Arnold Schwarzenegger,  California,  Election 2006,  Politics

Arnold Schwarzenegger Watch: Fundraiser with the Governor Nets Orange County Sheriff Carona $700,000

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, right, jokes with, from left, California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa during a news conference Friday, Jan. 13, 2006, in Los Angeles. Schwarzenegger signed a bill to speed up expansion of notoriously clogged Interstate 405. Three months after a disastrous special election left him politically shaken, the Republican governor has started his re-election year with a retooled message about building highways and schools, a new chief of staff (a former Democratic activist) and a more businesslike image stripped of Hollywood frippery and stunts.

OC Register: Governor boosts Carona’s support

Schwarzenegger’s speech helps the sheriff bring in $700,000 at a fundraiser.

Sheriff Mike Carona’s re-election bid came roaring out of the gates Thursday with the help of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, bringing in about $700,000 at a St. Regis fundraiser – a single-event high for a local candidate here.

Schwarzenegger, the guest speaker, fondly recounted his 4-year-old friendship with Carona and compared his generous praise to the Valentine’s Day sentiments he’ll be delivering to his wife, Maria Shriver.

“No matter what my schedule was, I wouldn’t have missed this event,” he told about 460 people in the resort ballroom. “I would go through anything for Mike Carona. … There’s no other person who should be sheriff for the next four years. He’s the man.”

The governor credited Carona for making Orange County one of the safest places in the country.

The friendship between Carona and Schwarzenegger began when the sheriff joined the 2002 Proposition 49 after-school campaign backed by the actor. Carona subsequently served on Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial transition team.

The $1,500-a-plate event gives the incumbent about four times as much money in the bank as his three challengers combined.

The dinner provided a respite to the political turmoil being faced by both men, something Carona acknowledged after receiving a standing ovation.

“You don’t know how good that feels after the past year,” he told the crowd.

Carona’s last re-election campaign failed to attract a single opponent. But a rash of bad publicity in Carona’s past term – including sexual harassment accusations, the indictment of his former top assistant, and an ongoing FBI investigation of the department – has brought both challengers and protesters out of the woodwork. About two dozen demonstrators picketed outside the St. Regis.

“If he’s honest in his denial (of sexual harassment), why do women keep coming forward?” said Huntington Beach’s Leigh Ann Gilmore, a small-business owner holding a sign that read, “Why would the governor support a sheriff who demeans women?”

Now if Carona can keep his campaign and office PR staff quiet regarding the Governor’s re-election chances.

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