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Friday, August 08, 2003

Hotline Weekly (08/07/2003)
Thursday, Aug. 7, 2003
But Can He Win?

Celebrity candidates fall into two groups -- one includes Ronald Reagan and Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the other is composed of folks like Nolan Ryan and Richard Petty. The former were more successful than imagined, and the latter were spectacular disappointments. So where will Arnold Schwarzenegger wind up?
-- Is He Reagan? We'll learn a lot about Schwarzenegger's political potential when he decides to campaign. Does he do it via press releases of tired cliches and TV shows, or does he do a Hillary-style listening tour and blanket the press with position papers? What about debates? No doubt this election is more appealing to Schwarzenegger because he probably won't have to debate.
-- Or Is He Petty? Could Schwarzenegger's candidacy and celebrity actually overwhelm the more important issue on the ballot -- recalling Gray Davis? If the actor does overshadow everything and everyone else, it could be the best thing to happen to Davis, who always seems to do his best in elections when he's not the focus. Then again, Schwarzenegger could follow the Ventura model and expand the electorate to a size that's impossible for Davis to overcome. (#22)

Governor 2003
22 CALIFORNIA: Just Try To Keep This All Straight
More On This Race
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Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) "jumped into his most demanding role ever" on Wednesday, telling "The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno "and a nationwide audience" that he will be on the ballot for the Oct. 7 recall election of Gov. Gray Davis (D). Schwarzenegger "made his announcement in true Hollywood fashion, joking with Leno, poking fun at himself, then dropping a bombshell that stunned even his close associates."
But if the "setup was relaxed, the message was deadly serious." Schwarzenegger: "The politicians are fiddling, fumbling and failing. The man that is failing the people more than anyone else is Gray Davis. He is failing them terribly, and this is why he needs to be recalled, and this is why I'm going to run for governor."
Schwarzenegger "declined to say when he had made the decision, only that it had been a very long and difficult process," one that "finally came down to discussions" with his wife, Maria Shriver.
"If she had been against me campaigning and me going for the governorship, I would not have done it," Schwarzenegger said (San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 7).

Riordan Jilted -- But Still Might Run
"Among the many Californians amazed" at Schwarzenegger's decision "was the actor's Brentwood neighbor and friend," former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan (R). Riordan was "stunned" when he learned from a TV newscast that Schwarzenegger would run. As of Wednesday morning, Riordan "had spoken to Schwarzenegger and gotten no inkling that the movie hero was about to announce his first run for public office." The two "had been saying for weeks that they were working closely together and that only one would enter the race for governor."
Said one Riordan aide, "So this is what it feels like to be mugged." The aide said Riordan "might still decide to enter the race" (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 7).

Democrats Nervous? What Gives You That Impression?
There was no official reaction to Schwarzenegger's announcement from the Democratic National Committee's headquarters in Washington. But one top Democratic aide on Capitol Hill said: "Everyone will be focused on this. Just like Clinton and impeachment, this will suck the oxygen out of everything else" (San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 7).

Big Court Day
The California Supreme Court has announced "that it will act on all five cases pending on the recall before the close of business" today. Specifically, Court spokeswoman Lynn Holton said that "the court will issue orders either denying review or taking up the cases. If the court decides to take up one or more of the cases, the justices will call for additional briefings and hold oral arguments before issuing an opinion" (California Insider blog, Aug. 6).
Davis filed suit with the California Supreme Court on Monday, making "three separate requests: stop the process of preparing for" a Oct. 7 recall vote "while the state court reviews the constitutional issues, reset that vote" for March 2 and "strike down the existing procedures as a violation of equal voting principles and as a violation of the Constitution's guarantee that each state will have a representative government" (Boston Globe, Aug. 5).
Davis claims that "holding the election just five months before" the state's presidential primary "would violate his rights and disenfranchise many voters" because "some counties wouldn't have time to comply with current court orders to replace error-prone voting machines." This argument is "a variation of one used successfully" by then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) in 2000's Bush vs. Gore. Davis also wants "to give voters the option of choosing him as his own successor" (AP, Aug. 5).

Here Comes An "Establishment" Dem
Late Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D), announced that he will be "taking out candidacy papers" today. Bustamante is "abandoning what had sounded like an unequivocal pledge" in June "not to get into the race." He said then: "I will not participate in any other way than to urge voter to reject this expensive perversion of the recall process... I do not intend to put my name on the ballot" (AP, Aug. 6).

Darling Of The Left Takes On The Field
Calling herself an "independent progressive," columnist Arianna Huffington launched her campaign for governor on Wednesday. Huffington "has walked a road of political bombast and prolific self-promotion that has taken her from conservative firebrand to the unlikely champion of the left." The "53-year-old Greek immigrant has no political experience and only offered a glimpse of her plans to free" California "from its economic quagmire." She "pledged to close corporate tax loopholes and roll back tuition increases at state universities and community colleges" (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 7).

Flynt To Hustle For California State House
Porn king Larry Flynt (D) "wants to rule California." Flynt, a "civil libertarian and free speech advocate," said he would solve the state's "budget woes by expanding slot machine gambling."
"California is the most progressive state in the union," Flynt said. "I don't think anyone here will have a problem with a smut peddler as governor" (AP, Aug. 1).

Seems Like Everyone's Running...
Silicon valley entrepreneur Stuart Vance launched a campaign Sunday at www.run-for-governor.org "to derail the recall by encouraging as many Californians as possible to run for governor." Vance describes it as a "denial-of-service attack on the recall," aiming to "overwhelm election officials with up to 1,000 names. That could exceed the number that fits on the ballots and force" the election to be delayed.
Vance criticized Rep. Darrell Issa's (R) $1.7 million contribution to the recall effort, calling it "a corruption of the democratic process."
"I want to tell the Darrell Issas of the world that if they twist the system for their purposes, we the people will untwist it to stop them" (San Jose Mercury News, Aug. 4).

... Except Feinstein
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) announced Wednesday that she will not be a candidate in the recall. "After thinking a great deal about this recall, its implications for the future, and its misguided nature, I have decided that I will not place my name on the ballot," Feinstein said in a statement that also urged voters to vote against the recall (release, Aug. 6).

Don't Make Us Endorse Republicans, You Hear?
Davis got a boost Tuesday from California's AFL-CIO on Tuesday with the release of a three-paragraph letter to elected Democrats "urging them not to run" in the recall. From the letter: "We are united against the recall of Gov. Davis and urge all potential Democratic candidates to stay off the recall ballot and join with us in support of the governor.... United we will defeat this ultraconservative coup attempt" (AP, Aug. 5).
Also Tuesday, at the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting in Chicago, members unanimously "vowed to mobilize" California members "and seek contributions from individual unions" but "stopped short of pledging money to Davis" themselves (Contra Costa Times, Aug. 6). On Monday, Davis had asked the union leaders at the organization's national meeting to pledge $10 million to his campaign, half of the $20 million "he told them he would need to fight the recall" (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 5).

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