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THE RECALL CAMPAIGN

135 Candidates Qualify for Oct. 7 Recall Ballot

The list is whittled down from 247 applicants. Davis makes a high- profile appearance.

August 14, 2003|Lee Romney, Sue Fox and Megan Garvey | Times Staff Writers

The suspense ended on one front of the California recall on Wednesday as state election officials certified 135 names for the Oct. 7 ballot.

The candidates hoping to replace Gov. Gray Davis in the special election were culled from 247 applications.

A low threshold for candidacy produced a ballot like no other, including well-known political veterans, action movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, a former child star, an adult film actress and a slew of others who unabashedly say they are doing it for the fleeting fame.

The total number of candidates is close to predictions made by county election registrars. Some of those officials have warned that the lengthy ballot may create counting delays on election night, particularly in counties that have not yet switched to electronic voting systems. That could delay election results for several days, especially if the race is close.

"We still have a lot of work to do; I'll be working tonight after my kids go to bed to proof the list," said Gail Pellerin, Santa Cruz County's election manager.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday August 16, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
Recall -- An article in Section A on Thursday about the certification of California recall candidates for the Oct. 7 ballot incorrectly said financier Warren Buffett is 67. He's 72.

On Wednesday, with 55 days to go until the special election, a number of candidates campaigned throughout the state and fine-tuned their staffs and strategies.

Some prominent candidates, such as Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Peter Ueberroth, made no campaign stops Wednesday, while state Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) continued to hit talk-radio programs touting a campaign that he has targeted toward his core conservative supporters.

In the first recall of a California governor, voters will be asked to vote up or down on whether Davis should keep his job. Regardless of how they vote on that issue, they will be able to choose a backup gubernatorial candidate from among the scores of names appearing on the second half of the ballot.

If Davis gets less than 50% of voter support on the first question, whoever gets the most votes on the second question would serve out the three years left in Davis' term, leading a state with 36 million residents and the world's fifth-largest economy.

Here's a summary of campaign activities Wednesday:

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Despite having no campaign appearances, Schwarzenegger made news with the announcement that he had hired billionaire investor Warren Buffett as his campaign's senior financial and economic advisor. Schwarzenegger came to the U.S. from Austria more than 30 years ago, earning a fortune, as well as fame, as a bodybuilder and actor. The Republican is considered the leading candidate.

The decision to bring Buffett, a registered Democrat who lives in Nebraska, onto the campaign staff, and his willingness to help, may blunt criticism of Schwarzenegger by some for surrounding himself with former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and many of his aides. Wilson has been the focus of much anger from California Latino voters for his support of Proposition 187, a measure to deny illegal immigrants access to public services that passed by a wide margin in 1994 only to be overturned in the courts. But Buffett's close ties to Democrats could also hurt Schwarzenegger's efforts to gain conservative support.

Buffett, 67, is a legend in the investment world for long-term success, and is listed by Forbes magazine as the second-richest man in the United States behind Bill Gates of Microsoft.

Gov. Gray Davis

Davis stuck close to his core base of support, appearing in San Francisco alongside Kate Michelman, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. He pledged to sign a package of bills that he said would bolster the reproductive rights of women.

Although billed as regular gubernatorial business, the event had the trappings of a campaign rally. To cheers and a standing ovation by women sporting "San Francisco Democratic Party / On Your Side" T-shirts, Davis outlined his history of support for pro-choice legislation, and Michelman and others vowed to fight the recall.

Michelman warned that the effort to unseat Davis, who she described as the most pro-choice governor in the nation, was orchestrated by the same forces working to undermine the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision that gave women the right to have an abortion.

In keeping with a strategy to keep Davis -- known in the past for aggressive campaigning -- above the recall fray, the governor did his best to portray the event as nothing more than the nuts and bolts of governing. He named two Bay Area women to Superior Court benches and appointed four others to the Commission on the Status of Women. And he pledged his support for three state Senate bills and two Assembly bills related to reproductive rights.

When asked about the obvious campaign flavor, Davis repeated a mantra of the past few days: "As I've said, there are lots of people who want to be governor, but I am the governor and I'm going to continue to do the work of this state."

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