Davis Faces the First Gov Recall Election in Calif. History
Gray Davis Faces the First Gubernatorial Recall Election in California History
California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley has announced there are now enough certified petition signatures of registered voters to place the recall of Gov. Davis (left) on a special statewide ballot in 60 to 80 days. The state Supreme Court has announced it will take no immediate action to stop the scheduling of such a recall election. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante has the job of setting the date, which would almost have to be Sept. 30 or October 7. He has indicated he'd likely make the announcement within 24 hours. Any replacement candidate would have to file papers to get on the ballot 59 days before election day, so the timing is tight.
Wednesday morning on KFWB, Gov. Davis vowed to fight and said he expects to win.
SACRAMENTO (KFWB) 6:30pm -- Secretary of State Kevin Shelley (left, signing recall documentation before news conference) reports he has verified a total of more than 110% of the signatures required to put the recall of Gov. Davis on a special election ballot for a statewide vote. At least 1,356,408 of the 1,651,191 recall petition signatures submitted to the 58 county Registrars have been estimated to be valid and qualified voters. Less than 900,000 were required.
The announcement that Democratic Gov. Gray Davis will face a recall election touched off a scramble among potential candidates to replace him. They may have to announce their plans as early as Saturday.
The only declared major-party candidate so far is Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, who spent $1.71 million of his car-alarm fortune to fund the recall.
Other potential Republican contenders include Los Angeles businessman Bill Simon, who lost to Davis in November, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, who ran unsuccessfully for state controller last year.
Simon said Wednesday he planned to make an announcement at a recall rally Saturday in Sacramento, where other potential candidates were also expected to appear. McClintock filed papers forming an exploratory committee.
Schwarzenegger's political adviser, meanwhile, issued a statement saying the actor is still deciding.
"Arnold is discussing his candidacy with his family," said the statement from George Gorton. "He is weighing the pros and cons of a candidacy and has made no determination at this time as to whether he will run in a likely recall election, nor has he made a determination that he will not run."
The state's major Democratic officeholders have said they don't intend to run to replace Davis, a show of unity marshaled by party leaders who believe Davis would have a better chance of surviving the recall without Democrats on the ballot.
But strategists from both parties have speculated that if polls show Davis vulnerable, one or more Democrats could decide to run.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein tops polls when voters are asked who they would like to replace Davis, and other leading state Democrats with gubernatorial ambitions are Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Treasurer Phil Angelides.
"It looks like it's going to be a crowded field and I think the Democrats are cracking every minute," said Chris Wysocki, spokesman for Rescue California Recall Gray Davis, the committee that collected more than 1.6 million signatures to make Davis the first governor in 82 years to undergo a recall election.
Simon and McClintock are from the party's conservative wing while Schwarzenegger is more moderate. Davis is casting the recall as a right-wing attempt to hijack California and a waste of taxpayer money _ up to $35 million.
"I think we might see two or three major candidates," said Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College.
The Green Party's Peter Camejo, who ran for governor in November, also has said he plans to run. A group of San Francisco Bay area activists is trying to recruit columnist Arianna Huffington.
The ballot could be heavy on fringe candidates, since it's not hard to run: Candidates must submit signatures from 65 registered voters of their own party and $3,500, or 10,000 signatures in lieu of the filing fee.
Bustamante will set the election date on Thursday. It must fall 60 to 80 days from the date the recall was certified, so possible dates include Sept. 23, Sept. 30 and Oct. 7.
The secretary of state's office has said a recall ballot would have two parts: In the first, voters would vote yes or no on recalling Davis, and in the second they would choose from a list of potential successors.
However, Bustamante threw that scenario into question this week by refusing to say whether he would set a replacement election for the same ballot as a recall election. He has sought legal guidance to clarify what aides characterize as a constitutional discrepancy over how succession works.
Candidates must file to get on the ballot at least 59 days in advance of the election, so if the recall and list of replacement candidates are on the same ballot the timeline to get into the race will be short. A Sept. 23 election would require candidates to declare by Saturday.
Some key dates and details in the recall against Democratic Gov. Gray Davis:
_ Secretary of State Kevin Shelley (right) certified the recall Wednesday.
_Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante said he plans to set an election date Thursday.
_The election must occur 60 to 80 days from Wednesday, the certification date. Counties have discussed Sept. 23, Sept. 30 and Oct. 7 as possible dates.
_Candidates must declare their candidacies at least 59 days before the election. To get on the ballot, a candidate must file 65 signatures from registered voters and pay $3,500, or file 10,000 signatures in lieu of the filing fee. If the election is scheduled on Sept. 23, candidates would have to file by Saturday.
_The election will cost taxpayers $30 million to $35 million, the secretary of state estimates. The bulk of the cost would be borne by California's 58 counties.
