not use it as a perch to push a partisan agenda. He pledges to use the audit power to scrutinize spending and give programs a letter grade based on their effectiveness, recognizing that the office cannot decide how much money the state spends,” the editorial board wrote.
“Nor can the controller pass new laws or change existing ones,” they continued. “Those responsibilities are held by the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the governor — so any policy or budget proposals Chen might want to advance would have to go through them.”
The editorial board said that state Sen. Steve Glazer (D), California State Board of Equalization member Malia Cohen (D) and Los Angeles city controller Ron Galperin (D) were all qualified candidates, but said it was “time for a fresh lens.”
The Times’s board acknowledged that the idea of voting for a Republican candidate in California could give some voters pause but asserted that “one way to restore some sanity to the GOP is to elevate Republicans, like Chen, who operate in the world of facts.”
The veteran health policy expert has previously declined to tell the newspaper whom he voted for in either of the last two presidential elections, telling the Times last July “I do not want this candidacy to be defined by the former president.”
“It’s time for accountability and transparency in California’s state government. Honored to have the @latimes endorsement in my campaign for Controller,” Chen said in a tweet on Thursday in response to the endorsement.
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