“Bodybuilder,” “actor” and “former California governor” are some of many titles attributed to the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The political career of the “Austrian Oak” made him much like the heroes he portrayed in films as he stepped in to lead a populist movement and save a broken California back in 2003.
Now, 18 years later, it appears the recall efforts against controversial Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom are a source of déjà vu for the former governor.
The “Austrian Oak” says things look the same now as they did when he first won the office.
And he should know — Schwarzenegger himself won the governorship after a successful recall effort booted his predecessor, Gov. Gray Davis.
“It’s pretty much the same atmosphere today as it was then,” Schwarzenegger said in a Politico interview published Wednesday.
“There was dissatisfaction, to the highest level. And you feel like, ‘Wait a minute, but Sacramento doesn’t really do everything for us that they promised they’ll do. We are working hard — but they’re not. They’re failing us every day.’ That’s what I see as the similarities from 2003. It’s the same vibe.”
Newsom has labeled the recall effort against him as a “Republican power grab” to deflect the blame onto his opponents, but he fails to remember one significant truth Schwarzenegger noted in the same interview.
“This is the crazy thing here, when they say it’s a ‘power grab’ of the Republicans. Let me tell you, the Republicans couldn’t even get anyone elected. It’s ludicrous — the Republican Party doesn’t exist [in California],” he said. “These are the signatures of the ordinary folks that have signed on.”
Schwarzenegger is right. This is not necessarily a partisan issue, but rather one that addresses dissatisfaction with incompetent government, and a governor who’s been caught publicly flouting his own coronavirus rules.
In fact, “recall proponents claim that more than a third of the signatures gathered came from either registered Democrats or those expressing no party preference,” according to CNN.
Still, according to a March 15 Wall Street Journal report, Newsom boasts the support of big-name Democrats across the nation, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Stacey Abrams, the party’s 2018 nominee for governor in Georgia.
“Right-wing Republicans in California are trying to recall @GavinNewsom for the crime of telling people to wear masks and for listening to scientists during COVID. Extremist Republicans have done enough to undermine democracy already. We must all unite to oppose the recall in California,” Sanders wrote in a March 8 Twitter post.
Right-wing Republicans in CA are trying to recall @GavinNewsom for the crime of telling people to wear masks and for listening to scientists during COVID. Extremist Republicans have done enough to undermine democracy already. We must all unite to oppose the recall in California.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 8, 2021
But will Sanders’ support — and the support of other top Democrats — be enough to prevent this recall?
According to a separate Politico news report published Wednesday, the effort will likely go before voters in the fall. But in a state President Joe Biden easily carried with 63.5 percent of the vote in November, the recall is still a long road ahead for Newsom’s challengers.
It was a long road in 2003 for the groups trying to drive Davis from office, too.
In the Politico interview, Schwarzenegger pointed out how Democrats attacked him while trying to save Davis’ job.
“The Democrats brought out Bill Clinton. They brought out my good friend, John Kerry,” Schwarzenegger said. “They said [to voters], ‘This would be the worst thing you can do,’ that, ‘Let’s think of it as a heart surgeon, would you want to have a heart surgery from someone that has never performed heart surgery?’
“I just said that, [in Sacramento], the surgeons have been doing surgery for years, and they’ve killed every patient.”
Schwarzenegger’s analogy was right, and now it seems the Democratic surgeons are killing patients yet again.
Will Newsom’s mismanagement of the pandemic haunt him for the rest of his political career — regardless of how long that may be?
It seems that the California liberal elite will do their best to make sure of one thing: He’ll be back.
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