Governor Schwarzenegger campaigned for President Bush this evening in Columbus, Ohio and received what was at least a 5 minute standing ovation.
He appeared comfortable standing behind the podium with the presidential seal on it. Maybe too comfortable. On CBS' "60 Minutes" this coming Sunday night, the governor admits (according to the network's press release) that he's indeed interested in the job.
"Yes, absolutely [I would like to be eligible to run for president]," Schwarzenegger reportedly tells Morley Safer. "Why not? With my way of thinking, you always shoot for the top."
Schwarzenegger will be back on the California campaign trail tomorrow. His schedule calls for a bus tour from San Diego to Bakersfield on Saturday, and rallies in both Redding and Pleasanton on Sunday.
Scott Shafer, host of The California Report, spoke to Schwarzenegger yesterday about next Tuesday's election. The interview also included a discussion about what's next on the governor's political plate. He expressed support for a plan to revise the state's term limits law by lengthening the terms that legislators can serve.
And in an extended version of the interview on our website, Schwarzenegger urges Secretary of State Kevin Shelley to speak publicly about allegations of possible campaign money laundering and how federal election funds were spent
(You can hear Shafer's conversation with the governor this afternoon on our weekly newsmagazine, airing at 4:30pm and 6:30pm on KQED in San Francisco and Sacramento, other stations may vary)
Schwarzenegger also talks about his last-minute campaign against Proposition 66. What's intriguing about his efforts is that with recent statewide polls showing almost two-thirds of voters surveyed supporting Prop 66, even he seems ready to admit it may be too little, too late.
While campaigning this week at a Los Angeles-area restaurant, the governor came face-to-face with a woman who disagreed with him. "Go ahead and vote the way you want on Proposition 66," he is quoted as telling her.
Election Day is now 5 days away, and the money is flowing to political races both large and small.
At this point in the game, though, campaign finance records only tell part of the story. While it's true that candidates and campaigns are required to report most donations within 24 hours, they are not required to reveal how much money is actually left in the bank.
But even so, the numbers are staggering. The most expensive campaigns continue to be those for and against Proposition 68 and Proposition 70, measures that both would send a share of Indian gaming profits to the state.
Supporters of Prop 68 have raised almost $28 million dollars (although the formal campaign in support of the measure has been abandoned). Opponents of Prop 68 have raised almost $35 million dollars.
Meantime, supporters of Prop 70 have raised more than $28 million dollars.
Other campaigns that have raised large amounts of money this year: supporters of Proposition 64's lawsuit reform ($13.8 million); supporters of Proposition 71's efforts for more stem cell research ($27.2 million); and supporters and opponents of Proposition 72, the referendum on a new state law requring more businesses to provide health care coverage (both sides combined raising more than $27 million).
Legislative races don't attract as much money, but some races this year stand out.
The most expensive is SD 5, the State Senate race between Republican Gary Podesto and Democratic incumbent Mike Machado. To date, the campaigns combined have raised $6.4 million dollars (I reported on this race, and the statewide impact of Governor Schwarzenegger on legislative races in general, this morning on The California Report).
And the single most expensive legislative campaign? The winner so far is Republican Steve Poizner, running in the 21st Assembly District against Democrat Ira Ruskin (this is an open seat in the Bay Area). Poizner, a Silicon Valley multi-millionaire, has taken in more than $6.1 million dollars... though truth be told, $4.8 million of that amount is his own money.
Just for some perspective: the job Poizner is seeking pays $99,000 a year.
Your reaction to Governor Schwarzenegger's decision today to endorse the open primary initiative, Proposition 62, is likely to be based on whether you think he's a politician outside of traditional party politics... or not.
Prop 62 essentially says that the top vote-getters in a primary election, regardless of party, move on to a one-on-one showdown in the November election.
In my sit-down interview with Schwarzenegger in August, he admitted that he was inclined to support Prop 62 because its core principle seems similar to the structure of the recall ballot-- where, in several cases, more than one party candidate was listed.
But Schwarzenegger's endorsement is a sharp departure from what his own Republican Party wants; the state GOP and Democratic parties are both fighting Prop 62, fearing that it will marginalize parties by giving voters the chance to pick anyone on the ballot they choose.
In a press release announcing the decision, Schwarzenegger said, "both political parties have asked me not to support Proposition 62, the Open Primary Initiative. I didn't come to Sacramento to make the political parties happy. I have come to Sacramento to initiate reform." He also threw his support behind plans to remove the power of drawing legislative districts, from the hands of the Legislature.
Expect to see supporters of Prop 62 making a big deal of the Schwarzenegger endorsement. And as opponents hinted last week, if the measure passes (and the polls indicate it might), don't be surprised if there is legal action filed by the major political parties to stop it from going into effect.
Governor Schwarzenegger today appointed two people to the board of the Independent System Operator (ISO), the agency that essentially oversees the state's energy operations.
Joining the board are Edward Cazalet, 62, of Los Altos Hills and Ken Wiseman, 53, of Fresno.
Cazalet was heavily involved in the beginnings of energy deregulation in California; in 1998 his firm, Automated Power Exchange, went head-to-head with the state-run California Power Exchange in purchasing energy from power generators.
Wiseman was vice-chairman of the ISO from 1997 to 2000.
NOT AN EASY JOB: Budget watchers at the Capitol say it will not be easy for Governor Schwarzenegger to find a replacement for his soon-to-be-departing Finance Director, Donna Arudin, the person Schwarzenegger often referred to in news conferences as his "genius." Arudin's last day is tomorrow, with Deputy Director Mike Genest filling in on an interim basis.
Meantime, the Legislative Analyst pegs the 2005-2006 budget as being at least $6 billion in the red. And it will be harder to fill that gap next time around, after Proposition 58 (passed by voters in March) essentially made any more large borrowing off-limits.