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Arnold speaking publicly

Dale Frost/Port of San Diego

By Charles Apple

In a special election held 20 years ago Saturday, voters in California recalled Governor Gray Davis — who was under fire for ongoing statewide energy and economic crises — and replaced him with bodybuilder and Hollywood action movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Opinions differ on whether or not Schwarzenegger was any good in the role. Because in politics, “everybody” is indeed a critic.

Highlights - And Lowlights - Of The Schwarzenegger Adminnistration

October 2003

Is elected governor with nearly 49% of the vote in a special election featuring 134 other candidates.

November 2003

On his very first day in office, he fulfills a campaign promise to roll back a controversial increase in the vehicle license fee. Estimated cost to the revenue-strapped state: $4 billion.

January 2005

Arnold is forced to back away from a proposal to eliminate or consolidate dozens of boards and commissions. Critics said it wouldn't save much and would create a serious loss of regulatory oversight.

September 2005

He vetoes a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, saying it should be up to the voters or the courts.

November 2005

Four ballot initiatives championed by Schwarzenegger — one dealing directly with budget reform — lose overwhelmingly in a special election.

September 2006

Arnold signs bills increasing the state's minimum wage and forcing major industries in the state to reduce carbon emissions.

November 2006

Arnold wins re-election in a landslide victory after pledging to govern from the center. Voters approve ballot measures to secure $37.2 billion in bonds for roads, affordable housing, levees and schools.

October 2007

Arnold vetoes a second bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

October 2008

Arnold orders state workers to take two unpaid days off per month. A third furlough day would be added in 2009.

February 2009

Arnold signs a state budget that includes $12.8 billion in temporary increases in income and sales taxes — as well as the vehicle license fee he had reduced on his first day in office.

May 2009

Voters reject ballot measures to extend the temporary tax increases, to impose a state spending cap, to privatize the state lottery, and to redirect money intended for early childhood and mental health programs. The measures were part of the deal Schwarzenegger negotiated with the Legislature in dealing with a $42 million deficit.

December 2010

Arnold calls a special session of the Legislature to address a $6 billion gap in the budget he signed just weeks earlier. Lawmakers defer action until the new year, when Schwarzenegger's successor, Jerry Brown, takes office.

May 2011

Four months after leaving office, Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria, announce their separation. A week later, he confirms he fathered a child with his family's housekeeper in 1997.

Arnold's whole approval ratings

12 Other Notable Entertainers Who Went Into Politics

While one might argue that successful politics requires an understanding of the legislative process and a willingness to compromise, it's also true that the ability to get elected in the first place requires name recognition.

And politicians themselves aren't immune to the effects. At at the 1993 Annual meeting of the National Governors Association, Gov. Donald Carcieri of Rhode Island looked over at Schwarzenegger and told reporters, “In this room, he's one of 50.”

He wistfully added: “But everybody would secretly like to have his autograph.”

Helen Gahagan Douglas

Singer, actor


U.S. House, 1945-1951

George Murphy



U.S. Senate, 1965-1971

Ronald Reagan



Governor of California, 1965-1975

President, 1981-1989

Shirley Temple Black

Singer, actor


Ambassador to Gahana, 1974-1976

Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, 1989-1992

Bill Bradley

NBA Basketball-player


U.S Senate, 1979-1997

Clint Eastwood

Actor director


Mayor, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif. 1986-1988

Fred Grandy

Fred Grandy

Actor, "The Love Boat"


U.S. House, 1987-1995

George Murphy

Sonny Bono

Singer, songwriter, actor


Mayor, Palm Springs Calif. 1988-1992

U.S. House, 1995-1998

Ben Jones

Ben Jones

Actor, "The Dukes of Hazzard"


U.S. House, 1989-1993

Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson



U.S Senate, 1994-2003

Jesse Ventura

Jesse Ventura


Reform Party

Governor of Minnesota, 1999-2003

Al Franken

Al Franken

Writer, comedian, actor, "Saturday Night Live"


U.S Senate, 2009-2019

..And One From Outside The U.S.

Voldymyr Zelenskyy


Producer, comedian, actor

President of Ukraine, 2019-Present

The role for which he became best known was playing a fictional president of Ukraine on a TV comedy series, “Servant of the People,” that ran from 2015 until his election in 2019.


This edition of Further Review was adapted for the web by Zak Curley.