WASHINGTON – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) asked fellow Republicans for more money for his state Thursday -- even as he pushed a redistricting (search)(search) plan that could threaten some of their jobs.
He claimed progress on federal funds for transportation and health care after meeting with House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis, R-Calif.
As for how to sell skeptical Republicans on his plan to redraw congressional and state legislative districts, Schwarzenegger offered an optimistic solution: "Magic."
"The people of California did not send me to Sacramento to support the Democrats or to support the Republicans," Schwarzenegger told reporters. "They sent me to Sacramento to clean house and to reform and to make the government and the politicans better representative to the people of California. That's what reapportionment (search) is all about."
He also promised negotiations.
"We all have concerns about different things and then we look at it and then we start working together, so that's what we're going to do," Schwarzenegger said.
Schwarzenegger drew crowds of reporters and onlookers as he made his way through the halls of the Capitol. It was his fourth Washington visit since his election in California's gubernatorial recall more than a year ago.
He wants a panel of retired judges to redraw California's political map next year. That job is currently done by state lawmakers, and under the normal timeline wouldn't happen until after the 2010 census.
Some Republicans fear redrawing districts in Democrat-leaning California could cost the party seats in Congress. Even if the GOP managed to keep the 20 seats it now holds -- Democrats have 33 -- powerful lawmakers who lead in the Republican-controlled House could find themselves fighting for their jobs before unfamiliar voters.
"There's a legitimate concern about keeping the majority in the House," said Rep. George Radanovich, R-Calif.
GOP Rep. Tom Reynolds (search) of New York, who heads the House Republican campaign committee, said Wednesday that the party wouldn't have money to defend 53 Republican candidates next year and redistricting should be left to the state legislature.
Even Schwarzenegger's top Washington ally, House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., has told the governor he would prefer to wait until after the 2010 census.
"We're going to push forward," the governor said Thursday, jokingly claiming to have enlisted Dreier's support.
Although Democrats could gain under Schwarzenegger's plan, they're also wary. Many cite the remap House Majority Leader Tom DeLay engineered in Texas, costing four Democrats their seats.
"The Democrats don't fear an objective redistricting. In fact, if anybody has to worry it's the Republicans in Congress," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday.
"The question is 'why midterm?' Smacks of Texas-style to me, but perhaps that's not his motivation."
Schwarzenegger held a press conference with Common Cause (search) on Thursday afternoon where the respected good government advocacy group endorsed his redistricting plan -- to the dismay of Democrats.
The governor didn't escape home-state political battles. He was greeted by a full-page ad in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call taken out by the California Nurses Association, with whom he's been fighting over nurse staffing ratios.