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South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem taking swings at potential 2024 rivals

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — More than 18 months before the first presidential primary of 2024, most potential Republican candidates are just getting a sense of the political landscape, tiptoeing through early voting states and trying to make friends in key places. Then there’s Kristi Noem.

The South Dakota governor has come out swinging as she tries to carve a niche among an early crowd of possible GOP rivals for the White House. Her combative style, no surprise to those who follow her, is evidence of how competitive the nomination race will be if Donald Trump stays on the sidelines.

Noem charged into Iowa on Friday singing a battle hymn and armed with barbed comments for her fellow GOP governors. At a conservative gathering in Des Moines, she told the crowd she “really hates this America” under President Joe Biden’s leadership, then led them in singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

But Noem didn’t just take aim at political foes. She also unleashed sharp-edged comments on those within her own party, accusing fellow GOP governors of “rewriting history” by claiming they kept their states open during the pandemic.

“To pretend that they didn’t take actions that they had no authority to take isn’t standing on truth,” she told reporters Friday.

It’s easy to see why the 49-year-old governor, who is known as a scorched-earth campaigner in her home state, is elbowing out anyone trying to claim a more hands-off approach to the pandemic. She doesn’t have the experience of working alongside Trump, like Mike Pence, Nikki Haley or Mike Pompeo – all of whom have visited the presidential-proving ground of Iowa in recent days. Other potential rivals like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have the advantage of governing states that figure prominently in national politics.

The pandemic was rocket fuel for Noem‘s political rise. While she had been laying the groundwork to build a national profile and looking for ways to make South Dakota a testing ground for conservative policies, she jumped on decrying coronavirus restrictions early.

Conservatives nationwide have since made efforts to try to halt the pandemic’s spread into a favorite punching bag. At the Family Leadership Summit, where Noem spoke alongside Pence, Pompeo and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, speakers warned that government restrictions were eroding personal liberties. DeSantis has even begun selling “Don’t Fauci My Florida” merchandise to raise money for his gubernatorial reelection campaign, taking aim at another favorite target, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Noem didn’t mention DeSantis by name during a Sunday speech at another conservative conference in Texas, but seemed to single him out when she accused other GOP governors of “pretending” they didn’t shut down their beaches.

“All I’m saying is that we need leaders with grit. That their first instinct is to make the right decision,” Noem told the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

But as an early wave of virus cases hit her state in the spring of last year, Noem initially showed a willingness to step in and use the force of her office. She declared an emergency and told schools to close, urged a meatpacking plant to temporarily shutter after an outbreak among workers, and even issued a stay-at-home order in two hard-hit counties for people over 65 or vulnerable to the virus.

While Noem never ordered businesses to close, many did so anyway. And city leaders, frustrated with Noem‘s inaction, issued their own orders that forced many to shutter for weeks in the spring.

As the response to the virus became increasingly politicized, however, Noem moved to the forefront of governors railing against government orders. By June of 2020, her message had shifted: “More freedom, not more government is the answer.”

With an eye on the economic and mental health ripple effects of the pandemic, she frequently touted the fact that her state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation and a growing economy.

But even as virus cases and deaths surged last year, she refused to urge people to wear masks in public. Instead, the state spent more in federal coronavirus funds on an ad campaign inviting tourists to visit than it did on public health advertising.

As her appearances on Fox News increased, conservatives across the country began suggesting she run for president. Noem has demurred when asked publicly about her White House ambitions and says she is focused on next year’s gubernatorial campaign. But recent actions – from registering a federal political action committee to hitting the nationwide speaking circuit – show she has her sights set beyond South Dakota.

It’s not clear how her record on the virus would play beyond the Republican base. South Dakota recorded the nation’s 10th highest COVID-19 death rate. Although some states with far more aggressive approaches to mitigating the pandemic saw similar outcomes, South Dakota had the worst mortality rate in the Midwest. But that hasn’t stopped Noem from bragging about it.

“When I ran for governor I ran on it being an example to the nation,” she told the crowd Friday. “I had no idea that that was going to happen through a pandemic.”

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.

