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California Governor Gray Davis Will Face Recall, Supporters Say

By John M. Broder

The New York Times -- LOS ANGELES

Gov. Gray Davis, who was re-elected only eight months ago, appeared likely Tuesday to face a recall election as early as this fall after his political opponents declared that they had more than enough signatures to put the question on the ballot.

Supporters of the recall movement said they had turned in 1,088,000 petition signatures by Monday and were preparing to submit another 300,000 by the end of the week. State law requires 897,158 valid signatures to place a recall initiative on the statewide ballot.

Recall organizers said they now had a sufficient cushion to guarantee an election and had stopped gathering signatures.

“It’s a done deal,” said Jonathan Wilcox, a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from San Diego County who has bankrolled the drive with more than $1 million of his own money and who has announced his intention to run for governor to replace Davis. “The signature collection has stopped.”

The California secretary of state, Kevin Shelley, whose office is responsible for conducting statewide elections, said that he would not comment on whether recall proponents have gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot until the actual petitions are submitted to his office later this month.

“As the state’s chief election officer, I have to be prepared, whatever happens, to run an election in March, November or October,” said Shelley, a Democrat. “If this actually goes forward, it will be the first time there has ever been a certified election to recall a governor of California. There have been 31 attempts previously, but none has ever made the ballot.”

A spokesman for the governor said that Davis is prepared to wage a fierce campaign to keep his job.

“His attitude is bring them on,” said Steve Maviglio, the governor’s press secretary. “He’s been elected to statewide office five times and three and a half million people voted for him last fall. They claim to have about a million signatures, so the odds are still stacked in the governor’s favor.”

The governor, a Democrat, is raising money to fight the recall effort and he is aided by a union-backed group, Taxpayers Against the Governor’s Recall.

“The reality of California politics is if you have enough money, you can put anything on the ballot,” said Carroll Wills, a spokesman for the pro-Davis group.

Dave Gilliard, director of Rescue California, one of the main groups promoting the recall, said that his organization had gathered 180,000 signatures over the July 4 weekend. The group employed 1,200 professional petition circulators, many from outside California, to stake out shopping malls, baseball games and holiday picnics, Gilliard said. The circulators were paid roughly $1 per signature.