As south cheers, northern California mourns recall win

Monday, October 13, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO -- Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking office with a clear mandate from millions of people in Southern California's suburbs and the state's vast interior, where 70 percent of voters favored recalling Gov. Gray Davis.

But liberals are mourning along the state's northern coast, particularly San Francisco, where 80 percent voted against the recall. In the city that nurtured beatniks in the '50s and hippies in the '60s, Schwarzenegger came in a distant second to Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante among the replacement candidates.

Some residents joke darkly about forming a separate state, with San Francisco as the capital. Others are surrendering to reality, moving from denial to acceptance of the Republican actor's impending move to Sacramento.

Oscar Grande is still "in shock" over the results of Tuesday's recall election, but the environmental activist takes comfort knowing his friends and neighbors feel equally disturbed by the Republican actor's lopsided victory.

'Own little island'

"This is still San Francisco, and we're like our own little island from the rest of California," said the 30-year-old organizer at an environmental justice organization in the city's Mission district. "The folks in the suburbs and the Central Valley were so pumped about him -- it really blew me away."

Southern Californians voted overwhelmingly to oust the despised Davis and replace him with Schwarzenegger. Nearly three out of four voters in Orange County supported the recall, and Schwarzenegger received 64 percent of the replacement vote, soundly thumping Bustamante's 17 percent.

In San Diego County, home of Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who spent nearly $2 million to launch the recall, 66 percent of voters favored getting rid of Davis.

"I feel upbeat for once," said Oceanside resident Rex Wait, 45, one of the 59 percent of county voters who picked Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger won decisively not only in the Southern California suburbs that gave Richard Nixon his start in politics, but across most of inland California, where the actor spent much of his two-month campaign.

The recall had the largest support, 77 percent, in Stutter and Lasses counties northeast of Sacramento, where Schwarze-negger struck a chord with people who wanted to oust the governor.

'Genuine, honest'

"He just seems like he's genuine, honest and wants to clean it up," said P.J. Wick, a 62-year-old housewife from Yuma City in Stutter County, where she said farmers have struggled with taxes, water problems and higher energy costs.

California's interior has been growing more conservative for at least a decade. But Sch-warzenegger's support in sparsely populated farming communities provided a stunning example of the long-term geopolitical shift, said John J. Pitney Jr., a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.

Instead of the traditional north-south divide that characterized the Golden State throughout the 20th century, lines are increasingly drawn between older communities along the coast, with expensive housing and environmental activism, and inland communities with vast subdivisions and socially conservative agricultural regions.

"The pattern emerging is that the closer you are to salt water, the more likely you are to vote Democratic," Pitney said.

Marin County author Anne Lamott, whose novels often depict loss, says she cried herself to sleep after Tuesday night's election. But she woke on Wednesday and renewed her liberal values.

"I will keep registering voters and taking care of the poor and sending money to the ACLU, and marching for peace, in the hope and belief that we can get our country back from the rich oil men who have sold our country out," Lamott said.

Mark Malone, a computer marketer from Santa Cruz County, where 65 percent of voters opposed the recall, accepted the election and is trying to be optimistic.

"Part of me says the old guard isn't having the best go at it, so maybe we should try and get a new perspective on things," Malone said. "I'm totally conflicted on the whole thing."

Associated Press Writers Brian Melley in Sacramento, Kim Curtis in San Francisco, Elliot Spagat in San Diego, and Martha Mendoza in Santa Cruz contributed to this report.

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