Arnold Gets the Message

Updated

The Courage Campaign, the progressive group chaired by producer Rick Jacobs, sent a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asking him to oppose a possible ballot initiative that would change the way the state picks its electors.

Those signing the letter include Sherry Lansing, Bradley Whitford, Sal Rosselli, Arianna Huffington, Assembly Majority Leader Karen Bass and Los Angeles Councilman Eric Garcetti.

The governor is hearing them. On Wednesday, in an interview with KABC, Schwarzenegger signaled that he was leaning against supporting the measure. “To me, what we have in place right now works…I feel like if you all the sudden in the middle of the game start changing the rules it’s kind of odd, it almost feels like a loser’s mentality, saying I cannot win with those rules, so let me change the rules. I have not made up my mind yet in one way or the other, because I haven’t seen the details on it but basically I would say there is something off with this whole idea.”

As I have reported before, the initiative, which is backed by a group called Californians for Equal Representation that is led by an attorney for the state Republican Party, would end the “winner-take-all” method of picking the state’s presidential electors and replace it with a system where such votes are awarded to the candidate who wins each congressional district. So instead of John Kerry getting 55 electoral votes in 2004, he would get just 33.

Because California has been such a reliable blue state in recent presidential races, Democrats see it as no less than a power grab, particularly if it gets on the ballot next June. They have organized their own opposition group, Californians for Fair Election Reform, with contributors that include producer Steve Bing. 

But the Courage Campaign has launched an opposition effort of its own, a “No Dirty Tricks” campaign that organized bloggers and last week sent more than 2,000 copies of the initiative to Schwarzenegger to read. The governor had earlier said that he hadn’t read it and therefore couldn’t comment on it.

Schwarzenegger’s opposition could help stall the initiative, although the initiative was approved for circulation on Wednesday. It apparently has the backing of Bob Perry, who financed the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” campaign against Kerry.

Update: The Courage Campaign issued this response to Schwarzenegger’s statement.

“Funny thing is, Arnold will be joining many of those “losers” tomorrow at the California Republican Party convention. And what are his Republican cronies doing to prevent this cynical ploy to change the rules, lock down the White House, and keep us in Iraq for another four years?

Needless to say, Arnold Schwarzenegger is probably the only person in the world who can kill this radical right-wing coup in its cradle right now. If he wanted to, he could terminate it at this weekend’s Republican convention. Unfortunately, as the future of our country and the world hangs in the balance, Arnold is playing dumb while sitting on 2,148 copies of the initiatives you sent him to read.”

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