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Speaking at CPAC, the South Dakota governor and potential White House contender tried to draw a sharp contrast between her and her possible 2024 opponents

“We’ve got Republican governors across this country pretending they didn’t shut down their states; that they didn’t close their regions; that they didn’t mandate masks,” said the potential 2024 White House contender as she drew an implicit but obvious contrast to leaders like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who took a more restrictive approach in their states. “Now I’m not picking fights with Republican governors. All I’m saying is that we need leaders with grit. That their first instinct is the right instinct.”
“Demand honesty from your leaders and make sure that every one of them is willing to make the tough decisions,” added Noem, who repeatedly touted her hands-off approach to Covid-19 throughout her speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference — highlighting the fact that she never ordered a “single business” to close. “South Dakota did not do any of those (measures). We didn’t mandate. We trusted our people and it told them that personal responsibility was the best answer.”
Even when cases surged in her state last November, Noem refused to mandate masks and chose not to put in the precautionary measures that many other governors were taking to slow the spread of Covid-19. She insisted that her state had been most effective by swiftly identifying and isolating cases. As of this weekend, South Dakota had 230 deaths per 100,000 people, according to data from Johns Hopkins University — ranking the state 10th in that metric among the 50 states. The state had 14,090 cases per 100,000 people, ranking South Dakota with the third highest rate in the nation.
But in an October op-ed in the Rapid City Journal, Noem rejected “mandatory masking” by noting that some had questioned the effectiveness of masks, calling on each family to make “informed decisions for themselves.”
“As I’ve said before, if folks want to wear a mask, they should be free to do so,” she wrote in that piece. “Similarly, those who don’t want to wear a mask shouldn’t be shamed into wearing one. And government should not mandate it.”
She became a star headliner at the CPAC conference in Orlando in February, in part by taking aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease specialist, and insisting that her party could win by more clearly articulating that conservatives “are not here to tell you how to live your life.” To loud cheers, she said: “I don’t know if you agree with me, but Dr. Fauci is wrong a lot.”

Noem’s political future

Her comments Sunday were a shot across the bow from Noem as she positions herself in a field that has been essentially frozen by former President Donald Trump, who is teasing another run for his former office as he falsely claims that his 2020 contest with Joe Biden was rigged.
Noem, who was greeted with a standing ovation at CPAC hours before Trump was slated to speak Sunday, has been defined in part by her intense loyalty to Trump after a year in which she campaigned aggressively to help re-elect him. In a brief exchange with reporters Sunday after her speech, she said she hopes to see Trump run again in 2024. When asked about her own ambitions, she demurred.
“I think he’d be fantastic. He gets up every day and he fights for this country,” Noem said. “Most people when they watched what he and his family went through would be exhausted and quit, out of discouragement. And the fact that he’s still fighting is inspirational to me.”
“Would I run? Oh, I’m not focused on that,” she said when pressed about her White House plans. “I love South Dakota and I worked to come home to South Dakota, so I could be there and be with my people and ride horses for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy.”
When asked whether she would be open to joining Trump on the 2024 ticket as his No. 2, as some GOP voters would like to see her do as a replacement for former Vice President Mike Pence, she said she was “open to going home and putting on my cowboy boots right now. I’ve been in these heels a long time.”

GOP candidate for governor of New York Lee Zeldin explains plan to turn around crime in state amid surge

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., GOP candidate for governor of New York, explained his plan to turn around crime in the state during an exclusive interview with “Sunday Morning Futures,” arguing that it’s important to “support law enforcement more, not less.”  

Zeldin, who noted that he was raised in a law enforcement household, told host Maria Bartiromo, “I’m hearing it from all across our state, from people of all walks of life, they want to strengthen public safety in our state.”

The police debate has been at the top of the American conscience in the year since a White, now-former police officer in Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin, knelt on the neck of George Floyd for more than nine minutes; Floyd later died. 

Chauvin has since been convicted of murder, but Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests and ignited the defund the police movement. Congress is currently mulling sweeping police reform legislation in an effort to hold officers more accountable for misconduct. 

According to a Fox News poll conducted in April during the final days of Chauvin’s trial, found that by a nearly 2-1 margin, 62-33 percent, registered voters disagree with reducing police funding and moving it to other areas.

