SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – After seven years, the “Governator’s” run as leader of California comes to an end Monday in Sacramento, when Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves office and is replaced by Jerry Brown.
Schwarzenegger captured the public’s imagination, and tapped into voters’ frustration, when he declared his candidacy for governor back in 2003. His plan was to sweep Gray Davis out of office, repeal the car tax, and not just rearrange the boxes in Sacramento, but instead blow them up.
“I will be tough enough. I’m independent, and I will go up there and clean house,” Schwarzenegger said at the time.
KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:
And while he acted as soon as he was in office, the car tax repeal blew a $4 billion hole in the budget that was never filled. In addition, Schwarzenegger’s leaving the state with a deficit that is almost triple the one he inherited from Davis, leaving himself with a failing grade from USC political scientist Sherry Bebich Jeffe.
“It’s an F,” graded Bebich Jeffe. “We are in worse financial shape now than we were when Davis was recalled.”
Veteran Republican strategist Bob Gardner of the Advocacy Group in San Francisco said that Schwarzenegger’s governorship represents a huge missed opportunity.
“He came in with tremendous political power, and he didn’t use it right away,” said Gardner. “He could have put in any reform that he wanted right away.”
And while he did reform workers’ compensation, and pass AB32 to reverse climate change, Bebich Jeffe says Schwarzenegger wasn’t the action hero the voters thought they elected.
“He will be remembered as just another politician who over-promised change, and did not deliver. That’s not a positive legacy,” said Bebich Jeffe.
On the other hand, Gardner acknowledges that Schwarzenegger was trying to make a difference.
“I’m really glad he did this, instead of just talking, like most Hollywood people do, about how terrible things are, he got in the area, stepped up to the plate and did what he could. He deserves credit for that,” said Gardner.
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