- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2003

Arnold Schwarzenegger completes his rise from Hollywood heavyweight to political star today with his inauguration as California’s governor, but once the celebrations end, tackling the state’s fiscal woes will require him to guide an administration filled with political opposites.

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s Cabinet contains strong fiscal conservatives such as Finance Director Donna Arduin, who has wielded a sharp budget-cutting ax for popular Republican governors in other states.

In keeping with his socially liberal philosophy, however, Mr. Schwarzenegger also has hired a liberal Democrat, Bonnie Reiss, as a senior adviser, and tapped the head of a left-leaning conservation group as his secretary of environmental protection.

Further complicating matters, the incoming governor placed a timber-industry executive into the No. 2 environmental post and named Republican former Secretary of State Bill Jones as the state resources chief.

“He’s appointing the way he campaigned,” said Bill Whalen, a political research fellow at the Hoover Institution who worked extensively with former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson. “His administration will reflect views on the left, the right and in the center.”

The left got first dibs on center stage with the appointment of Terry Tamminen, the executive director of the Santa Monica-based activist group Environment Now, to the state’s top environmental post.

In a speech delivered a few days before he’s set to take office, Mr. Tamminen criticized the Bush administration’s reluctance to embrace fully the theory of global warming.

“We can’t just stick our head in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist,” Mr. Tamminen said to a group of business leaders in San Francisco last week.

Predicting a “quite interesting” era with Mr. Schwarzenegger as governor, Mr. Tamminen embraced the idea that competing interests will fight it out in the state’s environmental office.

“We have to get beyond balkanizing ourselves,” Mr. Tamminen said. “If I was to create an administration at Cal-EPA that was all one stripe, we’d be doomed to failure.”

California-based Republican consultant Dan Schnur said Mr. Schwarzenegger seems to be emulating the management philosophy of Ronald Reagan. Just like the former president, the new governor is surrounding himself with diverse thinkers to arrive at the best policy.

“California is a very diverse state, politically,” Mr. Schnur said. “If his Cabinet was made up entirely of liberals, or entirely of conservatives, he’d eventually be pushed down the wrong path.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger is faced with daunting challenges for a first-time holder of public office. The budget is currently $25 billion in deficit, and Mrs. Arduin released a report last week that predicted a budget deficit of $65 billion in three years if no Davis-era policies are changed.

Voters also expect Mr. Schwarzenegger to keep his promise to repeal Democratic Gov. Gray Davis’ tripling of the tax on vehicles, reduce other taxes to create a more business-friendly environment in California and not cut a cent in education spending, which consumes the bulk of the state budget.

The governor-elect’s aides say that repealing the car tax — his most popular policy proposal on the campaign trail — will be Mr. Schwarzenegger’s first action in office.

“We’re now going to see what happens,” said veteran California Democratic strategist Joe Cerrell. “What is he going to do with the budget? How will he deal with the legislative leadership?”

Rob Stutzman, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s communications director, said Mr. Schwarzenegger has been given “a mandate directly from the people to come and change the way business is being done here — and what is being done.”

California state politics in recent years hardly have been marked by a spirit of cooperation, but Mr. Schwarzenegger’s immense popularity, Mr. Whalen said, might make it difficult for Democrats.

“If it comes down to a public-relations battle, [Mr. Schwarzenegger] will win, hands down,” Mr. Whalen said. “The Democrats don’t know how to go after him. If they obstruct, it will be very clear who wears the white hat and who wears the black hat.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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