Post-'Apprentice,' could Arnold Schwarzenegger's next move be to the Senate?

The short-lived host of 'The Apprentice' could be taking a grudge match against Trump to Washington. The former governor of California has hinted he could be considering a return to politics. 

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Arnold Schwarzenegger arrives at the 2016 Governors Awards in Los Angeles on Nov. 12, 2016.

Former governor of California and, more recently, host of NBC’s “The Apprentice” Arnold Schwarzenegger may be considering a return to public office. After he and President Trump exchanged acrimonious words over “Apprentice” and Mr. Schwarzenegger’s time on the program, could Schwarzenegger and Mr. Trump work out their differences in the nation's capital? 

Politico reporter Carla Marinucci wrote that “several GOP political insiders in California” say that Schwarzenegger “may be mulling a political comeback,” perhaps running for Senate in 2018 as an independent. 

Schwarzenegger has so far been somewhat vague on his plans after "The Apprentice."

“Right now Gov. Schwarzenegger’s focus is on using his platform to bring some sensibility and coherency to Washington by fighting for redistricting reform, like we did in California. We are keeping all of our options open as far as how we can accomplish that,” said Daniel Ketchell, Schwarzenegger’s spokesperson, to Politico by email.

Running as an independent, Schwarzenegger could emphasize his differences with the president on such issues as climate change, political reform, and immigration.

“The Terminator” star has already proved his ability to transition from Hollywood to politics and back again. Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California in the 2003 recall election made famous by its eclectic array of 120 names on the ballot. He won reelection in 2006 by a wide margin. Post-governorship, he has appeared in films including the 2015 "Terminator Genisys," not to mention his short-lived time at the helm of  NBC's "The Apprentice," signing on when Trump vacated the role after he was elected president in November.

Schwarzenegger and the president differ on how his contract ended, with Schwarzenegger telling Empire Magazine, "Under the circumstances, I don't want to do it again." Trump dealt with it in a simple tweet:

This isn’t their first difference of opinion – last month, Trump called Schwarzenegger’s appearances on “Apprentice” “a total disaster” during the National Prayer Breakfast, with Schwarzenegger then suggesting on Twitter, “Why don’t we switch jobs?” Other barbs have been exchanged as well. In October, Schwarzenegger announced he would not be voting for Trump in the presidential election.

After this back-and-forth, what would a Senate run for Schwarzenegger mean?

Los Angeles Times writer Phil Willon writes that he is doubtful whether Schwarzenegger could challenge Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2018 as in independent. "The scenario seems unlikely given that Schwarzenegger is a former Republican governor in an increasingly Democratic state. He would also carry with him the weight of personal scandal and his rocky final term as governor,” he writes.

In the 2018 Senate race, 33 of the 100 seats will be up for grabs, with the winners serving six-year terms until January 2025.

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