Schwarzenegger star power fades as California voters reject his reform agenda

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's star power as a former Hollywood action hero has proved to be fading as voters rejected all four reform measures he brought to the ballot in a statewide special election.

Majority voters in the Tuesday election said no to the governor 's proposals to cut state spending, redraw California's political map, restrain political clout of unions and limiting teachers' rights to secure a tenure.

The propositions had been meeting strong opposition from unions of public workers, especially nurses, firefighters and teachers across the state.

Schwarzenegger, who tried to capitalize on his once-robust box- office appeal to pitch his measures, largely shunned face-to-face debates with political opponents by sticking to friendly exchanges with admiring supporters during his campaign.

Analysts said the Republican governor used the same strategy he employed in the 2003 recall campaign, which swept him into office by selling his image as a political outsider determined to clean up the state's troublesome politics with the same resolve he showed on the screen.

Schwarzenegger never seemed to make the transition from celebrity to chief executive, said Ken Khachigian, a longtime Republican strategist who was a speechwriter for former president Ronald Reagan.

"The problem is that it didn't wear very well over a period of time. After a while he was a governor, not an actor, and it's quite a different role," Khachigian was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying Wednesday.

Tuesday's special election followed a declining political slide for Schwarzenegger, who maintained high popularity ratings in his first year as governor with support from Democrats and independents.

But a series of political activities by the Republican governor since late last year disdained himself from his political partners in the state's legislature dominated by Democrats.

He helped the reelection of President George Bush, who was widely disliked in California, by making a prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention in New York and flying to Ohio, a crucial swing state, to make last-minute campaign for Bush.

And the proposals Schwarzenegger tried to put through in the state legislature earlier this year were opposed by Democrats and their backers.

Polls showed Schwarzenegger's once-solid bipartisan support was steadily eroding since then, as his opponents, mainly labor organizations, spent tens of millions of dollars in TV ads against him after he called for the special election.

Unions and their Democratic allies called Schwarzenegger's reform agenda as an assault on nurses, firefighters, teachers and other public workers, and their campaign against the governor has significantly battered his image as he prepares to seek reelection in 2006, local political analysts said.

Source: Xinhua

People's Daily Online ---