Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from the LA Times

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Could Arnold Schwarzenegger win California for John McCain?

March 7, 2008 | 10:28 am

Half the fun of politics-watching is politics-speculating, and John Mercurio at the National Journal mused yesterday on what John McCain might gain by making an early play for Arnold Schwarzenegger as a member of his cabinet. It's a subscriber-only site, but we'll summarize Mercurio's thinking.

In a word, California.

Republican presidential contenders have won California before, and with the right play -- to the middle, primarily -- they could win it again. How do you make that play? You start by signing up the guv, who has won the state twice. Imagine the "Terminator" as secretary of Homeland Security. Or the  "Kindergarten Cop" in charge of education.

And if McCain does win California, the 55 electoral votes the Democrats usually count on would suddenly be in the "red" column -- a potentially watershed change in the electoral map (though one suspects Hollywood would start a secessionist movement with Rob Reiner holding the flag).

While winning California would be tough, Mercurio says McCain adding Schwarzenegger to his cabinet  isn't that big a leap. Schwarzenegger endorsed McCain, and Mercurio points out that although they have some big policy difference they share some staff -- including Adam Mendelsohn, the governor's former communications director, and Steve Schmidt, who led Schwarzenegger's reelection campaign. Both men know how to play in the state.

But it is a state that is overwhelmingly Democratic, and their past intense dislike of George Bush could be enough to kill any Republican's chances here. And one argument against Schwarzenegger heading to Washington: It's a worse commute than Sacramento.

-- Scott Martelle