Skip to comments.CA: Legislative wars over for feisty conservative (Ray Haynes)
Posted on 11/27/2006 9:43:57 AM PST by NormsRevenge
After 14 years representing the Inland area in Sacramento, Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Murrieta, has opined on many things in his rarely subtle approach to politics.
On Democrats: "Most of the Democrats want us to be nice little Republicans and pat us on the heads. Well, sorry. You're going to have to fight me for what you got."
On air-quality regulators: "We have a bunch of clean-air Nazis that have been running roughshod over the people of California ... because they think they've got God and nature on their side."
On himself: "I've developed a persona that Haynes is kind of nutty. You know what? I am who I am. Sometimes that can be an advantage, sometimes it's not."
Term limits will force Haynes from the Legislature this week. His career is defined by an uncompromising brand of social and fiscal conservatism that made him a statewide leader in the movement but increasingly frustrated local officials looking for more out of Sacramento.
A registered Democrat until the mid-1980s, Haynes, 52, became one of the GOP's most enthusiastic partisan warriors in a Capitol dominated by Democrats. In early 2003, he was among the first Republican legislators to back what appeared to be a far-fetched idea -- recalling then-Gov. Gray Davis.
Over the course of Haynes' career, he opposed about a quarter of the bills that made it to the floor. And when legislation passed with just one "no" vote, it was common to see Haynes' name next to it.
Haynes' next move is unknown beyond being an unpaid contributor to the FlashReport, a conservative news site and blog.
Former Senate Minority Leader Jim Brulte, R-Rancho Cucamonga, who served with Haynes for a dozen years, said Haynes was more than a partisan verbal bomb thrower.
"He's probably more well-versed on a wider variety of policy issues than most members of the Legislature of either party," Brulte said.
Haynes' efforts sometimes veered to the quixotic.
His bills to put bright red license plates on drunken drivers' cars and create a state-funded border police to stop illegal immigration appealed to conservatives but met quick demises.
He asked the attorney general's office for an opinion on whether parents could spank their children with something other than a hand.
His background as an attorney made Haynes a skilled orator during floor sessions. He frequently skewered Democrats, once deriding them as "spending addicts."
Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, and Davis' press secretary before that, called Haynes "an ineffective ideologue."
"He was certainly a true believer. You could always count on him to be a reliable vote for the right," he said. "How much that helps your constituents, I don't know."
For some influential constituents in the fast-growing Inland area, Haynes' conservative agenda has worn thin.
Officials said they asked Haynes for assistance on various issues over the years, such as getting money to fight the glassy-winged sharpshooter, a huge threat to the region's wine growers.
"An assemblyman is like any elected official -- he's elected to serve the needs of his constituents," said Dennis Frank, board president of the Economic Development Corporation of Southwest California and a registered Republican.
"I like Ray. But did he fill those needs? No. We had to go to other Assembly members who weren't necessarily from our district to get the job done," he said.
Joan Sparkman, a trustee at Mt. San Jacinto College and a registered Republican, said she likes Haynes as a person.
"I think he knew what we needed. But I think he became ineffective because of all the issues he thought were more important than ours," she said.
Haynes said he was always willing to meet with constituents.
"A lot of local governments got upset with me when I wouldn't help them get any pork," Haynes said. "I always felt the overriding right thing was to make government smaller."
Born and raised in rural towns in the northern San Joaquin Valley, where his father served at a naval airfield, Haynes' early involvement in politics came when he walked precincts for Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern in 1972.
His views shifted to the right after he started practicing law in Riverside. He began paying taxes on his employees. He had legal run-ins with some of the groups he once sympathized with, such as the American Civil Liberties Union.
By the late 1980s, Haynes was a registered Republican.
Haynes' first government post was a stint on the Moreno Valley Planning Commission after he became active in anti-tax and property-rights groups.
After winning an Assembly seat in 1992, Haynes quickly established himself as one of the Capitol's most conservative members, with strong ties to Christian groups.
In the mid-1990s, he infuriated many Senate Democrats when, quoting his grandmother, he called welfare recipients lazy.
"The people who aren't working, who are living off of welfare, they're your slaves," Haynes recalled telling his stunned colleagues, recounting his family's own financial struggles. Democrats responded that Haynes was heartless.
Former Inland Republican lawmaker Bill Leonard, who served with Haynes, called the exchange fascinating.
"His floor arguments were always well thought-out. He wasn't like some lawmakers who knew something was wrong but couldn't explain what, or knew they were right, but couldn't say why," Leonard said.
Ties to Colleagues
Haynes sometimes was at odds with fellow Republicans. Earlier this decade, Haynes criticized longtime Inland lawmaker David Kelley, R-Idyllwild, for voting for Democrat-backed budgets.
Haynes, though, was on friendly terms with some of the Legislature's most committed Democrats.
Former Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, recalled that he and Haynes talked about crafting a resolution criticizing the Patriot Act passed by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks. Nothing came of the idea, however.
"Ray was one of those few Republicans who had (the courage) to take on Bush where Bush was wrong," Burton said. "He was a man of principle."
Reflecting on his years in the Legislature, Haynes said he saw his role as that of an ideological "revolutionary" more than a detail-oriented legislator.
"The folks who sit in the room, who talk about how to cross the t's and dot the i's, you have to have those folks," he said. "I always felt like my role is keeping people thinking about new ideas and different ways of doing things."
Jon Fleischman, publisher of the FlashReport, calls Haynes the Legislature's conservative conscience.
"One, he stands up for principle. Two, he has an ability to articulate why he's doing it," Fleischman said. "It creates the kind of chemistry you need to become a leader."
For all his conservative credentials and experience, Haynes never rose to become Republican leader in either house. He was a poor fundraiser, a major weakness in caucus leadership contests.
Higher office has eluded Haynes. Last June, he lost the GOP primary for a Southern California seat on the state tax board.
Being in the Legislature has taken a personal toll, he said. His second marriage ended in divorce in July. The couple have two teenage daughters.
Haynes said he is still considering what to do next.
Some possibilities mentioned in recent months include his heading a think tank or even being appointed to the bench.
His longtime aide, Bobbi Soltz, said Haynes will not settle for a paycheck.
"He has to do something that he cares about, that moves him. That's his nature," she said.
Ray Haynes bump!
I wish him the best of luck in whatever he pursues.
I hope it is something that will help educate the electorate and continue to expose the socialists taking over our State.
Mr Haynes, come on and move to Georgia. We would love your kind of firebrand down here.With global warming it is staying pretty nice weather wise.Oh and our taxes are pretty low too.What more do you need.