California Governor Facing Recall - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

California Governor Facing Recall

California Gov. Gray Davis (D) will become the country's first governor to face recall in 82 years. (AP Photo) California Gov. Gray Davis (D) will become the country's first governor to face recall in 82 years. (AP Photo)

July 23, 2003 - Posted at: 8:29 p.m. CDT

SACRAMENTO, Ark. -- California's Secretary of State certifies petitions for recall election of Democratic Governor Gray Davis.

Davis will become the first sitting governor to be recalled in 82 years.

State officials announced Wednesday after tallying the results of a Republican-led petition drive that seemed farfetched just months ago.

"In a strange way, this has got my juices flowing," Davis told The Associated Press in an interview. "I'm a fighter."

"I'll own up to my mistakes — I haven't done everything perfect," Davis said. "But I do believe we have to stay in the direction voters want."

Davis — who has come under fire over California's $38 billion deficit, its electricity crisis and its slumping economy — called the recall campaign "a hostile takeover by the right," and said that despite widespread unhappiness with his job performance, he was confident voters would keep him in office.

"Remember, there's a lot more people willing to vote against the recall than there are who think I'm doing a good job," said Davis, whose approval ratings have hovered in the low 20s in recent polls. "If you look at those voters, they say, 'It's not fair to blame this on the governor.' It's that sense of fairness that I think will carry the day."

An experienced and often aggressive campaigner, Davis said that in recent days he had become energized by the prospect of taking on Republicans in the recall effort.

"My political obituary has been written at least once a year. The voters, however, have responded different and have put me in office because they have supported what I've done," he said.

Still, Davis acknowledged that with a sagging economy and a colossal deficit, Californians face a variety of problems.

"I know they're hurting, I know these are tough times," he said. "But if I were the only governor in the country doing something wrong, then we wouldn't have 46 other governors struggling with their budgets, making cuts, having to raise taxes."

A recall ballot would have two parts: Voters would decide yes or no on recalling Davis, and would then choose from a list of candidates to replace him.

But the man charged by law with scheduling the date of the recall suggested he may not have the authority to set an election to choose a replacement candidate.

"The constitution, the way I read it, says two things," Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante said Wednesday. "It says I'm the person who has to submit the proclamation for the election, and it gives me the discretion to set the date. That's it. I don't believe in my read I have discretion to do anything else."

Bustamante said the decision on putting the replacement candidates on the same ballot was probably not his to make.

"I suppose the Supreme Court will deal with that," Bustamante said. "It's not mine to deal with."

Recall supporters said they are prepared to take Bustamante to court over the matter if necessary.

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