Cali recall race comes to U

The ballot reads like a laundry list of who’s who in California.

Adult film stars Mary Carey and Angelyne. Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. Actors Gary Coleman and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Politicians Cruz Bustamante and Tom McClintock.

But, says Bob Stern, when the smoke clears on the nation’s second gubernatorial recall election in nearly a century, the results may benefit the political process more than people think.

“We have TV stations who run more recall footage than car chases…Every single candidate, no matter how minor they are, is getting free airtime,” Stern said.

Stern, the president of the Center for Governmental Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles and an expert on California politics, spoke to a crowd of about 60 Thursday morning in Gould Auditorium.

Although California remains at the epicenter of the political world, it’s not the only place that could host a recall.

Currently, 18 states and 61 percent of cities in the nation have a recall process in place and though Utah isn’t one of them, it could reap the benefits from a newfound interest in politics nationally, Stern said.

“I think it’s created a lot of interest in politics…The big thing it will do is cause some young people to go into politics,” he said.

With 135 candidates on California’s ballot, things got complicated quickly and remain mired in confusion, though two front-runners should be emerging shortly, Stern said.

According to Stern, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and superstar actor Schwarzenegger will take the reins of their respective parties leading into the Oct. 7 recall vote.

“I think [incumbent Gov.] Gray Davis is going to lose, but it’s going to be very close…we might see a Florida recount situation,” he said.

Stern also sharply criticized the prevailing recall process and the ease with which candidates can get themselves onto the ballot.

Currently, candidates only need to collect 65 signatures and pay a $3,500 filing fee to be considered a candidate.

Stern said he’d like to see the number of signatures raised to 50,000 in order to weed out those candidates who don’t present viable issues.

Though Davis’ approval rating is 21 percent-the lowest in history of any California governor-Montana governor Judy Martz is experiencing a 14 percent approval rating. But all eyes have turned to California, Stern said.

“It’s a combination of the first gubernatorial recall ever, plus the star factor that has made this thing so interesting and popular,” he said.

Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican, stands the best chance of winning if two things happen, Stern said.

First, California state senator and fellow Republican Tom McClintock would need to drop out of the race, thus not taking votes away from Schwarzenegger.

“If McClintock gets out of the race, then Arnold becomes the favorite,” he said.

He also said that younger voters need to hit the polls to put Schwarzenegger into office.

“Young people are the real wildcards because we think if they turn out to vote, Arnold will win,” Stern said.

But, Stern said, putting Arnold into office many not signal the end of California political intrigue.

“I guarantee you if Arnold is elected, there will be another recall,” he said. “If Arnold’s elected, he’ll really shake things up…He could be like another Ronald Reagan.”

But, Stern said, political junkies shouldn’t expect the California recall to have a long-term impact on national voting patterns.

“This is the fad of the year and I don’t think people will stay attuned to politics unless there’s a crisis,” he said.

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