The preacher to a one-man

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The preacher to a one-man choir

To hear labor groups and many Democrats in Sacramento tell it, you would believe that California Chamber of Commerce President Allan Zaremberg is the most powerful man in town. A former top adviser to Govs. George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson, Zaremberg has long been well connected in Republican political circles. He was savvy enough to also get on the good side of Gray Davis after Davis broke a 16-year string of GOP control of the governor's office in 1998.

But the arrival of Arnold Schwarzenegger has elevated Zaremberg to a whole new level. The Chamber of Commerce made an unprecedented endorsement during the recall campaign and was among Schwarzenegger's earliest and most enthusiastic backers. Last year, with only one or two significant exceptions, if the chamber wanted a bill vetoed, Schwarzenegger obliged.

Zaremberg held a briefing yesterday to discuss the chamber's legislative priorities for 2005. I asked him whether it was true what his critics say -- that he holds undue influence over the governor of California. His response:

"When he came and asked for our endorsement, he gave an impassioned speech about improving the job climate in California. I believe he's carrying out the campaign promises he made and those things are our agenda. These are the things we believe in.

"I don't find that we exert any more influence than anyone else. It just happens that he shares the same agenda."


And Schwarzenegger keeps talking up how much he's going to fight the special interests. He must be referring to just those that don't have him in their back pocket.

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95 percent accurate
Over the last 25 presidential elections, Ventura County voters have backed the winner 24 times, or over 95 percent of the time. It is one of only a handful of counties in the nation that has been such a predictable bellwether.
about Timm Herdt
Timm Herdt
The Ventura County Star's Sacramento Bureau Chief Timm Herdt on state issues and politics from Sacramento to Ventura County. He can be contacted at
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