In a history-making decision, California voters have removed Governor Gray Davis from office and replaced him with actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mr. Schwarzenegger promises to bring the state together, following a divisive recall election.
In his victory speech, the Republican winner promised to work with California legislators to change the fiscal climate of the deficit-ridden state. "I've been speaking out about the need of bringing back fiscal responsibility to this state, bringing back the positive business atmosphere, bringing back businesses, bringing back jobs and bringing back our education," he said. "And, very important, we need to bring back the trust in the government itself."
Californians removed their state's chief executive, Democrat Gray Davis, just 11 months after reelecting him to a second term from office.
Mr. Davis conceded the election to an audience of supporters still angry over the recall, which Mr. Davis had once called a "Republican power grab." "My friends, in the next few weeks, we will have a new governor," he said.
Mr. Davis went on to say he has a different message. "I am calling on everyone in this state to put the chaos and the division of the recall behind us and do what's right for this great state of California."
Exit polls that show most California voters made up their minds weeks ago. Angry with the state's poor economy and a massive budget problem, they voted in large numbers.
Early results showed voters approved of the governor's ouster by a substantial margin, and that a solid majority selected actor Arnold Schwarzenegger over his closest rival, Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante.
Mr. Bustamante remains the second-highest officer in the state. Before the vote count was known, he promised to cooperate with whomever is governor, even Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. "If he's willing to work with us to make sure that we're providing small businesses a break, to make sure that we're trying to better our schools, I'll work with him," says Mr. Bustamante.
Mr. Schwarzenegger will face pressures from both Democrats his fellow Republicans. Democrats hold a majority in the state legislature and will be reluctant to cut spending on social programs. Conservative Republicans insist on no new taxes.
State Senator Tom McClintock ran in the recall race as a fiscal conservative. He says the win by a Republican was the first battle in a long fight. "Our new governor must now challenge and confront and defeat the spending lobby that is entrenched in the halls of the state capitol," he says. "He can only succeed with the united support of the people of California."
State officials will not officially certify the election for a number of weeks. After they do, Arnold Schwarzenegger will be sworn in as California's new governor.