Denham recall team files signatures to force election

The recall team trying to boot state Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, from office announced Friday that they’ve filed more than enough signatures to force an election.

The Dump Denham campaign shipped two boxes of petitions Friday morning to Merced County and more to the other four counties that the state senator represents, days before the Wednesday deadline.

Each elections office has 30 working days to verify that the signatures are from registered voters in the county and report to Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

The campaign declared that it collected about 50,000 signatures from residents in Merced, Stanislaus, Madera, Monterey and San Benito counties. At least 31,084 need to be valid to put a recall before voters.

If it qualifies, it will be up to the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to decide when it will be on a ballot. It’s unclear if it could make the June election.

No possible challengers to Denham’s seat have been announced.

The announcement is a precursor of what will likely a bitter and costly fight for Denham’s seat, a prize that may cost more than a $1 million total.

Each side has spent somewhere about $200,000 so far, leaving much more in the bank, and their public relations machines have been ratcheting up the blame game.