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Schwarzenegger Captures Wary Far Right


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Schwarzenegger Captures Wary Far Right

by Mark Worrall, 365Gay.com San Francisco Bureau

February 27, 2006 - 1:00 pm ET

(San Jose, California) A threatened revolt at this weekend's California GOP convention in San Jose failed to materialize and the far right of the party has signaled its support for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Conservative Republicans had threatened to withhold the party's endorsement of Schwarzenegger's bid for re-election unless he fired LGBT activist Susan Kennedy, Democrat, as his chief of staff and publicly supported two ballot initiatives to ban same-sex marriage in the state Constitution.

The governor hired Kennedy in November (story) in an attempt to show a moderate image as he prepares for November's election. Schwarzenegger alienated gays and many moderate swing voters in the state when he vetoed a bill that would have allowed same-sex marriage.

But in hiring Kennedy he angered conservatives within his own party.

Kennedy is a longtime gay activist, a former official with the state Democratic Party official and was a top adviser to former Gov. Gray Davis.

A resolution circulated before the convention by conservatives demanding her firing said Kennedy "has spent most of her adult life pursuing a partisan Democratic agenda for higher taxes, greater government spending, gay rights, abortion rights ... and other anti-Republican policy issues."

In the days leading up to the convention the governor reached out to social conservatives, going so far as to send Kennedy directly into the fray.

Sunday, Schwarzenegger got his endorsement and some members of the party's right wing were even cooing about Kennedy.

The Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition - one of two groups trying to get an amendment to block gay marriage on the ballot - told the Sacramento Bee that he's now ready to support Schwarzenegger's chief of staff.

"What I'm hearing about Susan Kennedy is that she's committed to the re-election of the governor and his policies," Sheldon told the paper. "Maybe, providentially, a Democrat in the administration is going to be a blessing in disguise."

But even a unified Republican Party may not be enough to catapult the actor into a second term.

Public opinion polls show his popularity has sunk to the low 40s and even among Republicans statewide he has only 75 percent - far lower than the 80 percent GOP support seen as necessary for victory.

Additionally, even though he won the support at the convention of both mainstream and right wing Republicans many delegates were only lukewarm in their predictions for the governor's re-election.

"We have a record we can run on and a record we can win on," Schwarzenegger said in his Friday night speech.

But, the response from the floor was only polite applause - a far cry from the tumultuous cheering he enjoyed in the past.

©365Gay.com 2006


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