 Zeldin made the comments as cities across the country are experiencing an increase in violent crime. In New York City, for example, there has been an 8.5% increase in murders year-to-date as of July 4 and a 37.8% spike in shooting incidents, according to data provided by the NYPD

Zeldin noted that other measures to reduce crime in the state includes reversing cashless bail in the state. 

NYC MURDER CAUGHT ON VIDEO IN BROAD DAYLIGHT

Under previous New York law, prosecutors would determine whether to make a bail recommendation or agree to have the defendant released on their own recognizance. The case judge would then make a determination. Defense attorneys would typically make arguments that bail would be inappropriate, or should be set at a low amount, which judges would take into consideration.

Under the current law, courts are now prohibited from setting any monetary bail or keeping defendants in custody before trial in almost every type of misdemeanor case, and for a long list of felonies as well.

Zeldin also argued that it’s important to “keep qualified immunity, enact a bill of rights for law enforcement that recognizes their inherent right to self-defense, that gives them the resources they need to ensure they are not unfairly targeted.” 

He stressed that the measures, if implemented, would strengthen public safety in New York. 

Zeldin, a staunch ally of former President Trump and a four-term lawmaker who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District in the eastern half of Long Island, declared his candidacy for governor of the Empire State in April, arguing that “to save New York, Andrew Cuomo’s gotta go.” 

Zeldin became the first major Republican to launch a challenge against New York’s embattled three-term Democratic governor, who faces allegations of sexual harassment from several female accusers, which has triggered an independent investigation by the state attorney general and an impeachment investigation in the State Assembly. Cuomo’s also facing a federal probe into the state’s handling of COVID deaths at nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic.  

New York doesn’t have gubernatorial limits, and Cuomo announced in May of 2019 that he would run in 2022 for a fourth term steering the state.

While New York is a reliably blue state where Cuomo won reelection to a third term in 2018 by a massive 23-point margin, the governor has politically been severely wounded by the dual scandals. 

Cuomo is resisting calls to resign as he continues to emphasize that people should wait until the results of the attorney general’s investigation before making up their minds and passing judgment. While he has apologized for making some women uncomfortable, he has denied that he ever inappropriately touched a woman.

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The governor and his office have also pushed back on the nursing home deaths cover-up allegations, denying that nursing home fatality data was altered.

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser, Marisa Schultz, Ronn Blitzer, Victoria Balara and Brooke Singman contributed to this report. 

Poll shows Matthew McConaughey highly favorable for governor against Gov. Abbott

While it’s not 100% sure actor Matthew McConaughey will be running for Texas governor, he seems to already be a fan favorite against current Gov. Greg Abbott.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows the actor and Texas native gaining a lot of attention.

According to the poll, 41% of voters said they would like to see him run. The other 47% said they wouldn’t.

SEE RELATED STORY: Run for Texas governor now ‘a real consideration,’ Matthew McConaughey says

Wondering what the poll says about Abbott?

Well, it depends on who you ask. Most Republicans said Abbott deserves to be reelected. Meanwhile, most Democrats and Independents say he does not deserve to be reelected.

In general, 49% said Abbott was favorable, 43% said he was unfavorable and 7% said they haven’t heard enough.

Based on this poll, it’s safe to say McConaughey and Abbott would have a fairly competitive run. That’s if McConaughey commits to a political run.

Another man to keep your eyes on is Texas GOP Chairman Allen West.

West announced Sunday he is running for governor.

“I’ve not been in elected political office for about a decade, but I can no longer sit on the sidelines and see what has happened in these United States of America and … the place that I call home,” West said in the video, which was preceded by West reading aloud the Declaration of Independence to the churchgoers gathering on July fourth.

West’s campaign launch comes about a month after he announced his resignation as state party chairman. The resignation is effective July 11, when the State Republican Executive Committee is set to meet to pick West’s successor as chair.

According to the new poll, 25% of voters said West was favorable, 10% said he was unfavorable and 65% said they haven’t heard enough.

SEE RELATED: Allen West announces he is running against Gov. Greg Abbott in Republican primary

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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John M. Patterson, Segregationist Alabama Governor, Dies at 99

John Malcolm Patterson was born in Goldville on Sept. 27, 1921, one of six children (two of whom would die in childhood) of Albert and Agnes (Benson) Patterson. His parents were schoolteachers, but his father became a lawyer in Phenix City, where John graduated from Central High School in 1939. He soon joined the Army as a private, attended Officer Candidate School, became an artillery lieutenant and fought in World War II in North Africa, Sicily, mainland Italy, France and Germany. He was discharged as a major in 1945.

