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Schwarzenegger Tries New Script
Dowd and other Republican advisers have focused on toning down Schwarzenegger's partisan rhetoric and widening his appeal, said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a senior scholar at the University of Southern California School of Policy, Planning, and Development.
"He is very gubernatorial now," Jeffe said. "You almost never see him out without a shirt and tie. And he's surrounded by a lot of Democrats, as much as or even more than Republicans."
Barely more than half of Schwarzenegger's appointments to jobs, commissions and boards have been Republicans. The majority of his appointees to the state's Air Resources Board, one of the most powerful anti-pollution bodies in the country, are Democrats. Almost half of his judicial appointees are Democrats or independents.
One Democrat appointed by Schwarzenegger is Joe Nuñez, on the state Board of Education. Nuñez, a vocal supporter of Angelides, jokingly refers to himself as "the enemy within."
"I think it's really important to recognize that the staff that he surrounded himself with [before the special election] is completely gone," Nuñez said. "I think that his new staff and his new advisers are looking down the road at the next election and how they can position themselves to win this horse race."
Schwarzenegger's new persona has ruffled feathers among the Republican faithful. In February at the party's state convention, some sought to pass a resolution condemning him for abandoning Republican principles. Karen Hanretty, a former state GOP spokeswoman, said Schwarzenegger can no longer count on Republicans to support him at the polls. She contended that he had become overly influenced by his wife, Maria Shriver, a lifelong Democrat and a member of the Kennedy clan -- a claim the Schwarzenegger administration denies.
Schwarzenegger's recent change of heart on immigration is a case in point, Hanretty said. Last year, the governor, himself an immigrant, spoke in favor of the Minutemen and other vigilante groups patrolling the Mexican border. This year he has distanced himself from the Minutemen and recently criticized a Senate plan to build more walls along the border, telling ABC News's "This Week" that such a plan would be "going back to the Stone Ages."
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on May 16, Schwarzenegger questioned Bush's plan to dispatch the National Guard to help the Border Patrol. He wrote that Bush's idea to send Guardsmen to the border for two-week deployments "presents a logistical nightmare and would be a poor use of forces trained for combat."
"There have been three stages of Arnold," said Bruce Cain, political science professor at the University of California at Berkeley. There was "the initial cooperative stage when he first came to office." Then came a stage in 2005, when Schwarzenegger challenged the state's influential Democratic interests.
"And now we have the Pat Brown incarnation, which is the more cooperative incarnation," Cain said, referring to the state's popular Democratic governor in the 1960s who last proposed large infrastructure projects.
"That one plays pretty well in California."
Geis reported from Los Angeles.