_The secretary of state's office has said a recall ballot would have two parts: In the first, voters would vote yes or no on recalling Davis, and in the second they would choose from a list of potential successors. If the recall succeeds the candidate with the most signatures would immediately replace Davis, regardless of what percentage of the overall vote he or she received.
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Bustamante threw that scenario into question this week, however, by refusing to say whether he would set a replacement election for the same ballot as a recall election. He has sought legal guidance to clarify what aides characterize as a constitutional discrepancy over how succession works.
_The state's major Democratic officeholders have closed ranks behind Davis and said they don't intend to place their names on the ballot.
_U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, spent $1.71 million on the recall effort and is the only declared major party candidate. The Green Party's Peter Camejo, who ran for governor in November, has also said he will run.
_Other potential GOP candidates include:
_Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger's political adviser said Wednesday the actor was still making up his mind.
_Businessman Bill Simon, who lost to Davis in November. Simon plans to make an announcement at a recall rally Saturday.
_State Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, who ran unsuccessfully for state controller in November. McClintock formed an exploratory committee Wednesday.
_The recall ballot will include University of California Regent Ward Connerly's Racial Privacy Initiative, which would ban government agencies and schools in the state from collecting most kinds of racial and ethnic information; and a proposed constitutional amendment that would dedicate an increasing portion of the state's budget to infrastructure spending. Those measures have qualified for the ballot in California and will appear on the recall ballot because it is the next statewide election.
Source: California secretary of state, AP research.
SACRAMENTO (AP) 7.23.03, 6pm -- At the center of a storm with no precedent in California, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (right), working the phones in an office down the hall from Gov. Gray Davis Wednesday, turned to words like "circus atmosphere" and "hysteria."
As a deadline approached toward a historic recall election, California's No. 2 executive bobbed and weaved through endless questions of reporters about what he would do within 24 hours, and perhaps sooner.
Bustamante, frequent object of national attention as California's first Hispanic statewide office holder in a century, repeated his statement over and over: He will quickly set a recall election, but not one simultaneously to determine a possible successor to Davis.
"The authority I have is to set the date, but not the other," he said. "I don't think I have any other authority."
Bespectacled, and in his trademark deep voice, the Baby Boom-era lieutenant governor from Fresno had only hours earlier thrown an already intrigue-filled process into overdrive with a new take on California's constitution.
Bustamante insisted it was not a "Machiavellian" move, but suggested someone else would have to make the call about electing potential successors to Davis, possibly the state Supreme Court or an obscure five-member body known as the Commission on the Governorship. Outside his office, opponents and recall supporters suggested the move was self-serving, potentially catapulting Bustamante to the governor's office. They vowed to take Bustamante to court if necessary.
"We are preparing to force the lieutenant governor to carry out his duty, and are prepared to do so as early as tomorrow," said Dave Gilliard, a leader of the pro-recall group Rescue California.
Indeed, what earlier seemed clear about how a recall election might proceed, became the domain of attorneys who said the constitution on the issue is a "mess."
But Santa Monica Attorney Fred Woocher, a specialist in election law, disputed Bustamante's contentions that it wasn't his job, as did Loyola Law School professor Rick Hasen. Both argued that the constitutional law cited by the lieutenant governor applies to other kinds of succession issues, including governors who refuse to step down or executive staffers trying to take charge in a crisis, not voter recalls.
Both also sympathized with officials quickly trying to interpret old legal provisions that have never been used in a political situation with no precedent.
"My position is (Secretary of State Kevin) Shelley should immediately go to the Supreme Court and seek declaratory judgment and have them tell him what to do," Hasen said.
Wednesday, Scott J. Rafferty and Andrew C. Byrnes, a pair of recall opponents from Mountain View, petitioned Senate President Pro Tem John Burton to seek a Supreme Court ruling before Shelley certified an election.
Burton spokesman Dave Sebeck said the senator did not act on the request, but will brief reporters at 11:45 a.m. Thursday.
Burton heads the five-member Commission on Governorship, whose members also include Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson, the state Department of Finance chief and heads of the state's two university systems. While Bustamante argued his case that the commission, not he, should seek an Supreme Court opinion on how to proceed, some commission members caught up in the whirlwind were surprised to discover they belonged to it.
"This is the first we've ever heard about it," said California State University system spokeswoman Colleen Bentley-Adler. She confirmed that CSU Chancellor Charles Reed is a member, but only learned about it Wednesday morning.
"There's been no meetings, no calls, no conferences," Bentley-Adler said.
Brad Hayward, spokesman for the University of California, said the same was true for commission member and UC President Richard Atkinson.
"We, frankly, don't have much information and we're looking into it just as many other people are," Hayward said.
On the Net:
Office of the lieutenant governor: http://www.ltg.ca.gov