Californians have voted to banish Gray Davis, capping an extraordinary political melodrama by recalling the governor just eleven months after they re-elected him.
Exit polls indicate Hollywood action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger is leading the field of candidates to replace him. Davis has become the first California governor pried from office and only the second nationwide to be recalled.
Davis fell victim to a groundswell of discontent in a state that has struggled with its perilous financial condition. A total of 135 candidates lined up to replace him, including the Democratic lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamante (boost-ah-MAHN´-tay), conservative Republican state Senator Tom McClintock and Green Party candidate Peter Camejo. But the biggest name was Schwarzenegger, who was bedeviled in the campaign´s eleventh hour by reports that he had groped women over decades.