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Not Just Bush Scored A Victory On Nov. 2

November 10, 2004

Another election, another set of winners and losers. I'll set the national results aside and focus on how things shook out here in the largest state in the Union.

First, the winners:

Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Governator extended a remarkable winning streak that started with his election in the recall, his come-from-behind victories for Propositions 57 and 58 (bonds to patch California's deficit) and now the vanquishing of Proposition 66, which would have modified the popular "three strikes" law by requiring the third strike to be a violent crime.

Proposition 66 had the support of 76 percent of voters in May. It suffered some slippage during the summer months, but was holding at a healthy 58 percent as late as October 24. But once Schwarzenegger made himself the leading voice opposing Proposition 66, support for the ballot measure began to implode, falling 12 points in a matter of days.

Granted, Schwarzenegger isn't solely responsible for this reversal of fortune. His efforts coincided with anti-66 radio ads and talk-radio hosts focusing their ire on the ballot measure. But it's clear Arnold was the primary factor in Proposition 66's defeat.

Equally impressive was his strident opposition and dismantling of the gambling interests' Propositions 68 and 70. Arnold also looked good by endorsing a winner like Proposition 64 (tort reform) and opposing Proposition 67 (telephone tax).

These victories will strengthen Schwarzenegger's hand in the looming battle with the Democratic Legislature over the deficit and restructuring. Given that the governor can always seek to ultimately enact his California Performance Review reforms via ballot initiative, the perception that his intervention doomed Proposition 66 will weigh heavily on the minds of Democratic legislators as they contemplate how hard to fight him on restructuring and spending cuts.

The party system: California's political parties experienced an extended near-death experience in the months running up to Election Day, as polls showed Proposition 62, the Louisiana Primary, coasting to victory. Both the Democratic and Republican parties mounted vigorous no on 62 campaigns -- just as they had done in 1996 against an open-primary initiative that passed overwhelmingly anyway.

Proposition 62 would have obliterated the party system, limited voter choices and rendered third parties totally irrelevant. Thankfully, this message trumped the pie-in-the-sky rhetoric of 62's proponents. Even Schwarzenegger's endorsement made no difference to voters, who thankfully rejected this half-baked reform by a solid 54.3 percent. The icing on the partisan cake was the 67 percent yes vote for Proposition 60, which guarantees the right of political parties to choose their own nominees.

Free enterprise: The defeat of Proposition 72, which would have imposed an enormously costly health-care mandate on small businesses, was an enormously important reprieve for California's entrepreneurial culture. It was close: Proposition 72 only lost 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent. It is bracing to think so many Californians are willing to jeopardize the state's economic future for the illusion of health-care security, but let us be thankful we dodged this job-killing legacy from the Gray Davis era.

Now for the losers:

Arnold Schwarzenegger: I suppose only a political figure as dominant as the governor could wind up in both categories. He won big in the arena of direct democracy, but Arnold's bold gamble in legislative races proved a bust. None of the candidates he backed in open seats were elected. His attempt to unseat Democratic state Sen. Mike Machado also failed as Machado eked out a close win.

Indian casinos: How the mighty have fallen. Less than two years ago, the casino tribes had it all: status as the state's most powerful special interest and a sympathetic public image. That enviable perch took a big hit during the recall election. Proposition 70's rejection by 76 percent of voters is the second severe blow to their image and influence. The pro-70 campaign tried to exploit sympathy for the tribes and guilt over their past mistreatment. The only problem is no one feels sorry for wealthy casino Indians anymore. Now these initiatives just seem greedy.

Trial lawyers: By passing Proposition 64, California voters showed they were able to see through the trial attorneys' predictable resort to deceptive TV ads, and end one egregious practice of shaking down small businesses with extortion lawsuits. It doesn't end all predations of the worst sort of trial attorneys, but is one more step toward restoring California's entrepreneurial, small-business job engine.

This year's election was a major battle in the ongoing war to divert California from the collectivist course of the Davis years and toward a more entrepreneurial future. By and large, freedom moved forward, though it has a long way to go. CRO

Shawn Steel is Director California Club for Growth, a co-founder of the Davis recall campaign and immediate past chairman of the California Republican Party. 




Against Prop 62

November 04, 2004

We were always the underdogs. The smart money, augmented by literally 10 billionaires, suggested this prop would coast to victory. When the Governor endorsed prop 62 it was assumed by the newspapers and pundits would bury any opposition. Of course, we knew when voters understood the background and implications of the radical Louisiana plan, they would reject it.

