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IN THE NEWS - October 4, 2003: California Recall Election - 2003-10-03

This is Bob Doughty with In the News, from VOA Special English.

Voters in California will decide Tuesday whether to remove Governor Gray Davis from office. If he is recalled, public opinion studies show the leading candidate to replace him is actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Mister Davis is a Democrat, Mister Schwarzenegger is a Republican. The two have been going city to city in a final effort for votes. Both are leading television campaigns critical of each other.

Yet the two men are not really opponents on the ballot Tuesday. Mister Davis is the only name on the first question. Voters are asked to decide if the governor should stay in office or be recalled. He needs fifty-percent of the votes plus one to stay.

The second question asks voters who support the recall to choose a replacement. One-hundred-thirty-five candidates are listed. One of them is Mister Schwarzenegger. Another is Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. He is considered the leading Democratic candidate. If Mister Davis is recalled, the candidate with the most votes will become governor.

Republicans worry that another Republican on the ballot, state Senator Tom McClintock, could take votes away from Mister Schwarzenegger. Mister McClintock, however, was refusing to withdraw. Republican Congressman Darryl Issa financed the recall effort. He said he would urge people to vote “no” on the recall unless one of the Republicans withdrew to avoid splitting the vote.

Opinion studies show that a majority of Californians want to recall Governor Davis. Many people say they are unhappy with the way he has dealt with a budget crisis. California has the largest population in the country and one of the largest economies in the world.

Critics of the recall effort say it is an undemocratic way to try to remove an elected governor from office. Mister Davis is in his second term. He says the recall is a Republican effort to seize power in California and possibly other states.

Eighteen of the fifty states permit special elections to recall the governor. Six of those states say the governor must be guilty of some wrongdoing. California is not one of them. It has some of the easiest rules for recall elections.

Several civil rights groups tried to delay the vote this Tuesday. They said there could be problems with older voting machines in some areas with large numbers of minorities. Those efforts failed.

In developments late this week, the Los Angeles Times reported accusations by six women. They said Mister Schwarzenegger had touched them in a sexual way without permission. On Thursday he apologized for having, in his words, "behaved badly sometimes." He said he would be a "champion for women" as governor.

The Austrian-born actor also reacted to reports that he once expressed praise for Adolf Hitler. Mister Schwarzenegger said he had no memory of such comments and that he hated the Nazi dictator.

In the News, from VOA Special English, was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Bob Doughty.