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Published: Wednesday, 10/19/2005

Schwarzenegger backs Ohio's Issue 4 reform initiatives

BY JIM TANKERSLEY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Backers of an attempt to inject more competition into Ohio's legislative and congressional elections finally found a prominent Republican to support them this week - in California.

A spokesman confirmed yesterday that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger supports Ohio's Issue 4, which would transfer the power to draw political boundaries from politicians to an independent commission if voters approve it Nov. 8.

No prominent Ohio Republican has publicly backed the measure. The Ohio Republican Party will likely vote this week to oppose it, a party spokesman said.

Mr. Schwarzenegger is pushing a similar, but not identical, proposal dubbed Proposition 77 on California's fall ballot.

Polls have shown the approval ratings for the action star-turned politicia waning in California since he won the governor's office in a 2003 election to recall Gov. Gray Davis.

Issue 4 supporters hope he is more popular in Ohio, where President Bush tapped him to help rally his campaign in the final days of the 2004 presidential election.

"I know he's got some problems in California," said Steve Fought, a spokesman for Reform Ohio Now, which is working to pass Issue 4, "but I think Ohio voters would respond as positively now [to Mr. Schwarzenegger] as they did when Bush brought him to Ohio."

Mr. Fought said he did not expect Mr. Schwarzenneger to campaign in Ohio for Issue 4. The governor's spokesman said Mr. Schwarzenegger has not announced any out-of-state trips before the November election.

Opponents of Issue 4 have accused Reform Ohio Now of pushing the measure - and three others on the fall ballot - to benefit Democrats politically. Democrats have called Proposition 77 in California a power-grab for Republicans.

A leading Ohio Republican said yesterday that Mr. Schwarzenegger should "worry about California" instead of Ohio.

"I think they've got more problems of their own that he might need to attend to," said Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted (R., Kettering).

Contact Jim Tankersley at:

jtankersley@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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