As expected, the race has become too close to call as Californians go to the polls to decide whether to make a joke out of their state by electing a Kindergarten Cop as governor.
California’s recall election looked too close to call as voters packed polling stations on Tuesday to decide a race for governor in which Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger seeks to unseat unpopular incumbent Democrat Gray Davis.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. PDT (10 a.m. EDT) for Californians to first decide whether to oust Davis, famous for his lack of charisma and dedication to fund-raising, then pick from an assortment of 135 candidates, including the magnetic bodybuilder turned actor.
In Pacific Palisades, an exclusive suburb of Los Angeles where actress Goldie Hawn and director Steven Spielberg also vote, Schwarzenegger was expected to cast his vote early on Tuesday in the garage of a sprawling, gated suburban home.
The words “polling place” were written in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Spanish and English, near a basketball hoop under tall trees, with a garden sprawling alongside.
“I’ve only seen Arnold here twice and I’ve been working here for five years,” said a poll worker who gave her name only as Sara. “That’s pretty bad if you’re running for public office,” she said, adding that the actor had not cast absentee ballots in the years he hadn’t voted.
Although preliminary results were expected Tuesday night after polls close at 8 p.m. (11 p.m. EDT), it could be weeks until the state certifies the official result and some observers held out the prospect of a recount or a court challenge if the vote proves especially close.
Last minute polls showed the race tightening although Schwarzenegger’s camp said the actor retained a healthy lead among replacement candidates and that voters appeared ready to boot Davis.
What began as a Republican-led protest vote over Davis’ handling of the state’s economy and recent energy crisis has become a referendum on Schwarzenegger, especially his alleged groping and sexual harassment of women.
Davis’ wife Sharon campaigned for her husband at the last minute, once again bringing up claims of impropriety against Schwarzenegger, who in turn has accused the Davis campaign of dirty tricks in the crucial final days before the recall.
‘STATE IS LITERALLY BANKRUPTY’
Appearing on NBC’s “Today” show, Mrs. Davis said as a former flight attendant she was harassed and understood why women had not come forward before with complaints against Schwarzenegger, a “powerful” man in the film industry.
Speaking from Schwarzenegger’s camp, former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan praised the actor for not being “blindsided” by the allegations and said he was the right man to sort out California’s financial woes.
“This state is literally bankrupt. … People are desperate to have new leadership in Sacramento,” he said, charging Davis had sold out the state to special interest groups.
Davis’ campaign said its new tracking survey of 1,200 likely voters found a 50 percent to 48 percent split between those favoring a “yes” vote on the recall and those planning to vote “no,” in a poll of 1,200 people over three days.