By killing this prop in California the disease will not spread.

There are many to thank for this victory.

• Leadership from all six political parties worked together for the first time in California political history against a common foe;


• Rather than give the lip service that the dems and reps offered against the 1996 Open Primary, both parties took real actions this time;


• The California Republican Party, through its Board of Directors unanimously passed a specific action plan resolution in March drafted by Ron Nehring and promoted by Jim Hartman;


• CRP Chairman Duf Sundheim cubically opposed this prop despite warnings he received from a few establishment reps;


• CRP COO Mike Vallante and staff explicitly followed the will and intent of the party by planning, initiating, following up and getting the money to spend the $1,000,000 needed to defeat the prop;


• Bob Mulholland [I almost hate to say this] cooperated with the self preservation effort and help direct a statewide slate mailing to over 5,000,000 dems against the prop;


• Chris Wysocki and David Gillard for the excellent work or organizing the campaign and the brilliant written pieces which were sent to millions of reps;


• Roy Ulrich is almost as energetic as me. He may be a commie but what a wonderful ally and one tough adversary. Roy moved mountains and was probably one of our most effective public representatives.
John Fund of the Wall Street Journal for exposing this crass attempt to remove ideas from politics to the national political community;


• Sen. Ross Johnson for adding Prop 60 as our insurance in case the billionaires prevailed and Tony Strickland for radio ads via Ca Club for Growth;


• To the conservative/libertarian media [and liberal?] California Republic, Political Vanguard, Orange County Register, Steve Greenhut, John Kurzweil, Bill Saracino, Aaron Starr, Steve Frank, Jon Fleischman, Melanie Morgan, Mark Larson, Inga Barks, Rick Roberts, Larry Elder and John & Ken.




Vote No on 62

October 30, 2004

In a few days the California political world may erupt. A key purpose of Prop 62 is to reduce the conservative influence in the Republican Party. Moreover, Californians face the permanent destruction all minor parties, marginalization of the major parties and an evisceration on political activists.

In November, California voters will decide whether to adopt a radical scheme to fundamentally change our electoral system in this state.

Prop 62 financed by Dick Riordan and a host of super rich power brokers who are seeking to end the contest of ideas in political primaries. Originally promoted as an "open primary" election initiative, fortunately that that deceptive language was taken off the ballot by Judge Judy Hersher. In reality it would impose a "Louisiana-style" non-partisan voting process in California.

The Louisiana primary election law was devised by former Governor Edwin Edwards, a Democrat, in 1975 as a means of throttling the growth of a then-emerging Louisiana Republican Party. The notorious Edwards went on to beat corruption charges in 1987, but was convicted in 2001 of racketeering, extortion, and fraud and sentenced to ten years in prison.

To use Edwards' Louisiana system as a model for elections in California is outrageous. Louisiana has long had a reputation for corrupt "Banana Republic" politics and the state's primary election law permitted extremists like David Duke and Edwin Edwards to be finalists for governor in 1991. Louisiana voters were forced to choose between the Klansman and the crook.

Some 10 billionaires individuals helped pay for signatures to qualify this Louisiana-style primary to be on the California November ballot. They include Haim Saban [Mighty Morphine Power Rangers], Eli Board [Broad & Kaufman major developers], Don Bren CEO Irvine Co. and John Chambers CEO of Cisco Systems.

This ballot proposition is not an "open primary" or even the "blanket primary" proposal adopted by Californians as Proposition 198 in March 1996. It is a radical scheme that will destroy the role of political parties in our state.

If this initiative is adopted there will be no official party nominees for any office. Primaries are literally abolished. There would be no official Democratic candidate and no Republican candidate, or any other party candidate.

This will allow wealthy self financed candidates to dominate elections for generations. Inevitably this will create on going personality cults. Instead of facing party activists, wealthy candidates will massage the public with pabulum messages.

In this radical system, candidates' names would appear on a primary ballot randomly placed. Listing party affiliation would be up to the parties. All voters, including those not affiliated with a political party, would receive the same ballot and would be allowed to vote for any candidate regardless of the candidate's party affiliation. The two candidates receiving the highest number of votes regardless of their political party would appear on the November election ballot.

