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Arnold’s Back

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Arnold’s back, and just like the cyborg in The Terminator, he’s likely to upset some people before he leaves the scene. In several long and drawn out battles with the California legislature over various aspects of his agenda, he and his opposition fought to a draw, setting up what will probably be the most consequential election in America this November. Just as in his first year in office when the legislature refused to pass his plan to restructure the state’s debt, he’s taken his case to the people.

After being elected in a popular revolt against an incumbent governor, Schwarzenegger has worn the mantle of the populist outsider with the positive reformist agenda, and it has driven the Democrat controlled legislature nuts. The most recent battle began when the legislature failed to pass several major pieces of his agenda this year. Arnold then threatened to again take his case to the voters via referendum and, after the legislature refused to budge, he made good on his threat.

At first glance you would think these guys would have learned by now that they’re not dealing with an ordinary politician. They’re up against a man who replaced the ordinary politician, and has the ability to rally citizens with a populist “outsider” message. He has an reservoir of good will among the people that he’s able to call upon when he let’s them know that the politicians in Sacramento are holding up the works. As a result, he can virtually guarantee that he can circumvent the legislature and get any issue he wants on the ballot and let the voters decide.

In the end, the Democrats couldn’t or wouldn’t compromise, as the issues at stake go to the heart of their very existence. The various measures would 1) cap state spending – hardly a favorite of Democrats; 2) strip the legislature of its ability to redraw political boundaries – which would currently take that power from majority Democrats; 3) increase the time required for teacher eligibility for tenure – teachers’ unions being a core Democrat constituency and 4) require public employee unions to get members’ permission before dues can be used for political purposes – a major source of financing for Democrats.

The repercussions of what happens in this election, should Arnold be victorious, will be huge – bigger than any other races on the ballot this fall, (including the New York Mayor’s race and the Virginia and New Jersey governorships). Politicians come and go, but a positive outcome on these ballot measures has the possibility of creating a national movement to advance one or several of these issues. Such a result could be politically transformative.

Redistricting reform and reducing the number of congressional districts drawn exclusively along partisan lines would have national implications. If done in California alone it could make that state more politically competitive and, as a result, give Republicans increased hope of carrying the Golden State in a presidential election.

A cap on state spending would help staunch the flow of government funds available for political purposes, (i.e., “buying off” constituencies). While both parties are guilty of such spending, the Democrats are by far the worse offenders and have far more to lose if forced to cut back.

The tenure reform proposal would be a major achievement in the battle to reform public education by making educators more accountable and having them prove themselves before being granted tenure.

Lastly, requiring members’ permission in order to use union dues for political purposes, also known as a “check-off”, would dramatically handi-cap the Democrats ability to rely on union funds to fight their battles and get out the vote, as a sizeable percentage of members would likely oppose having their dues used for such purposes.

As an added bonus, there is a measure on the ballot that would require abortion practitioners to notify a parent or guardian at least forty-eight hours prior to performing an abortion on a minor – an issue which will surely draw out and activate more grassroots conservatives for the turnout effort. Some polls have shown this issue passing by as much as a twenty point margin.

If either of these issues passes and gain national momentum, they spell long term trouble for Democrats and they know it. Now is the time to own a television station in California. The public employee unions are spending an estimated one-hundred million dollars. The Democrat Party and various associated committees have raised millions to oppose the measures as well. One donor alone has contributed four million dollars to stop the change in re-districting. For his party Schwarzenegger’s committee has raised twenty-eight million dollars.

While the opponents have been using their money to beat him down via television ads since the spring, driving his polling numbers to all time lows, Arnold has waited until the final six weeks of the campaign to blow his dough and it appears to have paid off. Just this week two different polls have pegged support for all four measures at between fifty-five and sixty percent – a dramatic turnaround from just several weeks ago.

Schwarzenegger has personalized the campaign further by announcing his intention to run for re-election a year from now, clearly aimed at framing the debate as him versus the establishment. It appears to be working. When the cyborg in The Terminator came back, after promising that he would, he destroyed everything in sight. If Arnold pulls this off, the results to the political establishment could be about the same.

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About Drew McKissick

Drew McKissick is a political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience specializing in political strategy, planning and organization as well as the development of grassroots related political action programs. He has worked as a political activist at the local, state and national levels, and has served in elected and appointed positions at all levels of the Republican Party, including serving as a member of the Republican National Committee. He also writes a regular column providing analysis and commentary on current events.
  • Do you live in California? Are you familiar with how Californians view Arnold? Did you know there is a recall effort to get this unpopular Governor evicted?

