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LA Times endorses GOP candidate Lanhee Chen for California controller

FOX News logo FOX News 4/21/2022 Joseph Wulfsohn
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The Los Angeles Times editorial board stunned readers by offering a rare endorsement to a Republican running in a statewide race in California. 

Among the candidates hoping to replace current California controller Betty Yee, who is maxing out her term in office after eight years, are Democrats Ron Galperin, Los Angeles' controller, Malia Cohen, a member of San Francisco's Board of Equalization, State Senator Steve Glazer and Republican Lanhee Chen, a public policy expert and a lecturer at Stanford University.  

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"A wonky but important elected office, the state controller is California’s fiscal watchdog — the person who cuts the checks that keep government running and also holds the power to audit agencies that spend state funds," the Times editorial board wrote Thursday. "Among this strong field, we believe Chen is the best choice for this position. Why? Because he is a sharp thinker with experience analyzing large financial systems, and because the controller should be as independent from the party in power as possible."

GOP candidate running for California controller Lanhee Chen. Photographer: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images © Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images GOP candidate running for California controller Lanhee Chen. Photographer: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Times stressed it supports the "priorities" of Democrats at the state level "to combat climate change, preserve abortion rights and advance economic and racial justice." However, governance in the Golden State "is falling short of its ideals" despite having pumped billions into government programs. 

"Too few students can read at grade level, too many Medi-Cal patients can’t see a doctor and too many people sleep on the streets," the paper acknowledged. "California needs a fiscal watchdog who will examine why state spending has not yielded better results, and point the way toward necessary improvements. The most prominent Democrats in this race seem unlikely to exhibit the independence that this moment demands of the next controller."

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The editorial board called Cohen a "rising star in the California Democratic Party" with "strong ties to powerful politicians" but insisted California "will benefit more from a controller who will stand up" to Democrats running the state. It praised Galperin's knowledge as LA's current controller but dinged him for not being "as aggressive as he could have been." The paper suggested Glazer is the Democratic candidate "most likely to demonstrate political independence" but declared "it's time for a fresh lens."

The Times touted Chen's "impressive resume" from his degrees from Harvard to being nominated by President Obama to serve on Social Security Advisory Board for four years, noting he "now leads the board of directors of a nonprofit healthcare system in the Bay Area, teaches public policy at Stanford, advises businesses and government clients as a consultant, and invests in early-stage companies."

GOP candidate running for California controller Lanhee Chen. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File © AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File GOP candidate running for California controller Lanhee Chen. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File

"Many Californians will balk at the idea of voting for a Republican. That’s understandable because the conspiracy-fueled wing of the GOP has grown too powerful under the influence of former President Trump and his litany of lies. But one way to restore some sanity to the GOP is to elevate Republicans, like Chen, who operate in the world of facts," the Times wrote. "Chen would not tell us whom he voted for in the 2020 presidential race, but he is unequivocal in stating that the election was legitimate, that Joe Biden won, and that Trump has been untruthful in describing it otherwise."

"Chen demonstrates a clear understanding of the possibilities and limitations of the controller’s office — and vowed he will not use it as a perch to push a partisan agenda. He pledges to use the audit power to scrutinize spending and give programs a letter grade based on their effectiveness, recognizing that the office cannot decide how much money the state spends," the paper continued. "Nor can the controller pass new laws or change existing ones. Those responsibilities are held by the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the governor — so any policy or budget proposals Chen might want to advance would have to go through them."

"In other words, the controller has no power to independently advance a policy agenda. But the controller does have the power to help us understand why the state is not making more progress on the goals leaders have established. That’s what California needs right now, and Chen is the best candidate for the job," the editorial board added. 

Last year, The LA Times was outspoken in its support of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was facing a heated recall election, with the paper aggressively attacking his prominent GOP challenger Larry Elder.

Newsom handily beat the recall but is up for reelection in November.  

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