Showdown in California: Arnold vs. Gray

10/07/2003 at 03:35 PM EDT

Although several polls show Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead, California's recall election was still deemed too close to call Tuesday as voters decide whether to pick from 137 candidates vying for the Golden State's top job -- or keep their current governor.

The polls open at 7 a.m. Pacific Time and close at 8 p.m., though the counting is reportedly expected to go on until late into the night.

At the center of the battle: Republican "Terminator" star Arnold Schwarzenegger -- who has been nicknamed the "Governator," as well as the "Gropenator" (for accusations of having sexually harassed at least 15 women, according to the Los Angeles Times) -- and Democratic incumbent Gray Davis, described by Reuters as famous for his lack of charisma and dedication to fund raising.

On Monday, Schwarzenegger's mother-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, of the Boston-based Democratic dynasty, joined Arnold's campaign and kissed her son-in-law before a cheering crowd. "The best mother-in-law in the world," Schwarzenegger, 56, bellowed after the buss.

Before Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy on NBC's "Tonight Show," Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, who is the uncle of Schwarzenegger's wife Maria Shriver, said he would oppose Arnold's run.

While Davis, 60, was said to be hurt by his state's failing economy, his campaign office tells Reuters that its latest tracking survey of 1,200 likely voters found a 50 percent to 48 percent split between those favoring a "yes" vote on the recall and those planning to vote "no."

Those figures don't exactly match the most recent independent statewide poll issued on Sunday by NBC, which found 54 percent of the voters supporting the recall and 41 percent opposing it.

Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger aide Todd Harris tells Reuters that his candidate led in his campaign's internal tracking polls but declined to release the numbers or discuss whether recent polling reflected a decline in support.

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