Rick Caruso is able to say what he thinks. His company, Caruso Affiliated, has successfully developed high-end outdoor malls, or "lifestyle centers", throughout Southern California. The firm is privately held, so he doesn't have to placate shareholders.
"To build in California is a nightmare," Caruso says. Yet while Meg Whitman has promised to streamline the state's tortuous permit process, Caruso, a major GOP fundraiser, isn't voting for her. He's voting for Jerry Brown and his Republican friends are shocked.
Caruso sat down with CNBC to explain why, and to talk about business and politics.
First, he explains here in this interview what it's like to do business in California, and what he thinks might help the economy.
Even though Caruso is supporting Jerry Brown, that doesn't mean the developer is turning into a liberal. After explaining why he's voting for Brown, listen here to what he'd like to ask President Obama if given the chance.
Finally, we asked Caruso about the state of his own business and what that may tell us about the consumer.
One of his projects and his first hotel project, the iconic Miramar Hotel redevelopment, has drawn a lot of scrutiny in Santa Barbara.
Caruso calls it a "case study" of a bad economy colliding with a plethora of permits and regulations.