Schwarzenegger leads California race with 51% of votes

October 8, 2003

Arnold Schwarzenegger at his victory party in Los Angeles (AFP) LOS ANGELES — California Governor Gray Davis was ousted by 55.4 percent of votes against 44.6 in polls Tuesday, while Arnold Schwarzenegger was chosen to replace him with 51.1 percent of votes against 30.4 to deputy governor Cruz Bustamante, early official figuires showed.

Some 1.1 million voters chose to oust the unpopular Davis against 890,434 who voted against the recall, according to California's secretary of state, with 20.5 percent of votes counted.

Earlier the battle to win the historic recall election – the first to target a US governor in 82 years – was joined by a circus of 135 candidates, many of them eccentric, but ends under the clear domination of the "Terminator."

"Most people across America and world probably don't even know what this election is about, they only know that it could make a movie star governor," said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe of the University of Southern California.

The Austrian-born ex-bodybuilder leads the polls in the race to replace unpopular Democratic Governor Gray Davis in the October 7 special election, despite explosive allegations of sexual harassment and admiration of Adolf Hitler that rocked the final days of his turbulent two-month campaign.

Since the actor's Hollywood-style announcement of his candidacy on a television talk show in August, he has been the focus of global attention and criticism for his lack of political experience and unwillingness – or inability – to lay out detailed economic plans for the broke state.

His star power has thrust albeit rare state elections into a publicity glare that has both flattered and appalled the residents of the most populous and richest US state.

When the campaign rollercoaster ride began in July, "wacky" California become the butt of jokes when eccentric candidates ranging from porn mogul Larry Flynt to X-rated movie star Mary Carey to fallen child star Gary Coleman threw their hats into the electoral circus.

Republican Schwarzenegger has positioned himself as an outsider poised to clean up political corruption and halt massive state overspending, while pushing a moderate social agenda, including support for abortion and gay rights, very unpopular concepts among right-wing Republicans. –Sapa-AFP

Schwarzenegger surges to strong lead in race to replace California governor



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