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5 Things You Didn't Know about Arnold Schwarzenegger

On this day in 2003, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California, the most populous state in the nation.  Schwarzenegger was one of 135 candidates on the ballot, which included career politicians, other actors, and one adult-film star.  Here are five other things you didn't know about Arnold Schwarzenegger…

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The Terminator Once Asked for Advice From Luke Skywalker # He's famous now, but years ago, Schwarzenegger was just another unknown. Photo credit: By Mario Pena - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66784616. It seems almost impossible to think of Schwarzenegger as an unknown struggling to survive in Southern California, but when he was first starting out, he didn't know the best way to go about finding film success. He decided to ask for advice, and the person who gave it to him was none other than Mark Hamill. The exchange was detailed on Twitter in August 2018. Hamill noted that he once told Schwarzenegger to change his last name to make it easier to pronounce and to work on getting rid of his accent—and that Schwarzenegger followed none of the advice and went on to be a star. Schwarzenegger replied that Hamill's advice had been spot on at the time—Schwarzenegger was just a "rule-breaker."

After Promising to Get California's Budget Under Control, Schwarzenegger's First Targets Were Nurses # Photo credit: Maureen Keating [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. California had been dealing with an artificial energy crisis stoked by workers at Enron, and the state's budget was a mess. Schwarzenegger promised to tackle special interests, but those special interests turned out to be... nurses. And then teachers, and then other public service groups. At the same time, he had ended a controversial vehicle tax, which made the budget worse. This didn't sit well with voters, and his proposals failed.

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Schwarzenegger Started as a Fiscal Hawk but Ended up Known for His Environmental Care While his early years were marked by frustration over the budget, he eventually began to shine in another area: environmental care. Schwarzenegger liked his huge Hummer vehicles, but he knew that something had to give regarding emissions and pollution. He was a proponent of alternative fuels and enacted regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy sources, and worked toward making approvals easier for energy-saving projects. He also developed a reputation as an environmental trendsetter, creating goals for solar energy use.

The Governor's Job Wasn't Schwarzenegger's First Brush With Politics Schwarzenegger's appeal to many voters was that he was a political outsider, and it's true that he had never held office before. However, he was not completely new. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed Schwarzenegger, by then well known for his action films, to head the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Getting Americans to exercise had long been a struggle, though more people were finally moving, and Bush thought a well-known figure like Schwarzenegger would help people become more amenable to improving their physical fitness.

Schwarzenegger Created the Infamous California "Jungle Primary" Publicity surrounded the June 2018 California primary because of its odd structure; instead of parties choosing their top runners to compete in the main election, the state used a free-for-all style that was nicknamed the jungle primary—basically everyone jumps onto the same ballot, and the top two vote-getters face off in November, regardless of party. (It's really just an open primary taken to an extreme.) That was the brainchild of Schwarzenegger, who, along with Democratic lawmakers, wanted to end the partisanship that left the state in law-making limbo. The idea was that the two most popular candidates would face off, instead of the most popular from each party, ensuring a more representative legislature.