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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 October, 2003, 13:08 GMT 14:08 UK
Arnie wins California election
Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife during victory speech
Arnie will be governing one of the world's largest economies
The film star Arnold Schwarzenegger has won the race for governor of California - ousting the Democratic incumbent, Gray Davis.

It is the first time in the state's history that Californians have voted to sack their governor mid-term.

With almost all the votes counted, Mr Schwarzenegger - running as a Republican - has secured almost 48%.

In a victory speech before jubilant supporters, Mr Schwarzenegger thanked the people of California for giving him their trust - and promised not to let them down.

"I want to be the governor of the people," he said, pledging to reach out to everyone in the state - across the political, ethnic or religious spectrum.

"I know that together we can make this the greatest state in the greatest country in the world," Mr Schwarzenegger concluded.

The new governor, who will take office next month, pledged to restore trust in California's Government and instil fiscal discipline.

The toughest choice however, he said, was building the state of California and stopping infighting among politicians.

"For people to win, politics as usual must lose."

Today California has given me the greatest thing of all, you have given me your trust by voting for me
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Republican activists had triggered the recall vote - the first in 82 years - following frustration at the state's $38bn budget deficit, high levels of unemployment and struggling schools.

The BBC's Justin Webb says the people who voted for Mr Schwarzenegger will soon want to see concrete policies and results from the new governor who has been short on detail and "big" on promises.


In a two-part ballot, voters were asked if they wanted to recall, or sack, Governor Davis.

Regardless of their decision on the recall, they also had to indicate who they preferred among the 135 alternative candidates running.

With 96.8% of the results in, 54.4% wanted a recall against 45.6% opposing it.

Mr Schwarzenegger was running ahead with 47.9% support - his closest rival, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, a Democrat, was on 32.4%.

"Today California has given me the greatest thing of all, you have given me your trust by voting for me," Mr Schwarzenegger said, acknowledging victory.

Tomorrow the real work begins, said the new governor, who has been astute in not promising very much of anything during the campaign, says the BBC's North American business correspondent, Stephen Evans.

He has not formally ruled out tax rises even as he made the right political noises against them, our correspondent says.

That leaves the way open for him to follow Ronald Reagan who raised taxes twice when he was governor of California.

Recall all US politicians. Elect Hollywood!

John Collins, London

There had been unprecedented interest in the vote and election officials reported long queues and a shortage of parking places.

"I've never been so busy, ever," said Patti Negri, who has been a polling supervisor in Hollywood for 12 years, "but people seem excited and ready to vote".

Earlier, Mr Davis told his supporters voters had decided "it was time for someone else to serve and I have accepted their judgement".

Mr Schwarzenegger had been attacked during the campaign, after accusations that he sexually harassed women and once praised Hitler.

Stunt double Rhonda Miller, who worked on two Schwarzenegger films in the early 1990s, became the latest woman to claim that the bodybuilder turned actor had abused her.

Gray Davis casts his vote
Gray Davis: "Time for someone else to serve"
In response, Mr Schwarzenegger repeated an apology he made last week for "rowdy behaviour" on film sets, but denied groping Ms Miller.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that at least six women alleged similar behaviour over a period of 25 years.

Mr Davis had received backing from senior Democrats, including Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Barbra Streisand, who all recorded messages urging Democrats to vote.

Other candidates included the publisher of Hustler magazine, a porn movie star, and a former child actor.

Other than Mr Davis and Mr Schwarzenegger, only Mr Bustamante and Republican state senator Tom McClintock were considered realistic contenders.

Only one other governor has been recalled in United States history - North Dakota's Lynn Frazier, in 1921.

The BBC's David Willis
"California has a governor in its own image"

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