Supporters and opponents of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger watched anxiously Tuesday night, as early results of a special election showed three of the governor's four reform initiatives trailing at the ballot box.
Hundreds of supporters of the Hollywood action star-turned governor were waiting late in the night at a Beverly Hills hotel for the ballot results, which analysts said are crucial for Schwarzenegger's political future.
Schwarzenegger, whose approval rate has been on the decline due to his proposals to cut state budget and limit political clout of what he called "special interests groups" earlier, has announced his plan to stand for a second term election next year.
Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger's opponents gathering at a downtown Los Angeles hotel continued lashing out at the governor.
"I don't usually get involved in politics, but watching Governor Schwarzenegger's lies made me decide to come out against him," Mike Park, a firefighter, said at the Millennium Biltmore hotel. "I hope tonight that the rest of the state comes out against him too."
Protesters mainly organized by unions of nurses, firefighters and teachers have trailed Schwarzenegger across the state during his campaign for the four proposals, saying the measures were designed to give the governor unlimited power over the state budget while restricting unions' political muscle and attacking teachers' rights.
Schwarzenegger, however, described the initiatives as the sequel to the recall election that swept him into office two years ago.
He said he promised to change state government, and the ballot measures are the tools he needs for the purpose.
With some 22.7 percent of statewide ballot counted, only one of the governor's propositions was holding a lead.
Proposition 75, which was winning with 53.5 percent of the vote, would prohibit the use of public employee union dues for political contributions without individual employees' prior consent.
Proposition 74, which would increase the probationary period for public school teachers from two years to five years, trailed only by a sliver, winning 49.8 percent of the vote, early results showed.
California Teachers Association officials argued that a five-year probationary period would discourage people from entering the teaching profession.
"I believe the public will send a message tonight," said David Hernandez, a member of the association's board of directors. "They don't like the governor's attack on the working class."
The other two propositions supported by Schwarzenegger, which would limit state spending and redistrict constituencies in California, were both trailing, and appeared headed for defeat, according to local media reports.