Archive for Monday, June 16, 2003

Recall ballot for Calif. governor seen as likely

June 16, 2003

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— A Republican-led campaign to recall California's Democratic governor, once dismissed as improbable, now appears poised to qualify for the ballot -- and to shake up California politics like never before.

The outcome is anyone's guess, and the situation has politicians from both parties scrambling. It promises to be "a wild ride," promises one political consultant.

Gov. Gray Davis was elected in a landslide in 1998 but his approval rating tumbled to 28 percent amid voter wrath over the state's energy and budget crises.

Now he could find himself forced from office by a campaign that has been fired up a little-known conservative congressman who has poured $800,000 into the effort so far.

Potential Republican replacements range from that congressman, Rep. Darrell Issa, to Bill Simon, the financier Davis narrowly beat in November, to actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose advisers say he will decide whether to run after the July 2 release of "Terminator 3."

Davis could even be replaced by a fellow Democrat, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has not ruled out a run.

Many Republicans fear the recall could backfire and leave them worse off in a state where Democrats already control every statewide office and both houses of the Legislature.

"This entire process is unprecedented," state GOP communications consultant Rob Stutzman said Sunday.

When Republican activists started talking recall four months ago, few would have predicted it would get so far. Recall campaigns have been attempted 31 times against California governors but none has made it to the ballot.

Recall supporters have until Sept. 2 to collect nearly 900,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot.

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