No props for Arnold

first_imgLOS ANGELES (AP) – Voters on Tuesday rejected all of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “year of reform” ballot proposals in a special election that turned against the celebrity governor. It was a sobering evening for a man once considered among the most popular politicians in America. The same voters who swept Schwarzenegger into office in a historic recall election two years ago defeated every element of his plan to reshape state government. Though Schwarzenegger tried to look past the defeats, it was clear that an election he had called in June only angered voters. Still, appearing before supporters at a Beverly Hills hotel, a smiling governor did not concede defeat and instead suggested he wanted to look past the defeats and a year of hostility with Democrats and labor unions. “Tomorrow, we begin anew,” Schwarzenegger said, his wife Maria Shriver beside him. “I feel the same tonight as that night two years ago … You know with all my heart, I want to do the right thing for the people of California.” Voters overwhelmingly defeated Proposition 76, the governor’s centerpiece proposal to slow the growth of state spending. Proposition 77, which would have redrawn legislative and congressional districts, was knocked down by a similar margin. Failing by slimmer spreads were Proposition 74, a plan to make teachers work longer to achieve tenure, and Proposition 73, which would have restricted political spending by public employee unions. The contest represented the biggest test yet of a faltering Schwarzenegger’s leadership – and the outcome clouds his chances of winning a second term next year. Poll after poll showed it was an election that Californians didn’t want, with a lineup of eight initiatives that didn’t connect with every day issues such as gas prices, housing costs and the war in Iraq. And voters carried their displeasure to a ballot that had four other propositions. Proposals on energy regulation and prescription drug costs were easily defeated, though one on abortion rights was narrowly trailing and too close to call. The special election pitted the Republican actor-turned-governor against two of California’s dominant political forces – public employee unions and Democrats who control the Legislature. It also attracted another celebrity in Democratic activist Warren Beatty, who dogged the governor in the campaign’s closing days. Schwarzenegger’s conflict with the unions made him a target for teachers, nurses and firefighters – whom he once antagonized and whose television advertising blitz helped push his popularity ratings to record lows. Union leaders and Democrats who opposed the governor chanted “sweep, sweep” at their Sacramento victory party. “I’m very grateful to Arnold Schwarzenegger for really working people up,” said Deborah Burger, president of the California Nurses Association. Schwarzenegger’s proposals to curb spending and weaken unions inflamed passions on both sides, partly because of the election’s roughly $50 million cost in a state that repeatedly faces budget shortfalls. Tim Wong, 48, an independent from Belmont, called the election “a waste of the meager money we have.” “These propositions were a diversion from the important issues,” Wong said. “It’s all show and no substance.” Though some of the measures were complex, Schwarzenegger cast the election in simple terms: Support him and the state moves forward – vote no and protect a broken system of government in Sacramento. “I guess I didn’t do a good enough job to convince them otherwise,” the governor said of voters Tuesday night. Perhaps the most emotionally charged proposition wasn’t part of Schwarzenegger’s pitch. Proposition 73 proposed a constitutional amendment that would require doctors to notify parents or guardians when a minor seeks an abortion. It also would redefine abortion as an act that causes the death of an unborn child. With nearly all precincts reporting, it trailed narrowly but was too close to call. Another initiative was intended to reregulate part of the state’s energy market – but voters rejected Proposition 80 by a wide margin. Dueling propositions to lower prescription drug costs were soundly defeated in a battle that became one of the most expensive initiative campaigns in state history. Pharmaceutical companies had pumped in $76 million to support Proposition 78 and oppose Proposition 79, which labor and consumer groups supported. The cascade of campaign spending has been shocking, even in a state known as an ATM for political donations. Preliminary figures suggest that Republicans, Democrats, unions, big businesses, pharmaceutical companies and others could have ended up spending a combined $300 million – more than President Bush raised for his 2004 re-election campaign. It was the fourth statewide election in three years. Schwarzenegger’s Tuesday got off to an inauspicious start: When he arrived at a polling place near his Brentwood mansion, poll workers said he had already voted. He hadn’t. A quick call to the Los Angeles County Registar-Recorder Office turned up the problem – an unexplained mix-up involving an early voting test. After voting – for real – Schwarzenegger flashed a thumbs-up sign but didn’t speak with reporters. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more