Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger believes there's still a 'home' for him in the Republican Party, but says his state's GOP has 'done a horrible job'

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger.AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
  • Schwarzenegger told The New York Times Magazine there's still a "home" for him in today's GOP.

  • But he was critical of the California Republican Party, which he said wasn't listening to citizens.

  • "When you're in the Legislature, you're not supposed to represent only your district," he said.

In 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger did something that seems nearly impossible these days: He was elected governor of California as a Republican.

Schwarzenegger, who had been an international film star for years when he first ran for office, ousted then-Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in a stunning recall election result that dramatically reshaped politics in the Golden State.

However, Schwarzenegger's candidacy came with a major caveat. Though he was a Republican, his more centrist views on issues like abortion and the environment were anathema to the rigid ideology of many conservatives.

Schwarzenegger prevailed, and he was easily reelected in 2006, broadening his coalition even further.

While the Republican Party of today, both nationally and in California, has become much more conservative over the past two decades, the former governor hasn't gone anywhere.

In a recent interview, Schwarzenegger, who left office in 2011, told The New York Times Magazine that he still feels like there is a "home" for him in the GOP.

But he was much less charitable about the California Republican Party, which has struggled to elect any statewide candidates in recent years. Other than the 2006 victories of Schwarzenegger and Steve Poizner for insurance commissioner, no other Republican has since won statewide.

"In the state of California, the Republican Party has done a horrible job to represent the people," the former governor told the magazine. "When you're in the Legislature, you're not supposed to represent only your district; you're also supposed to represent the state and move the state forward and work with everyone in order to make life better."

"So when they know that a majority of Californians want to have a cleaner environment, want to have renewable energy — for them to go the other way, it's not serving the people," he continued. "Do a poll, and you will find out that a majority of people in California want to have a clean environment. They want to get rid of fossil fuels. Then that's what you do."

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