AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Humbled by Tuesday’s overwhelming electoral defeat, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has struck a conciliatory tone. Having seen his strategy of bypassing the Legislature by going directly to the people fail, he now pledges to try to re-engage Democratic leaders in Sacramento – a wise, if obvious, move. The critics grouse that Schwarzenegger hasn’t gone far enough. He should apologize, they say, for calling the special election in the first place. But this is just ugly partisanship. Schwarzenegger no more needs to apologize for losing last week than Gray Davis should have groveled for forgiveness after the recall. Politics is about winners and losers, and progress only comes about when leaders take risks. Sometimes risks result in failure. It beats the all-too-common alternative of gutless, poll-driven politicians who refuse to confront the hard issues. Still, as Schwarzenegger admits, he badly misjudged the will of the electorate in pushing for the special election. It’s a mistake that cost the state $55 million, a small fraction of the rampant waste that Schwarzenegger was trying to rein in, but a real loss nonetheless. The governor’s failure has also set back the reform movement, and wiped out much of the political capital he will need to be effective in working with the Legislature. It’s easy to understand his regret. But to his credit, he’s accepted “full responsibility,” rather than simply blaming his aides, the public or his political opponents. This is a key first step toward rehabilitating the state’s dysfunctional political system. A good second step is Schwarzenegger’s promise to include Democratic leaders in putting together his next State of the State address. Legislators were taken aback last year to learn about the governor’s reform agenda without being consulted first. What comes next depends on how Sacramento Democrats react to the new, contrite Arnold. They’ve long said they want to cooperate more, and they now seem to have the opportunity. If their conciliatory words last week are any indication, both sides could well rise to the occasion. We can only hope. Somehow, the state needs to tackle its many problems. It couldn’t be done at the ballot box, and so now it must be done in Sacramento.