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The State | RECALL NOTEBOOK / THE RECALL CAMPAIGN

Davis Talks a Fine Line on Energy Woes

August 16, 2003

For the second straight day, Gov. Gray Davis seized on the Northeast blackout as an opening to boast about California's investments in safer, more reliable electricity supplies. Those investments, of course, came following the California energy crisis, a part of his political resume that Davis has simultaneously sought to downplay.

"We didn't wait for a catastrophe that shut down lines in eight states," Davis said Friday during a visit to a Los Angeles elementary school.

"We had a couple little warnings, five or six temporary blackouts, 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there."

Tossing Brickbats in the Schoolyard

Davis seemed delighted to respond to reports that Arianna Huffington did not send her children to public schools because she feared they would become "guinea pigs" for the state's educational experiments.

"I disagree with it, enormously," Davis said.

"I am looking at beautiful faces here," he remarked, as he stood on a stage surrounded by Latino boys and girls at Hoover Elementary in Los Angeles. "I don't see any guinea pigs."

Huffington on Thursday fended off questions about why her two daughters attend private school instead of Los Angeles' public schools, saying: "I'm not going to use my children as guinea pigs. I'm going to give them the best education possible."

Other 'Arnold' to Debate Porn Star

The Game Show Network locked in the best available Arnold. That would be "Arnold," the long-ago "Diff'rent Strokes" character portrayed by Gary Coleman, the other actor-turned recall election candidate.

Coleman and Mary "Mary Carey" Cook, the porn actress who is also on the ballot, are the first two candidates to commit to the network's upcoming special, "Who Wants to Be Governor of California? The Debating Game."

"We're thrilled to have both Gary Coleman and Mary Carey involved in our debate," said Game Show Network President Rich Cronin, "because they represent the diversity of race, gender and height that makes California strong."

Garamendi Sees Shift for Governor

Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi came this close to running in the recall election, but now that he's out of the race and has had some time to reflect, he thinks the whole thing isn't such a good idea.

"There's soon going to be an increased awareness by the general public that the recall is not in the short- or long-term interest of the state," he said in an interview.

Not only that, said the Democrat who declared and then withdrew his candidacy last week, but things are looking up for Davis. Garamendi said he had a sense that the governor is about to mount a turnaround in the polls.

"I think Californians are angry and upset, but I'm not sure the anger will last for two months," he said. "I think there's going to be a shifting. I'm not saying at this point the recall will fail, but I do think public opinion will shift to give Davis a better chance.

"In the meantime, I think there will be an effort among both Republicans and Democrats to consolidate on the second, replacement ballot, and that many candidates being talked about will fade or withdraw from active campaigning."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Poll watch

This is another in a series of reports examining polls related to the California recall election. The reports offer a sampling of the latest public-opinion surveys as well as analysis on how to interpret the numbers.

Field Poll

What the poll says: Voter intentions regarding the recall

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Among registered voters

Yes, recall Davis: 57%

No, retain Davis: 34%

Undecided: 9%

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Among likely voters

Yes, recall Davis: 58%

No, retain Davis: 37%

Undecided: 5%

What to keep in mind: The poll interviewed only 448 `likely voters' in the Oct. 7 recall election. It was taken last week -- nearly two months before the election. Polls taken early in a campaign don't always predict the results because shifts tend to occur closer to election day as voters begin to focus more on the candidates.

Results based on telephone survey Sunday through Thursday in English and Spanish among a random sample of 629 registered California voters, 448 of whom are deemed likely to vote in the Oct. 7 recall election. The sampling error is +/- 4.1 percentage points.

Source: Field Research Corp.

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