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Arnold Knows the Way to San Jose

San Jose, Calif. — If a pollster had surveyed the more than 1,400 Republican Party activists who crowded the Fairmont Hotel for the state GOP convention last week, the odds are good that he would have found considerable disagreement with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Disagreements were over such issues as his calls for increasing the state minimum wage and for a massive bond measure to pay for infrastructure projects, and over his budget, which does not erase the imbalance between what the state spends and takes in and which includes such "nanny state" items as $85 million for jump ropes and other gym equipment for public schools because of Schwarzenegger’s concern about obesity among the young. The complaint most loudly voiced by conservatives was that the GOP governor named as his chief of staff Susan Kennedy, a Democrat and close associate of former Democratic Gov. (1998-2003) Gray Davis.

"I don’t care if he’s re-elected or not," former State Republican Chairman Mike Schroeder told me on Saturday evening, echoing a denunciation of Schwarzenegger he had made earlier at the convention with two other past state chairmen, Truman Campbell and John Herrington. Schroeder specifically singled out for criticism Schwarzenegger’s judicial nominees for 118 vacancies, who comprised 59 Republicans, 47 Democrats and 12 not listing party affiliation. (A motion was actually put before the convention’s Resolutions Committee calling on the party to revoke its endorsement of the governor, but it was unanimously rejected.)

But Schroeder and the "anti-Arnolds" were a small minority in San Jose. For all the vocal criticism of the governor on the right, most conservatives seem willing to swallow their differences with Schwarzenegger and work for his re-election.

"I don’t agree with the governor on every single issue," former State Party Chairman and longtime conservative activist Shawn Steel told a forum sponsored by the Free Enterprise Action Fund held during the convention. "But I sure don’t agree on a single issue with [State Comptroller] Steve Westly and [State Treasurer] Phil Angelides"– a reference to the two liberal Democrats vying in the June primary to oppose Schwarzenegger. The latest polls usually show Schwarzenegger either running even with or slightly trailing Westly and Angelides among voters statewide.

Steel’s view was strongly seconded by the Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition — no friend of Schwarzenegger in the ’03 recall election that brought Arnold to power, but now strongly for the governor. Last week, Sheldon told me "it is suicide not to" work for Schwarzenegger over either Democratic hopeful.

Schwarzenegger himself appeared aware of the frustrations when he addressed the convention banquet. In declaring, "We have a record that we can be proud of," the governor avoided any mention of his non-conservative stands and instead focused on matters that caused the conventioneers to cheer: rolling back the Golden State’s car tax; repealing a bill to grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens; overhauling the worker’s compensation system; and reducing the multi-billion dollar budget. Schwarzenegger was also cheered when he underscored his opposition to any tax increase and demanded that Washington do more to secure California’s borders.

"[T]he crowd roared," reported the San Jose Mercury News, "when Schwarzenegger invoked the name of [State] Sen. Tom McClintock, a candidate for lieutenant governor." 

Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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