Lighter shade of Gray

Governor stops by Chico on a campaign swing through the Northstate

GOING GRAY <br>Gov. Gray Davis exhorts his supporters, who include Scott Gruendl for City Council fans, to put him back in the Governor’s Office come Election Day. Davis told the crowd he was “committed to doing the best I can for working people wherever they are.”

Gov. Gray Davis exhorts his supporters, who include Scott Gruendl for City Council fans, to put him back in the Governor’s Office come Election Day. Davis told the crowd he was “committed to doing the best I can for working people wherever they are.”

Photo by Tom Angel

Poll sitter: Gov. Davis said recent polls put him 10 to 11 percentage points above Republican challenger Bill Simon, causing some in the crowd to chant “double digits on Nov. 5.” At that point the PA system began blaring “Play That Funky Music (White Boy).”

Addressing a mostly supportive crowd of perhaps 175, Gov. Gray Davis delivered a speech on the Chico State University campus Oct. 21 in which he listed his accomplishments, separated himself from his Republican opponent and in the end said that while he may not be a “four-star” candidate, he is a hard worker and worthy of our votes.

In the bright, hot midday sun outside the nearly completed Yolo Hall, Democrats, local press and a few Green Party crashers waited nearly an hour on the dusty construction site before Davis and his crew, including a press pool from Sacramento, arrived at this invitation-only event.

Butte County Supervisor Jane Dolan served as emcee and tried to stretch 15 minutes of material—mostly introducing local dignitaries including Davis-appointed Judge Rob Glusman, City Councilmember Coleen Jarvis, council candidate Scott Gruendl, School Board candidate Rick Rees and Assembly candidate Stuart King. Dolan also mentioned various hardhat-wearing representatives of labor unions, including pipe-fitters, carpenters and iron workers.

By the time she introduced her niece, it was obvious she had run out of things to say.

While Dolan spoke, people carrying signs for Green Party gubernatorial candidate Peter Camejo began to mix into the crowd. One sign carrier, José Diaz, was approached by a labor rep and told he was “on private property” and would have to leave.

Diaz shot back that this was his school, that he had a right to be here.

“This is what Martin Luther King was all about,” he told the husky man in the white hardhat.

Amber Pasricha, Davis’ assistant press secretary, intervened and told Diaz that while technically he was on private property—as long as the building was still under construction, it was under the contractor’s control—Diaz could stay as long as he agreed to lower his Camejo sign so as to not block the television cameras set up behind him.

Diaz agreed, and by the time Davis had finished his short speech, he had not only lowered the sign, but had also tucked it under his arm and was enthusiastically applauding the governor.

Davis was preceded by his wife Sharon, who said her husband had kept his promises from four years earlier, including improving public education, protecting the environment and natural resources, creating jobs and making California “the most pro-choice state in the country.”

Chico State University President Manual Esteban then introduced the governor by praising his educational policies and for signing the legislation that made Yolo Hall a reality.

Davis, in turn, thanked Esteban for “being president of this wonderful university.”

He then asked if Sharon was a “great First Lady, or what?”

The crowd enthusiastically agreed.

“You want to keep her?”

Again the crowd cried its approval.

“OK,” the governor said, “but it’s a package deal,” meaning he would have to be included.

With all the hardhats standing behind him and in the crowd, Davis spoke of his dedication to the workers.

“The working people had no friend in the Governor’s Office for the last 16 years,” he said, referring to his Republican predecessors.

He went on to say that he had restored eight-hour days and overtime and that California now has the second-highest minimum wage in the nation. On his watch, he said, he’s rescued the prevailing wage, raised disability insurance for the first time in 16 years and worker’s compensation for the first time in nine years.

He had just spent some time with farm workers in Indio and Oxnard, he said, noting that “nobody works harder than they do, putting food on our tables.” He mentioned recent legislation he’s signed that promotes arbitration for union contracts and encourages farm owners to recognize the farm union.

Davis spoke of his signing of the family leave bill ("We should not make people choose between being a good worker and a good parent"), support of education ("We are trying to make the doors of college open to every deserving student") and his attention to law enforcement ("The FBI said crime in California is below the national average").

Addressing the complaint aired by many this year that there is no real choice for governor, Davis said, “We are putting your future in your hands. This is not about me.”

“Are you ready to work, walk precincts, phone and win? Let’s do it!”

After briefly talking with supporters and answering a few questions from the press, Davis was whisked off to Eureka.