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Doug Gamble- Contributor

Doug Gamble is a former writer for President Ronald Reagan and resides in Carmel. [go to Gamble index]

Party of Arnold
Snuffing out the state’s conservatism...

[Doug Gamble] 10/27/04

Does Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger think that democracy is for girlie men, or does he have more pragmatic reasons for supporting Proposition 62, the so-called open primary initiative?

If passed next Tuesday it would eliminate party primaries, except at the presidential level, with California voters supporting a candidate of any party in a preliminary election, and the top two vote-getters appearing on the ballot in the general election.  Both the state Democratic and Republican parties oppose the measure, but Schwarzenegger supports it, saying, “I didn’t come to Sacramento to make political parties happy.”

No, he came to Sacramento to make his ego happy in the wake of a fading movie career, and on a quest for power so ambitious it includes support for amending the Constitution so he can run for president.

Schwarzenegger’s support for Proposition 62 would benefit him at the expense of voter choice.  He knows he may well not have survived a Republican primary, had it been necessary to fight one, and was elected in the fluke 2003 gubernatorial recall in what was essentially an open primary type of election.

Schwarzenegger sees passage of Proposition 62 as a way of thwarting a potential Republican primary opponent in 2006.  And with the possibility he will move further to the left between now and then, a challenge from some disgruntled conservative would not be out of the question.

Conservatives started becoming leery of the governor when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom opened the door to gay marriage and Schwarzenegger did nothing to stop it.  He later said it would be fine with him if Californians decided to vote in favor of legalizing such unions.

He signed a bill mandating that health insurance companies offer equal benefits to same-sex domestic partners as to a married man and woman.  He also put his autograph on a bill expanding the definition of hate crimes to include people who are transgender and one allowing drug addicts to get syringes without a prescription.  These bills received virtually no support from Republicans in the Legislature.

On crime, he has riled some conservatives by appearing soft on paroles in comparison to Governor Gray Davis.  While Davis was loathe to OK state parole board recommendations, Schwarzenegger has approved 60 paroles for convicts guilty of serious crimes.  And he recently broke further with conservatives by favoring stem cell research.

With Schwarzenegger remaining enormously popular with a California electorate still swooning over his charisma and celebrity, the possibility he will not be reelected is remote.  But by backing Proposition 62, which could push it into the win column, he is not taking any chances.  If it becomes law he avoids any GOP primary he would probably win but emerge from with his hair mussed up

Apart from Proposition 62 being a virtual “Schwarzenegger Reelection Act,” it is an assault on choice, shutting out such parties as the Libertarians and Greens from having their voices heard during a general election campaign.  It could also result in voters having to decide between candidates from the same party with Cruz Bustamante, say, facing a fellow Democrat in the treasurer’s race and Jerry Brown taking on another Democrat for attorney general.  Some options.

Partisans in both of the major parties deserve the ability to vote for either a Democrat or a Republican in a general election.  And supporters of minority parties should be able to send a message with their votes.

The idea that what’s good for Schwarzenegger is good for California is not good for democracy. CRO

California-based Doug Gamble contributed speech material to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and writes a twice-monthly column for the Orange County Register and CaliforniaRepublic.org.

Copyright 2004 Doug Gamble

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