Simon wins upset in California governor's race
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Conservative businessman Bill Simon -- rising from political obscurity -- won a stunning upset over former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan on Wednesday in California's Republican gubernatorial primary.
According to the California secretary of state's Web site, Simon won with 49.4 percent of the vote, while Riordan received 30.5 percent. In November's general election, Simon will face California's Democratic governor, Gray Davis, who won the Democratic primary by 81 percent of the vote.
To the strains of the theme from "Rocky" -- the movie about an underdog boxer who gets a crack at the heavyweight title -- Simon accepted the party's nomination late Tuesday and declared, "The George W. Bush party is alive and well in California."
Before a crowded room of supporters, Simon, the son of former U.S. Treasury Secretary William Simon, asked, "Do you think that Gray Davis deserves another four years?"
"No!" the partisan crowd roared back.
Pledging to move California forward, Simon reminded his supporters of the rolling power blackouts of last year's California energy crisis and the state budget deficit. However, Simon said his top priority as governor would be education.
"California's days of decline are numbered," Simon declared.
Blasting Davis again, Simon said he didn't think the California governor had planned to fail, but failed to plan.
At his victory speech, the incumbent California governor congratulated Simon on his victory, while signaling the tone for the upcoming campaign.
"Bill Simon is a true-blue think-tank conservative ... I am a practical problem solver," Davis said. "I respect the sincerity of his beliefs, but I believe many of his ideas are out of step and out of touch with most Californians.
"We need to keep moving California forward, not backward, and certainly not to the right," he added.
Although a prohibitive favorite early in the campaign who enjoyed support from the White House, Riordan graciously acknowledged Simon's victory in the Republican primary.
"Tonight, I'm a very proud and a very lucky man," Riordan said. "I will support him in our bid to beat Gray Davis."
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