Voters in California have decided to remove the state's Democratic Governor Gray Davis from office and replace him with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In a victory speech at a Los Angeles hotel following Tuesday's historic recall election Mr. Schwarzenegger thanked the people of California for placing their trust in him and promised to try to unite the state. The Austrian-born actor-turned-politician said he would not fail or disappoint the people.
Earlier, Mr. Davis conceded defeat, saying the voters had decided it is time for someone else to serve as governor. He called Mr. Schwarzenegger to congratulate him, and promised to help ensure a smooth transition to a new administration.
Preliminary vote tallies show 54 percent of voters cast their ballots in favor of recalling Mr. Davis. A solid majority also selected Mr. Schwarzenegger over his closest rival, Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante.
Official results may not be known for several days or weeks, because of the large number of mail-in ballots. An estimated 10 million people voted in the special election.
Earlier this year, millions of Californians signed petitions demanding the recall question be put to a popular vote. Critics accused Governor Davis of failing to control the state's multi-billion dollar budget deficit and mishandling last year's energy crisis.
Exit polls indicated Mr. Davis was unable to overcome voters' anger over economic and budget troubles and their demand for change.
Recall opponents called the ballot measure an attempt by Republicans to seize power in California.
Information for this report is provided by AP.