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Campaign Websites from the 2003 California Recall Election

UCLA Online Campaign Literature Archive

The UCLA Campaign Literature Archive

In existence since the 1920s, the UCLA Campaign Literature Archive collects printed ephemeral election materials distributed by campaigns for local, state, and federal offices and ballot measures affecting the Los Angeles area. The collection is housed in the Charles E. Young Research Library.

In response to changes in election campaigning brought about by the Internet, in 1998 the Library also began to capture and preserve copies of campaign websites. These archived sites, along with scanned images of selected materials from the print collection, are available in the UCLA Online Campaign Literature Archive (1998–2011) and the UCLA Online Campaign Literature Web Archive (2012 onward).

Background of the Recall

The 2003 California Statewide Special Election was a unique episode in California's political history. It was the first time a gubernatorial recall petition successfully qualified for the ballot since the recall process was introduced to the California constitution in 1911. A simplified candidate application process, the possibility of winning the election with a small plurality, and the candidates' ability to campaign inexpensively on the World Wide Web, all led to an unprecedented 135 candidates on the ballot. The inclusion of many entertainers and other irregular candidates, some who clearly entered the race for publicity or as a joke, led to a widespread perception of the entire process as a "media circus."

Recall Timeline

  • November 5, 2002 - Gray Davis elected to a second term as governor of California
  • May 25, 2003 - CA secretary of state certifies the recall petition for circulation
  • July 23, 2003 - secretary of state announces the petition's success, certifies the recall election
  • July 24, 2003 - lieutenant governor announces special election in October
  • July 24 to August 9, 2003 - candidate filing period
  • August 13, 2003 - certified list of candidates released
  • October 7, 2003 - election day
  • November 14, 2003 - secretary of state certifies the election results
  • November 17, 2003 - Arnold Schwarzenegger sworn in as governor