California has had acting governors before – Ronald Reagan (not bad) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (debatable) come immediately to mind. But we haven’t seen four acting governors in a single week in a long time.
Gov. Jerry Brown took off to Mexico with 112 of his closest friends and supporters Sunday, leaving Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in charge.
But Newsom left Tuesday for a Special Olympics event back East, so he was in charge for only a short period.
The third governor this week was Senate President Darrell Steinberg, who holds the reins for only a few hours until leaving the state today. Finally, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins takes a spin in the big office for nine hours until Brown returns Thursday.
Now, none of the acting governors can really do anything dramatic, unless, of course, they do. Common political courtesy dictates that they avoid anything showy. Maybe a routine signature or two, but probably none of them will attempt to annex Oregon with a squadron of CHP helicopters, although it would be awesome.
The last time an acting governor made mischief while the governor was out of state was when Mike Curb was then-Gov. Jerry Brown’s No. 2 from 1979 to 1983.
Curb, a conservative Reagan Republican, made full use of his powers while young Gov. Brown was out running for president. He signed all sorts of executive orders, made a judicial appointment and otherwise acted like an acting acting governor.
Presumably none of the acting governors this week will do anything of the sort, but taking the helm of the eighth-largest world economy must be tempting, like having your parents leave you the keys to the Maserati and the liquor cabinet.
For fun, let’s say Atkins decided to head down to Baja to surf before her short gubernatorial term ends. This would leave California under Debra Bowen, currently secretary of state.
What if she skips town? Then Attorney General Kamala Harris would come to the rescue. But what if Harris bags for a quick fishing trip to Argentina? Who comes next?
Well, the line of succession, and their possible out-of-state status, continues thusly: treasurer (visiting relatives in Nebraska), controller (sailing in Italy), state superintendent of public instruction (quick run over to Vegas), state insurance commissioner (big conference in Des Moines), and finally, at the end of the line …
… the honorable chairman of the State Board of Equalization, Jerome Horton.
Bet Gov. Horton would fix that crummy BOE tower, fast.