Sacramento Bee Columnist, Dan Walters puts it best when he writes:
The Republican governor’s deals with Democratic legislators were on issues that they held dear — such as global warming, borrowing more money for public works and raising the minimum wage — and anything broadly controversial — such as building more reservoirs — was bypassed because he was eager to build a re-election record.
No conservative issues, such as reducing business regulation or reforming public employee pensions, were allowed on the table, and Republican lawmakers were largely excluded from the process. Thus, what happened in 2006 was scarcely a model of bipartisan policymaking, much less the “post-partisanship” that the governor now embraces.
So in looking to this new legislative year one can expect one of two scenarios. Either bipartisanship will continue to be the “Republican Governor” working with Democrat legislators to implement Democrat ideas. Or because re-election is behind him, the governor will work to include legislative Republicans and their ideas in the debate about how to fix California.
Only time will tell. But I’m hoping it’s the later. Walters does not seem so optimistic.
The enduring message from that experience isn’t that California is entering a new, golden era of centrist and cooperative politics, but that Schwarzenegger may be able to extend his record only if he deals with matters that the Democrats value, such as increasing health coverage.
Were Schwarzenegger to expand his horizons and approach the broader array of knotty issues facing the state, not merely those favored by Democrats, he would not only have to overcome the realpolitik dynamics of the Capitol but overcome the divisions within California itself that flow from its incredible socioeconomic complexity.