Total Recall: Rep. Candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger Overwhelmingly Elected to Replace Dem. Gray Davis As California Gov.

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Gray Davis became the first California governor in history to be recalled yesterday with Republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger winning the vote to replace him. We host a roundtable discussion on the recall including Green Party candidate Peter Camejo, United Farm Workers of America’s co-founder Dolores Huerta, former California State Senator Tom Hayden and others. [Includes transcript]

Click here to read to full transcript Total Recall: Arnold Schwarzenegger is governor of California.

Californians last night voted to recall Gov. Gray Davis just 11 months into his second term and overwhelmingly elected Republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace him.

Davis is the first California governor to be recalled and only the second in the nation’s history after North Dakota’s Lynn Frazier in 1921. He conceded defeat shortly before 10pm yesterday. The cost of the election to California taxpayers is being estimated at $66 million.

Voters faced two questions–whether to recall Davis, and who among the other candidates should replace him if he was removed. The latest results show that 54 percent voted yes to the recall and 46 percent voted against it.

Schwarzenegger won the vote to replace Davis with 48 percent. Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante finished second with 32 percent, he will remain in his position as Lieutenant Gov of California. Conservative Republican State Senator Tom McClintock came in third with 13 percent followed by Green Party candidate Peter Camejo with 3 percent.

Adding to the novelty were the other 134 candidates on the replacement ballot — among them a sumo wrestler, a porn actress, publisher Larry Flynt and an assortment of entrepreneurs who saw the race as good publicity.

Voters also rejected Proposition 54, a contentious initiative that would have banned state and local governments from tracking race in everything from preschools to police work. According to exit polling voters across the racial spectrum rejected the measure.

The 56 year-old Schwarzenegger was introduced by Jay Leno before making his acceptance speech at his campaign headquarters. Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy on Jay Leno’s late-night show in August. The actor-turned politician will be in charge of the nation’s most populated state with an economy surpassed by only five countries.

Schwarzenegger won the recall election despite accusations of sexual misconduct by 16 women and allegations that he once said admired Adolf Hitler and wished he too could enjoy a stadium full of screaming fans. He later denied making the Hitler comments.

Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Shriver, brought her whole family to the acceptance speech. She was joined by her mother Eunice Kennedy Shriver who is sister to John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy as well as former Democratic vice presidential candidate Sargent Shriver.

The recall movement was launched in February by grass-roots activists, angered over a tripling of the state vehicle license fee and a 30 percent to 40 percent increase in student fees at state colleges and universities.

The movement took off when conservative congressman Darrell Issa, poured $1.7 million of his own fortune into the campaign to get the measure on the ballot. He was planning to run himself but backed out soon afterward.

Schwarzenegger will take office as soon as the election results are certified–no later than Nov. 15.

Roundtable Discussion:

  • Peter Camejo, Green Party candidate.
  • Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez. She appeared with Governor Gray Davis in the closing days before the vote.
  • Tom Hayden, former State Senator in California and a longtime movement activist. He is a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.
  • Sonali Kolhatkar, host and producer of Uprising morning show on KPFA.
  • Willie Ratcliff, publisher of the San Francisco Bay View, California’s leading African-American newspaper. His paper opposed Gray Davis’s election last year but backed Davis in yesterday’s recall vote.

Candidate Speeches:

  • Tape: Jay Leno, host of the Tonight Show, the late night comedy show where Schwarzenegger first announced he was running for governor.
  • Tape: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California governor-elect speaking after winning California’s recall election.
  • Tape: Cruz Bustamante, Lieutenant Governor of California speaking about Proposition 54 after losing the gubernatorial recall election.

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