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What's All the Fuss about California's Governor?

The news these days is full of talk about California and the drive to recall its governor. Why is that?

Here are some facts:

  • California has a huge budget deficit right now. Estimates show that the state will have to come up with an extra $8 billion to pay for all the expenses earmarked for next year's budget. That means either new taxes or big cuts in spending.
  • Governor Gray Davis is wildly unpopular in the state, partly because he hasn't done a whole lot to make himself liked.
  • The budget that was approved and ultimately led to the deficit problems that exist now was passed by a divided Legislature, from which both sides are taking this opportunity to blame each other for the current mess.
  • California law allows for a state official to be recalled in between elections if enough signatures urging recall are collected.
  • To get on this special election ballot, people have to have collected only 65 signatures and have spent the $3,500 entry fee. For many of the 135 people on the ballot, this is their only chance to get to run for such a big office.
  • One of the candidates being talked about the most in the past few weeks is actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is running as a Republican but has some Democratic views. He has no political experience but is thought to be a sound businessman and a good salesman for educational and physical fitness.
  • Another of the candidates getting lots of mentions lately is Cruz Bustamante, who is now California's lieutenant governor, the second most powerful position in the state. Bustamante is a Democrat, the same as Gray Davis. Davis doesn't exactly approve of someone from his own political party running against him. If Bustamante wins, he will be the state's first Latino governor.

The results of a recent poll suggest that Davis just might survive the recall effort after all. The same set of polls shows that Bustamante would defeat Schwarzenegger if the election were to take place in the current week or so.

Does California have a huge budget problem? Yes. Should Gov. Gray Davis be removed from office for allegedly mishandling the budget fiasco? That's what all the fuss is about.

The election is October 7.

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