LOS ANGELES – Sadness and anger were the prevailing emotions at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles where Democratic Gov. Gray Davis (search) conceded defeat in Tuesday's California recall election.
"Tonight the voters have decided it's time for someone else to serve. . . . I accept their judgment,” Davis said. “I'm calling on everyone . . . to put the chaos and division of the recall behind us and do what's right for this great state of California."
Before the results were in, Davis staffers told the press that he was at peace with the election knowing the decision was in voters’ hands. His supporters, however, were not so subdued.
They were angry -- angry that their leader was turned out of office after being elected to a second term just 11 months earlier. And, they were angry that the Democratic Party had lost the state's standard-bearer.
"They chose charisma over substance, it's very clear," said Art Torres, chairman of the state Democratic party, referring to the voters' decision. Torres described his emotions as sad and angry.
With almost half the precincts reporting, 55 percent of Californians had voted to recall the two-term governor.
Where crowds had swarmed in previous years, there was a thin smattering of state government employees, campaign staff and political operatives at Davis' concession speech.
Even the sight of Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (search) on television celebrating the defeat of Proposition 54, the Racial Privacy initiative, failed to move the crowd.
In the hotel's gilded Crystal Room, where the governor addressed the crowd, Davis' most famous supporters -- former President Bill Clinton, singer Barbara Streisand and many of the 2004 presidential candidates who had campaigned with him -- were nowhere to be seen.
Rainbow/PUSH founder Jesse Jackson was one of the few prominent Democrats who showed up early in the evening. He had earlier suggested to Fox News that some legal challenge may come from the election.
But Davis did not appear to have his heart in for another fight. Speaking less than two hours after the polls closed, he outlined some of his achievements as governor, including providing college scholarships, increasing healthcare, and expanding park land.
When the crowd began to chant that Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) should be immediately recalled, Davis shook his head no.
Desiring a smooth transition, Davis said, “I pledge to Mr. Schwarzenegger the full cooperation of my administration.”
The 60-year old Davis became the first California governor ever recalled from office, and just the second governor recalled in American history. It was the storied politician's third electoral defeat since he entered politics in 1974 as a Vietnam veteran seeking the state treasurer's seat. He persisted and climbed the rungs of power from state assemblyman to controller to lieutenant governor.
Opponents concede that Davis is smart, but is aloof and wooden. He has been accused of verbally attacking staffers who take actions without his approval and running some lowbrow campaigns.
The public was enraged by Davis’s handling of the economy and the state budget. In this election, Davis was unable to connect with and energize the voters, say analysts.
"Being a Democrat, we've had a lot of successful nights here," said Bob Mulholland, state Democratic Party spokesman. "This is not one of those nights. As the governor said, `We've had worse days in Vietnam."'
As his wife and mother dabbed tears with tissues, Davis said, “This is a no crying zone on this stage. We can cry later tonight, but this is a no crying zone.”
Fox News' William LaJeunesse and The Associated Press contributed to this report.