Skip to comments.Schwarzenegger hires former Gray Davis aide Susan Kennedy as chief of staff
Posted on 11/29/2005 9:35:25 PM PST by churchillbuff
Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has hired Susan Kennedy, a top aide to former Gov. Gray Davis, as his new chief of staff, Capitol sources in both major parties said. The chief of staff's position is considered the most powerful administrative position in state government, with broad authority over policy-making and the sprawling bureaucracy.
The decision was made following two days of intense, closed-door meetings that included negotiating sessions across the street from the Capitol in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, where Schwarzenegger stays while in Sacramento. Kennedy's hiring was the culmination of a five-hour meeting, sources said, at which Kennedy demanded--and got--sole authority over hiring and firing the executive staff. That provision spread anger among Republican insiders, who said they feared a major purge of GOP staffers among the governor's inner circle.
Republicans said Kennedy's hiring had been pushed by Democrats close to the governor--including his wife, Maria Shriver, and advisers Bonnie Reiss and Daniel Zingale. Democrats, meanwhile, said Schwarzenegger's decision was based more on his personal nonpartisan nature, rather than from succumbing to persuasive Democrats.
Whatever the reason, the governor's choice is the most dramatic in the Capitol since former Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, chose the late B.T. Collins, a maimed Republican Vietnam war veteran, as his chief of staff.
Kennedy's hiring signals a dramatic shakeup in the inner circle around Gov. Schwarzenegger, who suffered a major political defeat on Nov. 8, when his attempts to overhaul government--including spending limits and the creation of a retired judges' panel to supervise reapportionment--were rejected by voters.
Kennedy decided to accept the chief of staff's position following lengthy meetings at the Hyatt, but she had been approached earlier by the governor recently in Los Angeles to take the job--but turned it down.
She changed her mind after Schwarzenegger, who approached her anew to accept the post, agreed to give her broad authority over the staff. Schwarzenegger also had approached others to take the post, including former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, who turned him down.
The current chief of staff, Patricia Clarey, who joined Schwarzenegger early in his administration, was scheduled to leave by the end of year. Also leaving was Rob Stutzman, the governor's communications director, who was leaving to handle the governor's re-election campaign next year. Stutzman's departure was not officially announced, nor was his replacement. But one Capitol source familiar with Stutzman's situation said flatly: "He left to join the campaign. He left voluntarily."
The selection of Kennedy angered many Republicans--and some Democrats. Both sides noted that she had served Davis--who Schwarzenegger booted from office in the 2003 historic recall--as Cabinet Secretary. How could Schwarzenegger, who publicly criticized Davis as an incompetent governor, hire one of Davis' key players?
"It's unreal. She served the governor that voters kicked out. She was executive director of the Democratic Party. She's a Democrat through and through. What is he (Schwarzenegger) thinking?" one Republican said.
"Republicans spent years battling Susan Kennedy when she worked for the recalled Gov. Davis. It's unfathomable that one of the central figures of the Davis administration and Oracle scandal would be put back in charge of the governor's office," said another Republican, referring to the state's signing of a flawed, $95 million software contract that roiled Davis' tenure.
Democrats were equally nonplussed.
"She negotiated workers' comp. She was the executive director of the Democratic Party. She is everything he (Schwarzenegger) isn't. What's going on here?" a Democrat said.
As Dirty Harry said...
Great. Now what? WTF is he thinking? and where the hell is this state going now?
God, Californians can be so damn stupid sometimes.
Yup, saw EGD's earlier thread and now this. He must like having Kennedys whispering in his ears .
I can't wait until the Ca Supreme Court appointment is announced.
"It's a head-scratcher how they built the world's 5th largest economy."
Reagan was Governor here once. It was inherited!
Sure, The allegedly Republican Governor hands the state's executive branch over to a Gray Davis Dem hack, and you blame the voters.
Looks to me like it was a vote of one that created this disaster: Arnold Schwarzeneggar.
A HATE ARNOLD site. How disgusting.
Have you ever supported him?
Well, we can see which advisors Arnold has chosen to favor. Shriver, Tamminen, Reiss, Zingale, and now Kennedy. Worse times to come, imo.
Definitely a head shaker, hire someone who worked for a guy who got booted by the voters, oh yeah, we got rid of Davis because he did so well for the state, sheesh, Arnold is just not thinking.
I'm surprised he didn't hire Tookie Williams instead.
The Honorable President Ronald Reagan did not invent California. With all due respect- it is more likely that California invented him. This great State has elected more conservatives than any other State in the Union, by a far sight and a piece.
In other news, the governor has reportedly considered legally changing his name to Dave Gravis...
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