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Unions take down the Terminator

By Bill Schneider
CNN Washington Bureau

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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said after the special election that he is "not anti-union."

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Arnold Schwarzenegger

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Take on the mighty Terminator, and what happens? You bring him down and you win the political Play of the Week.

Arnold Schwarzenegger humbled. How often do you see that?

"The buck stops with me," the California governor told reporters Thursday after the state's special election.

Schwarzenegger asked California voters to say "yes" to four measures on Tuesday's ballot: limit government spending; take the power to redistrict from the legislature; make it harder for teachers to get tenure; and make it harder for public employee unions to spend members' money on politics.

He picked on the wrong people.

"The governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, says he kicks the nurses' butts, called them a special interest, and we set out to teach him that you don't pick on nurses," said Rose Ann DeMoro of the California Nurses Association.

The governor took on the unions, once saying the nurses group opposed him "because I kick their butt."

Aren't the unions supposed to be struggling and divided? Not in this case.

"Teachers joined, firefighters joined, the police joined when Arnold attacked them," DeMoro said.

The unions ran tough advertisements, and they dogged Schwarzenegger.

"Prop 75 is an attack on firefighters. He's trying to weaken the voice of the men and women that protect the people of California," said one ad about a measure that would require public employee unions to get permission from workers before spending dues on political activities.

"We followed this governor to over 100 fundraisers in California and throughout this nation, and we exposed what he was doing," said DeMoro.

On Tuesday the voters told Schwarzenegger the same thing as the guy in the Capital One ad: "No, nein, nyet, nunca."

Schwarzenegger got the message. He got it at home: "I should have also listened to my wife, who said, 'Don't do this.' "

And he got it at work.

"We'll get together and can contact all the union leaders and let them know I am not anti-union," he said Thursday.

The unions have slain the mighty -- and won the political Play of the Week.

Their message for Schwarzenegger, who will be running for re-election next year? "We'll be back."

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