Total Recalled: The story of California's wildest, largest governor recall election

A look back as California gets set to vote on a recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Total Recalled: Story of America's largest, wildest recall election
With a recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom looming, ABC7 Originals presents, "Total Recalled: The story of America's largest, wildest recall election," a look at the Gray Davis recall and election of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

SAN FRANCISCO (KABC) -- Depending on how old you were in 2003, or where you were living, the words "recall election" likely hit differently.

For some, it might seem like a humorous memory - a time when "The Terminator" became "The Governator." But then there are others -- like former Gov. Gray Davis' press secretary Steve Maviglio, who says he still can't even hear the word recall without chills running up his spine.

As California now heads toward the state's second-ever recall election of a governor, ABC7 presents, "Total Recalled: The story of America's wildest, largest recall election."

Weaving together new, insider stories and archival video, several key players from the 2003 recall election of Gov. Davis look back at this one-of-a-kind political moment: Why it happened and what happened once it qualified.

Hear from Davis, as well as former Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Cruz Bustamante, Recall Davis petition founder Ted Costa, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's communications director Rob Stutzman, former Davis press secretary Steve Maviglio, historian Barry Bradford and journalist Phil Matier. You'll also hear from two former citizen candidates: former adult film star Mary Carey and college student Daniel Watts, who ran using money he won on "Wheel of Fortune."

With a recall election of California Gov. Gavin Newsom looming, the documentary chronicles how nearly two decades ago outrage over an electricity crisis and car tax fueled a grassroots movement that quickly transformed into a larger-than-life political circus led by "The Terminator," Arnold Schwarzenegger. A whopping 134 other candidates also jumped into the race, including media mogul Arianna Huffington, actor Gary Coleman, and Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt.

It's the story of how in just 10 wild weeks, Schwarzenegger overcame accusations of sexual misconduct and political inexperience to power his way to the top of the pack -- ultimately ousting Davis to take on the biggest role of his life: California's governor.

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