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Republican Jack Guerrero speaks as Democrat Lena Gonzalez listens during a debate Monday, May 6, 2019 at Veterans Park in Long Beach.  (Photo by Ana P. Garcia, Contributing Photographer)
Republican Jack Guerrero speaks as Democrat Lena Gonzalez listens during a debate Monday, May 6, 2019 at Veterans Park in Long Beach. (Photo by Ana P. Garcia, Contributing Photographer)
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It’s a troubling sign of California’s one-party dominated politics that the race for state treasurer is unlikely to be much of a contest even though the incumbent has shown herself unusually prone to scandal. That raises concern given that, as the state’s top asset manager and financier, the treasurer should operate beyond reproach.

Related Endorsement: Eleni Kounalakis for Lieutenant Governor

The November general election pits Democrat Fiona Ma against Republican Jack Guerrero. Ma is the current treasurer and Guerrero is a City Council member in the tiny Los Angeles County burg of Cudahy. In the June 7 open primary, Ma lined up the usual Democratic establishment backing, raised more than $1 million and ended up with 57 percent of the vote.

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Despite raising less than $10,000 – pocket change in a statewide election – Guerrero solidly won the second-place slot. He bested Orange County GOP Supervisor Andrew Do by five percentage points even though Do spent serious cash. We took the rare step of not endorsing any primary candidate.

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Ma, we noted, sponsored legislation that tried to help a controversial police union president dramatically boost his income by turning his union work into pensionable pay. It showed terrible judgment to use her position to benefit one influential person. Ma denies sexual-harassment and wrongful-termination allegations leveled by a former employee, but she has attracted too many controversies.

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Do has the reputation as the “Darth Vader of Government Transparency” given his preference for secrecy as OC supervisor – a deal killer in a position that manages a $3.2-trillion portfolio. He may have been better than the Peace and Freedom Party’s Meghann Adams – a school-bus driver and self-described socialist – but not by much.

Propositions: Our endorsements for all state propositions on the 2022 ballot

We didn’t back Guerrero because he was an unfunded longshot in a crowded field. But there’s no question he has the financial background and fiscal knowhow to professionally run the treasurer’s office. His resume is impressive. He is a CPA, Stanford economics graduate and corporate adviser who has audited municipal governments. He helped expose a financial scandal in his city.

Guerrero has a market-based philosophy, is a strong advocate for pension reform and understands the state’s long-term financial challenges. He obviously remains a longshot. Recent reports show Ma with a $2 million war chest and Guerrero with less pocket change than before. But in a two-person race where one ought not to hold that post, he gets our nod.

We endorse Jack Guerrero for state treasurer.

Sourcing & Methodology

To help you make decisions about the numerous candidates, measures, propositions and other races on your ballot, our editorial board (made up of opinion writers and editors), makes recommendations every election. The process is completely separate from newsroom reporting and journalists. With the exception of our executive editor, the members of our editorial board are not news reporters or editors. 

Sal Rodriguez, the opinion editor for the Southern California ɫ̳ Group’s 11 newspapers, heads the editorial board and guides our stances on public policy and political matters.  

Every week, our team analyzes legislation, monitors political developments, interviews elected officials or policy advocates and writes editorials on the issues of the day. Unsigned editorials reflect the consensus of our editorial board, with the aim of offering arguments that are empirically sound and intellectually consistent.

We apply this same process when considering to endorse candidates.

As a practical matter, we are selective in which races we endorse in. We endorse on all statewide ballot measures, competitive congressional races, select races for the state legislature and select countywide and city elections.

We identify credible candidates through surveys and interviews, deliberate based on our editorial precedent and in light of contemporary realities, and issue endorsements accordingly.

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