His marriage to Gladys Broadwater in 1942 ended in divorce in 1945. In 1947, he married Mary Joe McGowin. They had two children, Albert and Barbara, and were divorced. In 1975, he married Florentina Brachert, who is known as Tina. Complete information on his survivors was not immediately available.

Mr. Patterson earned a law degree in 1949 from the University of Alabama. He joined his father’s firm but was recalled to active duty during the Korean War and was an Army lawyer from 1951 to 1953. He then returned to law practice in Phenix City, a town notorious for brothels, gambling joints and other vices run by racketeers who controlled local politicians and catered to G.I.s from Fort Benning, Ga.

Pledging to clean up the vice, Albert Patterson won the Democratic nomination for state attorney general in 1954. He was soon shot dead by an assassin. (A deputy sheriff was convicted of the murder.) Vowing to carry out his father’s promises, John Patterson, who had shown little interest in politics, took his father’s place on the ballot, won a special election and became attorney general.

With the muscle of the National Guard, he drove the racketeers out of Phenix City in his first year in office. He also attacked widespread corruption in the administration of Gov. James E. Folsom. Planning to run for governor, Mr. Patterson catered to the electorate by winning a court order to ban the N.A.A.C.P. from operating in the state.

By the 1958 election, Mr. Patterson was Alabama’s toughest defender of segregation. Klansmen papered the state with his campaign posters, and in the primary he easily defeated Mr. Wallace, who supported segregation but not vehemently, and was viewed by many white voters as a racial moderate. After losing the election, Mr. Wallace, using a widely quoted racist slur, said that he had been outmaneuvered, and vowed to never let it happen again.

After leaving the governorship, Mr. Patterson lost races for governor in 1966 and for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 1970. Later in the ’70s he taught at Troy State University (now Troy University). Governor Wallace appointed him to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 1984, and he won two elections and served until 1997, when he retired to his farm in Goldville.

Author: Robert D. McFadden
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Texas likely to ban homeless encampments in unapproved public places after bill is sent to governor

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas is poised to outlaw homeless encampments across the state after the House signed off on the Senate’s changes to House Bill 1925, sending it to the governor for final approval.The bill would make camping in an unapproved public place a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $ 500. Cities may not opt out of the ban or discourage enforcement of it.

Abbott has signaled that he would sign the bill. He’s been a vocal critic of Austin officials for lifting the city’s homeless encampment ban two years ago. Lawmakers cited that decision as motivation for introducing this bill. Earlier this month, 57% of Austin residents voted to reinstate the city’s ban after critics said it sparked the spread of encampments in the city.

This legislation does not affect cities that have camping bans that are at least as strong as the ones outlined in the bill, said state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, the bill’s author. That includes cities like Houston and San Antonio, which have bans already in place, as well as relief programs.

A change to the bill also bans cities from using public parks as homeless encampment sites – which Austin recently announced it would do. Cities would first have to seek approval from Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs before they could use public parks, and these rules would apply retroactively – meaning Austin and cities with similar programs would need to get permission to continue using the parks as sites.

The bill calls for law enforcement officers to redirect homeless people to available local resources – such as shelters or nonprofit groups – “before or at the time” they issue a citation. An amendment from the Senate strikes the word “arrest” from the bill’s language, which Capriglione said Friday is to “clarify that law enforcement officers would have provided the person the information … only before at the time of issuing a citation and not arrest.”

Supporters of the bill say it will help house people experiencing homelessness and drive cities to provide more resources to them. State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, last week called it the “humanitarian bill of the session.”

But advocates for homeless people are skeptical.

Eric Samuels, president and CEO of the Texas Homeless Network, said he hasn’t observed a time that a camping ban has helped homelessness in an area – including in Austin, where he lives.Samuels said that if fines are levied against people – who could eventually be arrested due to continued offenses or inability to pay – it could present an “enormous barrier” to someone trying to escape homelessness.

In any case, Samuels said this legislation doesn’t offer solutions to homelessness – and there needs to be a next step toward recovery after criminalization.

