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On Recall's 10-Year Anniversary, Schwarzenegger's Legacy Up for Debate

On Recall's 10-Year Anniversary, Schwarzenegger's Legacy Up for Debate
Ten years ago Monday, Arnold Schwarzenegger unseated Gray Davis in a unique election in California history. But the debate over Schwarzenegger’s legacy — and the Recall itself — persists to this day.

Monday marks the 10-year anniversary of California’s 2003 Recall election, when Arnold Schwarzenegger toppled incumbent Governor Gray Davis.

Sacramento State political analyst Steve Boilard argued that California is neither better nor worse off for replacing Davis with Schwarzenegger.

“But what I think did happen," Boilard said, "is it exposed more fundamental problems about the way our government is structured and the way we approach our government."

Boilard said that led voters to change California’s political process, with reforms such as Redistricting and a “Top-Two” primary system.

USC’s Dan Schnur, a former Republican political consultant, said those reforms will prove to be Schwarzenegger’s legacy — far more than budget deficits or his landmark global warming law.

"Under the surface, there’s been quieter, very, very important transformations happening," Schnur said. "And they’ve happened as a direct result of the recall.”

But both analysts said it’s too soon to tell whether those political reforms will succeed.