If Maria Takes Him Back, Will Voters?

2007 Arnold and Maria
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Much of the media world, chasing a report in TMZ, are reporting speculation that Maria Shriver may not divorce former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger after all.

On a personal level, that's not surprising, despite revelations of Schwarzenegger's love child with a housekeeper who remained on the staff for 14 years after the child's birth. Schwarzenegger wants to reconcile, so the ball is in Shriver's court. Let's hope she does whatever makes her happy. The couple have been married for 25 years and have four children together.

On a political-professional level, a reuniting of Schwarzenegger and Shriver is intriguing. Divorced and disgraced, Schwarzenegger's political career appeared to be over. He left office with voters unhappy with his performance. And he seemed to lose what little good will he had left when the love child news hit and Shriver left him.

But if these two get back together, in a big public way with a compelling narrative of apology and forgiveness (and these folks do tend to share), Schwarzenegger could get a second political wind. That's significant politically. Schwarzenegger is just about the only Republican left in California who can win a statewide race. Of course California Republicans, who have grown comfortable with losing, can't stand the guy. But with the party unable so far to field serious challengers to incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Republicans could be forgiven for forgiving Schwarzenegger.

It's also far from clear that Schwarzenegger wants to get back into elected politics. Yes, the former governor continues to speak out on public issues, but he seems to be enjoying moviemaking and other enterprises. A return to elected office would narrow his options -- and might not be good for a marriage he's trying to rebuild.

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