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Mar 15, 2007 - 04:30 PM

$90 Million Extra Election

by Carmen Balber
Governor Schwarzenegger signed legislation this morning to create a $90 million extra election in 2008.

We think he'd have learned better after his resounding 2005 special election defeat, when the governor told reporters he wished he could tell the "Terminator to travel back in time to tell Arnold not to have a special election."

The legislation moves California‚s presidential primary to February but leaves statewide primaries in June, splitting the statewide primaries at a high taxpayer cost. The split primaries also will have a high cost to democracy. Last week's minimally publicized Los Angeles city elections garnered a shameful 7% voter turnout, and it is hard to imagine what will excite voter turnout in a June statehouse primary when all the action is in February.

Legislative leaders are willing to sacrifice taxpayer cash and voter turnout because the real reason for the early primary is to place a term limits extension initiative on the early February election so they can stay in office for another 4 to 6 years.

Arnold should have shut down their scheming and vetoed the bill until it keeps both primaries on the same date. Instead, the gov is hoping to trade his signature on early primary legislation for legislative support of redistricting or some other proposal he can call reform and buff up his image.

A recent blow to the reformer image that Arnold is nurturing may, in fact, explain the governor‚s timing in signing the bill today. As an invitation posted on the LA Times‚ Political Muscle blog reveals , the gov has invited top donor members of the "California Recovery Team Executive Committee" and "Advisory Council" to give $250,000 to join him in policy discussions as well as dinner and cocktail parties at his Brentwood estate. Members will be included in "regular conference calls" with the governor and public employees.

One of those get-togethers -- cocktails and dinner on June 6 -- would also be in direct violation of another gubernatorial 'reform' proposal: Arnold's suggested ban on fundraising during the budget season .

Best guess is that now he's wishing he could send the Terminator back in time to deal with whoever leaked that invitation.

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