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What Happens After Arnold?

The future of the California GOP is in the hands of Steve Poizner.

11:00 PM, Aug 24, 2008 • By JAIME SNEIDER
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Calling Democrats who opposed President Bush "a bunch of girlie men," Schwarzenegger brought a lot of flash to California politics, but hasn't exactly presented much substance. Poizner is more of a West Coast Mike Bloomberg: a businessman focused less on popularity than problem solving. It may be too big of a goal to win back the state legislature in the near future. Although it might be comforting to believe that there is some conservative constituency waiting to be found in California, this is probably naïve. Revitalizing the Republican party will start with the election of another Republican for governor and retaining enough seats in the state legislature to sustain vetoes. Republicans will only start winning majorities again if they can prove to independent voters that the party can be trusted with the reigns of power.

Whether Poizner can pull this off or will even run remains to be seen. But it is reassuring that two years after taking office, Poizner is still putting ideas on the table and talking about pro-business policies to turn around California's economy. In his stump speech, Poizner observes, Nevada has "no corporate income tax, no personal income tax, where workers compensation rates are 30% less, and the electricity stays on." Poizner recognizes that if California wants to keep business and jobs from leaving the state, it's going to have to change tax and spend ways.

In his inaugural address in November 2003, Schwarzenegger remarked, "It is true that things may get harder before they get better." That's a great line, and it's also great advice to the next Republican candidate for governor who still has many obstacles to overcome.

Jaime Sneider is a contributor to the WEEKLY STANDARD online, and previously served as a speechwriter to California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon.