LOS ANGELES – The announcement Wednesday that Gov. Gray Davis (search) will face a recall election capped a day of political jockeying among potential candidates to replace him, who may have to announce their plans as early as Saturday.
The only declared major-party candidate so far is Rep. Darrell Issa (search), R-Vista, who spent $1.71 million of his car-alarm fortune to fund the recall.
Other potential Republican contenders include Los Angeles businessman Bill Simon, who lost to Davis in November, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (search), and state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, who ran unsuccessfully for state controller last year.
Simon said Wednesday he planned to make an announcement at a recall rally Saturday while McClintock filed papers forming an exploratory committee.
Schwarzenegger's political adviser said the actor is still deciding.
"Arnold is discussing his candidacy with his family," adviser George Gorton said in a statement. "He is weighing the pros and cons of a candidacy and has made no determination at this time as to whether he will run in a likely recall election, nor has he made a determination that he will not run."
The state's major Democratic officeholders have said they don't intend to run to replace Davis, a show of unity marshaled by party leaders who believe Davis would have a better chance of surviving the recall without Democrats on the ballot.
But strategists from both parties have speculated that if polls show Davis vulnerable, one or more Democrats could decide to run.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (search) tops polls when voters are asked who they would like to replace Davis, and other leading state Democrats with gubernatorial ambitions are Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Treasurer Phil Angelides. The Sacramento Bee has encouraged Feinstein to run.
Simon and McClintock are from the party's conservative wing while Schwarzenegger is more moderate. Davis has signaled he will cast the recall as a right-wing attempt to hijack California.
The Green Party's Peter Camejo, who ran for governor in November, also has said he plans to run. A group of Bay Area activists is trying to recruit columnist Arianna Huffington.
The ballot could be heavy on fringe candidates, since it's not hard to run: Candidates must submit signatures from 65 registered voters of their own party and $3,500, or 10,000 signatures in lieu of the filing fee.
Bustamante will set the election date on Thursday. It must fall 60 to 80 days from the date the recall was certified. County election officials have discussed Sept. 23, Sept. 30 and Oct. 7 as possible dates.
The secretary of state's office has said a recall ballot would have two parts: In the first, voters would vote yes or no on recalling Davis, and in the second they would choose from a list of potential successors.
However, Bustamante threw that scenario into question this week by refusing to say whether he would set a replacement election for the same ballot as a recall election.
Candidates must file to get on the ballot at least 59 days in advance of the election, so if the recall and list of replacement candidates are on the same ballot the timeline to get into the race will be short. A Sept. 23 election would require candidates to declare by Saturday.