Schwarzenegger announced Monday that he had signed a proclamation calling a special election for Nov. 8, only the fifth special election in California since 1910. He wants voters to consider measures that would cap state spending, strip lawmakers of their power to draw legislative boundaries and increase the amount of time it takes public school teachers to get tenure.
He also is likely to endorse a measure curbing public employee unions' ability to raise political contributions from member dues. That move will almost certainly produce fierce opposition from national unions who view the measure as a blow to organized labor. Democrats oppose it because they draw substantial campaign funding from unions.
The summer months in a non-election year typically offer a lull in the political campaign cycle, but the prospect of a special election this fall promises a costly face-off between the governor's political team and deep-pocketed Democratic interest groups.
"The summer is thought of as kind of a quiet time, but we don't intend to be quiet," said Barbara Kerr, president of the California Teachers Association.
To illustrate that point, the teachers union voted over the weekend to assess a one-time $60 increase on member dues to raise as much as $50 million to fight the governor's initiatives.
"We're going to do what it takes, and money is part of it," Kerr said. "We can't do $100,000 chicken dinners like he can."