California's top election official has cleared the way for Arnold Schwarzenegger to be sworn in Monday as the state's next governor. Meanwhile, outgoing Governor Gray Davis has declared an end to the energy crisis that helped force him from office. It was one of his last official acts as the state's top official.
Friday, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley made the long-awaited announcement. "I know it will come as no surprise to any of you that the recall is certified as successful and that Arnold Schwarzenegger is now officially certified as our next governor," he said.
Mr. Davis was removed and Mr. Schwarzenegger elected in a special recall election October 7. With the votes officially tallied, 55 percent of voters approved recalling the governor, while the winning candidate, Mr. Schwarzenegger, led his closest rival by a 17-point margin.
Critics blame Mr. Davis for most of the state's problems, including an energy crisis. They say he responded too slowly to spiraling prices in an energy market that had been deregulated to make electricity cheaper.
In January, 2001, Mr. Davis declared a state of emergency, as prices soared and Californians suffered rotating power cuts. He was able to turn the lights back on by negotiating high-priced contracts with energy suppliers, and by issuing billions of dollars in bonds to pay the power bill. The state must eventually repay the money, with interest.
Since 2001, Mr. Davis has streamlined the permitting process to put new generators on line, and has provided incentives for consumers to conserve electricity.
But he got little credit for that from an electorate that was angry with an expanding fiscal crisis, caused by a downturn in the high-tech industry, which slashed state revenues. California's financial slump led to additional indebtedness, and has left the incoming governor to consider issuing more state bonds to meet the growing shortfall.
Friday, California's nonpartisan budget analyst added to the bad news. Next year's deficit will approach $18 billion if Mr. Schwarzenegger repeals an increase in the car tax, as he has promised to do.
But the problems will recede, at least temporarily, as more than seven-thousand invited guests watch Mr. Schwarzenegger take his oath of office. It is the celebration of an action star who promises some action in Sacramento. One skeptical legislator says there may be fireworks there as well, once the new Republican governor starts debating specific proposals with his Democratic-controlled legislature.