"He does not have a very arresting personality," said Arnold, 78, a Democrat who is leaning toward supporting Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for reelection.
The auto broker is sizing up each contender's stands on education, global warming and much more. But he cares about personality too, and on that score he finds Schwarzenegger the more captivating choice.
It is no small task for Angelides to compete in a personality contest with Schwarzenegger, a Hollywood star who has spent three decades polishing the public image that produced his wealth and political power base.
For Angelides, a Sacramento insider who toils over bond sales and pension funds in his job as state treasurer, a lack of pizazz would, in theory, have little bearing on his ability to run the state.
But candidate personalities always matter in a race for governor, and the difficulty of vying one-on-one against Schwarzenegger's is one of the most serious challenges that Angelides faces.
"Voters vote for people, not for platforms," said Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster who often surveys public opinion in California. "At the end of the day, who a candidate is, as a person, is vastly more important than almost anything else."
Angelides advisors play down the significance of the personality contrast.
"This is so far down the list of what voters' concerns are," said Bill Carrick, a Los Angeles campaign ad maker who produces TV spots for Angelides. "It's mostly about what they think the candidates are going to do that's going to impact their lives."
Carrick also questioned whether likability played much of a role in the victories of California's three previous governors: Gray Davis, Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian. None of the three was known for wit, charm or personal magnetism.
But unlike any of them, Angelides is running against a world-famous muscleman who has devoted much of his adult life to projecting a favorable image on camera for millions of fans.
Also, analysts say, there are specific aspects of Angelides' personality that risk putting off voters who will get to know him mainly through television news and campaign ads over the next 12 weeks.
Angelides, a Harvard graduate, seems at times to strike an "I-know-everything" attitude, and he can get carried away with a pugnacious speaking style, said Joseph Tuman, a professor of political communication at San Francisco State.
"He comes across as a little caustic," Tuman said. "There is that edge to him."
In an interview, Angelides, 53, joked that Schwarzenegger would soon be forced "to deal with my charisma and likability in this contest."
On a more serious note, he said Californians would get a chance "to see who I am, see my family, get to know me."
"They're going to see someone who's always stood up for what I believe is right, who has a very close-knit family, who despite the spin of columnists and pundits has had the same friends all his life."
He described himself and his wife, Julie, as "pretty simple people" who had raised their children in the same Sacramento neighborhood where they had grown up in the 1950s and '60s.
"He's not a larger-than-life mega-celebrity," said Angelides consultant Eli Attie, a television writer and former Al Gore speechwriter. "But he is somebody who's intelligent and thoughtful, and real and genuine, and reads a lot, and knows a lot about the issues."