For those of you outside the "Golden" (or is it Green?) state, Arnold and his newly nominated Democratic opponent, Phil Angelides, are in an all out sprint to prove who is the Greenest One of All. Arnolds campaign bus is painted green, and hes all over T.V. lauding his environmental cred. Phil Angelides and the Dems are still running full throttle to disavow the anti-environmental claims made against him during the primary by opponent and former E-bay executive, Steve Westly.
During the primary, (which Angelides won by a very thin margin) Westly ran ads which played up Angelides as a bald-faced environmental hazard. After all, he has been a dreaded "real-estate developer"--a term that seems to be synonomous with the devil out here in California. Worse, Westly claimed that Angelides had been involved with a project that polluted the hallowed waters of Lake Tahoe. Even though our sainted Senators, Ms. Feinstein and Ms. Boxer, have condemned these claims (as have most of the Democratic hierarchy) they seem to have made a deep impression on environmentalists.
This article from Salon magazine details some of the finer points in this story. But I have some even more interesting anecdotal evidence to suggest that Arnold may not be entirely wrong in playing this hand. Some good friends of mine who are pretty committed Democrats and hard-core environmentalists made the argument at a party yesterday that they could never believe that a "real-estate developer" (and the term was uttered with dripping contempt) was pro-environment. Although they had voted for Schwarzenegger in the recall election, they were deeply disappointed in him because of the budget cuts for education (which were, in fact, just cuts in the rate of growth). So they were pretty torn. They wanted to get a Democrat back in the governors chair--but they wondered which candidate (Arnold or Angelides) was the best Democrat. Another couple who are committed Republicans but also strong environmentalists were energized by the Arnold juggernaut and excited that Angelides was the opponent. They readily agreed with my Democrat friends that "real-estate developers" were evil envirnomental degraders.
I thought that was all very interesting in its way. And though I like Lake Tahoe and love Yosemite, I am more interested in allowing off-shore drilling to reduce our dependence on foreign oil so my kids and their kids can live to enjoy those places in freedom. So I had no common ground upon which to enter the discussion with folks who reflexively put "environment" ahead of all other considerations.
As for the campaign, it may, in some small way, help Arnold win re-election, but I dont think it is good policy to play it up to greens. Further, I dont think this side-show will slam-dunk the election for either candidate. I still think that what is going to kill Angelides efforts in the end are the commercials that Westly ran painting him as an unreformed "tax and spend" liberal. Schwarzenegger ought to play that up big time, and soon. Both liberals (who are regular working folk, and not idealogues) and conservatives have had enough with the taxes out here.