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Gov. Vows More Ballot Efforts

The four measures in Tuesday's election that Schwarzenegger is stumping for are only the beginning, he says on the campaign trail.

November 03, 2005|Peter Nicholas | Times Staff Writer

ON THE 405 FREEWAY — Slogging through Los Angeles traffic on a campaign bus to demonstrate the need for better roads, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Wednesday that the four initiatives he was promoting in Tuesday's special election were only a beginning.

Schwarzenegger told reporters that he could have put "15 more ideas" on the ballot. As it was, the governor said, he was criticized for taking on too much. Schwarzenegger suggested that he won't be satisfied even if his agenda was approved and that Californians can expect more far-reaching measures from him.

One of the initiatives Schwarzenegger is backing, Proposition 74, would require teachers to work five years, rather than two, before they are eligible for tenure. That measure is not sufficient to improve public education, he said.

"Never look at it as: This is all we need," the governor said, sitting in a big chair at the back of the bus, which was decorated with campaign posters. He added: "How do we get the power away from the teachers union and make sound decisions based on what's best for education, rather than what's best for the teachers union?"

Similarly, he said Proposition 77, which would change the way voting districts are drawn, was not enough to "clean up" California politics. "It's a help to go in the right direction," he said. "But there are still many other problems with the political system that need to be reformed."

In the final days before the election, Schwarzenegger was barnstorming Southern California in a series of televised forums, bus tours and other campaign events.

Schwarzenegger described the drive to Long Beach as part of an effort to keep voters from getting "bored." Stenciled on the outside of his bus was a picture of Schwarzenegger and the words, "Reform to Rebuild Express."

After the bus tour, Schwarzenegger flew to Sacramento to be interviewed on two conservative talk radio programs and to participate in a televised forum sponsored by a local TV station.

Speakers for the union-backed opposition included Liane Cismowski, a Contra Costa County teacher featured widely in TV advertisements opposing the governor, and Brian Rice, a Sacramento firefighter and union leader who has appeared in an opposition ad. Fresno union activist Kevin Hall also participated.

Schwarzenegger took the stage first, fielding questions from the audience, then left the station. When it was the opposition's turn, Rice revealed where the governor had gone.

He held up for the TV cameras an invitation to a Schwarzenegger fundraising event in Sacramento scheduled for Wednesday night. Schwarzenegger has raised more than $70 million for various political causes in the last several years. He does not typically publicize his fund-raising dinners, nor does he release copies of the invitations.

"I wish the governor was here," Rice said. " ... He's not on stage with us. Because he ... is attending a $50,000-per-plate fundraiser in the Arden Hills Country Club right now .... You want to talk about reform? I think reform is necessary all over. It's not just necessary on one side."

Schwarzenegger's campaign team did not dispute that the governor had left the forum for a fundraiser. His lead strategist, Mike Murphy, told reporters: "We make no apologies for raising money. We're being outspent 3 to 1."

Records show that Schwarzenegger has raised at least $43 million for the special election campaign; his opponents have raised more than $80 million. Those totals are sure to rise; final tallies won't be known until early next year.

In his presentation, Schwarzenegger sought to exploit voter disdain for the Legislature. He was asked about his proposal to restrain state spending. The governor said that if Proposition 76 passed, he would cut spending across the board.

He said he would cut "all programs, including the paychecks of the legislators. I don't even take any money."

As governor, Schwarzenegger has declined a public salary. He did, however, collect about $1.5 million through a private contract with a Florida-based publisher of tabloids and muscle magazines. He severed the contract last summer after the details were made public.

Earlier Wednesday, Schwarzenegger boarded his bus at the height of the morning rush hour in Sherman Oaks, leading a six-vehicle motorcade on the 38-mile drive to Long Beach. He wanted to illustrate what to many Southern Californians is an indisputable point: Traffic is bad.

"Hopefully we'll get stuck in traffic," the governor said.

Wish granted. At times the caravan did no better than 25 mph.

Schwarzenegger took the opportunity to plug Proposition 76, the spending restraint that he said would bar lawmakers from raiding transportation funds to balance the state budget.

In Long Beach, Schwarzenegger delivered a speech to several dozen supporters atop a parking garage overlooking the port. He said 37 million Californians are squeezed into a transportation system built for two-thirds that number.

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