SAN FRANCISCO – The labor-led fight to defeat the recall of California Gov. Gray Davis is surging forward despite a Sept. 22 court ruling that reinstated Oct. 7 as the date of the special election.

An 11-member review panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals meeting in San Francisco reversed an earlier decision by a three-judge panel of the same court that had ordered postponement of the election until next March. The larger panel swept aside a finding by the three judges that the ballots of 40,000 voters, mostly African American and Latino, would be discarded because of dimples or hanging chads on the punch card ballots still used in six counties with 44 percent of California voters.

Walter Johnson, executive secretary treasurer of the San Francisco Labor Federation told the World Sept. 17 that the movement against the recall as well as against racist Proposition 54 has gained ground in recent days and can be defeated Oct. 7. “We’re now going in the right direction and I think we will beat both the recall and Prop. 54 on Oct. 7,” Johnson said following a tumultuous mass anti-recall/anti-Prop. 54 rally at the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco.

Earlier, Johnson told an overflow crowd in the church gymnasium, “We all say: ‘Vote NO on recall.’ We all agree on that.” Then he led the crowd in chanting, “Slam the door on 54!”

Also on the platform were Gov. Davis, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and other civil rights leaders, Rev. Cecil Williams, and Rev. Amos Brown, as well as other trade union leaders.

Jackson told the crowd, “This kind of mass disenfranchisement is unacceptable. It is a violation of the Voting Rights Act.” He accused the extremist Republicans of scheming “to disenfranchise voters and destabilize our democracy, the same forces that used literacy tests to disenfranchise Black voters, the same forces that used the extraordinary powers of the Supreme Court to intervene in a state election and stop the vote count (in Florida in 2000), where the loser won and the winner lost. The same forces are using those same powers to reorganize the Congress and disenfranchise two millions voters in Texas. There is a line of disenfranchisement, a line of destabilization.” Jackson warned that the Republican will “steal the 2004 elections,” if the people are not on guard. The crowd erupted in chants, “No Recall! No Prop. 54!”

The latest poll shows that as Davis and his allies barnstorm the state, support for the recall has dropped to just 50 percent, a statistical “dead heat.”