California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, swept into office five years ago when Gov. Gray Davis was recalled during another state fiscal crisis, has become the target of a recall effort by the state’s powerful prison guards’ union, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The well-funded California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which has clashed with the actor-turned-governor, charges that his “catastrophic leadership failings” have left the state in far worse shape than before his election. The union’s petition drive is the latest political challenge for Schwarzenegger, who faces political, legal and administrative battles over his efforts to close a $17.2 billion budget gap and enact a budget that is 71 days late, a record.
California’s fiscal crisis and budget mess are a replay of the challenges that led to the 2003 recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis and the election of Schwarzenegger. The recall drive would need 1,041,530 valid signatures to qualify for a statewide ballot. A Schwarzenegger aide charged that the union is trying to use intimidation to “extract a huge pay raise out of the Legislature and the governor.” Members of the prison guard’s union have worked without a long-term contract since 2006.