Meg, Not Arnold, Makes World Series Bet

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Getty Images/Ezra Shaw

Let's state the obvious from the get-go: bets between politicians are corny. No one really cares what knickknack or cuisine from someone's home state will be served up to the victor of a sporting event.

But as the World Series kicks off tonight, there's a bet on the table between California and Texas, but it's not a friendly wager between the state's chief executives.

Rather, it's a bet between a chief executive and chief executive wannabe.

This morning, GOP nominee Meg Whitman picked the San Francisco Giants in a friendly deal (betting's actually illegal, folks) with Texas Governor Rick Perry, who naturally picked the Texas Rangers to win the fall classic.

Whitman Twitter PhotoThe top Texan initiated the idea, says the Whitman campaign, and the Californian sealed the deal with a phone call this morning -- later tweeting a photo of the call as she stood with her side of the bet, a surfboard from South Coast Surf Shops in San Diego. Perry has apparently put up a pair of Lone Star State cowboy boots should the Rangers lose.

But don't these bets normally happen between two sitting governors?

Yes, but chances are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rick Perry don't spend a lot of time chatting on the phone these days. While the two did place a friendly wager on the 2006 Rose Bowl game (won by the University of Texas Longhorns), they don't seem to be exactly what you'd call soulmates.

In 2009, Perry criticized Schwarzenegger's fiscal conservatism in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "I think Arnold squandered that chance," the article quotes Perry as saying.

Schwarzenegger's been taking less personal -- but noticeable -- shots at Texas' #1 industry for the last few months, after several of the state's oil companies contributed money to Proposition 23, the measure that would suspend California's climate change law.

"Does anyone really believe that these companies, out of their black-oil hearts are really spending millions and millions of dollars to protect jobs?" Schwarzenegger mockingly asked in a speech last month.

When I asked about the lack of a bet, the governor's spokesman made the same point.

"The governor is rooting for the Giants," said press secretary Aaron McLear, "but the only bet he's making with Texas is that Californians will reject the attempts of dirty Texas oil companies to undue our clean energy laws Tuesday."


(By the way, Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado has made a bet with his Texas counterpart on the outcome of the series: Santa Maria tri-tip versus Texas brisket.)

It's worth noting that Whitman has been particularly complimentary of Perry during this campaign season, especially on what she says are Texas' many incentives for business (which she reiterated in my conversation with her this past weekend) -- a point which has led some liberal Dems in this election season to snicker that she might not be rooting for the Giants.

We'll cut Meg a break on that one. But on another topic: is she really betting a San Diego surfboard on the fortunes of San Francisco's ball team? Okay, okay, so SF may not exactly be her kind of town these days... but she is a Bay Area resident!

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.
  • Joe Mathews

    You are so rarely wrong in your analysis that I must take this rare opportunity to point out that you’re completely missing the boat here.
    Whitman’s bet is a desperate and foolish act. Remember: it’s a big state, and most of us live in Southern California. Those of us in the South are divided between those disengaged slackers who do not care about Giants and right-thinking citizens who quite properly loathe the Giants.
    So these bets, to the extent they affect voting, are likely to cost Whitman (and Abel Maldonado) more votes than they win for her. And her decision to support the Giants raises questions about Whitman’s judgment and commitment to unity. Why would someone who want to govern all of California seek to divide us by taking sides in a bitter regional rivalry?
    With that, this Angeleno must close, and say on behalf of his region: Go Rangers.
    A Dodger fan

  • John Myers

    For those who don’t know, Joe is usually at the top of his game as a crack political journalist and, lately, the co-author of 2010’s most interesting book about the dysfunction of California government.

    Sadly, Joe is also a die-hard Dodgers fan… and here seems blinded by his LA loyalty. Mind you, we Sacramentans did not scream when Schwarzenegger bragged about the Los Angeles Lakers. But baseball has done you in. Say it ain’t so, Joe!