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Poll: Californians set to recall Davis

Voters take Schwarzenegger seriously

Dozens of California governor candidates crowd the candidate filing window Saturday in Norwalk.
Dozens of California governor candidates crowd the candidate filing window Saturday in Norwalk.

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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Nearly two-thirds of California voters are willing to recall Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, and nearly three-fourths of them say action hero turned Republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger should be taken seriously, according to a poll released late Sunday.

The poll, conducted by CNN, USA Today, and Gallup found 64 percent of respondents would recall Davis, while 29 percent said they would keep him in office

If voters do agree to recall Davis, a candidate needs only a plurality of votes to win. Schwarzenegger leads the long list of hopefuls, with 42 percent of poll respondents saying there is a good chance they would vote for him.

Also in Schwarzenegger's favor is that 72 percent of respondents think his campaign should be taken seriously. More than half -- 52 percent -- say he would do a better job than a career politician.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante is second, with 22 percent of respondents saying there is a good chance they would vote for him. Republicans Bill Simon and Tom McClintock are tied for third with 13 percent.

Other candidates, including commentator Arianna Huffington, former Olympics and baseball chief Peter Ueberroth, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and former sitcom star Gary Coleman all polled in the single digits.

Sunday's poll included interviews with 801 registered voters from August 7-10. It has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.

Because of the nature of the unprecedented recall election, the poll does not project a winner or predict how people might vote. (Gallery: The recall and candidates)

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley is expected to draw a randomized alphabet Monday that will determine the order that as many as 193 candidates will be placed on the ballot, and on Wednesday he must hand over to county election officials a certified list of candidates.

Four well-known candidates revealed financial holdings on Sunday valued at millions of dollars.

Schwarzenegger, whose filing was 63 pages long, listed millions of dollars in stocks, companies and real estate along with gifts as unusual as a $250 box of cigars from motivational speaker Tony Robbins.

Schwarzenegger listed other gifts -- also received during the past year -- including a talking robot skull from "Terminator 3" valued at $1,000. The skull, according to the filing, was a gift from film producers of the actor's latest movie. (More on candidates' finances)

In a later news conference, Schwarzenegger's advisers revealed how much he earned, gave to charity and paid in taxes during the past few years.

Schwarzenegger's tax returns for 2002 were not available because the actor received an extension, said his financial adviser, Paul Wachter.

In 2000, his total income was $31,104,000. Schwarzenegger paid $8.5 million in federal income taxes and $2.6 million in state taxes. That year, Schwarzenegger donated $742,000 to charity. The top five recipients were Special Olympics; the Simon Wiesenthal Center; St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica, California; United Friends of the Children, which creates programs for foster children; and the Inner-City Games.

In 2001, Schwarzenegger's income was $26,138,000. He paid $7,395,000 in federal income taxes and $1,923,000 in state taxes. His charitable donations that year totaled $4.1 million, which included a piece of residential real estate property, worth more than $2 million, given to the Catholic Church.

The filing by independent candidate and columnist Arianna Huffington placed a value of at least $1 million on her company, Christabella Inc., where she listed her role as a writer, speaker and commentator. Her home in Los Angeles was valued at more than $1 million.

Candidates were required only to check ranges of their holdings -- not exact amounts.

In his filing, Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt listed himself as chairman of LFP Inc., a magazine and Internet publishing company he valued at more than $1 million. The self-described "smut peddler" also listed large real estate holdings and named himself as chairman of Majestic Properties in Gardenia, California, which was valued at more than $1 million.

Simon reported diversified holdings include at least 50 stocks and funds, among them Cisco, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Honeywell, Microsoft, Pfizer, Raytheon, Viacom, Waste Management, and AOL Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. Simon also is a partner in an umbrella group called Alham Inc., a position that earned him at least $1 million last year.

The recall effort -- pushed by Republicans -- sprang from widespread dissatisfaction with Davis' tenure amid a weak state economy and the growing budget deficit.

Davis, in an interview Saturday with CNN, asked former President Clinton to help him retain his position by visiting the state and speaking against the recall. Describing himself as a "a fighter, not a quitter," Davis said he expects to be in the governor's office October 8. (Full story)

CNN correspondents Dana Bash, Miguel Marquez, Bob Franken, Candy Crowley, Deborah Feyerick, Kelly Wallace and Thelma Gutierrez, senior political analyst Bill Schneider, Producer Eric Fiegel, and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield contributed to this report.


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