The only California governor ever recalled — and just the second nationwide — was Gray Davis. At the start of his second term, the Democrat faced the wrath of voters over his handling of the electricity crisis, a massive state deficit and an increase in vehicle license fees. Fueling the campaign: a $2 million donation from GOP Rep. Darrell Issa.
The real game-changer, of course, was the candidacy of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Already famous worldwide, the actor and body-builder had been laying the groundwork for entering politics by sponsoring a ballot measure for after-school programs. He was a Republican with a bipartisan image, married to Maria Shriver, niece of Democratic former President John F. Kennedy. And he infused his campaign with celebrity: announcing his candidacy to host Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show”, dancing to “We’re Not Gonna Take It” at a rally with Twisted Sister, and inspiring plenty of parodies.
Since then, only one other gubernatorial recall has made the ballot in the U.S. — the 2012 attempt to throw Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker out of office. It failed.