San Francisco, July 30 (Reuters): Embattled California governor Gray Davis received good news yesterday in the fight to keep his job — screen Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared ready to back away from waging a political challenge and the state’s legislature finally approved a budget that Davis could sign.
Unhappiness over a record budget deficit is the prime reason the Democratic governor faces an unprecedented recall election.
Although the new budget, passed after a marathon 25-hour legislative session, pushes much of the deficit to future years, passage could lessen Davis’ vulnerability on the issue.
In the Republican-led recall, Californians will vote on whether to unseat Davis and at the same time vote for a potential replacement. Alongside a likely field of familiar politicians, Schwarzenegger flirted with following in the footsteps of fellow actor Ronald Reagan as California governor — a run now unlikely, an aide who asked not to be named said.
“There are still several things he needs to do to close the book on this, but that’s the direction he is headed in right now,” he said.
”For all I know George Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford could all call and say 'hey, we need you,' but I don't think a scenario is likely that would push him toward running.”
In an interview, Davis' wife Sharon said her husband, on the other hand, would fight vigorously to keep his job.
”You probably saw the stories written about him possibly stepping down and that's just so counter to his personality,” she told Reuters.“He is willing to work hard to see this through, he is not backing down.”
Meanwhile, a federal judge in San Diego struck down a portion of the recall law as unconstitutional, but his ruling neither delays nor stops the two-part vote.
Under the ruling by a San Diego Federal Court, citizens who decline to vote on the recall section of the ballot can still vote on a successor to Davis. The portion of the law that the judge struck down had barred voting on a successor without participating in the part of the ballot posing the recall question.
Schwarzenegger, the former Mr. Universe turned Hollywood heavyweight, had initially suggested he would run as an Republican. But Schwarzenegger's aide said the actor's wife, television news personality Maria Shriver, a niece of former President John F. Kennedy and a member of the nation's most prominent Democratic family, opposed a run.
”She has concerns about their young children and the quality of life they would have by a father who would be engaged 20 hours a day in state government,” he said.
”Now they are between five and 14, it's a time when you don't get those days back and it's a time when kids really need to be with their parents, and that's where I think she comes down.”
The aide said Schwarzenegger would make an announcement as early as this week. Some analysts have said he may also be wary of exposing himself to campaign attacks on his personal life.
A Schwarzenegger withdrawal from the race could pave the way for former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a moderate Republican who said he would not challenge the actor.
Also on Tuesday, multi-millionaire Republican Bill Simon Jr., who lost against Davis in November, filed papers with the Board of Elections in preparation for trying again.