Dems Pledge Not to Field Candidate to Replace Davis

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No Democrat will run to replace Gov. Gray Davis in a recall, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee (search) said, brushing aside suggestions that a member of Davis' party might jump into the race if it appeared the governor would lose.

"I want the folks here in California to know that we are not going to have another Democrat on the ballot," DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe (search) said Thursday.

"So if you're a California voter and you want to vote to recall Gray Davis, you are not going to have an option but a bunch of right-wing conservatives on the ballot," McAuliffe said.

Some California lawmakers and party members in Washington have discussed uniting behind another Democrat if it appears Davis might lose a recall vote, as recent polls indicate.

Recall backers scoffed at the claim.

"Terry McAuliffe can rant and rave all he wants but the fact of the matter is you've got Democrats in California who I think are lining up to run," said Chris Wysocki, spokesman for Rescue California Recall Gray Davis (search), the main recall committee.

Rescue California has been funded by the only declared major-party candidate to replace Davis, Rep. Darrell Issa (search), R-Calif. Other Republicans who are considering candidacies include actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan.

Recall proponents are hoping the secretary of state will certify their effort as early as Wednesday, which is the next deadline for counties to report petition signature totals. Backers say they've turned in more than 1.6 million signatures. The signatures of 897,158 registered California voters are needed to trigger a recall, and election officials must validate the signatures.

If a recall makes the ballot, voters would be asked first whether to oust Davis and, secondly, to choose a replacement from a list of candidates. Strategists from both parties believe the unpopular governor's chances of survival would be greater if no Democrats are on that list.

McAuliffe is also pledging party support for Davis. He said he participated in a conference call Wednesday with DNC members and party activists throughout the country, and will do so daily.

Democrats are also enlisting other party leaders to campaign against the recall. California Democratic Party spokesman Bob Mulholland said former President Clinton would "be out here at some point to oppose this."