On Friday, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced that the attempted recall of Assemblyman Anthony Adams had failed to gather enough valid signatures to get the question put on the ballot. The assemblyman himself was among the last to get the news.

"I had turned the phone off that day. I was trying to get over sickness that day," Adams said Tuesday. "So, I went home, and turned the phone off ... and no one was able to get in touch with me."

In the late afternoon, they finally succeeded.

"At 4 o'clock, they finally reached me. 'It's over, the recall's over!'"

According to Bowen's office, samples taken by election officials in both San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties -- the 59th assembly district snakes across the mountains and stretches from Hesperia to La Caņada -- showed that only 24,579 valid signatures had been submitted by recall supporters, or only 2/3 of the 35,825 signatures required to get a special election that could remove the second-term assemblyman from office. Recall proponents had turned in a total of 58,384 signatures.

Only 42.1 percent of submitted signatures were valid, according to the registrars of voters in each county. In San Bernardino County, the percentage was only 34.9 percent.

On Veterans Day, after speaking at the Hesperia Recreation and Park District's ceremony at Hesperia Lake Park, Adams had told Hesperia Star editor Peter Day that many of the signatures collected were invalid, more than two weeks before the secretary of state's announcement.

"They were collecting signatures at Pinion Hills at the Stater Brothers," Adams said Tuesday. "I don't represent Pinion Hills, I don't represent Victorville. I represent Hesperia and Apple Valley. I don't know a lot of people in Hesperia that shop in Pinion Hills. ... I figured that if they were really doing that, they'd have a lot of bad [signatures]."

Some of Adams' friends and associates who encountered signature-collectors outside the 59th district asked them what thought they were accomplishing, he said.

"They would say 'what are you doing? Anthony doesn't represent this district.' And they'd say 'it doesn't matter, it just sends a message.'"

Unfortunately for supporters, it also raised the number of invalid signatures in the pot. Election officials pick a random sample of submitted signatures to determine whether there are enough valid ones to proceed with a recall. According to the office of San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Kari Verjil, of the 1,339 randomly selected signatures they checked, 214 were of registered voters who live outside the 59th district, 149 were from voters who didn't live in San Bernardino County and 282 were from people not registered to vote at all.

The recall attempt stemmed from a February 19 vote in which he was one of six Republicans voting in favor of a new 1 percent use and sales tax that terminates, or "sunsets," in 18 months.

"The state was facing legitimate insolvency with no ability to pay its bills," said Adams. States do not have the legal ability to go bankrupt, just insolvent, meaning that their debts don't go away, but just pile on more and more penalty fees. And the budget crisis occurred at the same time as the country's banks were in crisis, so the state couldn't get a loan to cover its expenses while legislators sought to close California's growing deficit.

Should legislators again miss their June 15 deadline for next year's budget -- since 1986, the legislature has only met the deadline once -- the state should be able to borrow this time around, said Adams, meaning no more stopgap taxes required.

"The reality was that California was in the process of not paying its bills. We literally couldn't make payments on a number of our obligations. We weren't paying taxpayers monies that were owed to them," he said. "Vendors who provided services to the state of California were not getting paid. ... And it was just getting worse the longer that we didn't do anything."

Critics, including KFI 640 radio talk show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, have blasted Adams for his vote in favor of the temporary taxes, but Adams said they overlook what he was able to get from the Democrats in return for his vote on the 2009-2010 budget.

"It's also important to remember that there were $15 billion in permanent cuts in that same bill [in February]," Adams said. "Since taking office, I've helped cut $20 billion in expenses."

Adams is up for reelection a third (and final, due to term limits) two-year term next year. He said he believes the voters will not hold his vote in favor of the 2009-2010 budget compromise against him.

"I think, first of all, voters were correct in rejecting the recall. It was going to cost $1 million and I'm up for reelection in June," he said. "I believe, very firmly, that what my voters want is someone who's going to make hard decisions, not put their head in the sand, and make sure that California is successful."

And if the voters do hold his vote against him, Adams is prepared for that too.

"I wouldn't change anything because it's important that people stand up and make the hard decisions," he said. "The state is way more important than any one politician."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/HesperiaStar.