California's Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has promised to cooperate with rival Democrats after voters rejected his sweeping plan for changes in the state's government. The voters turned down four measures at the heart of the governor's plan Tuesday in a special election.
Mr. Schwarzenegger has had a thorny relationship with the Democrats who dominate the California legislature, so he went directly to the voters with his proposals. California voters soundly rejected them.
Mr. Schwarzenegger's plan would have cut state spending, reduced the political influence of public employee unions, made it easier for schools to fire poorly performing teachers, and give the task of redrawing legislative districts to a panel of judges, taking it away from the Democratic-controlled legislature.
Union leaders and Democrats launched a massive campaign against the measures, outspending the governor two-to-one on political advertising. The total cost for the campaigns exceeded $200 million.
Mr. Schwarzenegger's opponents, relishing victory, said the public was angry that the governor used what is called the initiative process to put the measures on the ballot and bypass the legislature. Actor Warren Beatty applauded the voters' action as he addressed a crowd at a union gathering.
"You have, I believe, made this scam of an extra election, this abuse of the initiative process, backfire on the people who had the power to call it," he said.
Mr. Schwarzenegger did not admit defeat, but promised to cooperate with the Democrats to rebuild the state's finances and infrastructure.
"I recognize that we also need more bipartisan cooperation to make it all happen," said Mr. Schwarzenegger. "And I promise I will deliver that, because Californians believe that the state is on the wrong track. Californians believe that we need reform, we need change. But the people of California are sick and tired of all the fighting, and they are sick and tired of all those negative TV ads."
One Republican strategist said Mr. Schwarzenegger made a strategic mistake in calling a special election because ballot measures fail more often than they pass. Democrats who are hoping to recapture the governorship say Tuesday's results show this once-popular governor has outstayed his welcome. Mr. Schwarzenegger, in uncharacteristically conciliatory language, promised to keep pursuing his reform agenda.