In California’s historic recall election, voters across the state ousted Gov. Gray Davis and elected Austrian-born body builder and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger as the state’s new governor on Tuesday.
“Tonight I stand before you with a heart full of gratitude and appreciation,” said Davis, who held his party against the recall at the Biltmore Hotel, in his conceding statement. “Tonight, the voters decided it’s time for someone else.”
The recall, which was started by one time candidate Darell Issa, D- San Diego, brought out a record number of voters to the voting booths.
Schwarzenegger, despite recent charges of sexual harassment made by 15 women, was
able to manage a victory over 134 other candidates running to replace Davis.
As voters in the state filled polling places, they were faced with a number of issues. First, they were asked to decide whether or not Davis would be recalled from his position.
For the first time in the history of the state, and only the second time in the history of the country, a state governor was recalled from office The only other governor to be recalled was North Dakota’s Lynn Frazier in 1921. About 55 percent voted for the recall, with 45 percent who voted to keep him in office.
Schwarzenegger was elected the new governor of California with nearly 49 percent of votes.
Despite having no previous experience in politics, he will be sworn in as soon as the Secretary of State finalizes the votes around the state, which should take about five weeks.
“We should all look forward to working with him,” said Mona Field, a Political Science professor at GCC.
Close behind Schwarzenegger was the leading Democratic candidate, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who walked away with 32 percent of the votes. Trailing further behind was date, State Sen. Tom McClintock, a conservative Republican, who grabbed 13 percent of the votes.
Around 9:30 p.m., Davis conceded the recall with over 60 percent of the votes counted. This was minutes before Schwarzenegger was about to give his victory speech at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City.
Also on the ballot were two propositions, 53 and 54. The former, a measure to increase the state’s general fund on infrastructure projects to 3 percent, was voted down: 64 to 36 percent.
Proposition 54 was a measure that would outlaw any state and local government from using race, ethnicity, color or national origin to classify people. This proposition was also defeated 64 to 36 percent.
“I’m very happy at the defeat of Proposition 54,” said Field. “It would have been damaging to the people of California.”
Following the results, the major gubernatorial candidates made conceding statements to the public and press.
Initially, Bustamante focused more on the defeat of proposition 54 rather than his won defeat. Though later on Tuesday night, he did make his formal concession speech. He remains lieutenant governor.
“We did not fail. I may not be moving across the hall to the governor’s office, but I’m not going anywhere,” Bustamante said
Schwarzenegger’s victory did not come as a shock to many Californians, who saw the actor’s ratings move ahead steadily in the polls over the last days of the campaign.
McClintock made a conceding statement as well. “I believe our campaign acted as the conscience of this election, and that we framed the issues on which this contest was ultimately decided,” He said.
Schwarzenegger’s term is expected to begin sometime in mid-November.