California Gov. Davis filing suit to delay recall, make himself candidate

Monday, August 4th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Gov. Gray Davis asked the California Supreme Court on Monday to delay his Oct. 7 recall election until March and list his name on the ballot among the candidates seeking to replace him.

Voters will make two decisions in the recall election: whether to remove Davis, and whom to choose as his successor if he is recalled. Under California election law, the subject of the recall cannot be on the list of replacement candidates.

Davis' allies are hoping the court can be convinced such an arrangement is unconstitutional.

Attorneys for the Democratic governor's campaign committee, Californians Against the Costly Recall, told reporters in a conference call Sunday that voters who want to retain Davis as governor would have their equal protection rights violated if he is not listed as a replacement candidate.

The attorneys also said the October date would disenfranchise voters because counties would not have enough time to prepare, would have to use outdated punch-card machines because new voting systems aren't ready, and would confuse or inconvenience voters by consolidating voting precincts to save money.

The pro-Davis forces want the election held March 2, the date of the state's presidential primary and the next regularly scheduled statewide election.

``We want the fairest possible election, and we want the most voters who can possibly have participation in the election to participate, and we want the preference of the voters to be vindicated,'' said Michael Kahn, one of three attorneys working on the suit.

Recall supporters said the claims in the suit had ``zero validity.''

``This is Davis stall tactics to the inevitable,'' said Phil Paule, director of Rescue California Recall Gray Davis, the committee that collected the bulk of the petition signatures to qualify the recall.

``The recall statute is very clear about the timing of recall elections after they've been certified,'' Paule said, adding: ``If he is on the replacement list, that gives him an opportunity to lose twice in the same election.''

In the latest sign of Democratic unease about Davis' chances in the recall, state Senate Democrats planned to meet Monday afternoon to discuss backing a Democratic candidate to run as an alternative in case Davis loses, said aides to several Democratic senators.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said Monday that she is strongly opposed to the recall, but that Democrats should field another candidate if it appears Davis will lose his job.