To a large extent, the two candidates qualifying for the November election will depend on the field of candidates running in the primary. In statewide races, if the primary field consists of three or more Republicans and two Democrats, the November general election would likely be between two Democrats. Similarly, if the field consisted of three or more Democrats and two Republicans, the run-off would likely be between two Republicans. These whimsical outcomes are anti-democratic. Former Congressman Tom Campbell, author of Prop 198, observes that in his 1992 senate race, the two candidates qualifying for the November run-off both would have been Democrats, if this Louisiana-style primary had been in effect.

Adoption of the Louisiana plan will have a devastating effect on small parties. With run-off elections involving only the two top vote-getters, it will be a very rare instance when a Green Party or Libertarian candidate's name would appear on the November ballot.

This system will result in perpetual internal warfare where two members of the same party vie for election in November legislative run-offs. How is a political party run "ground game" for their all their candidates if the party is at war with itself? How can there be genuine diversity of ideas if all partier are effectively disenfranchised?

In many coastal urban counties, Republicans and other parties will no longer compete. The same is true for Democrats in suburban and rural areas. Political diversity will suffer when parties will be totally eliminated from the November ballot

There is probably no more important political proposition in the last 10 years than Prop 62. If passed it will marginalize all parties, reduce introduction of new ideas in the political process and allow wealthy personality cults to dominate California politics for decades to come. Its unfair to minor parties, its anti democratic and will have huge unintended consequences.

Thankfully we also have Proposition 60 which will provide constitutional protection for the right of political parties to have their candidate on the November ballot. Prop 60 trumps Prop 62.

The solution is clear: Vote No on Prop 62 and Yes on Prop 60.




Play The Initiative Card

September 09, 2004

Two new polls show two-thirds of Californians approve of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's job performance. That's more political capital than any governor in memory has possessed. This extraordinary popularity is based in the public's perception of Schwarzenegger as an agent of change - as someone who is steering California away from insolvency and back to its glory days. The trick is using his political capital to make reality match this perception.

Yes, Schwarzenegger has some strong achievements his first 10 months in office, such as worker's comp reform and getting a budget without tax hikes.

However, the multibillion-dollar structural deficit is expanding again. Gimmicks and borrowing are no longer options. Schwarzenegger's closing window for performing the emergency surgery state government requires means it is time to live up to his moniker and start terminating agencies and programs.

The governor's recently unveiled California Performance Review (CPR) provides him with a detailed reform blueprint. Its implementation would dramatically restructure state government and save taxpayers as much as $32 billion during the next five years.

Arnold doubtless understands implementing the CPR is, politically speaking, a tall order. While even a veteran Schwarzenologist cannot predict what Arnold will do, both logic and the recent shift in the governor's comments suggest he is prepared for a political Gotterdammerung - or at least the possibility of one - with the Democratic Legislature and its allied special interests.

Schwarzenegger really doesn't have any choice but to fight for CPR. "Blowing up the boxes" has been his central theme, and letting the CPR die would compromise his ability to govern by making it clear there is no goal for which he is willing to bleed.

In recent months, even we had begun having such doubts. But lately he is talking more like a boxer getting ready for the big fight - baiting the Legislature with threats to reduce them to part-time status. He has mused publicly about condensing the CPR recommendations into a laundry list and qualifying them as initiatives. As governor, he can call a special election and fight it out at the ballot box in a campaign atmosphere in which government restructuring is the sole issue. On one side would be Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom 56 percent of Californians believe acts for the public interest rather than special interests (according to the August Field Poll). On the other side would be Democratic legislators and special interests like the public employee unions - neither of whom Californians hold in high esteem.

Rhetoric is insufficient. Opponents take threats seriously when they can see your sword. Taking a leaf from his successful worker's comp reform, the governor should immediately qualify a series of initiatives implementing the heart of the CPR recommendations. Our organizations are prepared to qualify such initiatives so opponents of reform can be faced with the consequences of obstructionism.

The still-reverberating recall, the California Performance Review and Schwarzenegger's exceptional political strength present the governor with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enact reforms that will reverberate positively for decades. He is literally the only California politician with the stature, popularity and ability to hold voter's attention that will be necessary to push the CPR's recommendations into law.

Ronald Reagan had his triumphant showdown with PATCO, the air traffic controllers union. Margaret Thatcher emerged triumphant from the violent miners' strike and broke the power of the national trade unions. These were defining moments for both of these historic leaders, microcosms of their willingness to tame out-of-control government.

