Even now, Gray Davis is a something of a political enigma.
Elected as governor by one of the largest margins in modern times, he was also the only governor ever recalled by California voters. He's never been seen as a charismatic figure by most citizens, and yet he won five statewide elections in his 30 year career in politics.
And yet, after suffering a final blow that will undoubtedly be in the first paragraph of every story written about him, he not only seems without anger about what happened three years ago this weekend... he seems at ease.
"It's been relatively easy to move on," the 63-year-old Democrat says, "because we knew we were moving on. It's just our exit date was a little earlier than we had planned."
Later today on The California Report, we hear from Davis on what's he doing now... and how he's staying involved in California politics, albeit behind the scenes. I spent a couple of hours with the former governor last week in his Los Angeles office, and found that he has some pretty interesting views on what led to his political demise in the October 7, 2003 recall.
He still believes some of it was not about him, but rather an energy crisis he blames largely on Enron, and an effort by Republicans to take take a second shot at removing him from office (after his reelection in 2002). That's similar to what he said during the campaign to keep his job. But what's changed is his acknowledgment of mistakes made along the way-- most notably, the now infamous decision to allow an increase in the vehicle license fee, the so-called "car tax" that Arnold Schwarzenegger and others so succesfully hung around Davis' neck.
He says he now gets why people were so angry. "If I had spent more time as a private citizen before I became governor, or while I was governor, I would've understood it," he said.
You'll be able to hear the story here later this afternoon.
And I'm also including links to some extended excerpts from my interview with Davis:
(**hint-- right click on the files below, and choose "Open In New Window." It'll make your life much easier!)