Thursday, September 08, 2005

Losing support, Governor clings to conservatives

The Governor and President in 2003Between a rock and a hard place, Schwarzenegger will always choose to pander to the right. Remember when he ran saying he could go get money from Republicans in Washington? The tables have certainly been turned. Here are a couple new examples:

First, of course, is the gay marriage bill:
Already hamstrung by dismal popularity ratings, the Republican governor had little choice but to veto the legislation, analysts said. Approval of the measure would have set off a sharp backlash among Republican voters, his strongest remaining bulwark of support.

But while averting a conservative revolt, Schwarzenegger may have worsened a key political problem: erosion of his image as an independent reformer who stays above partisan politics...

Mark Baldassare, research director at the [Public Policy Institute of California], said Republican opposition to gay marriage has remained steadfast over the last five years. But the spate of gay weddings in San Francisco, along with the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada, Spain and other countries, appears to have weakened opposition among Democrats and independents, he said.

Baldassare, and Democratic analysts, believe that as a result, same-sex marriage has joined the list of social issues such as abortion and gun control that California voters weigh to take the conservative measure of a Republican running for statewide office. Republicans who take conservative stands on such issues tend to win party primaries in the state but run into trouble in general elections.

Yet given Schwarzenegger's unpopularity--a Field Poll released this week found 56% of voters not inclined to back him for reelection--he was all but forced to veto the same-sex marriage bill. The survey found that 70% of Republicans were inclined to support him.
Then there is the illegal immigrant drivers license bill, which the governor also plans to veto:
[Sen. Gil] Cedillo's bill passed the Senate in June on a 22-16 partisan split. Now the Senate is expected to approve recent amendments and send it to the governor, who is under pressure from Republicans to veto the measure...

The governor's office has consistently said Schwarzenegger does not want to take any action until the federal government finishes deciding its requirements for state licenses — changes spawned by concern that terrorists or other criminals could get such documents...

In an attempt to head off Schwarzenegger's concern that California should wait until the federal government details the requirements of the Real ID Act, Cedillo amended his bill last week to incorporate such a delay.

..His bill [would give] the Department of Motor Vehicles the authority to begin changing its procedures, computers and staffing to meet all the requirements of the federal Real ID Act by the May 2008 deadline. If California misses that deadline, its residents cannot use their driver's licenses for official federal purposes.

With his popularity eroded and polls showing voters displeased with the initiatives he has embraced on the November ballot, Schwarzenegger risks alienating loyal voters if he signs Cedillo's bill."It would be horribly disappointing" if the governor did not veto the bill, said Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly.


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