“If passing this legislation means that we’re sick of seeing people in the streets, good, let’s do something about it,” Samuels said. “We’re ready, our partners around the state are ready and, most importantly, people experiencing homelessness are ready.”

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans – and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Couple says Leander police didn't conduct proper DWI investigation on suspect due to ties with governor

LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — A Round Rock attorney says he and his clients want answers after a car crash in Leander on Valentine’s Day.

They say a proper DWI investigation wasn’t done after they claim police found out the driver who hit them worked for Governor Greg Abbott.

Roberto Flores of Carlson Law Firm is an attorney for the couple from Liberty Hill who says they’re sharing what happened to ensure police apply the law equally.

Flores says his clients were stopped at a Leander intersection when another driver rear-ended their car.

“We, in the process of investigating these claims, do open records requests and one thing we found was the dashcam of…from the police,” Flores said.

He sent that dash cam video to KXAN. You can see officers take the driver in question to a nearby gas station for a sobriety test, just out of view of the camera.

Police say the driver appeared to be “confused and incoherent at times.”

“What was your impression of that guy when they were talking to him?” One officer can be heard asking another when they enter their squad car.

“His eyes were really red,” the officer replies. “He wasn’t out in the wind that long, so I don’t think it’s from the wind. He was swaying a little bit.”

Police say a breath test showed no evidence of alcohol use but couldn’t provide the results of the field sobriety test because a case report wasn’t completed.

“A report was not required because the officers did not believe that a crime was committed,” said Leander’s assistant police chief.

While Leander police say there was no evidence of alcohol on the driver, they did not conduct a drug test.

Audio is cut from parts of the dash cam video but you can hear officers point out inconsistencies with the driver’s story and timeline — he had told them he had a meeting at the capitol.

“Can you and I agree that there’s — there’s something going on?” an officer says to the driver, who is in the back of the officer’s squad car.

On the dashcam video, officers also discuss calling the Texas Capitol.

“His coworker indicated that there was no meeting today,” one officer said.

Police say they took the man to the emergency center “out of precaution.”

Flores believes Leander police didn’t follow proper procedures.

“I would also like — and I think my clients would also like — answers about why Leander…did not go through the full process of this. I would like an unredacted version of the dashcam report, and I would like to know why they didn’t do something they would have likely done for any other person,” Flores said.

KXAN hasn’t been able to confirm that the driver is, in fact, an aide to the governor but did find a person with the same name listed on his staff directory page.

KXAN is not revealing his name because he hasn’t been charged with a crime.

It is also important to point out the video shows officers are aware the driver had connections at the Capitol, but it’s unclear they knew about his alleged ties to the governor.

KXAN has reached out to the governor’s office several times for comment, but they have not yet responded.

Author: Tahera Rahman
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Florida governor signs Republican-drafted voting bill; Advocates say it harms minority, disabled voters

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping elections bill into law Thursday that he and other Republicans said would place guardrails against fraud, even as they acknowledged there were no serious signs of voting irregularities last November. Democrats and voter rights advocates said the partisan move will make it harder for some voters to cast ballots.The Republican governor signed the freshly passed legislation ahead of his impending announcement that he’ll run for reelection in the nation’s largest battleground state. He staged the signing on a live broadcast of Fox & Friends Thursday morning, flanked by a small group of GOP legislators in Palm Beach County. Other media organizations were shut out of the event.

DeSantis said the new law puts Florida ahead of the curve in preventing any potential fraud.Groups including the NAACP and Common Cause said they would immediately file a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the new law makes it more difficult for people who are Black, Latino or disabled to vote.

“For far too long, Florida’s lawmakers and elected officials have created a vast array of hurdles that have made it more difficult for these and other voters to make their voices heard,” the groups said in their lawsuit, which they planned to file in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, the state capital.

While Georgia has become the current epicenter of the national battle over elections laws, other states – led by Republicans still unsettled by then-President Donald Trump’s loss in November – have moved to rewrite elections laws. The national campaign to do so is motivated by Trump’s unfounded allegations that irregularities in the election process, particularly in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, led to his loss – a baseless claim that inspired the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Georgia law requires a photo ID in order to vote absentee by mail, after more than 1.3 million Georgia voters used that option during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also cuts the time people have to request an absentee ballot and limits where ballot drop boxes can be placed and when they can be accessed.

