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THE STATE | RECALL NOTEBOOK / THE RECALL CAMPAIGN

Suspect in Unsolved Slaying Must Remain on Ballot

August 22, 2003|From Times Staff Reports

After it was revealed that he is a "top suspect" in an unsolved slaying in Atlanta, Scott Winfield Davis, a self-employed software consultant from Palo Alto, sought unsuccessfully to have his name removed from the ballot in the Oct. 7 gubernatorial election.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Davis, who says he is innocent, announced his withdrawal from the race late Tuesday and closed down his campaign Web site after the newspaper learned of the criminal charges.

In 1996, Davis was arrested and charged with killing David Coffin Jr., then setting fire to his home and Porsche, the Fulton County, Ga., district attorney said.

The prosecutor dropped the charges in 1998 for lack of evidence, citing the fact that much of the physical evidence was burned in the fires.

But Paul Howard, the district attorney, told the Mercury News on Tuesday that Davis remains the "top suspect" in the investigation. Prosecutors believe Davis fatally shot Coffin because the victim was romantically involved with Davis' estranged wife.

A state election official said Wednesday that there is no way to yank a name from the ballot once the candidate has been certified. Davis' 23-word candidate statement will probably appear on all the voter information guides soon to be mailed by the secretary of state's office.

"A candidate can't officially withdraw after the paperwork is completed and the candidate has been certified," said Doug Stone, a spokesman for the California secretary of state's office, which oversees all statewide elections.

*

You Can Put Money

on Candidate Online

Before bond trader F.T. Aquilino died in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, he was working on an idea for an Internet betting service that today is offering chances to wager on the fate of Arnold Schwarzenegger's candidacy.

That's not all you can bet on by subscribing to www.UBetWHAT.com. There are a variety of sports wagers, but bets for and against Arnold dominate the Web site's arts and entertainment category.

In order to be legal, said its public relations representative, Kevin Mercuri, the Web site doesn't take a cut from any of the posted wagers. It simply provides a forum for subscribers to make and take bets on any subject of their choosing.

On Thursday, for example, you could bet against one subscriber who was wagering $1,000 that Schwarzenegger would win the election. Or, you could bet $300 against someone else who said the campaign would be rocked by scandal.

Mercuri said the Web site is run by members of Aquilino's family in cooperation with a Canadian Indian tribe that holds a gambling license.

*

Campaign Comb

Has a Part of Its Own

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) opposes the recall but supports Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante's candidacy -- and he wants voters to contemplate the strategy every time they comb their hair.

The balding Sherman said he often hands out combs to his San Fernando Valley constituents with information on how to contact him. Now he's ordered 8,000 combs that say "No on recall, yes on Bustamante."

Sherman plans to start distributing them this weekend.

"You can fit a lot of information on a comb," Sherman said.

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