George W. Bush is sticking with Los Angeles investment banker Gerald Parsky as his principal political agent in California rather than putting his fate there in the hands of Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger's team.
According to California sources, Parsky asked the president whether he wanted to turn 2004 campaign planning over to Schwarzenegger and his campaign consultants, Mike Murphy and Don Sipple. Bush replied he wanted Parsky to continue his preparation for the 2004 campaign that has been underway for three years.
A footnote: Former California Secretary of State Bill Jones will run for the Republican nomination to oppose Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer next year if Rep. David Dreier does not become a candidate. GOP insiders expect Dreier will choose to stay in the House, making Jones the favorite for the nomination.
PRAISING THE DEATH TAX
Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, considered for the 2000 vice presidential nomination but now the life insurance industry's lobbyist, has come out against repeal of the estate tax.
Ending the "death tax" has been a longtime Republican objective. Keating has told an insurance trade publication (the National Underwriter) that he is a "populist" who wants to retain the estate tax because "we don't have a class system in this country." He added that keeping the estate tax "encourages responsible social behavior."
As president of the American Council of Life Insurers, Keating enjoys the estate tax's incentive for purchase of life insurance as a means of avoiding taxation.