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California Political Quake

October 8, 2003 at 12:00 AM EDT


JEFFREY KAYE: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign ended last night as it had begun two months earlier, with an introduction by entertainer Jay Leno.

JAY LENO: Ladies and gentlemen, the governor of the great state of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger! ( Cheers and applause )

JEFFREY KAYE: The bodybuilder- turned-actor-turned-politician exceeded the forecasts of pollsters. His campaign had been marked by angry rhetoric often borrowed from his terminator persona. But in his victory speech, gone were the movie one-liners castigating the political establishment. He was the governor-elect.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: Shall we rebuild our state together? Or shall we fight amongst ourselves, create even deeper division and fail the people of California? Well, let me tell you something, the answer is clear: For the people to win, politics as usual must lose. ( Cheers and applause )

JEFFREY KAYE: Schwarzenegger had campaigned as an outsider. Tapping into public anger at a governor and government whom he accused of mismanaging the economy and the state budget. He said his responsibility now is to rebuild trust.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: I will call tomorrow the leaders of the legislatures, both Democrats and Republicans, and I will let them know that my door will always be open, that I want to work with them together for the good of California. ( Applause )

JEFFREY KAYE: Gray Davis is the second governor in U.S. History to be recalled from office. Last night in defeat, with his tearful wife and mother beside him, the 30-year political veteran pledged to cooperate with Schwarzenegger’s transition team.

GOV. GRAY DAVIS: I am calling on everyone in this state to put the chaos and the division of the recall behind us and do what’s right for this great state of California. ( Cheers and applause )

JEFFREY KAYE: Schwarzenegger’s rivals also pledged their cooperation. Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante reminded Schwarzenegger that he’ll remain in office.

LT. GOV. CRUZ BUSTAMANTE: I may not be moving across the hall to the governor’s office, but I’m not going anywhere. ( Cheers and applause )

JEFFREY KAYE: Republican State Senator Tom McClintock, who came in third, interpreted the results as support for his conservative agenda, even though McClintock won just 13 percent of the vote.

STATE SEN. TOM McCLINTOCK: The vision that we offered of rolling back the taxes and the regulations that have choked our economy, of reining in our out- of-control bureaucracies, and of restoring our public works, has clearly resonated across the electorate and now becomes a solid mandate for this new administration. ( Applause )

JEFFREY KAYE: But that mandate may be unclear. Despite the large turnout, voters knew little about Schwarzenegger’s plans for running California. The candidate ran as an agent of change, but offered few specifics about how he’d govern.

SPOKESMAN: The people have…

JEFFREY KAYE: Veteran political analyst Robert Stern of the center for governmental studies says it’s one thing for a candidate to promise to shake up government, but another to govern.

ROBERT STERN: Now comes the hard work. Now comes the grind. And he can’t kick the legislature.

JEFFREY KAYE: Schwarzenegger will have to face a legislature controlled by Democrats. All of California’s state office holders are also Democrats.

ROBERT STERN: My prediction is maybe he’ll be like Nixon going to China. He’ll have to raise some taxes, perhaps on millionaires like himself, and if he does that, then maybe the legislature will say, “okay, you raise some taxes, we’ll cut some services. We’ll balance the budget with a combination of tax increases and budget cuts.”

GOV. GRAY DAVIS: Thank you. God bless you, and God bless this great state. Thank you. (Applause)

JEFFREY KAYE: Davis spent part of the day today behind closed doors signing bills. He’ll remain as governor until the election results are certified. It may be mid-November before Arnold Schwarzenegger is sworn in as governor.