Fighting to implement the CPR with a similar disregard for the political costs would be Schwarzenegger's "PATCO moment" and earn him a place alongside Hiram Johnson, Earl Warren, Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan as one of California's truly historic governors. CRO


Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. Steel is director of the California Club for Growth.

 




'Voter Choice': Reform-free Reform

July 08, 2004

Last month - in a matter of hours - the Legislature approved Senate Constitutional Amendment 18, a ballot initiative to preserve political parties' right to choose their nominees by guaranteeing every party fielding a candidate in the primary will also be represented on the November ballot. Critics scoff that legislators supporting SCA 18 acted from pure political self-preservation. But let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I don't care if the 100 legislators who voted "yes" did so because their horoscope said to - passing SCA 18 was the right thing to do.

SCA 18 will compete with the misleadingly christened "Voter Choice Initiative," which would replace the traditional party primary with a system in which the top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of party affiliation, face each other in the general election. Since legislative districts are so heavily gerrymandered that only a few are competitive, many California voters would find themselves choosing between either two Democrats or two Republicans in the November election.

This is not reform. Indeed, "Voter Choice" supporters - a small group of wealthy self-identified reformers - don't contend the current system is ineffective or disenfranchising voters or intrinsically bad. They simply don't think it produces enough officeholders who fit their ideological preferences. Thus, this is less an attempt to reform the system than to bias it to produce a desired outcome, e.g. the election of more "moderates."

Unfortunately, there is scant evidence that a top-two system would do that. Louisiana adopted it nearly 30 years ago, and has hardly been transformed into a citadel of moderation. Indeed, in 1991 the system resulted in a gubernatorial runoff between white supremacist David Duke and the notoriously corrupt former governor, Edwin Edwards. Faced with this noxious choice, Louisiana voters held their nose and picked Edwards - who was later imprisoned for bribery and fraud.

France is another singular example of the top-two system's splintering effect. In France's 2001 presidential election, it produced a runoff between incumbent President Jacques Chirac and right-wing extremist Jean Le Pen. Lacking a real choice, French voters - a large number of whom detested Chirac - cast their ballot unenthusiastically for the lesser of two evils.

What the Voter Choice Initiative is likely to do is virtually obliterate third parties because their candidates could never garner sufficient votes to make the runoff. It would raise barriers to running for office by making it a much more expensive undertaking. Partisan primaries are less costly because candidates only communicate with fellow party members. Switching to a top-two system forces candidates to fund two, much costlier general election campaigns - rendering all but millionaire candidates even more dependent on special interest money.

If initiative backers don't like our gerrymandered legislative districts, their money and energy would be better spent taking reapportionment from the Legislature and the governor and putting it in the hands of special commission - like the panel of retired judges which produced the fair reapportionment of 1991.

Which takes me back to why the state Legislature's speedy approval of SCA 18 is a good thing. Obviously, many SCA 18 supporters acted from what they perceive as their own self-interest. Some also shared SCA 18 sponsor Sen. Ross Johnson's principled opposition to ending the right of political party members to choose their own nominees and denying smaller parties a place at the table of democracy.

But regardless of the various motives at work, I applaud the result because it gives California voters a real opportunity to choose what kind of elections system they want - retaining some semblance of the traditional party primary or switching to the chaotic free-for-all used by Louisiana and France. It would present a more genuine choice than most California voters would have if the "Voter Choice" advocates get their way. 






Don't Take the Bayou State Cure

April 26, 2004

It is the great, irresistible temptation of political reformers to constantly "reform" the election system in a quest for the perfect representative democracy. This urge is usually manifested in endless attempts to calibrate a magic formula of campaign contribution limits that will "take money out of politics," i.e., end special interest influence.

This same utopian impulse is now being directed at how we elect our candidates, not just how we finance them. A small group of wealthy self-identified reformers is expected to qualify an initiative for the November ballot that would effectively eliminate political parties in California. It would abolish the current system of party members choosing their own nominees for partisan offices and replace it with a two-tiered system where the top two vote-getters in the first round face each other in the run-off election.

They call it the open primary. It is neither.

Initiative proponents are undeterred by the fact that the only other state in the nation using this system is that laboratory of good government, Louisiana. They've labeled it the "open primary'' initiative, even though the Louisiana system actually abolishes the primary system and closes participation among political parties.

