He favors resetting the budget cycle so that the state would accumulate one year's revenues to be spent the following year, when precise knowledge would replace wishful thinking about available revenues. He would aggressively use the line-item veto by which governors can reduce as well as eliminate particular spending items. He thinks Berkeley and UCLA are providing an education comparable to Stanford's and should be priced accordingly, with higher tuition and compensating scholarships for the needy.
He favors a constitutional convention to reform the initiative process by forcing proponents of particular propositions to stipulate the taxes they would raise or programs they would cut to pay for their measures. But only if a convention can be limited to specific changes stipulated in advance. He knows that the 1787 Constitutional Convention, which was called to merely revise the Articles of Confederation, scrapped them up and started fresh.
Campbell's two rivals for the Republican nomination -- former eBay CEO Meg Whitman and another tech entrepreneur, Steve Poizner, currently California's insurance commissioner -- are rich. Campbell is a professor. Whoever wins the nomination, he says, will quickly become flush with funds. Yes, but you cannot steal first base in politics either. How can he be nominated?
Like this, he says: Gray Davis, a professional politician of modest means, won the Democratic nomination in 1998 when two rich opponents nullified each other with media bombardments. Republicans are a shriveling tribe: Their registration is at a record low 31.1 percent, and they do not have a majority of registered voters in any of California's 53 congressional districts. Democrats have a registration majority in 20 districts, and a statewide registration advantage of more than 2 million and growing. But the fastest-growing cohort of voters are independents who can vote in either party's primary. Campbell believes he is energizing them inexpensively by buying lists of likely voters (who have voted in four of the last five elections), inviting 150,000 to call in to an enormous conference call, and discussing issues for 90 minutes with the 20,000 who do.
If nominated, Campbell will face either the once-exotic but still canny Jerry Brown, who will be 72 and perhaps familiar to a fault, or Gavin Newsom, 41, San Francisco's dashing and evidently delusional mayor whose campaign suggests that the bankrupt state's biggest problem is its denial of same-sex marriage. If Campbell is nominated, he can win, but if Californians were sufficiently rational to nominate him, their state would not be shambolic.