Would Arnold Really Endorse Jerry?

11_09EPAsuit As I noted in my story today, there’s some question as to whether Arnold Schwarzenegger will endorse anyone in the governor’s race — or even if he may cross party lines and give a nod to Jerry Brown.

He visited the Washington Post editorial offices today, and Jonathan Capehart writes that he was asked about when he’d come out for Whitman, he said, “You’re assuming I’m going to endorse the Republican.” Capehart writes that Schwarzengger later sounded as if he were leaning toward Whitman, but just the fact that it is not as clear cut as it should be shows how far the Governator has drifted from the state Republican mainstream — or, depending on your point of view, they have drifted away from him.

By what they said and through various appearances together, Jerry Brown and Schwarzenegger like each other, and have worked well together. In his interview at the Post, he offered words of praise (and some criticisms) of Brown’s earlier tenure in the state’s highest office.

Longtime Democratic strategist Darry Sragow says that while it may not be clear when he would endorse, or whether it will mean much given Schwarzengger’s low approval numbers, “I don’t think he has a choice but to endorse the Republican nominee.” It’s not just party dynamics that make it so. Although Schwarzengger is reviled by state Republicans, and doesn’t even show up at state GOP conventions, Whitman’s message resembles that of Arnold circa 2003, and one of her chief campaign strategists, Mike Murphy, also was behind Schwarzenegger’s campaign.

Still, Schwarzengger may find himself campaigning this fall against an oil-company backed initiative to roll back AB 32, the global warming law to cut greenhouse gas emissions that was one of his signature achievements. Whitman has called for temporarily suspending the laws, and Schwarzengger criticized that stance, so that would have to be an issue to overcome. As Sragow points out, that could merely be explained as one disagreement among a host of issues. Political consultant Sherry Bebitch Jeffe also notes that Schwarzenegger could overlook their differences and say, “I still believe we need fresh blood.”

It would be a bombshell if Schwarzengger were to endorse Brown, but it also could be reasoned as in keeping with his message of post-partisanship. That was on display with his support of California’s recently passed Proposition 14, which will eliminate the party-primary system to an open primary, where the top two candidates, regardless of affiliation, go on the November ballot. Essentially, parties take a diminished role in elections.

In Washington on Thursday, Schwarzengger was to attend a screening of a documentary on one of his pet issues, redistricting reform. The doc is titled “Gerrymandering,” and a trailer is here.

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