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Orange County

A Big Thumbs-Up for the Boot

Every O.C. city voted to recall Gov. Davis, who couldn't even count on Democratic Santa Ana.

October 12, 2003|Christine Hanley and Jean O. Pasco | Times Staff Writers

As California went, so did Orange County in last week's historic recall election. Only more so.

The recall of Gov. Gray Davis won in every Orange County city. In fact, Davis couldn't even win Democratic-majority Santa Ana, or in Laguna Woods, which has a strong base of active Democratic voters.

Republican Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger pulled a majority of the vote in 32 of the county's 34 cities, falling below 50% in only Santa Ana and Laguna Woods.

"Things needed to be changed," said Bernice Loober, 66, a lifelong Democrat from Laguna Woods. She voted to recall Davis and to replace him with Schwarzenegger.

Loober's enthusiasm reflected a broader voter mentality reminiscent of Orange County in the 1980s, when it delivered overwhelming margins for Republican candidates.

Schwarzenegger grabbed about 330,000 more votes than Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante on Tuesday -- putting him in nearly the same company as Ronald Reagan for his ability to woo local voters. Schwarzenegger's biggest margin of victory came in Villa Park, which also has the county's highest median income, over $100,000 a year per household. Davis did best in Laguna Woods, a city made up almost exclusively of the Lei- sure World retirement community.

Even there, some otherwise staunch Democrats like Loober voted to oust Davis, saying they were fed up with the budget crisis and his tripling of vehicle registration fees. Even some Democrats who voted against the recall said it wasn't because they liked Davis -- they were against the idea of a recall election.

"I didn't think the recall was the right thing to do because I heard it would give the rest of the country a reason to get anyone out of office," said Margaret Friday, 72, a Democrat. "I thought you had to do something wrong to be recalled."

Bustamante did poorly countywide, managing to get his highest tally, 37%, in Santa Ana.

But Bustamante's 17% share of the countywide vote topped conservative state Sen. Tom McClintock, who earned 15%. McClintock, a Republican from Thousand Oaks, fared best in Cypress, La Habra and Los Alamitos.

Perhaps the most surprising local showing came from Van Vo, a talk-show host in Little Saigon. He campaigned heavily in Asian American neighborhoods, boosting him to fifth among candidates in Orange County, with 0.4% of the vote.

Peter M. Camejo, the Green Party candidate, placed fourth with 1.5% of the county vote.

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