SAN FRANCISCO – To help promote his "year of reform" ballot initiatives, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) has turned to one of the best known political reformers on the national stage — Arizona Sen. John McCain (search).
The Republicans will campaign together Monday for the measures Schwarzenegger is promoting on the Nov. 8 ballot, Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Todd Harris said.
McCain has endorsed the four initiatives favored by the governor, which would curb the power of the Democrat-controlled Legislature and its allied public employee unions.
"John McCain is known for two things — one is being a reformer, and the other is being a straight talker," Harris said. "We think Sen. McCain's endorsement of the governor's reform agenda will send a signal loud and clear to all Californians that these reforms are the real deal."
Since his underdog campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, McCain's outspoken crusade for campaign reform has made him something of a celebrity in political circles.
He is best known for being co-author of legislation that banned so-called "soft money" — large, unregulated contributions from corporations, unions and wealthy individuals — from federal elections.
McCain's attacks on campaign spending prompted Democrats to question his appearance with Schwarzenegger. The governor criticized the fundraising tactics of his predecessor, former Gov. Gray Davis, but has since become a prolific fundraiser himself.
"It's ironic that McCain would offer to 'pump up' Arnold's campaign, considering he is a well-known activist against the kind of 'obscene' and 'vulgar' fundraising practiced by Team Schwarzenegger," strategists Andrew Acosta and Roger Salazar said in a statement on behalf of the California Democratic Party (search).
Democrats and unions have raised more than $50 million to defeat the ballot measures, which they view as a direct assault on their political influence. Schwarzenegger has set a goal of raising $50 million, but has raised only about $30 million so far.
The governor called the special election so voters would consider three ballot initiatives: whether to cap state spending and give the governor greater authority to make midyear cuts, whether to make teachers work five years instead of two to pass probation and whether to strip lawmakers of their power to draw political boundaries.
He has since endorsed a fourth proposal that would require public employee unions to get members' permission before dues could be used for political purposes.