Cal. Supreme Court OKs Recall

Petition form for recall of California Governor Gray Davis AP / CBS

The state's highest court has left the date intact for California's first ever gubernatorial recall election, and even allies of embattled Gov. Gray Davis all but conceded that the vote would go on.

The state Supreme Court declined Friday to halt the recall timetable, now set for Oct. 7. That leaves what is expected to be fierce litigation in Los Angeles on Aug. 8 as pro-Davis forces challenge the legitimacy of pro-recall signatures gathered by Republicans.

Dave Gilliard, director of Rescue California Recall Gray Davis, the anti-Davis group that fostered the recall, said, "This is what we expected from the Supreme Court."

"No court has accepted any of the governor's arguments to stop or slow down this recall and now we're going forward," he said. "We're going to have an election."

A pro-recall rally was held on Saturday in Sacramento, and it looked more like a circus than a political rally, CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports.

The crowd joined together to repeatedly yell "Total Recall! Total Recall!" which also happens to be the name of a movie starring potential gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Pro-Davis forces all but conceded the recall vote was on after the high court ruled, and were gearing up to wage a political campaign, not a court battle to block the election.

"From this point forward, our assumption is that the recall is on the ballot. That is our primary focus," said Eric Bauman, a spokesman for Taxpayers Against the Governor's Recall.

The Republican-dominated Supreme Court was responding to an emergency petition by pro-Davis forces who charged that the 900,000 signatures of registered voters required to force an election were obtained fraudulently.

The court, voting 5-0 with two absentees, did not rule on the merits of the charges. Instead, the court declined to halt the election pending litigation in Los Angeles.

Conservative millionaire Congressman Darrell Issa bankrolled the recall drive and is the only declared Republican candidate, though the field is open to anyone with 65 citizen's signatures and $3,500 to get their name on the ballot, Sandra Hughes reports.

Candidates hoping to replace Davis if he is recalled have only until Aug. 9 to get into the race. Under California law, candidates to replace the subject of a recall must file their papers 59 days before the vote.

"You can run, I can run, the guy down the street can run. It's great - you're in charge of the world's 5th largest economy and you're catering to the needs of 39 million people but no experience is required," Los Angles Times columnist Steve Lopez told CBS News.

Though Issa is the only declared major-party candidate so far, other potential Republican contenders include Schwarzenegger, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, last year's failed GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Simon and state Sen. Tom McClintock of Thousand Oaks.

Still another Republican possibility emerged Thursday: Jack Kemp, The GOP vice presidential nominee in 1996 and a former New York congressman. And three more names surfaced Friday: Former GOP congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Michael Huffington; former governor George Deukmejian; and former Assemblywoman Audie Bock, a one-time Green Party member who said she's entering the race as a Democrat.

Huffington took out nominating papers to run. "He's been contemplating it and made a final decision this past week to file the papers," said Huffington's spokesman Bruce Nestande.

The state's Democratic officeholders have closed ranks behind Davis and say they will not run, and state Democratic Party spokesman Bob Mulholland said the party can now focus on the Republican candidates.

Recall critics have said the election, which is estimated to cost up to $35 million, would create uncertainty that could further hurt California's economy.

The nation's last gubernatorial recall election was in 1921, when North Dakota Gov. Lynn J. Frazier was removed from office.
  • Jarrett Murphy

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