Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has been under increasingly heavy fire by Californians of all stripes for his performance since 2003 when he won the top state job in the historic Gray Davis recall election. [GOP in a Fighting Mood, Laura Mecoy, Sacramento Bee, September 19, 2005]
Many Californians, some with good reason, are angry with Schwarzenegger.
With Schwarzenegger's popularity currently at about 35%—half of what it was at its all-time high—Democrats, who dominate California politics, understandably think that the governor is dead meat.
Schwarzenegger faces two tough elections within the next fourteen months. One is the special November 8th election featuring many of Schwarzenegger's pet initiatives. The other is the statewide gubernatorial election in November, 2006.
But, Democratic wishful thinking aside, it is possible—probable, in fact—that Schwarzenegger could lose in two months but win the big prize next year. [Governor Has to Sell His Plans for Change by John Wildermuth and Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, September 19, 2005]
The difference is that the special election involves initiatives, of great interest to policy wonks, but historically of little concern to the voting public.
The general election in 2006, however, is about personalities.
Here's an example of what I mean.
I asked a random sampling of ten teachers to tell me if they are for or against Prop 75, the initiative that prohibits using public employee union dues for political contributions without the individual employees' prior consent.
Of the ten, only two knew what Prop. 75 is. And remember—teachers represent the enlightened segment of the population and are people who are directly impacted by the outcome of Prop 75. [Schwarzenegger's Anti-Union Strategy Bears Political Risk in Blue State, By Beth Fouhy, San Francisco Chronicle, September 19, 2005]
Whether or not Schwarzenegger's agenda prevails in the special election doesn't necessarily seal his fate.
Come November 2006, it will be Schwarzenegger—once the most famous movie actor in the world and now the most easily recognizable politician on the planet—versus, in all probability, California State Treasurer Phil Angelides.
Angelides, an experienced politician, has engaged California's most visible Democrats to support his campaign. His co-chairs are U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi.
But that won't be enough to enable Angelides to overcome his Gray Davis-like personality. And in a toe-to-toe debate against Schwarzenegger, Angelides will come in a distant second even though he can tick off every fact and statistic about state government.
Another drawback to the Angelides candidacy is his uninspiring agenda.
Angelides' number one issue is education reform. With all due respect to the nobility of that mission, Californians have heard that battle cry so often and seen so few results that no one listens.
And enlightened Californians know that the current mess in public education—recent mini-steps in the right direction aside—is ultimately beyond redemption.
Also high on the Angelides "to-do" list is to raise taxes and to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens. [Gov. Says He'll Run Again to Push Reforms, by Robert Finnegan and Michael Sallady, Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2005]
I'm hard pressed to think of any platform that is more doomed than one that encompasses the non-starter of education reform, higher taxes in a state that is already taxed to the maximum and licenses for illegal immigrants when Californians have overwhelmingly expressed their desire for less immigration and fewer services to those immigrants.
As a final plus for Schwarzenegger is California's propensity to elect celebrity politicians—despite their scant credentials—when given the opportunity.
Among them have been:
Here's my early prediction: Schwarzenegger, who garnered a record 4.2 million votes in 2003—many of them from people with no active interest in politics—will handily win re-election in 2006.
[JOENOTE #2 to VDARE.COM readers: Angelides is in some kind of a time warp regarding California and illegal immigration. In a May interview, Angelides accused Schwarzenegger of attacking "people of color" and dividing people over issues with "emotional content." He also criticized the governor for his support of the Minutemen and for appearing on the John and Ken Show.
Then, in what has to be one of the dumbest comments ever made about the financial impact of illegal aliens on California (and goodness knows, etc) Angelides said, when pressed for a solution to the problem, that he would insist that the federal government reimburse the state $750 million for the cost of incarcerating "undocumented persons."
Can you believe it? The state treasurer who knows the painful costs of illegal immigration better than anyone alive is in a tizzy about a lousy $750 million.
It's disappointing that Schwarzenegger has not been stronger in his opposition to illegal immigration. But, through his repeated endorsement of the Minutemen ["Governor Again Lauds Minuteman Project; US Lacks Will to Solve Problem, he says" Leslie Fulbright, San Francisco Chronicle, May 9 2005]) and his previous veto (and promised second veto) of the illegal aliens driver's license bill, he is light years better than Angelides—and will beat the pants off of him.]