  • Another recall? Are you serious?

    Californians should maybe learn to vote with their brains rather than their impulses. How many are they going to recall?

  • JR

    Californians should maybe learn to vote with their brains rather than their impulses.

    Yeah, and when they learn that, maybe they can teach it to the rest of the country.

  • yeah, I haven’t heard it on the news, but saw it on a blog somewhere. I guess it’s either just beginning or they don’t have enough signatures yet. Maybe they won’t get enough at all, I dunno. He is VERY unpopular in this state.

    As far as voting with their brains rather than impulses, I felt that way about the last recall.

  • octogent

    As a former Californian (40 yrs), my heart is gladdened by this turn of events. I remember Reagan as the Gov. and although Arnold is no Ronald, he is as good as it gets in today’s moral quagmire in the pol world.

  • RogerMDillion

    “he is as good as it gets in today’s moral quagmire in the pol world.”

    A more accurate and depressing statement I have not seen. It’s obvious you are a former Californian.

  • Steve, comment 1, you have been brainwashed by your liberal media. Arnold will be reelected by a land slide, just like he got elected the first time.

    VOTE YES ON 74, 75, 76, AND ECXPECIALLY 77!!!

    Arnold vetoed Driver’s Licenses for ILLEGALS. Would Davis have done the same???

  • RJ

    Great post.

    When the actual voters get a choice on a ballot, they tend to favor the reforms supported by conservatives. I predict all five ballot measures described in this article will pass handily, and the “Governator” will win re-election in 2006 as well…

  • alrighty then, you non-Californians just go right ahead and tell us how it is.

  • Guess what Steve, I AM A CALIFORNIAN and I am telling ALL five measures will pass and then in turn since you liberals are sore losers your liberal courts will overturn them.

    But Arnold WILL be REELECTED. Don’t listen to your polls. I remember the polls predicting a victory for Kerry as president, but it didn’t happen did it???

    The people to tend to go against the liberals when they get a choice to vote.

  • RJ

    From the article Steve linked to:

    “47 percent of likely voters surveyed by the Public Policy Institute disapprove of his job performance, while 45 percent approve”

    From Steve:

    “He is VERY unpopular in this state.”

    If you live in San Francisco or some other leftist locale, Steve, perhaps Arnold is “VERY unpopular.”

    But the actual poll results you linked to show him with a statistically-even approve-disapprove number. This, after nearly a year of vicious attack ads aimed against him.

    And keep in mind, Bush’s numbers were similarily low in 2004. But Kerry, his opponent, had even worse numbers.

    Arnold does not have a clear opponent yet, so right now his poll numbers are essentially confined to a political vacuum. Once a Democrat wins the nomination for Governor, things will likely change.

    Lesser of two evils, ya know?

  • Steve lives in Salinas, California. This is in the North where liberalism flourishes. I live in the South where it is probabally about 70% Conservative.

    So Steve, you look around and see and hear angry liberal rants and you think Arnold is unpopular. The fact is that this is a big State, Steve.

  • RJ, look at the date on the article I linked too. Things have changed since then.

    Anthony, get a map, I’m in central california. Get a political map, I’m in a red area.

    Thank you for telling me it’s a big state, Anthony, I was clueless before you came along.

  • Man, those are some amazing reforms. After he’s done in California maybe he should just move state to state and do a term as governor of each and implement the same reforms. God knows we need them here in Texas. Or maybe he should just come here and campaign for Kinky.


  • Anthony, in his desperate attempt to prove me wrong says:

    you think Arnold is unpopular

    Well, Anthony, you sure showed me

  • Here in Southern California, the term “wildly” is now commonly thrown together with “…unpopular governor.”

  • Well, he’s popular here in Texas. We’ll take him over Rick Perry any time.


  • maybe he should just come here and campaign for Kinky.

    you’re making me miss Austin 🙁

  • Dave, comment 14 is the smartest thing you ever said.

    Steve, ARNOLD IS POPULAR!!! All the Reforms WILL pass, because Conservative reforms tend to pass when the people vote on them. But since you libs are sore LOSERS your courts will rule them all unconstitutional.

  • RogerMDillion

    “When the actual voters get a choice on a ballot, they tend to favor the reforms supported by conservatives.”

    Not in California. They ran out Gray Davis becuase the budget was out of control and then they voted for a number new bonds and expensive programs. The voters are the big problem out here.

  • You liberals are against people votiing when they don’t go your way. And that is most of the time.

  • RJ

    In a few days, we will see how AH-NOLD’s ballot initiatives did.

    Let’s hope they do well!

  • Yes on 73-79!!!