WHO'S A FRIEND OF ARNOLD?
Conservative Republicans statewide have been put in something of a bind by Proposition 57, the $15 billion debt-payoff bond on the March 2 ballot. Most of them don't like the idea, talk radio hosts and listeners castigate it, Sen. Tom McClintock signed the ballot argument against it — yet Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is putting his considerable reputation on the line by staging a full-court public relations blitz to try to get it passed.
It has made for some interesting and uncomfortable situations. There is, for instance, the case of Orange County Assemblyman John Campbell, who voted against placing the bond on the ballot but now supports it. Interestingly enough, just about the time Campbell changed his mind, Schwarzenegger endorsed him in his tough primary campaign for the state Senate. And then there's McClintock, the governor's foe in the recall election who resisted many entreaties to drop out of that race for the sake of Republican unity. In a show of concilliation, Schwarzenegger pledged that he would appear at a fund-raiser to help McClintock in this year's campaign for re-election to the state Senate. Their disagreement over the bond made things a little awkward, however, and now that fund-raiser has been put off until at least after the March 2 vote.
And then there's the interesting situation in Ventura County's contested primary campaign for the Republican nomination in the 37th Assembly District. The two candidates who are openly opposed to the bond — Audra Strickland and Mike Robinson — have each sent out mailers that prominently feature a photo of Schwarzenegger.
I'm told that the mailers have caught the attention of Schwarzenegger's political advisers, who are none too happy that two GOP candidates who argue against the linchpin of his fiscal recovery plan are at the same time also seeking to associate themselves with the governor's image and popularity with Republican voters. The third major candidate in the race, Jeff Gorell is a strong supporter of Schwarzenegger's plan. It remains to be seen whether that dynamic will be enough to prompt Schwarzenegger to make an endorsement in the race.
It is enough of a concern to Robinson, however, that he recently told me that if Schwarzenegger backed another candidate in the primary, "It would certainly strain the relationship" if Robinson were to ultimately be elected to the Assembly.