Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Governor Schwarzenegger Calls the Troops to Battle – And Brings His Own Ammo

The past few days have seen Gov. Schwarzenegger declare for reelection, endorse Proposition 75 and announce that he will spend a few million dollars of his own wealth to boost his reform measures on the November 8 special election ballot.

This burst of activity presages the close of an unprecedented fourth year of non-stop political warfare in California.

2002 was the high water mark of the Democrat Party in California. While it’s hard to imagine now, after the Dem sweep former Gov. Gray Davis was being touted as Presidential material. Then came the 2003 recall when hubris was repaid with embarrassment. 2004 was a stalemate year as the forces of the status quo, aided by gerrymandered districts, locked down all 153 congressional and legislative seats. This year opened with the governor calling for budget, pension, teacher tenure, and redistricting reforms, only to see the majority Democrats in the Legislature go back on the offensive, backed by tens of millions of dollars of union attack ads.

Today Gov. Schwarzenegger’s political viability comes down to seven weeks of tooth-and-tong fighting over California’s direction for the next two decades. Despite approval ratings in the mid-30s, Schwarzenegger remains a potent force with several factors weighing in his favor: his ability to focus the public on issues of his choosing, his ability to raise money, and his opponents (who can be counted on to revive the Governor with extreme left positions out of touch with Californians).

I believe Paycheck Protection will pass and that the Governor will win enough of his reform measures to boost his momentum going into the 2006 reelection effort – a year that will mark the fifth and final straight year of political warfare in California and a year that will mark the beginning of a true realignment in California politics.