The $200 Million Governorship

Via the Reuters: Schwarzenegger says governorship cost him $200 million

VIENNA (Reuters) – Serving as California governor cost Arnold Schwarzenegger at least $200 million, the bodybuilding star turned actor and politician told a newspaper in his native Austria, insisting ‘it was more than worth it.”

Counting expenses and lost income from acting in Hollywood films, “in all it is probably more than $200 million,” he told Krone when asked how much his two terms in Sacramento had cost.

This strikes me as an entirely plausible estimate. And it provides yet another readily understandable example of the fact that despite conventional wisdom, many people enter politics for reasons other than making money. Another great example is George W. Bush, who left his job as president of the Texas Rangers to run for the governorship of Texas. Indeed, most people capable of getting elected to high office likely could make more income in the private sector.

This is not to say that politicians necessarily have laudable motivations for seeking office or that their sacrifice of income makes them virtuous, but rather that the motivations of individuals who seek office are far more complicated than doing it to get rich.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. UberMitch says:

    My understanding is that George W. Bush left his job with the Texas Rangers because he was incompetent, a middle-step in his failing upward.

  2. To my recollection (and I lived in Texas at the time), he was secure in his position at the Rangers–the fact that he was part owner helped. There is little doubt, regardless of anything else, that he took a pay cut of some substance to become governor. At the time the governor of the state made (and perhaps still does) ~90k per year. Certainly nothing to sneeze at, but also less than one makes as owner/part of the management of a major league franchise.

    In fact, the mid-to-late-1990s was, up and until this year, the heyday of the Rangers franchise (such as it was).

  3. anjin-san says:

    Bush’s biggest success in his tenure with the Rangers was the construction of the new ballpark, which was paid for, if I recall correctly, by an increase in local taxes…

  4. I think at this point Arnold does not care too much about money. I heard him say one time that as long as he is a millionaire it does not matter how many millions he has because either way he is rich, or something to that tune. Also I think Arnold’s motivation for becoming governor was genuinely that he wanted to give back to the people of California.