Some of the changes in Florida’s election rules contain similar provisions. Democrats acknowledge that the Florida law won’t be as draconian as the one recently adopted by its neighbor to the north.The GOP-controlled Florida Legislature passed the law without a single Democratic vote, even as Florida Republicans have hailed their state as a model for conducting elections. This disconnect has confounded Democrats, voter rights groups and statewide elections officials who see no need for the changes.

But Republicans countered that the new law is a preemptive move against those who would undermine the sanctity of the ballot box, even if they could not cite specific instances of widespread fraud. Republicans argue that the new rules do nothing to keep people from voting.

The newly signed law restricts when ballot drop boxes can be used and who can collect ballots – and how many. To protect against so called “ballot harvesting,” an electoral Good Samaritan can only collect and return the ballots of immediate family and no more than two from unrelated people. Under the new rules, drop boxes must be supervised and would only be available when elections offices and early voting sites are open.

It requires that a voter making changes to registration data provide an identifying number, possibly a driver’s license number or a partial Social Security Number.

The governor’s signature extends a no-influence zone to 150 feet (50 meters) around polling places. And elections officials would have to let candidates and other observers witness some key election night moments in the ballot-handling process. Any violations could prompt hefty fines.

DeSantis had pushed Republican lawmakers to deliver the sweeping rewrites of rules on voting by mail and drop boxes, and to impose new layers of ID requirements for routine changes to a voter’s registration record.However, the proposals signed into law did not include some of the more severe provisions initially put forward by some Republicans, including the outright banning of drop boxes and preventing the use of the U.S. Postal Service for returning completed ballots.

Spurred by concerns that the pandemic would keep voters from voting on Election Day last year, the Democratic Party urged people to vote early and through the mail.

The result: Florida Democrats outvoted Republicans by mail for the first time in years as a record 4.9 million Floridians voted by mail. Democrats cast 680,000 more mail ballots than Republicans did.

In the past, an application for a vote-by-mail ballot covered two general election cycles. The new law requires voters who want an absentee ballot to apply for one every cycle. Republicans had initially proposed making this retroactive, which would have immediately erased the Democratic advantage, but they backed off that move in the final version.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Author: AP

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Is No Longer the Governor of California. Right?

LOS ANGELES — Arnold Schwarzenegger settled into a big leather rocker recliner on the back patio of his mansion. His tiny rescue dog, Cherry, scampered at his feet, wearing a butterfly bow.

On his lawn, his miniature donkey, Lulu, was making a break for the hedges. His miniature horse, Whiskey, loitered near a marble bust of Abraham Lincoln. His bar held a dollhouse-size replica of the tank he had driven during a stint in the Austrian Army. A biofuel Hummer was in the driveway. A nine-foot scale model of the Statue of Liberty stood in the foyer. Things were either very large or very small.

Here is where Mr. Schwarzenegger has been holding court in person ever since he went to Dodger Stadium in January to get vaccinated, an event that has been viewed 20 million times on social media. People clamor to get penciled in for a back-patio visit — not just the usual show business people, but also political consultants, talk show hosts and people trying to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Up Mandeville Canyon they come, through the wrought iron gates, to talk Newsom with Schwarzenegger. They usually end up talking Schwarzenegger with Schwarzenegger.

“Why did I get elected?” asked Mr. Schwarzenegger, 73, who rode a wave of populist angst in 2003 to become California’s 38th governor, winning the recall election that toppled Gray Davis. “Why did Trump get elected? Because people were dissatisfied with the politicians. They hate the politicians. They can’t trust them. This is the overriding story.”

It has been 10 years since Mr. Schwarzenegger left Sacramento. An action-movie star who was elected — and re-elected — on a promise to rescue California from Democratic excess, he ended up with a 27 percent approval rating and a personal scandal that ended his marriage.

But California is the land of second — and third and fourth — chances. Mr. Schwarzenegger did not so much repair his image as allow California to recalibrate its view of his contributions. He is a more popular political figure today than when he was elected, a feat for a Republican in a state so blue.

