Governor Davis will face a recall election on October seventh.
Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante mande the announcement in Sacramento this morning.
The decision means his fellow Democrat has less than three months to campaign to keep his job or become only the second governor in the nation ever to be recalled. Davis is the first governer in California history to face a recall election.
The news came in the wake of yesterdayÂ´s announcement by the secretary of state that the Republican-led drive to recall Davis collected more than enough valid petition signatures to qualify for the ballot.
State law required Bustamante to set the election date 60 to 80 days from that certification. Secretary of State Kevin ShelleyÂ´s office has said the recall ballot would be in two parts. Voters would first decide whether or not to oust Davis and then would choose from a list of candidates to replace him.
ThatÂ´s how local recalls in California have long been conducted. Bustamante threw that scenario into question when he refused to say whether he would call a replacement election on the same ballot as a recall election.
That set up the possibility that Bustamante could become governor, at least temporarily. ThatÂ´s because the state Constitution provides for the lieutenant governor to become governor when the governorship becomes vacant.
Candidates to replace Davis must now scramble to declare their intentions and start their campaigns.
The Republican field remains uncertain today. Only one candidate – Representative Darrell Issa – is definitely in the race. He bankrolled the recall effort with almost two million dollars of his own money.
Businessman Bill Simon, who lost to Davis in November, says heÂ´ll announce his plans Saturday. State Senator Tom McClintock has formed an exploratory committee.
Arnold SchwarzeneggerÂ´s spokesman says the actor has not decided if he will run. Davis has branded the Republican-led drive to oust him a hostile takeover by the right and says he will fight and win.
Davis allies are awaiting a ruling by the state Supreme Court after a last-ditch appeal to block the recall from making the ballot. They say recall backers collected many signatures illegally. A court spokeswoman says the justices are considering the case on an expedited basis.