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Gray Davis, conciliatory in defeat, accepts the people's verdict

Calls for end to divisiveness of the campaign

California Gov. Gray Davis meets with supporters Tuesday night to concede his recall.
California Gov. Gray Davis meets with supporters Tuesday night to concede his recall.

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SPECIAL REPORT
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
California Recall
Gray Davis
Arnold Schwarzenegger

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Less than a year after his election to a second term, Gov. Gray Davis accepted defeat Tuesday in a historic and bruising recall and urged Californians discard "the chaos and the division" of a campaign that sent actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger to the statehouse.

"Tonight I stand before you with a heart full of gratitude and appreciation. I am so grateful to all of you and to the people of California for the privilege and the honor of representing 35 million people for the last five years, and for the opportunity to serve you, and in my own way, to try and make life better," the governor said with a graciousness not often seen in the 77-day campaign.

"Tonight the voters decided it was time for someone else to serve," Davis said, shortly after calling Schwarzenegger on the telephone to congratulate him on his victory.

Boos from the crowd interrupted his speech at that point, but Davis held up his hands to stop them.

"My friends, we've had a lot of good nights over the last 20 years, but tonight the people did decide it's time for someone else to serve. I accept their judgment."

Surrounded by family, friends and supporters, the governor promised to do everything he could to make Schwarzenegger's transition to governor a smooth one. At that, some in the crowd began chanting "Recall!"

"I am calling on everyone in this state to put the chaos and the division of the recall behind us and do what's right for this great state of California," Davis said.

"And I pledged to Mr. Schwarzenegger tonight the full cooperation of my administration during the transition, we want to let the new governor know what the challenges are, what the status is of various issues in Sacramento, we will do that," he added.

After recapping his accomplishments of the past five years, the governor -- smiling more broadly than was seen on the campaign trail -- thanked his wife, his staff, and the voters who did go to the polls Tuesday and cast their ballots to keep him in office.

'No-crying zone'

And he said he told his wife and mother, he was delivering his concession speech in "a no-crying zone. We can cry later tonight."

He also praised voters for defeating Proposition 54. The measure, which would have prohibited the state from collecting data about race, will be defeated by a 2-1 margin, according to CNN estimates.

Davis, 60, narrowly re-elected to a second term just 11 months ago, becomes only the second U.S. governor, and the first in 82 years, to be thrown out of office by his own voters.

Nearly 30 years

Nearly three decades of service in Sacramento couldn't save Davis from Californians angry over the state's budget woes, the aftermath of an energy crisis and a despised car tax increase that kicked in just a week before the vote.

Exit polls showed that 83 percent of Tuesday's voters thought the state's economy was not good or poor, and 72 percent disapproved of Davis' job performance.


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