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Californians Push to Remove Governor from Office - 2003-06-16

A drive is under way to remove California Democratic Governor Gray Davis from office.

Supporters of the recall say they have 700,000 of the 900,000 signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot. They have until September 2 to get all the needed signatures.

If the goal is met, a vote on ousting the governor would likely be held at the end of this year or next March.

Opinion surveys indicate Mr. Davis has the lowest approval rating of any California governor in more than 50 years, 24 percent. He was re-elected last fall and his term ends in 2007.

The campaign to remove Governor Davis is backed by at least $600,000 from Republican Congressman Darrel Issa, who aspires to be the next California governor.

If voters do force Mr. Davis out of office, they will then have to choose his replacement. Beside Mr. Issa, other potential Republican candidates include Bill Simon, whom Mr. Davis narrowly beat in November, and Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Potential Democratic candidates include Senator Dianne Feinstein.

No matter what the outcome, any new California governor will have to contend with the state's monumental budget deficit of more than $38 billion.