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The Recall Election

Schwarzenegger Reiterates Anti-Tax Theme and Will Ask Bush for Help

The governor-elect repeats his campaign pledges and says he will shelve his movie career. He is set to roll out his transition team today.

October 09, 2003|Mark Z. Barabak | Times Staff Writer

Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday renewed his pledge not to raise taxes and vowed to work cooperatively with California's Democratic leaders.

At a 25-minute news conference in Los Angeles, the Republican also reiterated his plans to roll back the state's vehicle license fee, or car tax -- despite legal disputes over whether he can -- and said he planned to put his lucrative movie career on hold.

"The people of California want me to be their governor, and I will do that and nothing else," Schwarzenegger said. "There will be no time for movies, or anything else. I will pay full attention to this job."

The day after ousting Democrat Gray Davis in the first recall vote in California history, Schwarzenegger garnered headlines across the globe and fielded congratulatory phone calls from a who's who of leaders, from President Bush to former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Even as national Republicans rejoiced at the ascension of one of their own to the governor's office, Schwarzenegger -- facing an $8-billion budget gap -- said Wednesday he would pressure the president for help.

"He promised me that he will do everything possible to help California, so I'm looking forward to working with him and asking for a lot, a lot of favors," Schwarzenegger said.

In the news conference, he held off on substantive announcements, not venturing beyond his broad campaign promises.

Schwarzenegger -- who is expected to become California's 38th governor sometime next month when the election results are certified -- is due to announce members of his transition team today.

He expressed hope that his wife, Maria Shriver, would continue her career as a network television journalist, resuming a role put on hold for the campaign.

A member of the Democratic Kennedy clan, Shriver is also expected to serve as a key advisor in her husband's administration, reprising the powerful behind-the-scenes role she played in the election.

Davis, meanwhile, spent much of the day after his recall in seclusion with his wife, Sharon, at their West Hollywood condominium. The couple planned to fly to Sacramento on Thursday to thank the governor's staff. On Wednesday, he did not even return phone calls from campaign aides.

Davis' recall, by a decisive 55% to 44% vote in unofficial returns, marked just the second time in U.S. history -- and the first time in 82 years -- that a governor has been summarily fired in that fashion.

Schwarzenegger's win over the second-place replacement candidate, Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, was equally sweeping, 49% to 32%, with Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock coming in third at just over 13%.

Watching from afar, partisans in Washington, D.C., sought to spin the results to their best advantage. Both sides claimed to know what the voter insurrection augured for the 2004 presidential election -- and reached utterly different conclusions.

High Expectations

While most analysts say California is still a strongly Democratic state, the victory by Schwarzenegger could mean the party will have to work a bit harder to hang onto the state's 55 electoral votes.

But the election of the state's first Republican governor in 5 1/2 years is not an unalloyed benefit for the GOP, since Schwarzenegger now inherits high expectations and a nagging budget problem.

In Sacramento, where Democrats still control the Legislature and most statewide offices, party leaders warned Schwarzenegger that the easy part -- winning the recall race -- was over.

State Sen. John Burton of San Francisco, now the capital's most powerful Democrat, said he spoke to Schwarzenegger on Wednesday morning and warned him: "It's going to be pretty goddamn tough."

"I'm not sure he knows how complicated and screwed up it is to run a state this size, especially not understanding that there were a lot of cuts made already," Burton said in an interview. "There's not a hell of a lot of soup left in the pot to ladle out."

But after the bitterness of the hard-fought recall race, Wednesday was mostly a day for reconciliation -- or, at the least, conciliatory words.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat who appeared in ads urging voters to reject the recall, pledged to work with Schwarzenegger and opposed any attempt to recall him in retaliation.

"We have so much work to do to pull this state together, to ease the wounds of what has been a very difficult election and to solve this state's problems," Feinstein said at a news conference at her downtown San Francisco office.

She stood by her decision to stay off the recall replacement ballot; given her popularity, her choice left many Democrats muttering what-ifs on Wednesday.

"I didn't think it was right then. I don't think it's right now," Feinstein said. "I couldn't say, 'Vote no on the recall, but vote for me.' " As she offered her postmortem, a staffer passed her a note. "Oh!" Feinstein exclaimed. "The new governor's on the phone." She ducked out to take the call.

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