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California Certifies 135 Candidates in Recall Election

Some 240 potential candidates turned in candidacy filing papers to their county election office, but many were not approved to appear on the ballot because of incomplete paperwork or the failure to pay the $3,500 filing fee.

A small number of the certified candidates are considered serious contenders for the job, while many others are seen as publicity seekers and entertainers, seeking to take advantage of the open nature of the balloting process.

On Oct. 7, California voters will answer two recall-related questions on the ballot. They may first vote “yes” or “no” on the question of removing Davis from office. Then they may review a list of potential replacement candidates and mark their preference. A federal judge recently ruled that voters can select a replacement candidate even if they vote to retain the governor or do not answer the first question about whether to remove Davis.

Among those seeking to unseat Davis is actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who led the pack of potential candidates in an Aug. 7-10 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll with 24 percent of registered voters saying there is a “very good chance” they’ll vote for the actor turned politician.

Schwarzenegger is continuing to hire staff and advisers for what will be a truncated campaign. Stockbroker Warren Buffet, one of the wealthiest men in the world, joined the Schwarzenegger team Wednesday as an unpaid economic consultant. Buffet said he will assemble a group of economic and financial experts to advise Schwarzenegger on how best to rebuild California’s dismal economy.

Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante is also a certified candidate. Bustamante was the leading Democrat in the weekend poll with 8 percent of registered voters saying they will likely vote for him. The lieutenant governor has said voters should vote “no on the recall and yes for Bustamante.”

Republican State Senator Tom McClintock, who is backed by the conservative group known as the California Republican Assembly, is another certified candidate.

Former U.S. attorney and Republican businessman Bill Simon, who Davis narrowly defeated in the regular gubernatorial election held last year, will also appear on the ballot.

Certified candidate and columnist Arianna Huffington, running as an independent, has joined forces with Green Party candidate Peter Camejo. The pair have agreed that if one pulls ahead in the polls the other will offer his or her support to the leader. The alliance has reportedly caused some division in the California Green Party, which has not yet officially endorsed Camejo’s candidacy.

President Bush, who had earlier singled out the Schwarzenegger candidacy, discussed the California recall from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, on Wednesday, reiterating he believes the actor would make a good governor and adding “as would others running.”

Mr. Bush also commented on the intense media coverage the recall has spawned, calling the entire recall process a “fascinating political drama.”

“It is the biggest political story in the country? That’s interesting. That says a lot. That speaks volumes,” President Bush said. “Oh, I think there’s maybe other political stories. Isn’t there, like a presidential race coming up? Maybe that says something.”

The president is set to begin a two-day fundraising and presidential campaign trip in California starting Thursday, but has not said if he will campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidates while he is there. Mr. Bush said simply that he’ll be “campaigning for George W.” while in the Golden State.

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