- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2003

SAN DIEGO — Arnold Schwarzenegger, beginning to anticipate victory in the California recall election, yesterday released a 10-point plan for his first 100 days in office.

The plan includes ending the huge tax exemption given to Indian casinos, and repealing new laws that increase the tax on automobiles and allow illegal immigrants to obtain state driver’s licenses.

“I’m not here to talk about campaigning; I’m here to talk about governing,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said at a Sacramento rally.

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s campaign has gained a lot of momentum in recent weeks, according to a Los Angeles Times poll released yesterday. Fifty-six percent of likely voters said they wanted to recall Gov. Gray Davis and 40 percent wanted to replace him with the action film star.

With the recall election days away, state Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres announced that an army of volunteers would be sent to the polls Tuesday to prevent a repeat of “the debacle in Florida” and battle what he anticipates will be attempts by Republicans to disenfranchise and “intimidate” minority and older Democrats.

The newspaper’s poll, released yesterday, measured a six-point jump in just three weeks among voters who support deposing Mr. Davis. Forty-two percent want to retain the Democratic governor, the lowest number of support for the governor that the poll has gauged in two months.

The poll found 2 percent were undecided on the issue, leaving Mr. Davis few voters to bring to his side.

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s appeal as a gubernatorial candidate was well ahead of the 32 percent who said they would vote for Lt. Gov. Cruz M. Bustamante, the only prominent Democrat on the slate of replacement candidates. A month ago, Mr. Bustamante led Mr. Schwarzenegger 30 percent to 25 percent in the Los Angeles Times poll.

“We’re very gratified but still understand that there is a week to go in this campaign and Arnold won’t let up one bit,” said Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Rob Stutzman.

State Sen. Tom McClintock, who got the support of 15 percent of voters in the poll, refused again yesterday to drop out of the race. If he did, the Los Angeles Times poll showed, Mr. Schwarzenegger would defeat Mr. Bustamante 53 percent to 38 percent.

Mr. McClintock, however, pointed out that he would win by the same margin in a head-to-head race against the lieutenant governor, and touted a portion of the poll that showed that voters judged him to be the best prepared candidate to serve as governor and gave him the highest respect of any candidate.

“The frustrating thing is, if everyone who thought I was the better person voted for me, we’d win the election,” Mr. McClintock said, lamenting that “people are voting according to somebody else’s political calculations instead of their convictions.”

The polling numbers were not the only bad news for Mr. Bustamante yesterday. Campaign sources said pressure is mounting for Mr. Bustamante to drop out of the race.

Polls show that Democratic Hispanics are more inclined to vote “yes” on the recall to give Mr. Bustamante a shot to win the governorship. Support for the recall of Mr. Davis decreases to nearly a dead heat, however, if Mr. Bustamante dropped out, internal Democratic polls showed.

Rep. David Dreier, California Republican and co-chairman of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s campaign, worried that his candidate’s supporters might be “beginning to take [victory] for granted,” yet said Mr. Schwarzenegger “is working to make sure we’re able to hit the ground running as soon as he’s elected.”

“Arnold’s never held elective office, so this will be a first-time experience for him,” said Mr. Dreier, adding that Mr. Schwarzenegger is hoping for a “mandate” from the voters “so there is no doubt about where Californians stand.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger has made the repeal of a tripling of the car tax that took effect yesterday a cornerstone of his campaign.

“I can kill that tax with one signature alone — and I will do exactly that,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said to a cheering crowd at his Sacramento rally.

Mr. Schwarzenegger also said he would make casinos run by American Indians pay their “fair share” of state taxes along the lines of regulations in other states, and would repeal the law signed last month by Mr. Davis that permits illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

“I would not let driver’s license turn into fraudulent documents,” he said.

Meanwhile, the California Democratic Party is joining with the Democrats for America’s future to raise $100,000 to pay for volunteers and lawyers to work on Election Day.

Mr. Torres said the Democrats don’t plan to file litigation challenging the validity of the election if it is close, but he wouldn’t rule it out.

“We are not trying to create litigation, what we’re trying to create is an open, fair process,” Mr. Torres said, adding that he thinks he might not be able to count on Attorney General John Ashcroft to thoroughly investigate reports of voting irregularities.

“If someone refuses to look at reasonable complaints and civil rights violations, no, I won’t be quiet,” Mr. Torres said.

In the 2002 election, Democrats accused Republicans of posting workers in security guard uniforms at polling places to intimidate voters.

“We want to help the Democratic Party to be ready for any threat, challenge or difficulty that may come along when votes are cast,” said Maureen Thompson, spokeswoman for Democrats for America’s Future. “The bottom line is that we’re going to be ready this time.”

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