2005-11-10 / Editorials

It’s time for the governor to reinvent himself

After Tuesday’s election, it’s back to the political drawing board for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The advisors who convinced the governor to lock horns with the Democrat-controlled legislature via Propositions 74, 75, 76 and 77 grossly overestimated Schwarzenegger’s clout with voters. They also underestimated the power of negative campaigning.

Schwarzenegger’s pundits mistakenly expected the people of California to again rally behind the governor, who waltzed into office a year ago, more a result of his celebrity than his political savvy.

Instead of working with the legislature (which he now claims he will do), Schwarzenegger took a “bull in a china shop” approach. He quickly moved from negotiation to confrontation. Instead of building alliances and reaching for compromise, Schwarzenegger, for all intents and purposes, said, “It’s my way or the highway.” Lines like that might have worked for action heroes in Hollywood movies, but they don’t fly in Sacramento.

If he is to salvage his political hide, Schwarzenegger must work cooperatively with the legislature.

The state Senate, the state Assembly and the governor must either control spending or raise taxes. It’s that simple. They can start by not blowing $40 million on special elections.

If Schwarzenegger is to stick to his guns on no new taxes, then he must lead the legislature in finding ways to cut spending.

Republican strategists have disserved the governor. They took a gamble and lost.

Now it’s up to Schwarzenegger to right his ship and get it on an even keel.

If he doesn’t, his prospects for reelection a year from now are nil.

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