California Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante has received an important endorsement as a Democratic alternative to Governor Gray Davis, who faces a recall vote October 7. The state's largest labor organization is urging a "no" vote on the recall, but "yes on Bustamante."
The California Labor Federation, the state branch of the national AFL-CIO, has been working hard to keep Democrats off the ballot as possible replacements for the Democratic governor. Labor officials worried that a Democratic alternative would weaken the governor's chance of staying in office.
The organization represents more than two million workers, and is opposed to the recall, but says it is backing Mr. Bustamante to ensure that a Democrat holds the governor's seat, if Mr. Davis is ousted.
One delegate says the lieutenant governor is the logical backup. "He's tried and true. The voters have already voted him lieutenant governor of the state. We think he'll be good for the state of California," he said.
Leading Republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger received some bad news over the weekend in a Los Angeles Times poll that showed him trailing in the race, with 22 percent support to Mr. Bustamante's 35 percent.
Republicans questioned the poll's accuracy, noting that polls released days earlier found the actor-turned-politician in the lead. They also say the four top Republican candidates together out-polled the Democratic lieutenant governor. Their party's challenge is to narrow the field so the Republican vote goes to a single person.
Saying he wanted to help ensure that, Republican Bill Simon dropped out of the race Saturday. Republican Tom McClintock says he will not.
While Democrats enjoy the support of organized labor, Republicans are courting the business community. Republican Peter Ueberroth, who says he'll remain in the race, promises to make the state more business-friendly. He is the former commissioner of major league baseball in the United States and the man who staged the successful 1984 Los Angeles summer Olympics.
"We'll listen to businesses that employ a lot of people, businesses that employ a few people, businesses who have left the state, what would it take for them to come back to the state? We'll do all those kinds of things," he said.
Republican Congressman David Dreier, a backer of Arnold Schwarzenegger, says the polls will fluctuate, but the field will only get smaller. "This has narrowed to a two-person race. It's between Cruz Bustamante and Arnold Schwarzenegger," he said.
Still, 134 candidates are still officially in the race, and 135, including Mr. Simon, will be on the ballot.
Governor Davis is campaigning to keep his job. He says the recall, which will take place just 11 months after his reelection, will only incite more recalls if it is successful, and further hurt the state's economy.