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davisportrait.jpgCan centrist politicians survive and thrive in today's political climate?

Former California Gov. Gray Davis doesn't think so.

"Those people are toast today," the California Democrat said in a taped interview that first aired yesterday, describing his own ideological score as governor as "left of center, maybe a moderate liberal."

Davis made his comments in an interview that aired at the end of "Chasing the Hill," a Web-based series that debuted Sunday. The political drama chronicles a fictional California congresswoman's tough re-election fight in the primary.

Davis, who has been active in California politics since the 1970s, said he's seen partisan gridlock get worse over the years, saying the "the heightened partisan divide has made governing extraordinarily difficult."

"You have to either be on the left or the right or else you end up with both sides shooting arrows at you," he said.

The twice-elected governor said that dynamic was also apparent in the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor-turned-Republican politician voters picked to replace him in a 2003 recall election.

"Arnold started off with good intentions and probably ended up with good intentions, but 85 percent of what he did, I would have done and, you know, he had a difficult time as well," Davis said. "It's very hard to be in the center in today's environment, which is a shame because people are paying the salaries of elected officials ostensibly to help those people live a better life, and what it's gotten down to is just both sides blaming the other and nothing getting done."

The interview was part of a segment called "Chasing Chasing The Hill" that adds insights from real political figures to the scripted show. The premiere can be downloaded online for $1.99.

PHOTO CREDIT: Former Gov. Gray Davis laughs with then-Gov. Arnold in the Capitol rutunda, Wednesday Dec. 7, 2005. Sacramento Bee//Brian Baer



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