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Voter Turns a Photo-Op Into 'Candid Camera'

October 02, 2003|From Times Staff Reports

It was shaping up to be the perfect photo-op -- until reality intruded.

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley was touring the polling place in the L.A. Central Library on Wednesday -- touting the importance of voting early in the recall election and admiring the new touch-screen voting equipment -- when a man arrived with a simple request: He wanted to vote.

Surprised by the crush of TV cameras, 71-year-old Robert Henderson asked loudly, "Is Arnold Schwarzenegger here? I've come to vote."

He asked for help.

There was an awkward silence during which the secretary of state looked away, looked back, waited, called for a poll worker, realized none was coming right away and then stepped in.

He escorted Henderson to a table where the L.A. resident picked up voting forms.

By this time Shelley had been upstaged. TV cameras were trained on Henderson as he filled out the paperwork ("Which do you put first -- the month or the day?"), diverted from the secretary of state for the moment.

Henderson later said he hadn't been expecting such an audience.

"It's incredible," he said. "I thought at first maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger was here."

"I'm no star," he added. "Just an ordinary guy."

Candidates Plan an Alternate Tour

At least a dozen of the lesser-known gubernatorial recall candidates plan a bus tour that will trail the "California Comeback Express" caravan as it travels through California beginning today.

The red, white and blue bus will carry the candidates, plus friends, family members and reporters, said state Libertarian Party candidate Ned Roscoe.

"They are regular people. They aren't nuts. They don't have the cut and polish you may get from professional people with their staffs," Roscoe said of the candidates who will be on board the bus. "But we're going to offer people an unscripted, real view of what's going on in California."

Roscoe will be joined by, among others, Cheryl Bly-Chester, a Republican from Sacramento; Jonathan Miller, a Democrat from San Mateo; and Bill Vaughn, a Democrat from Lafayette.

"We really want to oppose Schwarzenegger, stick our fingers in the dike and stop the flood," Miller said.

Jim Vandeventer, a Republican from Los Angeles, is helping organize the alternative bus tour and plans to follow it in his mint-green 1938 Buick.

He said the objective is to stay as close as possible to the Schwarzenegger campaign tour, which starts in San Diego and is scheduled to travel in a convoy of six buses, each named after one of the action star's films.

"We're going to be there alongside Arnold's events to make people aware that there are other people out there," Vandeventer said.

He added that the bus hadn't been given a catchy name.

"Maybe the Exterminator?" he said with a laugh.

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