Tags: GOP | Revolt | Against | Schwarzenegger; | Mel | Gibson | Touted

GOP in Revolt Against Schwarzenegger; Mel Gibson Touted as Challenger

Wednesday, 07 December 2005 12:00 AM

California Republicans are in open revolt against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over his hiring of a Democratic operative as his new chief of staff.

And one leading state GOP official is touting actor Mel Gibson as a possible Republican primary challenger to Schwarzenegger.

Officials with the California Republican Party are said to be furious with Schwarzenegger and have demanded a private meeting with the governor to complain about his appointment of Susan P. Kennedy, who was a Cabinet secretary during the administration of Gov. Gray Davis.

Schwarzenegger was elected governor after an extraordinary effort succeeded to recall Davis in 2003.

Republicans note that Kennedy was also an abortion-rights activist and Democratic Party executive.

Republican operatives said grass-roots volunteers were so disturbed by the appointment that they were threatening to abandon Schwarzenegger during his re-election bid next year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Times said the movement to draft Mel Gibson to run against Schwarzenegger in the Republican primary next year is due in part because the success of his movie "The Passion of the Christ" could help his chances among religious conservatives.

Gibson "seems to be more consistent with the Republican message" than the governor is, said Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly, a grass-roots organization separate from the state party.

GOP board member Keith Carlson told the Sacramento Bee: "The spirit of the recall was to oust Davis and his cronies, and now one of his cronies is back."

Schwarzenegger agreed to a face-to-face meeting with Republican Party officials next week.

Top GOP officials are particularly worried about Kennedy getting inside information about their statewide election efforts next year, the Times reports.

"What does it mean to have a chief of staff from the other party during a year of re-election?" asked state Republican Party Chairman Duf Sundheim.

"This is one of the reasons we wanted to sit down, to express these concerns."

The board of directors of the California Republican Party demanded the private meeting with Schwarzenegger because it "strongly disagrees" with Kennedy's appointment, according to an e-mail sent out Monday. It would be the first-ever meeting of the Republican board and Schwarzenegger over a policy dispute.

GOP Assemblyman Ray Haynes said the hiring of Kennedy has convinced him to rescind his support for the governor.

"I spent a lot of time trying to explain what the governor has said and defended it," he told the Times.

"I gave him the benefit of the doubt and told people he was going to do the right thing. I am not going to do that anymore."

Other Calif. Republican operatives say the appointment of Kennedy is a purposeful move to the left to win re-election in 2006 and demonstrates that his wife Maria Shriver, a Democrat, is in operational control of her husband's political future.

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California Republicans are in open revolt against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over his hiring of a Democratic operative as his new chief of staff. And one leading state GOP official is touting actor Mel Gibson as a possible Republican primary challenger to...
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2005-00-07
Wednesday, 07 December 2005 12:00 AM
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