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SACRAMENTO — Two of the state’s best-known Democratic lawyers have jumped out of tough political races, citing their lack of interest in engaging in divisive electioneering. The first announcement came from Attorney General Bill Lockyer, long considered a likely Democratic challenger to Arnold Schwarzenegger, should the Republican governor decide to run again in 2006. Instead, Lockyer on Thursday shocked supporters by announcing that he would seek the office of state treasurer. “I want to be one of the builders of California,” Lockyer told The Recorder. “I want to build schools and transit and homes — things that the treasurer can help with that aren’t partisan. I want to avoid the partisan bickering that I’m just fed up with.” Within hours of that statement, Sen. Joe Dunn, the Garden Grove Democrat who had just moved from the 2006 attorney general race to the treasurer’s race, announced he would not go up against Lockyer. Dunn, who was traveling and could not be reached for comment, released a statement that said he “will consider other options for continuing my service to California.” Ironically, Lockyer’s announcement that he wouldn’t run for governor came just as Schwarzenegger looks the most vulnerable. A Public Policy Institute of California poll released today found Schwarzenegger’s approval rating among adults plummeted by 20 points between January and April. The governor has not yet announced whether he will seek re-election when his partial term expires in 2006. But California Chamber of Commerce President Allan Zaremberg, a member of the Citizens to Save California coalition –business interests working to put the governor’s reform ideas on the public ballot — told reporters on Thursday that divisive politics were also to blame for the governor’s poor polling. Vocal opponents of Schwarzenegger have spent “a lot of money to bash the governor,” Zaremberg told reporters at a Sacramento Press Club luncheon. Dissatisfaction with political strife was one of the main reasons cited by Lockyer for bowing out of the gubernatorial race. He’s in his second term as attorney general, and term-limit laws prevent him from seeking re-election to that office. With close to $12 million in campaign funds, Lockyer would still have had to work hard to raise enough money to compete with outgoing Treasurer Phil Angelides, a declared candidate on the Democratic side of the gubernatorial race, and state controller Steve Westly, another Democrat who has formed an exploratory committee to run for the office. Both Angelides and Westly “have substantial personal funds they can inject into their campaigns,” noted Darry Sragow, a Democratic political consultant who has worked on campaigns for Alan Cranston, Leo McCarthy and, more recently, for Schwarzenegger’s economic bond package. “In terms of how he’s known, he was ahead of the pack,” Sragow said, “but in terms of what the average candidate needs to mount a campaign for governor, he was the underdog.” Sragow said Lockyer’s decision to run for treasurer automatically makes him the “800-pound gorilla” in a race that currently pits him against Dario Frommer, a Democratic assemblyman from Glendale and John Chiang, a state Board of Equalization member. But Lockyer’s leap into the treasurer’s race created formidable odds for Dunn, who just weeks ago traded a year-long campaign for attorney general to enter the race for treasurer. “I will not be challenging Bill Lockyer for treasurer,” Dunn stated. “We have worked too hard together on issues like energy company fraud and consumer protection to be adversaries at this time in our careers.” Dunn’s decision to run for treasurer was made amid speculation that he would otherwise be overwhelmed by former governor and current Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who is running for attorney general in 2006 against Los Angeles City Attorney Rockard “Rocky” Delgadillo and state Sen. Charles “Chuck” Poochigian, R-Fresno. Carina Franck-Pantone, a campaign spokeswoman for Dunn, said the senator had amassed $1.2 million in campaign funds and would look at other possibilities for public office when he is termed out of the senate in 2006. The loss of Lockyer from the governor’s race, and Dunn from the treasurer’s race, may leave some lawyers wondering whom to support in 2006. “As always, CAOC will support the candidate that will best protect the civil justice system,” said Consumer Attorneys of California President Sharon Arkin. “If there is a choice between ‘friends,’ we may support both or neither.”

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