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Candidates Have Until Late Saturday to Enter California Gubernatorial Race - 2003-08-09


The California recall race is taking shape as potential candidates approach a Saturday deadline to file papers to run for governor. Celebrity candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will walk the streets and mingle with the voters, while Governor Gray Davis says he will focus on his job as the October vote approaches.

Mr. Davis faces an angry electorate and a growing list of candidates who want to replace him. He says the job of governor requires experience, the ability to deal with a fractious legislature and the judgment to evaluate 3,000 bills a year.

His critics give him a failing grade as they point to the state's $38-billion budget deficit. Supporters say no one else could have done any better during the fiscal crisis.

October 7, California voters will decide two questions: whether Mr. Davis should be ousted and, if so, who should replace him. In Sacramento, Davis spokesman Steve Maviglio says Mr. Davis is not campaigning against his rivals.

"The governor's not on that second part of the ballot," he said. "He's on the first part of the ballot. Do you want to recall him, yes or no? And I think you will see in the governor's schedule from here until October, him doing his job as governor. He's going to be signing bills; he's going to be doing what he's done for the past four years."

At the other end of the state, the actor and former body builder Arnold Schwarzenegger says what is needed in Sacramento is new ideas. The star of the popular Terminator movies and one-time Mr. Universe is pursuing the governorship surrounded by admiring fans and supporters. He says he approaches politics the same way he approached bodybuilding and acting.

"I want to go from morning until night, work every day, seven days a week, to get the message out there of what my plan is," said Arnold Schwarzenegger. "I will go from house to house, knocking on doors, talking to families."

Even his kinder critics point to the actor's lack of experience in politics. He responds that Governor Davis, an experienced politician, has failed in Sacramento.

"We are in a disastrous situation with all that experience," said Arnold Schwarzenegger. "What you need is leadership, you need to have great ideas, and you've got to have some thinking outside the box."

President Bush is following the California recall race from his ranch in Texas, and he offered an opinion on the actor-turned-politician.

"It's fascinating to see who's in and who's out, and yeah, I think he'd be a good governor," he said.

Democrats had hoped to unify behind Gray Davis and defeat the recall measure, but at least two California Democrats, including Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, will be on the ballot. They are urging their supporters to vote against the recall, but vote for them as governor, in case the recall passes. Other potential candidates have until late Saturday to enter the race.

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