Gray Davis recall (2003)
Davis was recalled just 11 months after he was elected in November 2002 to a second four-year term as California's governor. A total of 9.4 million voters cast a ballot on the recall question. This was an increase of 11 percent compared to vote totals for the state's 2002 gubernatorial election. Fifty-five percent of them voted to turn Davis out of office.
The recall, which had its origins in how Davis handled a crisis in the state's electricity industry, was described as recently as December 2009 as the "one event [that] shaped California politics more than any other in this decade.
The recall was conceived of and driven forward by Republicans, including frequent ballot measure activist Ted Costa, but it grew to become "an expression of frustration by an electorate fed up with dysfunction in Sacramento," California's state capital.
A total of 135 candidates were on the October 2003 ballot as replacement candidates should the voters choose to reject Davis. Besides Schwarzenegger, other candidates who put themselves forward in the election were Arianna Huffington, former child actor Gary Coleman, pornographer Larry Flynt and Cruz Bustamante, Davis's Lieutenant Governor.
The October 2003 election stood out for many reasons, one of them being that in a state that normally votes in favor of Democratic candidates, Republicans on the replacement ballot garnered 54 percent of the total votes cast for replacement candidates.
Top three vote-getters
Path to the ballot
Darrell Issa's financial support for a signature-gathering campaign to collect the necessary signatures to qualify the recall for the ballot was widely credited as the reason that recall supporters were able to collect the necessary amount of signatures to put the Davis recall on the ballot.
The signature-gathering drive to qualify the Davis recall petition was conducted by Bader & Associates, Inc., a petition management company owned by Tom Bader and Joy Bader. Ted Costa of People's Advocate asked the Baders to take on the Davis Recall signature-gathering effort when other petition management companies in California refused to work on the petition drive. Congressman Darrell Issa eventually provided most of the funding for the Davis recall petition through a committee that paid Bader & Associates to conduct the signature gathering drive.
According to laws governing recall in California, recall supporters were required to collect a number of signatures from registered California voters equaling 12 percent of the number of ballots cast in the November 2002 California gubernatorial election. Recall supporters were told on March 25, 2003, that the recall petition form they had submitted to election officials was acceptable, and that they had 160 days -- until September 2, 2003 -- to collect 897,158 valid signatures.
Recall proponents gathered about 1.6 million signatures, of which 1,356,408 were certified as valid.
- California Digital Library archive of Gray Davis recall materials
- Website of Bader & Associates, Inc.
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