The reasons are as sweeping and small as the reasons California elected him in the first place. Some of it has to do with the pandemic. Some has to do with former President Donald J. Trump. His embrace of bipartisanship has a role, as does the state’s fixation with recalls, not to mention Whiskey and Lulu, who stole the show in a series of homemade public service videos he posted during the pandemic. But much of it is Arnold — the only person in the state’s 170-year history to become governor in a recall — just being Arnold.

“As a state, we are drawn to personalities who, like him, speak with clarity about what they stand for and who they are — and have a sense of humor about it,” said Mark Baldassare, president of the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. “But seeing him out there this year reminds me that Californians also have an ability to forgive and forget.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger persuaded past and present governors to join him in an ad touting face masks, and drafted his pets, children, staff and girlfriend, a West Los Angeles physical therapist, into helping produce public service announcements on social distancing and handwashing. He raised millions of dollars last year for protective health gear, anteing up $ 1 million of his own. During the election, he spent $ 2.5 million in eight states to keep polling places open.

In January, when Mr. Trump’s false claims of voter fraud stirred a mob to storm Congress, Mr. Schwarzenegger posted a speech comparing their actions to the 1938 Kristallnacht sacking of Jewish neighborhoods by European Nazis. The seven-minute video has drawn nearly 78 million views on his social media alone.

There is his Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy at the University of Southern California. And his new animated children’s series. And his forthcoming spy show on Netflix. And the environmental summit he is hosting this summer in Austria.

None of this, he said, is about ever running again for public office. “Elderly statesman” is how he describes his role now.

“When you leave office, you realize — well, I realized — that I just couldn’t cut it off like that,” he said. “Just because I’m finished with this job that is only kind of a temporary job, does it mean that I have interest only in a temporary way? No! It’s like sports, with the follow-through.”

He leaped from the recliner and demonstrated a golf swing and a tennis volley. Cherry hopped to her tiny paws.

In a three-hour interview at his home days before the Newsom recall effort officially qualified for the ballot, Mr. Schwarzenegger was serious and funny, brutally honest and wily. His black zip-up jacket had a governor’s seal patch. It was morning, but he had already exercised and visited with his daughters, who had come by to play tennis. A fire crackled in an outdoor fireplace the size of a real Austrian tank.

As California’s Republican-led recall campaign has advanced toward a probable November ballot, about a half-dozen prospective challengers to Mr. Newsom, including some Democrats, have come to Mr. Schwarzenegger confidentially for counsel, according to his advisers. He sees them in person, or on FaceTime or Zoom — “I want to see people’s faces,” he said, brandishing his iPad.

He offers advice on the political dynamics, but he has not endorsed Mr. Newsom or any rival or taken a position for or against a recall.

“I have had everyone that is interested in it get in touch with me about it, and talk to me about it, and get advice about it,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “I tell people what the landscape is and what my experience was. I don’t encourage anyone — or discourage anyone.”

In hyperpartisan times, such neutrality is an exception. Though he is somewhat estranged from the Republican Party and has called Mr. Trump “the worst president ever,” he has championed moderation and looking beyond party. The Democrat he defeated to become governor, Mr. Davis, he now considers a friend.

“He speaks for a certain kind of California Republican,” D.J. Waldie, a Southern California author and cultural historian, said. “It may be a rare and a dying breed and it certainly doesn’t reflect the party leaders, but it does reflect something about the character of ordinary Republicans in California. I sometimes wonder if that gravelly Austrian accent might be the voice of Republicanism Without Trump.”

A global star with a wife from the Kennedy family, Mr. Schwarzenegger came to Sacramento at the expense of Mr. Davis, a liberal Democrat unlucky enough to have been in charge during the dotcom bust, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and blackouts.

He had not planned to run, even though Republican leaders had begged and Mr. Davis had stood him up at a meeting where he had hoped to lobby for his signature cause, after-school programs.

He said his now ex-wife, Maria Shriver — whose public accounts have echoed his recollection — was loath to drag their family into the political spotlight. He was undecided until Jay Leno ushered him onto his couch on the “Tonight Show” and a cheer erupted. “I let my mouth speak for itself,” he said, still laughing at his delight when it said he was running for governor. When he got home, he said, Ms. Shriver was in tears.

