The ‘Governator’ takes over

Jennifer Mills

Even before results came in Tuesday night, Republicans started to celebrate the end of Gray Davis’ term as governor. Confidence fueled the Kern County Republican Headquarters as volunteers and supporters waited for news of the landslide win they knew Arnold Schwarzenegger would have.

Republican headquarters was filled with excitement, as the people danced, clapped and sang to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

“I knew we were gonna win, I just didn’t know how big,” said Trice Harvey, a former California assemblyman and vice chairman of the Central California Republican Party. “But it’s so big, I’m really overwhelmed and happy about it.”

Talk of the recall began in December when GOP political consultant Mark Abernathy teamed with Ted Costa in sponsoring the campaign.

“What we really said was, ‘We need to give the people of California an opportunity to make a change,'” said Abernathy. “Because the politicians in Sacramento are not gonna make any change. They are comfortable.”

The recall was approved on March 25 and petitioning began the next day.

“March 26 (we took it) onto the streets. We went to a Wal-Mart and people started lining up 30 deep to sign it,” said Abernathy. “People were running across the parking lot when they saw we were the ones standing over there with the petitions. (And) as it grew and grew, it went faster and faster like a prairie fire.”

Although the majority of Kern County, 75 percent, voted for the recall, many Republicans were torn between candidates Tom McClintock and Schwarzenegger.

“The thing that’s great about this recall is that it’s not about partisan bickering or someone trying to overtake someone else. This is a result by the people against corruption,” said BC student Michael Alesso, who volunteered for the Schwarzenegger campaign starting the Saturday before the election, but voted for McClintock. “I have a right to be conflicted on something. I only helped Arnold after I knew there was no way for my guy to win. (And) Arnold will make a great leader.”

Others have believed in Arnold since the beginning of his campaign.

One man from West Virginia volunteered for the Schwarzenegger campaign after he learned that his job might transfer him to California. He has been in Bakersfield for about a year and a half on business.

“I think it’s a shame what Governor Davis has done. There’s 49 other states out there that have no respect for California,” said Dan Crawford, who claimed to be closer to the Libertarian Party than the Republicans. “I’ve been out here for this long and I really like it. (And) if this is where I’m gonna live, I want Schwarzenegger as governor. He represents the mainstream, the working person.”

Overall, those at the Kern County Republican Headquarters were pleased with election results.

“I think it’s great,” said Russell Johnson, a district representative for state Sen. Roy Ashburn. “I’m really excited for the future of California and now hopefully we can get our government free of special interest and dedicated to the people.”