News & Politics

Stop the Presses! The L.A. Times Endorses a Republican

Stop the Presses! The L.A. Times Endorses a Republican
(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

The Los Angeles Times, which typically endorses Democrats in their heavily liberal market, took a bold step by endorsing a Republican for California Controller.

Lanhee Chen was the publication’s pick for the office, which is designed to watch over the state’s fiscal matters and hold leaders accountable in that capacity. In other words, someone who should be keeping a close eye on the projects and pipe dreams of California’s Democratic supermajority.

“Among this strong field, we believe Chen is the best choice for this position. Why? Because he is a sharp thinker with experience analyzing large financial systems, and because the controller should be as independent from the party in power as possible,” the editorial board wrote.

Chen is a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and he currently serves as the chair of the board of directors at El Camino Hospital.

Few would describe Chen as flashy, and that appears to be one of the reasons the Times endorsed him. They added that he did not disclose who he voted for in 2020, except that he said he believed the election was legitimate. I’m not entirely sure why his thoughts on the 2020 election are relevant for the role he is running for, but I digress.

“But one way to restore some sanity to the GOP is to elevate Republicans, like Chen, who operate in the world of facts,” they said.

Still, it’s clear that the left-leaning editorial board understands that the state has a problem executing its ultra-progressive agenda.

“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,” the board added.

“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. Nor can the controller pass new laws or change existing ones. 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.”

It would be hard for any reasonable person involved in California politics to see issues such as the massive fraud crisis at the Employment Development Department and the unproductive spending on wildfire relief as non-issues.

According to ABC Los Angeles, the EDD lost an estimated $19 billion to scammers during the coronavirus pandemic, which is unacceptable. As for the wildfire relief, Capitol Public Radio released a report this month revealing that the California Vegetation Treatment Program has not finished a project in the two years it’s been around, despite a $1.5 billion budget for “fire mitigation and forest resilience” in 2021.

Hopefully, the editorial board will continue to raise awareness about the many fiscally conservative leaders in California who could do great things in state government. There is a strong possibility that their endorsement is a strategic move to benefit Democrats in the long run. Having a sensible Republican in a relatively low-key position might better help the execution of bad liberal policies. Of course, that is the pessimistic take.

California used to be known for its economic potential, but humanitarian issues matched with reckless money management have tarnished its reputation, and the Times might understand that. Unfortunately, their Republican endorsement is a rarity and will likely not be well received by many of its readers.