WASHINGTON — Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger crushed reports — and perhaps the dreams of some of his political supporters — when he let his social media followers know on Sunday that he won’t be back in the political spotlight with a run for Senate in 2018.
“I’m deeply flattered by all of the people who have approached me about running for Senate, but my mission right now is to bring sanity to Washington through redistricting reform,” Schwarzenegger wrote on Facebook.
The actor, TV personality and former politician called on his supporters to join him instead in advocating for redistricting reform to battle gerrymandering.
“Gerrymandering has completely broken our political system, and I believe my best platform to help repair it is from the outside, by campaigning for independent redistricting commissions,” the 69-year-old former bodybuilding champion said.
Schwarzenegger has reentered the public eye in recent months after President Donald Trump publicly sparred with him over his performance on a reboot of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” a reality TV show Trump hosted for many years. The President, who has remained a producer of the show, mocked its ratings and eventually jeered on Twitter about the fact that the show would not see a second season.
But the buzz around Schwarzenegger over his repeated spats with Trump grew louder in California this week after Politico reported that the former action star might be considering a challenge to Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2018.
Instead, the former two-term governor said he will set his sights on challenging the redistricting status quo. Gerrymandering, in which congressional districts are unfairly drawn to give advantage to one party or group in an election, is often criticized as a contributor to the current level of polarization and gridlock on Capitol Hill, although some say the evidence for that isn’t as strong as commonly believed.
Schwarzenegger and others have called for independent commissions to handle redistricting instead of state legislature, which they say would bring about more competitive elections.
Several states have seen robust legal challenges in recent years over their redistricting processes. The latest: Texas, where a panel of federal judges ruled on Friday that the state’s redistricting plan illegally discriminated against minority voters.