The Philadelphia Inquirer
November 16, 2003
political lifting for Schwarzenegger
Being able to win over a crowd
may not sustain California's next governor.
-- California's capital is bracing for
In what his staff promises will be a
"low-key" event - carried live on television and witnessed by a
mere 8,000 invited guests and 500 journalists - actor Arnold
Schwarzenegger will take the oath of office tomorrow as California's
Sacramento has not seen anything like
this since the Gold Rush. Paparazzi are on the prowl. Restaurant owners
are salivating for signed photos. Democrats are scratching their scalps,
groping for a strategy to counter the hugely popular Republican who ran
away with the governor's job after last month's recall of Democrat Gray
This subdued city of 400,000 people in
the heart of California's most productive agricultural region is suddenly
on the Hollywood Star Map. Television stations that abandoned statehouse
coverage have reopened their capital bureaus. Tour operators specializing
in foreign visitors are scheduling visits to Sacramento, and they're not
coming to see the California State Railroad Museum.
Schwarzenegger will maintain his
principal residence in Los Angeles and is likely to spend only three days
a week at rented digs in Sacramento. (The former governor's mansion was
turned into a museum during Ronald Reagan's time in the governor's
office.) Nevertheless, the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau is
hoping to capitalize on its newest resident.
"Not many people came to Sacramento
hoping to get a sighting of Gray Davis," said Mike Testa, the
visitors' bureau spokesman. The bureau wants to hire a Schwarzenegger
impersonator to help deliver Sacramento's message, he said, but comedian
Dana Carvey is unavailable and no one else has measured up.
"We met with one guy who did not
look like Schwarzenegger but seemed to think he did," said Testa, who
has heard way too many jokes lately about Sacramento being a "pit
stop on the way to Tahoe."
Bad puns and one-liners aside, the
former bodybuilder's new career will be no easy lift.
Though he is skilled at winning over
crowds and has a force of personality measured on the Richter scale, it is
unclear how Schwarzenegger will adapt to Sacramento politics, where deals
are cut privately with a few key legislators during the city's protracted
"I don't have any read on the
man," said Walt Stone, chairman of the political science department
at the University of California, Davis. "I don't know how good of a
politician he'll be."
Schwarzenegger faces a budget deficit
that will be worsened by his promise to repeal an unpopular
vehicle-license-fee increase. Car sales have slipped in California as
buyers wait to see whether the new governor will follow through on his
"He put himself into a bind"
with that promise, Stone said. The fee increase would bring in $4.2
billion in revenue - serious money in a $101 billion budget already $10
billion short on revenue. Schwarzenegger's team has been talking of
closing the gap with a bond issue.
Schwarzenegger's eclectic cabinet
appointments have reflected his campaign claim that he would be a governor
for all Californians. The staff he inherited from conservative former Gov.
Pete Wilson apparently influenced many of his choices, but other
appointments hint at his support for more liberal social causes.
"The governor's primary
responsibility is the budget, and there his appointments are fairly
fiscally conservative Republicans," said Bruce E. Cain, director of
the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California,
Berkeley. Schwarzenegger's finance secretary will be Donna Arduin, who
gained a national reputation as Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's budget director.
In his other appointments, he appears to
be splitting the difference. He named former Los Angeles Mayor Richard
Riordan as education secretary, which pleased neither bedrock
conservatives nor the teachers' union. He also has named some Democrats.
His appointments last week to the state
Environmental Protection Agency raised some eyebrows. He named
conservationist Terry Tamminen, founder of several environmental advocacy
organizations, as secretary of the department. But the undersecretary is a
former logging company executive, and another deputy worked in Wilson's
"All I can say is that he seems
politically savvy; it keeps people guessing," Cain said. "But it
means there's going to be friction in the governor's office, and somebody
has to be strong enough to preside over it. He hasn't made life easy for
"The EPA appointments are
indicative of the things that people are worried about," said Barbara
O'Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at
California State University, Sacramento. "He has a bipolar collection
of appointments. We'll put the government on lithium."
Then there are the lingering
allegations, published by the Los Angeles Times during the last week of
the campaign, that Schwarzenegger fondled women during his years in
Hollywood. Schwarzenegger acknowledged he had "behaved badly"
and asked for forgiveness, which voters apparently gave.
The allegations resurfaced last week
after Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who recently had private
conversations with Schwarzenegger after making friendly overtures to the
governor-elect, insisted he submit to an independent review.
Lockyer's announcement was curious
enough. The Democratic attorney general, who has gubernatorial ambitions
himself, had previously revealed that he had voted for Schwarzenegger and
played down the groping allegations as "frat-boy behavior." Now
he appeared to reverse himself, saying he had been aware all along of an
unreported groping allegation, one he implied might have been recent
enough to interest prosecutors.
Lockyer's call prompted a flurry of
indignant exchanges with Schwarzenegger's office, which announced that the
governor-elect was hiring an investigator to look into the allegations.
Pundits shook their heads, saying the episode illustrated Schwarzenegger's
"One of the first lessons of
Politics 101 is that you never take advice from a political opponent
seriously," Cain said.
Lockyer's remarks prompted the
California National Organization for Women to renew its calls for an
independent inquiry. "This is a man with a 30-year track record of
the same allegations," said Helen Grieco, executive director of the
organization. "We're not debating whether it's true or not. We're
debating how this is handled."
But Lockyer's comments seemed to have
the opposite effect. "It really pushed the debate underground,"
said O'Connor, of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media.
Partly because of the size of
Schwarzenegger's mandate and the urgency of dealing with the state's
fiscal problems, most rivals appear content to let the matter go dormant
as long as the prosecutor does not file charges. Charges are unlikely
because all the known incidents occurred too far in the past.
"A lot depends upon if there is a
serious lawsuit in the making," said Berkeley's Cain. "If not,
the political damage is put off - until the next election."