Schwarzenegger Eyeballing a Senate Seat?

Schwarzenegger, who as governor pursued political reforms including the “top two” primary system and a redistricting commission, has recently launched a major drive to end gerrymandering, a tradition he argues has benefited only partisan politics and gridlock — not the voters.

On Facebook, Schwarzenegger has taken both parties to task on the issue, warning that “Republicans and Democrats are incredibly skilled at screwing over the voters — and keeping them in the dark about their trickery.”

The attacks on both major parties is leading some to suggest Schwarzenegger, a lifelong Republican, may be eyeing a future role as an independent candidate.

Longtime California politics watchers say a Schwarzenegger return to the political stage would be riveting — and is entirely plausible.

As a candidate, “he would become an instant player,’’ not only on political reform but also on his signature issue of “cap and trade and climate change,’’ said political analyst David McCuan of Sonoma State University. “[Schwarzenegger is] someone who could play a huge role if Republicans wanted any hope of having relevance in California.’’

Source: Politico

Politico broke this yesterday afternoon, and it’s great timing as 2018 speculation grows both here in California and nationally. No incumbent Senators up in 2018 have yet announced retirement, but all eyes are on Dianne Feinstein, who has served since 1993 and will be 85 this year. While the article runs on the assumption of Arnold challenging her, should she retire, the entire dynamic of next year’s contests in California blows apart. Currently, three Democrats are already vying for Governor: Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Treasurer John Chiang, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villariagosa. If Feinstein retires, it’s possible at least one of them enters that race, possibly joined by current mayor Eric Garcetti and a few members currently in Congress looking to move up. If Schwarzenegger ran under that set of circumstances, he’d likely advance beyond the primary: there is virtually no Republican bench in California for statewide offices, but there are enough voters to get him past a divided Democratic field. The California GOP is still holding out hope for San Diego Mayor Faulconer to change his mind and run for Governor, and will be scrambling for anything if the Senate seat becomes an open contest. As we’ve discussed here, top ticket races could affect next year’s Congressional performances: a totally Democratic presence at the top of the ticket could push Democrats over the top in the Clinton/Republican districts. Even if Schwarzenegger ran as an independent, it would give voters not on Team Blue something to show up for.