In Kern County, it’s Arnold

Seth Nidever

An exit poll of 11 people outside a voting station Tuesday at the Travelrite Hotel on Real Road mirrored election results for Kern County as a whole.

Kern voters favored recalling Gov. Gray Davis by an overwhelming 3-to-1 margin, and just more than 60 percent of them chose Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace him, according to The Bakersfield Californian.

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the leading Democratic candidate, came in a distant second with 16 percent of the vote.

Of the seven people interviewed who selected Schwarzenegger from a gargantuan list of 135 candidates, nearly all indicated that distaste for Davis had more to do with their decision than enthusiasm for the action movie star.

“Arnold’s greatest strength is he’s electable,” said Larry Campbell, a 51-year-old Pacific Bell employee who spent several minutes enthusiastically condemning Davis.

None of them seemed bothered by the accusations of sexual harrassment against Schwarzenegger as reported by the Los Angeles Times just days before the vote.

“I could care less what he did 20 year ago,” said Ken Hasselbar, 71, a retired railroad employee.

Only high school teacher Eileen Chea, 32, seemed bothered by the allegations.

“Who wants a groper for governor?” Chea said, adding that she voted for Tom McClintock mainly because “he was the only Republican candidate I felt who was truly Republican.”

Of the four people who voted against the recall, three chose Bustamante, mostly because he was the closest thing to Davis.

Recall opponent Susan Mansour, 51, stood alone in refusing to select a replacement candidate.

“In the first place, I don’t think anybody else is going to do a better job, and in the second place, I don’t like Arnold,” she said. “I don’t think he has any experience and I don’t think he knows what’s going on in the state.”