The proponents' self-admitted aim is populating the state Legislature with an increased number of non-partisan politicians. They see the state Legislature as excessively partisan and so dominated by ideological extremes as to be unable to craft legislative solutions to the problems confronting state government.

When looking at the numerous initiatives placed on the November ballot, none is remotely as important or threatening as this political fireball.

There are three key problems with Louisiana-style election.

First, it's a radical plan that will distort California politics for decades. Deadened political discourse will begin displacing the activity of the volunteers who constitute political parties and fight furiously during primaries, before coalescing to present clear alternatives to the public. Candidates will avoid taking controversial positions - always seeking to be the least offensive and "most electable."

As parties slide into irrelevance, getting elected becomes even more of a rich man's game than it already is. Wealthy candidates - or those sponsored by very rich special interests - won't need to coordinate with grass-roots activists in order to save money. This initiative effectively replaces a very specific primary with two very expensive general elections. Since all voters will participate, campaign costs will literally double and only those with the funds can play. Great news for political consultants, bad news for political diversity.

Finally, fundamental fairness should concern voters who appreciate our democratic system of political parties. It wasn't long ago that a member of the Green Party got elected to the Assembly in Berkeley. Under the radical Louisiana system, minor parties will be permanently barred from electing their candidates to higher office.

I'm far from certain morphing our elections system into a clone of Louisiana's will necessarily result in more moderates being elected. After all, it was in Louisiana that KKK leader David Duke made it to a gubernatorial run-off with corrupt former Governor Edwin Edwards - squeezing out moderate incumbent Governor Buddy Roemer.

As a former chairman of the California Republican Party, I am much more certain of the damage this initiative will inflict on political parties as an organized force in California. First and most important, it would deny party members the ability to choose their own nominees. Voters affiliated with one of the two major parties, which includes about 80 percent of us, may never see a member of their party make it to the run-off.

Political reforms are infamous for falling victim to the law of unintended consequences, especially in California. The full-time Legislature, campaign contribution limits, even term limits - none has produced the promised benefits, and in the case of the first two have made things worse. Imposing on Californians a Louisiana-style election system is another example of reform that does more harm than good. CRO




Dem Dominance of State is Dead

March 11, 2004

The March 2 primary election indicates the spirit of the Gray Davis recall is alive and well. The recall of the unpopular Democratic Davis and the combined 62 percent of the vote captured by Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom McClintock upended assumptions that Democratic dominance of California politics was part of the natural order of the universe. Last week's primary election is further evidence that the electorate is refusing to abide by its image as the "Left Coast," and contains strong messages for Republicans and Democrats alike.

Obviously, the big winner is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in light of the overwhelming approval of his Propositions 57 and 58. I am not singing the praises of Prop. 57, which I view as a nasty but necessary detour along the way to re-establishing fiscal responsibility. But regardless of one's views of 57 and 58, their passage sharply increases Schwarzenegger's clout in the coming struggle over budget cuts with the Democratic Legislature.

There's been plenty of talk about the governor bypassing an obstructionist Legislature to enact his reforms, but it was all theory and no practice. By taking two initiatives that started out behind in the polls - usually a sure sign of defeat - and marshaling lopsided victories through force of personality, Schwarzenegger has provided Democrats with disconcerting proof that threats to go directly to the people will very likely succeed.

Indeed, his administration is already working to qualify a workers' compensation reform initiative, since the Legislature allowed his March 1 deadline for reform legislation to pass without action. When was the last time California had a governor who could credibly make such a threat to the Legislature?

The election was also a big victory in the taxpayers' ongoing struggle with government employee unions. A resounding 66 percent of voters said no to Proposition 56, sponsored by the unions to make it easier for the Legislature to raise taxes and spend money. 76 percent of Orange County voters rejected it; Prop. 56 lost in even ultraliberal Santa Cruz County.

There can be no mistaking the message of Prop. 56's defeat: Fix the budget mess without increasing taxes. This is a warning to Democratic legislators - especially those in marginal seats whose willingness to raise taxes is exceeded only by their desire to stay in office - and to GOPers tempted to succumb to media pressure.

It is also a brake on the governor, who not long after taking office signaled a willingness to entertain new taxes if Californians favored them. The results on Prop. 56 can be considered the definitive poll on the subject.

