Come tomorrow night, Arnold Schwarzenegger might be wishing he stuck to movie stardom and real estate barony rather than trying to save California from itself—wishing instead that he were perhaps lounging on the French Riviera with fellow Europhiles such as Johnny Depp and Gweneth Paltrow in salons where the conversations inevitably come around to trashing President Bush and those American boorish boobs that voted for him.
But instead he’s spending his days being trashed by California’s myriad special interests: fireman, teachers, nurses, cops, public employee unions, city, county and statewide elected officials, trial lawyers, illegal alien activists and the vast legions of the state’s rental mobs, anarchists, and duped do- gooders.
This is a large list of trashers that he has attracted to himself. But after last week, when the Field Poll showed that his four key reform initiatives are all in danger of defeat in California’s special election tomorrow, the list of Arnold-bashers was expanded to include national players like the Democratic National Committee, Moveon.org and sadly, even some Republicans in Congress.
His key initiatives, which are aimed at totally retooling a corrupt California government, are:
- Prop 74, which pushes teacher tenure out to five years
- Prop 75, which requires union members’ consent before money can be taken from them for political purposes
- Prop 76, which gives the governor the power to cut spending if there is revenue shortfall
- Prop 77, which calls for redrawing not only state senate and assembly lines but all of California’s congressional districts as well
Last week I spoke to Kevin McCarthy, who is the Republican minority leader in the California Assembly and who has introduced a very similar version of Arnold’s redistricting initiative as an assembly bill, each year for the past three years. Our interview follows.
Given that the polls were mostly wrong about the recall election and predicted that Gray Davis would hold on to the governorship, how are you feeling about the chances for the Governor’s initiatives?
Assembly Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: I think it all comes down to what turn out is. This is a special election. How do you call the percentage of the turnout? And which base is most motivated to turnout?
You sound guardedly optimistic.
McCarthy: Every single newspaper that has taken a position on redistricting has come out and supported it. And that was unbelievable. When the Field Poll people read just the ballot statements without endorsements the [positive] numbers go up.
Do you see that the lynchpin for reform of the state is redistricting?
McCarthy: These guys paid for their seats. The Communist Party [in the former Soviet Union] had more turnover than we have here.
I have a flier here that arrived in my mailbox from Citizens for Good Government telling me that we Republicans should vote no on Prop 77 (redistricting) and it quotes Congressman John Doolittle, Secretary of the House Republican Leadership as saying that the redistricting is bad for the Republican Party. Who are these people?
McCarthy: This shows how far they’ll go. This is [the product of] Democrat money raised by [U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi and others in her party. All they [the Democrats] really care about is 77 [redistricting] being defeated. They paid their money. They want their return on investment and expect to be in power for at least 10 years. This is a false mailer sent by Democrats to Republican voters. This is how worried they are and how devious they’ve become.
So what about Doolittle and the Congressional Republicans being against your redistricting plan?
McCarthy: Government should not be owned by a few people in the back room. Why have so many Democrats raised money to oppose 77 if somehow Republicans were going to lose? I would think they would be funding it.