Washington Prowler

Bustamanting Davis’s Chops

Cruz Bustamante risks nuclear reaction. Plus: Bill Thomas remains radioactive.

By 8.27.03

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CRUZ CONTROL
Apparently Gov. Gray Davis knew he couldn't trust his so called "trusty sidekick", Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. According to a Davis aide in Sacramento, Davis's campaign staff has been keeping an opposition file on the state's No. 2 Democrat, who is now challenging Davis in the recall election.

Bustamante, a long-time state political hack in the mold of Davis himself, has made a point of not criticizing his leader out of concern that Davis will go "nuclear," according to the staffer.

"Cruz has to be careful," says the staffer. "Davis has enough pride that if Cruz were to step out of line and go negative against the boss, he [Davis] could start leaking."

Cruz may also not be stepping out on Davis, because of the money it would cost him. Already, Bustamante has been reaching out to many of Davis's backers in organized labor and other special interests. For example, Bustamante recently accepted a $300,000 donation from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, a San Diego-based Indian tribe, which runs a casino. Bustamante is expecting similar checks from several state employee unions and government associations.

Bustamante, though, may be cruzin' for a bruisin' as he gets bolder in his attacks on Davis. Over the past few days, on the advice of several Washington, D.C.-based advisers, such as former Clinton aide Ann Lewis, Bustamante has been calling Davis "arrogant" and "aloof" while portraying himself as plugged in and engaged.

"Davis isn't going to sit back and take it," says the governor's staffer. "He's spoken to former President Clinton about the McAuliffe people out here who claim they are working for the state party, but they are clearly working for Cruz. It's dirty pool."

STILL RADIOACTIVE
No one should be surprised that Senator Charles Grassley pulled aides out of the conference meetings with Rep. Bill Thomas and other House members discussing Medicare reform.

Grassley and Thomas have been warring ever since Thomas stalked out of his own office, leaving Grassley sitting there wondering where the congressman had gone.

It was one more in a series of odd moves by Thomas leading up to his notorious shouting match with Democratic House members earlier this summer.

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