The anti-tax mood was also signaled by the results on Proposition 55. These school bonds sprout like mushrooms on every ballot, and are approved almost as routinely. Yet Prop. 55 passed by only the narrowest of margins, reflective of the voters' antipathy to business-as- usual that was expressed so explosively in the Davis recall.

The big losers in this election were the public employees' unions, for whom Gray Davis' election in 1998 ushered in five fat years. Davis and the Democratic Legislature lavished big pay raises and unsustainably generous retirement benefits on state employees. As long as the two-thirds vote requirement allows Republicans to block tax increases, it will be extraordinarily difficult to protect those gains in the faces of a $15 billion annual deficit. This in turn strengthens Schwarzenegger's hand in his ongoing chess game to check the power of these unions.

Does the election foreshadow a Republican realignment? No. But I do think it spells the end of Democratic domination that was until recently considered an immutable characteristic of the state's political landscape, and it continues the recall's liquefaction of the political status quo. Here's hoping it will give Democratic lawmakers incentive to restrain their tax-and- spend impulses, and caution the squishier elements of California Republicanism that me-tooism is not the road to revival. CRO




A Downright Reaganesque Speech

January 09, 2004

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's maiden State of the State speech was Reaganesque, balancing invincible optimism with a candid exposition of California's perilous finances. It appealed to our latent belief in California's limitless potential without glossing over the sacrifices necessary to regain prosperity.

The Reagan parallels aren't accidental. It is the latest sign that Schwarzenegger may well assume Reagan's mantle as exemplar of an optimistic, pro-growth Republicanism. Schwarzenegger has always singled out Reagan as a singular object of his admiration. At his gubernatorial swearing-in, Schwarzenegger said "President Reagan spoke of America as 'the shining city on the hill.' I see California as the golden dream by the sea." In his speech Tuesday, the Terminator again drew upon the Great Communicator, saying, "President Reagan said that empires were once defined by land mass and subjugated people and military might. But America, he said, is 'an empire of ideals.' California, I believe, is an empire of hope and aspirations."

Beyond the explicit tributes, there is the very Reagan-like way in which he made his case for reform - the infectious confidence-in-the- face-of-adversity that was such a compelling characteristic of Reagan, both as governor and president:

"Tonight I will talk to you about the progress that we have made, the problems we have yet to overcome, and the path we will follow to overcome them," Schwarzenegger told the solidly Democratic Legislature, going on to detail the destructive litany of overtaxation and over-regulation responsible for the current crisis. It was strongly reminiscent of Reagan's message to the majority-Democratic Congress in 1981, when he reminded them that years of high taxes and stifling regulations had produced the cruel stagflation that infected the American economy.

Back then, Reagan relentlessly reminded Congress and the people that the problem wasn't that government taxed too little, but that it spent too much. In his speech, Schwarzenegger powerfully echoed that refrain: "The fact of the matter is that we do not have a tax crisis; we do not have a budget crisis; we have a spending crisis."

Like Reagan's early days in office, Schwarzenegger's have been characterized by action. Reagan's first act upon assuming the presidency was to sign an executive order freezing federal hiring, acting on a central theme of his campaign, namely that government was too big. Arnold's first action was rescinding the illegal car tax increase, fulfilling a central promise of his gubernatorial campaign.

However, there is a particular aspect to Reagan's legacy Arnold should reject.

Like Schwarzenegger today, Reagan faced an unprecedented fiscal crisis when he became governor in 1967. He responded by balancing the budget with a massive tax increase. As president, he took a similar stand in 1982, when mounting deficits caused congressional Democrats - and many Republicans - to successfully persuade Reagan to agree to another massive tax increase.

Thus far, indications are strong that Schwarzenegger will rebuff ongoing Democrat efforts to seduce, blandish and bludgeon him into committing the same mistake. While his State of the State address hailed compromise, Schwarzenegger made it clear to the Democratic Legislature that tax hikes are off the table. Such decisiveness is welcome in light of Arnold's public rumination that he might consider a tax hike if polls showed a large majority of Californians supported it, which caused Democrats to think it was only a matter of time until Schwarzenegger succumbs to their pressure campaign.

I do not pretend that Schwarzenegger is Reagan's precise ideological heir. A wide chasm separates their views on social issues. However, his State of the State address confirmed my growing belief that he could very well prove Reagan's political heir. Like Ronald Reagan standing before Congress in 1981, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in warm tones and with a smile on his face, told the Legislature that political life as they know it has changed forever. The question is how long it will take them to figure that out.





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