Meg Whitman might not get nod from Gov. Schwarzenegger
[UPDATE, 4:32: Video of my one-on-one with Arnold Schwarznegegger added below.]
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is no lockstep, doctrinaire Republican. While many in his party deride proposals to put a price on carbon to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and imported oil as an energy tax, Schwarzenegger is out there pushing hard to save his state's aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction law passed in 2006. And if the Republican who hopes to succeed him -- former eBay CEO Meg Whitman -- is counting on Schwarzenegger's endorsement, she better think again.
During a meeting with the Post editorial board today, my colleague Ruth Marcus asked Schwarzenegger for his thoughts on Tuesday's election results in California. The gubernatorial race between Democrat Jerry Brown and Whitman will be interesting to watch, he said, because "they are such opposites." But then he noted that he hadn't endorsed in the race. "I have too many things on my plate," he said. When Ruth asked about the possibility of his coming out of neutrality and endorsing Whitman, Schwarzenegger said, "You're assuming I'm going to endorse the Republican." A Republican governor not endorsing the Republican candidate to be his successor? I don't know about Ruth, but that response put me on the edge of my seat.
The governor did say he could change his mind "and endorse someone 14 days out. I don't know." And you'll see in the video of my interview with him, how he pulls back a little and suggests it's likely he would endorse Whitman -- if he endorses, that is. But he also said in the session with the editorial board that Brown had done some good things and some bad things during his two terms as governor. Schwarzenegger didn't elaborate, but the mere fact that he had a nugget of niceness for the Democrat two days into the general election is stunning. I can't wait to see how the party elders in California and here in Washington react to this.
In the face of stupefying budget woes, Schwarzenegger has had to make some "terrible cuts," which have earned him a dismal 23 percent job approval rating. This explains why in his last year in office he is working hard to burnish the image of a reformer. A non-politician who went to Sacramento to get things done.
Truth be told, he's had success on that front.
The AB 32 law that he's trying to save and the oil industry is trying to kill was passed by the legislature and signed by him in 2006. This law secures California's place at the vanguard of environmental policy and innovation in the U.S. Open primaries became the law of the Golden State when voters approved Proposition 14 on Tuesday. The "top two" system would place the two candidates with the highest primary vote totals on the ballot in the general election regardless of party. Perhaps this could help the state GOP. As Harold Meyerson writes today, the primary system in California has made it nearly impossible for Republicans to win statewide after winning their party's nomination. This comes two years after Schwarzenegger succeeded to shift redistricting decisions to an independent board of citizens rather than politicians bent on self-preservation.
"I'm a reformist," Schwarzenegger said proudly. "If I see something broken I want to fix, it even if people say don't do it." He went on to say that he is "always interested in taking on things that are difficult." He's fond of saying, "Things can happen if you stay with it." Unfortunately, the state's budget may be one major problem he can't fix.
Watch my full interview with the governor below:
| June 10, 2010; 3:19 PM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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