Would-Be GOP Successors Flee the Governator
But trashing Arnold could backfire on Whitman, Poizner
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2009 12:53 PM CDT
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger listens outside of the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 20, 2009, after their meeting with President Barack Obama.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – After years of getting the cold shoulder from Arnold Schwarzenegger, California Republicans are returning the sentiment as they mount efforts to succeed him, the Los Angeles Times reports. Top GOP contenders Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner have criticized Schwarzenegger’s budget and ballot measures, tossing in digs about his ego and work habits for good measure. The strategy, one insider said, is to become “anti-Arnold.”

But the pols echo many of the same promises Schwarzenegger made when he first sought office. “People think the Schwarzenegger experience didn't work out so well, and they're going to be looking for something very different,” predicted a strategist. The strategy could also alienate centrist voters and provoke Schwarzenegger. “He’s not going to be a punching bag,” said an aide.