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Schwarzenegger gets mixed support from local Republicans

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Posted: Thursday, August 7, 2003 10:00 pm

The Terminator wants to change the way California is run. Local Republicans agree that Gov. Gray Davis needs to be recalled from office, but they don't agree on whether Arnold Schwarzenegger is the answer.

"I'm endorsing Arnold Schwarzenegger because I think he has the discipline, dedication and track record to make a difference," said Rep. Doug Ose, R-Sacramento, whose district includes Galt.

"This whole question is about leadership; we don't have it now, and we desperately need it," Ose said.

Despite not having a background in government administration, Ose said that Schwarzenegger most definitely has what it takes.

"Look at the man's track record," he said. "He came to the United States with zilch. He couldn't speak English."

Now he's a highly paid and popular movie actor, Ose said.

Garamendi enters recall race

State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi is the latest Democrat to jump into the governor's race.

Garamendi, who hails from Walnut Grove, represented Lodi and Tracy in the state Senate from 1976 to 1990.

The former local politician announced Thursday he will run in the race to replace the governor if Gov. Gray Davis is recalled.

Garamendi becomes the second leading Democrat to break party ranks.

The first was Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who announced Wednesday that, although he's opposed to the recall, he would run against his boss.

Garamendi becomes the third local person to officially announce he's interested in running for governor.

The other two people are Joe Guzzardi of Lodi and Thomas Benigno of Escalon.

Jim Hoffmann Jr., formerly of Manteca, filed but has since moved to San Bernardino County.

Kevin Richter of Manteca has expressed an interest, although he hasn't take out papers yet, according to the registrar of voter's office.

Garamendi's foray into the governor's race runs contrary to what he pledged in 2001, when he ran for insurance commissioner - a job he previously held from 1991 to 1995, before he left it for a failed try at governor.

When he ran for commissioner a second time, Garamendi promised he would not run for a higher office.

In fact, in an interview with the Lodi News-Sentinel, Garamendi said he wanted to serve as California's insurance commissioner for two terms.

Garamendi's announcement comes on the heels of the state Supreme Court's decision to not intervene in the governor's recall.

The high court late Thursday refused to hear Davis' lawsuits that the recall was unconstitutional.

The recall is set for Oct. 7, and those who have aspirations of becoming governor have until Saturday to file for the office.

According to the Secretary of State's Web site, more than 520 people have expressed interest in running for governor on the recall ballot.

- Les Mahler/San Joaquin News Service

The man who hopes to assume Ose's seat after Ose retires from Congress next

year finds The Terminator a bit too liberal for his liking.

"He isn't my kind of guy," state Sen. Rico Oller, R-San Andreas, said of Schwarzenegger. "He's far too liberal in many ways. He supports, as I understand it, gay adoption, gay marriage and spending tax dollars for all sorts of social programs. It's not my view of government's legitimate role."

Lodi Assemblyman Alan Nakanishi said he wants to wait until after Saturday's filing deadline before deciding who to support.

Nevertheless, Nakanishi is intrigued by some of Schwarzenegger's comments Wednesday on The Tonight Show such as "I can't be bought" and "I'm here to serve."

"These are the answers I've been giving," Nakanishi said. "I was thinking, 'That's just like me.'"

Cliff Powell of Stockton, past president of the California Republican Assembly, said he prefers Davis' 2002 opponent, Bill Simon, for governor.

"To me, Arnold Schwarzenegger is more of a Libertarian than a conservative Republican," Powell said. "He's a fiscal conservative and liberal on social issues. It's between Simon and (Tom) McClintock if you want a conservative person."

Lodi developer Dennis Bennett, a loyal Republican fund-raiser, questions whether Schwarzenegger has the administrative skills to be an effective governor. Bennett acknowledges that the actor has the campaign skills and financial backing to win.

"Former Mayor (Richard) Riordan would probably be the most qualified candidate as an administrator because he served in public office and served honorably in that capacity in a difficult environment," Bennett said.

Bennett said he supported Simon last year in the Republican primary, but admitted it was a mistake because Riordan, the former Los Angeles mayor, had a better chance of defeating Davis last November.

Riordan pulled his name out of the ring Thursday evening because he wanted to endorse his friend Schwarzenegger.

Although they are loyal Republicans, Bennett and Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-Livermore, agree that a new Democratic governor would be an improvement over Davis.

"I've never met the governor, which is curious," said Houston, who has served Galt, Thornton and Flag City in the Assembly the past seven months.

At least two Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, have invited Houston to meet them.

"At least there's some connection there," Houston said.

Rick Veldstra, chairman of the San Joaquin County Republican Central Committee, said he doesn't think Schwarzenegger's lack of executive experience will be a hindrance in his ability to govern the Golden State.

"Any successful businessmen can do the executive duties," said Veldstra, an Escalon farmer. "I don't see that as a tremendous litmus test."

Veldstra said, however, that he hasn't publicly supported a candidate.

Republican leaders said they were surprised when Schwarzenegger told talk-show host Jay Leno that he was running for governor.

"We all heard the same spin that he wasn't going to run," Oller said. "One thing you can't deny is that it was masterful. I believe his staff when they said they didn't know until the last minute."

Schwarzenegger's announcement Wednesday didn't exactly bring throngs of people to Lodi Stadium 12 Theater to see his newest movie, "Terminator III." Only 17 people showed up for showings at 10:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m., a ticket clerk reported.

However, moviegoers early Thursday evening didn't see anything wrong with Schwarzenegger becoming California's next governor.

"The last actor we had for governor (Ronald Reagan) was a good governor," said Lodi resident Carson Perry. "The only thing I might have with Schwarzenegger is that he married into the Kennedys."

Max Huffman of Lodi added, "We had Ronald Reagan. We can have Arnold."

"And Clint Eastwood branded Carmel," Huffman's wife, Linda, said of the former actor-turned-mayor.

Lloyd Gilbreath, a Stockton resident who came to Lodi on Thursday for the Farmers Market, thought about Schwarzenegger's candidacy and said, "Yeah, why not? The guy in Minnesota (Jesse Ventura) - he didn't screw it up that much."

Lodi resident Renee Mazzara said she has mixed feelings about Schwarzenegger, although she enjoyed his first two Terminator movies and is looking forward to "T3."

"Part of me says, 'Look at the other 200 candidates,'" Mazzara said. "But I'd be more apt to vote for an actual politician than an actor."

Ose said he expects Schwarzenegger to improve voter turnout with his candidacy.

"We're going to have people voting who haven't voted in years," Ose said.

Ose said that, no matter how the recall election turns out, it's positive for California.

"I think this recall and Arnold Schwarzenegger's candidacy confirms what I've held as a core value - that the voters are in charge," Ose said. "If the politicians don't deliver, then there's going to be a change."

Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, State Sen. Chuck Poochigian, R-Fresno, and Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian, R-Stockton, were unavailable for comment Thursday afternoon.

Pombo spokesman Doug Heye said that Pombo has met Schwarzenegger and was very impressed with him. Like other officials, Pombo wants to wait until Saturday's filing deadline to determine who all the candidates are, Heye said.

Pombo was unavailable Thursday because he was conducting a field hearing on natural gas prices in Pennsylvania.

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