A 55.4 percent majority of voters elected to recall Mr. Davis, and a 48.6 plurality chose Mr. Schwarzenegger as his replacement. As governor, he promised to overhaul the way state budgeting decisions were made. His finance proposals failed but he did win state election reforms that, over time, have made it harder for extremists in both parties to gridlock decision-making.

An impartial commission has replaced partisan gerrymandering in determining the boundaries of legislative districts, making it harder for the parties to game them. And California’s “top two” primary system has put more moderates of both parties on the ballot.

But passing those reforms consumed almost all of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s political capital by the time he left office. Looking back, he believes that the recall was chiefly an expression of much larger societal forces.

“In 2003 we were just getting out of a world recession — this was a worldwide phenomenon — and right alongside it was then the state problems,” he said.

He felt bipartisan compassion in November when Mr. Newsom got caught at a Michelin-starred restaurant after telling pandemic-weary Californians not to gather.

“Oy vey!” he said, laughing. “It’s — you know, you can see how it can happen. But you crunch and you say this is not the time to make this the issue. With the recall, it just put so much fuel on the fire.”

Scandal corroded Mr. Schwarzenegger’s own image when, months after he left office, news broke that he had fathered a child with a household employee in the mid-1990s. It was the last straw for Ms. Shriver, who had defended him in 2003 after several women said he had groped them.

“The end of the marriage was my screw-up,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “The bigger they are, the harder they fall. I couldn’t complain about it — I did it. I was the governor and, of course, I crashed down big time.”

His children are all adults now, and he is a grandfather. That back patio recliner helped him recuperate from heart surgery in 2018. A YouGov.com poll this year found him to be the nation’s most popular Republican with a 51 percent approval rating.

“My father always said, ‘Be useful,’” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “That is always all I’m trying to do.”

Author: Shawn Hubler
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Members Of LGBTQ+ Community Dismiss Caitlyn Jenner’s Run For Governor: ‘Her Views Are Terrible’

Author: Emily Selleck
This post originally appeared on Hollywood Life

Stars like George Takei and Alyssa Milano have reacted to the news that lifelong Republican Caitlyn Jenner is running for governor of California. See the tweets.

Former Keeping Up With The Kardashians star Caitlyn Jenner has officially filed paperwork to run for governor of California in a potential 2021 recall election. The 71-year-old is a lifelong Republican, and members of the LGBTQ+ community were quick to take to social media, saying they won’t back her “vanity campaign.” Star Wars actor George Takei, who is gay, compared her standing in the LGBTQ community to that of conservative pundit Candace Owens’ reputation in the Black community. “Black people wouldn’t vote for Candace Owen for office. The disabled community wouldn’t vote for Madison Cawthorn,” he tweeted. “I’m LGBTQ but I won’t be voting for Caitlyn Jenner. Just so we’re clear.”

Running under the slogan ‘Caitlyn For California‘, she is yet to confirm whether she is running as a Republican or as an Independent, however she is reportedly already surrounding herself with a team of Donald Trump‘s former aides. CNN reported she was taking advice from ex Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, ahead of her potential California gubernatorial bid. “The support for this campaign has been amazing nationwide,” Caitlyn captioned an IG post, one day after revealing the big news. Nevertheless, the phrase “HELL NO” began trending soon after her announcement.

Transgender activist Charlotte Clymer slammed the reality star’s run as a “vanity campaign” that would allow transphobia to proliferate. “Caitlyn Jenner is a deeply unqualified hack who doesn’t care about anyone but herself,” Charlotte wrote. “Her views are terrible. She is a horrible candidate.” She later added, “Caitlyn Jenner has no real support. I don’t care about her candidacy. I do care about the ways in which her asinine views will be weaponized against trans people and the ways in which transphobia will go unchecked … This is purely a vanity campaign, and it’s incredibly selfish.”

Even actress Alyssa Milano weighed in, tweeting, “You are running as a Republican?! Republicans deny your existence and are trying to erase trans youth.” At the same time that she filed her paperwork, Caitlyn her campaign website, and revealed her mission statement. “California has been my home for nearly 50 years,” the statement read. “I came here because I knew that anyone, regardless of their background or station in life, could turn their dreams into reality. But for the past decade, we have seen the glimmer of the Golden State reduced by one-party rule that places politics over progress and special interests over people. Sacramento needs an honest leader with a clear vision.”