Board of Equalization
Districts 2 - 40
Democrat: Incumbent Kathleen Connell of Los
Angeles. Republican: Ruben Barrales of Redwood City. American Independent:
Alfred Burgess of Colton. Libertarian: Pamela Pescosolido of Visalia. Natural
Law: Iris Adam of Irvine. Peace and Freedom: C.T. Weber of San Diego.
Reform: Denise Jackson of Fullerton.
When 1998 began, it was a given that incumbent Kathleen
Connell's name would be on the statewide ballot. The only surprise was the office
- controller, not governor. For the last two years, Connell's name kept surfacing
as a potential Democratic contender for governor. But the first-term incumbent refused
to commit to a gubernatorial bid as long as U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein - the expected
frontrunner and only other woman candidate - continued to hem and haw her own candidacy
plans. For Connell, that meant waiting until late January to make a decision, after
Feinstein finally chose not to run, leaving Connell with too little time to raise
money and jump start a statewide campaign with less than five months before the primary.
As it turned out, however, Connell's decision to stay put was probably for the best.
Otherwise, she might have wound up running for governor from a hospital bed. In late
March, while running through the Los Angeles airport to catch a flight, Connell slipped
and broke her right hip. Sound familiar? Well, that's because the 50-year-old state
controller broke her left hip last year while roller-blading with her children. Furthermore,
the injury-prone Connell was seen sporting a cast on her foot when she declared her
re-election plans back in January, thanks to a broken toe.
Despite the recent injury, Connell is expected to make a full recovery by the primary.
And since she isn't facing any Democratic opposition in June, the incumbent can rest
easy and raise money by phone for November. Money, of course, has never been a problem
for Connell. In addition to the advantage incumbency provides in fund raising (she
currently has $900,000 in her treasury), Connell has personal wealth; in 1994, the
former Chemical Bank advisor spent over $1 million of her own money on her first
Such luxury of personal wealth will not be a benefit of her Republican opponent,
Ruben Barrales, who also is unopposed in the primary. The San Mateo County supervisor
will enjoy the backing of party leaders, including gubernatorial candidate Dan Lungren,
who would like nothing more than the GOP's only Latino candidate for statewide office
to make a splash in the November election after so much has been made of the Republican
Party's image problem with Latinos.
Some have questioned, though, how sincere the party leadership is when it comes to
Latino candidates like Barrales. For instance, Stu Spencer, a longtime GOP guru and
former Ronald Reagan adviser, urged his party brethren in an open letter last fall
to support Barrales in his bid for state treasurer as a way to repair the party's
perception problem. But Barrales wound up abandoning that campaign - an open seat
- and jumping to the much tougher controller's race after former GOP Assembly Speaker
Curt Pringle nudged him out of the way. Though Barrales' decision to make way for
Pringle made the party hierarchy happy, it did not sit well with some Latino Republican
leaders, who felt the party should have stood behind Barrales' treasurer bid.
-- Article by Noel Brinkerhoff