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THE SPECIAL ELECTION

Winners and losers

November 10, 2005|Robert Salladay | Times staff writer

WINNERS

Political consultants

Sacramento-based hired hands -- Gale Kaufman, Larry Grisolano, Ray McNally, Richard Temple, et al. -- kept deep-pocketed unions on track and suppressed squabbling between disparate forces. Never let foot off Schwarzenegger's neck.

Television stations

Ka-ching! Ads gobbled a big chunk of the $250 million spent. Stations looked good hosting forums on initiatives, instead of usual fare of red-carpet premieres and 405 police pursuits.

Maria Shriver

Leading the liberal wing of Arnold Party, First Lady Shriver could have even more influence over governor's direction and policy. Stood on the sidelines this election, and it showed.

Union leaders

When governor demonized them as akin to Tammany Hall bosses, they deftly remained behind scenes and let members speak: teachers, police, nurses, firefighters (but not DMV clerks).

"Warren Beatty, R.N."

Enlisted by California Nurses Assn. to be celebrity face of campaign to hobble Schwarzenegger. An aide to the governor called him a crackpot, but one L.A. TV station cut away from Schwarzenegger's election-night speech to get Beatty's views.

Proposition 98

Passed with only 50.7% of vote in 1988. But the law's guarantee of school funding framed the entire 2005 debate. It now enters pantheon with Proposition 13, the property tax cap. Politicians may be less inclined to mess with it.

Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer

Helped kill Proposition 76, Schwarzenegger's signature initiative to curb spending. His legal team wrote the deadly (and accurate, Democrats said) title and summary that emphasized school spending "limitations." Voters read the title. Enough said.

Smoking tent

Schwarzenegger's intimate cigar sanctuary inside Capitol courtyard hasn't hosted many deals in past year. With the governor promising new bipartisanship, could become hot spot it once was. Dust off palm tree furnishings.

Darrel Ng

The unflappable and ironic Schwarzenegger aide's memorable "And you are?" routine barring actors Beatty and Annette Bening from rally was a highlight. "That's B-E-N-I-N-G." Election night, Ng laughed it off with Beatty at Trader Vic's in Beverly Hills.

LOSERS

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Unified enemies. Lost ground on pension reform. Raised nearly $50 million, but still got outspent. Never convinced voters of election's need.

Team Arnold

Leadership came late, after missteps in writing initiatives. Orchestrated "town halls" that became stale. TV ads tried to sell personality (Schwarzenegger) instead of product (initiatives.)

Hiram Johnson's legacy

California's 23rd governor lost big in 1915, when all 11 special election ballot measures went to defeat. This year, the direct-democracy movement he helped start turned into $250-million war between the very kinds of special interests he abhorred.

The truth

Both sides churned out inexorable television ads that angled, warped, hooked, arched and contorted facts. With no official regulator for such distortions, voters stepped in on election day.

Talk radio

"All right, governor. Go for it," a Sacramento host told Schwarzenegger on Nov. 2, in one of dozens of "news" interviews with talk radio before election. He crowed about winning the 2003 recall for the governorship, but this time the formula didn't work.

Conservative churches

Saw Proposition 73 as nose of camel inside the tent. But couldn't get "liberal" California to approve parental notification for abortion, which would have helped their nationwide movement.

Garages and firehouses

More Californians are voting by mail instead of at neighborhood polling stations. About 40%, in fact, thanks to change in law that allows "permanent absentee" voters. Could alter how campaign workers communicate with voters.

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Robert Salladay, Times staff writer

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