Calif. Culls Candidates To 135

California Governor Gray Davis and Candidates Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gary Coleman
Voters will have 135 candidates to choose from to replace Gov. Gray Davis in California's historic recall election, the secretary of state's office said Wednesday after certifying the ballot.

More than 110 of the 247 would-be governors who had submitted papers to run in the Oct. 7 special election were disqualified because of incomplete paperwork, state officials said.

The number of candidates likely surpasses any previous number of gubernatorial candidates in one election, which would probably be fewer than a dozen, said Bruce Cain, a political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

"There's nothing comes close," Cain said.

As the ballot became official, elections supervisors throughout California worried about how they would pay for it all. Estimates on the cost of the recall started at $30 million, increased to as much as $67 million and elections officials throughout the state said it could go higher because of the number of candidates.

Potential costs to California's 58 counties range from $50,000 in rural Plumas County to $13 million in Los Angeles County.

Clerk Stephen Weir said Contra Costa is facing election costs that may pass $2 million.

"That's a lot of immunization shots or meals or services to people," Weir said.

Deficit-strapped counties are tapping emergency reserves, using money budgeted for the March primary and hoping the state makes good on its previous history of paying for special elections. The higher election costs are hitting counties during a budget crisis that has led to hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts.

The ballot was being completed a day before President Bush was scheduled to arrive for a two-day fund-raising swing through Southern California that could put him in the eye of the state's political storm.

Meanwhile, records show Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't vote in five of the past 11 statewide elections.

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder said Schwarzenegger voted in the 2002 primary and general elections, which included a ballot initiative that he sponsored on after-school programs. But he didn't return absentee ballots for the 2000 general and primary elections after requesting them.

That means Schwarzenegger twice missed a chance to vote for Bush. Records show he also didn't vote in the June 1998 primary, when voters approved an initiative banning bilingual education, or the 1996 primary and general elections.

His campaign aides said they are researching the four 1996 and 2000 absentee ballots Schwarzenegger requested. They blamed an assistant who may have forgotten to mail them, or said sometimes ballots are rejected or not recorded by elections officials.

With 55 days until the election, some of the expected front runners were plotting strategy, making appearances and taking shots at the competition.

Schwarzenegger, who gave his campaign $1 million Tuesday, named billionaire investor Warren Buffett as a senior financial and economic adviser Wednesday, the latest in a number of strategic personnel moves by the actor's campaign.

Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, will bring together other business leaders and economists to address the state's financial issues, campaign spokesman Sean Walsh said.

Davis appeared with abortion-rights activists in San Francisco to announce his support for five legislative bills that would expand sex education for teenagers and improve access to emergency contraception.

A coalition including the Sierra Club, the California National Organization for Women and the California Congress of Seniors has agreed to help conduct an anti-recall campaign through mass mailings and phone banks, said Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.

Political commentator Arianna Huffington said she will campaign with Green Party candidate Peter Camejo to push a progressive agenda. Both candidates said they will consider stepping down if the other pulls ahead in polls.