On October 7, California voters will
go the polls to vote on whether to replace their existing governor,
Democrat Gray Davis.
The vote, known as a recall, will be the first in California
history. It will also be only the second time in U.S. history
that a governor faces removal from office.
What is a recall?
A recall is a process in which voters can remove a
public official from office before his or her term expires. In
Davis' case, his Republican opponents gathered the signatures
of over 1.6 million Californians, almost double the 897,158 signatures
required, in order to trigger the recall vote.
By law, the election must occur between 60 and 80 days from when
the signatures are officially counted.
Californians have previously tried 31 times to mount a recall
of a governor, but never succeeded in getting the signatures needed
to force a vote.
On October 7, voters will be asked first to vote yes or no to
Davis' removal. They will also be able to vote from a list of
candidates vying to replace him. If a majority of the voters opt
to oust Davis, the candidate with the most votes would become
governor the next day.
supporters have criticized the process, citing of the high cost
of the recall. The vote could cost taxpayers as much as $35 million,
with a majority of the money going toward printing and counting
the ballots and producing a voter information guide for California's
11 million households.
Already, Davis supporters have tried to stop the vote through
court challenges. One group, Taxpayers Against the Governor's
Recall, has filed a petition charging that the signature gatherers
hired by Davis' Republican opponents were not registered voters.
Who will replace Davis?
Voters first elected Davis in 1998 and re-elected him
last November for a second four-year term. Before and after his
election, Davis faced criticism for his handling of a massive
energy crisis in 2000 and 2001, and for his management of the
state's budget, which faces a crippling $38 billion deficit this
the Republicans hoping to replace Davis is U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa,
a conservative California congressman, who financed the multi-million
dollar recall campaign. Issa has accused Davis of being the worst
governor in California.
Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, star of the Terminator movies, was
considering running for Davis's seat, but a spokesman said Tuesday
that the Republican supporter would likely not become a candidate
due to the pressure it would put on his family.
Davis has vowed to "fight like a Bengal tiger" to keep
In a show of support for Davis, no Democrats have said they will
run against him in the recall.
The history of recalls
Prior to Davis' troubles only one other U.S. governor
has faced a recall. In 1921 voters recalled North Dakota Gov.
Lynn J. Frazier, after his state's economy faltered following
World War I and his party's socialist policies became unpopular.
Davis and his supporters will now begin a massive campaign to
win over voters before the October election. Bill Clinton, along
with other high profile democrats, is expected to speak out on
Kristina Nwazota, Online NewsHour Extra