2003 California Recall Gubernatorial

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The Contenders

Incumbent Gray Davis, Democrat

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican

Tom McClintock, Republican

Cruz Bustamante, Democrat

Peter Camejo, Green

Arianna Huffington, Independent

and more than a hundred others including porn stars Mary Carey and Gallagher, actor Gary Coleman, and "smut peddler" Larry Flynt.

The Significance

A wealthy GOP congressman, Darrell Issa, bankrolled a petition drive to recall the highly unpopular Governor Gray Davis, who was battling a $38 billion budget deficit. The open election attracted a host of contenders, including several unsavory characters without any political qualifications, prompting the media to label it "a circus". Issa dropped out when actor-bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger entered the race, instantly becoming the frontrunner. Schwarzenegger battled Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante all the way to election day. The voters unseated Davis and installed Schwarzenegger in his stead. Davis became the first governor in 70 years to be recalled.

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