The state budget is more than a month overdue and only one more Republican vote is needed for passage.
This means a tremendous amount of pressure is being applied to Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced. The California Democratic Party has launched a "Dump Denham" campaign and has recruited Denham's 2006 Democratic opponent, Wiley Nickel, to lead the charge.
Nickel accuses Denham of holding California hostage and suggests that Denham be the deciding vote on a budget that will put Californians $700 million in debt.
Pressure should be put on Denham to do the right thing for California. But the right thing for Denham is to continue fighting for a balanced budget, while protecting key investments in education, public safety and healthcare.
As Senate Republicans continue their demand for a balanced budget, Denham has offered legislation to appropriate over $10billion to the state controller so that services to California's most vulnerable are not impacted. Democrats rejected this legislation, and now hospitals, health clinics, community colleges, and summer programs run the risk of being negatively impacted.
As a candidate, Nickel proclaimed that the state's balanced budget requirement was how each budget should be viewed. Nickel also stated that a vote for him would mean a change in the way Democrats run the Legislature.
Nickel said, "I blame Democrats for some of the problems. Look at the budget, that's not all Arnold's (Schwarzenegger) fault."
However, today, Nickel has allowed himself to be completely co-opted by partisans and has flip-flopped on his own position. Nickel has never held public office and, for someone who is 30 and fresh out of school, he might just want to pick up a bit more work and life experience before he starts criticizing Denham, someone who has had to manage a business and meet a payroll.
Denham is standing up for the hardworking men and women of his district who help pay for this budget. After all, it's taxpayers' money, and seeking to see it well spent ought to be the top priority of all legislators, regardless of party affiliation.
Runner is chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus. He represents portions of the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, Antelope Valley, Victor Valley and Ventura County.