California's love affair with Arnie is terminated
Sunday 06 November 2005
The big-screen action hero-turned-Governor of California is fighting for his political life. On Tuesday, he hopes voters will approve a package of measures that he either put on the ballot himself or personally approved. But the election itself has been roundly denounced as a waste of time and money by a majority of the electorate, and the four key Schwarzenegger-backed issues are rated anywhere from modestly to catastrophically in opinion polls. Having campaigned for the governorship as an independent-minded Republican beholden to nobody, Mr Schwarzenegger is now seen by critics in both major parties as having succumbed to the great American disease of rule by division. Three of his four ballot initiatives, which cover everything from budget management to political fundraising by unions to job security for teachers, are widely viewed as partisan attacks on the public service workers - teachers, nurses, fire fighters and police - who have been most vocal in their criticism of him.
Opinion polls show overwhelming public support for his enemies, while approval of his performance is almost exactly the same as President Bush's. That, in turn, is having a knock-on effect on his campaign for Tuesday's so-called "special election". The Governor's handlers recently realised that associating Mr Schwarzenegger with the ballot initiatives was harming their prospects. So they pulled every advert they had planned in which he made a personal appearance and hastily ordered a new one, in which the Governor strikes a note of contrition for the disastrous past few months. "I've had a lot to learn," he says, "and sometimes I learned the hard way."
All is not lost. Special elections are notorious for their low turnouts, and the Schwarzenegger camp is hoping that many of the Governor's detractors will stay away and allow him at least one or two victories out of the four. One ballot initiative, not sponsored by Mr Schwarzenegger, appears designed as a deliberate inducement to conservative voters, since it would require parental notification for teenagers seeking abortions. Much like the initiatives on abortion and gay marriage that boosted the Republican vote in last year's presidential election, the idea here seems to be to get right-wing Christians to the polls, in the hope that they would then vote for the rest of Mr Schwarzenegger's agenda.
But the Governor's supporters, once thick on the ground, have been noticeable this time mainly by their absence. Most glaring has been his own wife, Maria Shriver, who has offered not one public word of support. As a Democrat and a member of the Kennedy family, Ms Shriver presumably can't bring herself to endorse an open attack on the very groups her party holds most dear - teachers and healthcare workers. If her husband is defeated, it will raise questions about whether he can seek re-election in a year's time. He has said he will run, but this appears primarily motivated by a desire to secure corporate contributions for the special election.
- 1 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
Greece debt crisis: Athens has one day to find €1.6bn
German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
£16000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established name in IT Ser...
£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...
£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading cosmetics group is lo...