Accessibility links

Breaking News

California Governor to Face Recall Election - 2003-07-24

Election officials in California say the state's governor, Gray Davis, will face a recall election. More than one million voters signed a petition that urged his removal from office. Mr. Davis has vowed to work to keep his job. But, some questions about the recall are still undecided.

Gray Davis will be the first California governor to have the voters decide his fate midway through a four-year term of office. The state's top election official, Kevin Shelley, announced the results of the recall effort.

"As California's secretary of state, it is my duty today to certify the first recall election of a governor in California history," he announced. " As of today, my office has received over 1.6 million total signatures. Of these, more than 1.3 million have been found to be valid."

The governor's opponents needed just under 900,000 signatures to qualify the recall for the ballot.

Mr. Davis, a Democrat in his second term of office, has been the chief target of voter anger at a massive budget shortfall, which is projected at $38 billion. He earlier served a term as the state's lieutenant governor and two terms as state controller, where he was known as an efficient and low-key bureaucrat. Now, he is battling for his political survival, and says he is ready to face the voters one more time.

"If the people want me to stand before them again, I will," governor Davis said. "Five times they have been good enough to elect me to statewide office. I believe in the fairness and good judgment of the California people, and I think at the end of the day, they will make the right decision."

California Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante must set the date for the recall vote, and says he will announce his decision Thursday. The special election will take place this fall, sometime between 60 and 80 days from the announcement.

But Mr. Bustamante, a Democrat and the state's second highest official, says a California commission on the governorship, or the state supreme court must clarify the procedure, and decide whether candidates for governor will appear on the same ballot as the one that asks if Mr. Davis should leave office. Until now, state officials have said the two measures would appear on a single ballot, with the selection to be effective only if a majority approves the governor's removal.

Recall backers accuse Mr. Bustamante of playing politics.

The list of candidates for governor could be long because all that is needed to get on the ballot is $3,500 and the signatures of 65 supporters.

The list is expected to include Darrell Issa, a wealthy Republican congressman who bankrolled the recall effort, and possibly Bill Simon, a former Republican candidate for governor. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger also says he is considering a run for the governor's office.

The state's leading Democrats have promised not to run, but to support Mr. Davis in his effort to win the endorsement of the voters one more time.