SACRAMENTO, CALIF. California's lieutenant governor is in a tight race with actor Arnold Schwarzenegger as the leading candidates to succeed Gray Davis if voters decide to oust the Democratic governor, according to a poll released Saturday.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante had the support of 25 percent of the 448 likely voters questioned by the Field Research Corp. Schwarzenegger had 22 percent. With the poll's margin of error of 5 percentage points, the two are essentially running even.
Six other relatively well-known contenders in the 135-candidate field trailed with single-digit backing. However, 44 percent of voters who favored a candidate said they might switch sides before the Oct. 7 recall election -- including 29 percent of Bustamante's supporters and 35 percent of Schwarzenegger's.
In the recall election, voters will decide whether Davis should be ousted and then pick who should replace him from among the 135 candidates.
The timing of the election itself, however, was thrown into doubt Friday when a federal judge ordered Monterey County not to send absentee ballots overseas until issues raised by civil rights groups are resolved.