Will the Teminator-turned-the-Governator turn into the Sen-ā-tor? Although I can’t predict the ultimate outcome, I suspect the former muscleman will indeed take on U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010.
The standard line among Republican insiders is that Schwarzenegger, accustomed to being on center stage as a bodybuilder, movie star and governor, would never settle for being “one of 100.” But that analysis underestimates the allure of the United States Senate as the “world’s most exclusive club,” and as a platform for extending Arnold’s burgeoning reputation as a globetrotting political leader.
This would not be Mr. Smith goes to Washington; it would be Mr. Olympia goes to Washington. A Sen. Arnold Schwarzenegger from the biggest state in America would never be just one out of a hundred anything. He would not labor in national obscurity like, say, a Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, or the other senator from that state before his now-infamous bathroom break at the Minneapolis airport. He would still be Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the world’s best-known personalities. And as a senator, he would be a bona-fide elected representative of the United States of America–the only way that will ever happen, since he can never run for president or vice president.
In addition, there is a close historical parallel. Dianne Feinstein never made any bones about the fact she wanted to be governor in the worst possible way, and was the Democratic nominee for that office in 1990. In 1998, rumors were rife that she was thinking about going again. President Bill Clinton even personally called the senator in January of that year, urging her to run due to his view that the other potential candidates at the time – Lt. Gov. Gray Davis and corporate takeover artist Al Checchi – couldn’t win. But ultimately she demurred, having decided she rather enjoyed being the Distinguished Senior Senator from the Great State of California.
Although the diminutive Boxer is an energetic and aggressive campaigner, and has one of the best direct-mail fundraising operations of any California politician, she is relatively untested as a stand-alone candidate against a proven vote-getter. In 1992, her first run for the Senate, she benefited from Clinton’s huge win at the top of the ticket in California. It was also the much-vaunted “Year of the Woman,” and Boxer was helped immeasurably by running in tandem with the popular Feinstein, who remained well known from her close governor’s race two years earlier. Still, Boxer could well have lost if not for the last-minute revelation that her novice conservative opponent was a habitu