Now the ball’s in Arnold’s court.
Arnold Schwarzenegger will have to decide soon — possibly as early as this week — whether to declare his candidacy for California governor as Democrat Gray Davis faces the first recall in state history.
It could be a tough choice. The recall’s timing has dovetailed with a rebound in Schwarzenegger’s showbiz fortunes as “Terminator 3” generates his best box office perf since 1994’s “True Lies.”
The thesp remained noncommittal following Wednesday’s certification of the recall by Secretary of State Kevin Shelley.
“Arnold is discussing his candidacy with his family,” said a statement by Schwarzenegger political consultant George Gorton. “He is weighing the pros and cons of a candidacy and has made no determination at this time as to whether he will run in a likely recall election, nor has he made a determination that he will not run. Media reports that Arnold has made a decision not to run are incorrect.”
Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante may set the date today for the recall, which would ask whether to recall Davis and would provide a list of candidates to choose from in the event he is recalled. If a majority of voters support the recall, Davis would be replaced by the candidate with the most votes.
The election must occur within 59 to 79 days from today; candidates must declare at least 59 days before the election to be placed on the ballot.
However, Bustamante muddied the outlook a bit Wednesday by suggesting he may not have the power to set an election to choose a replacement candidate, saying that decision should be up to the state Supreme Court or the Commission on the Governorship. This would leave open the possibility that a recall election could be held prior to an election, if necessary, for a new governor.
Schwarzenegger’s celeb status and potential to rally otherwise apathetic voters makes him the front-runner among candidates to replace Davis. The only declared candidate so far is Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) who has spearheaded the recall effort; leading Demos say they support Davis and won’t run.
A Schwarzenegger candidacy will evoke comparisons with Ronald Reagan’s successful run as a thesp-turned-politico in 1966 for governor against incumbent Pat Brown.