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Archive for Saturday, August 9, 2003

Democrats seek unified front in recall campaign

August 9, 2003

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— While Democrats urged one of their own to drop out of the recall election Friday, the list of Republican contenders grew as former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth announced his candidacy a day before the filing deadline.

Ueberroth, who successfully organized the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, said that although he was a registered Republican, he would run an independent campaign. He pledged to serve only the remainder of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis' term.

"Between now and Oct. 7, California voters will be subjected to the same bitter partisanship that too often interferes with getting California to work again," Ueberroth, 65, said in a statement. "Once the campaign has ended, I believe that I will be the best qualified person to get the tough job done."

Other Republicans on what promises to be a crowded election ballot include actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, businessman Bill Simon and state Sen. Tom McClintock.

Two high-level Democrats, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, also announced they would run this week. But some in the party, fearful that a split vote could cost the Democrats the governor's office, were trying to urge one of the candidates to pull out.

U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., said he had spoken with U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, state Senate President Pro Tem John Burton and Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson about meeting with the candidates and anointing one as the party's choice in lieu of a primary election.

Garamendi said Friday he was pressured by three fellow Democrats to step aside within 24 hours of announcing his candidacy.

"My comment to them is, 'No, I'm not getting out,'" Garamendi said. "I'm in this race until Oct. 7."

Sherman said he spoke with Garamendi on Friday morning. Asked if he tried to dissuade him, he said, "Not really."

"If either one of them wants to cancel their registration by Saturday, I'll take them out to the fanciest dinner in California," Sherman said of Bustamante and Garamendi.

As Bustamante made his candidacy official Friday by filing papers with the secretary of state's office, he said he hadn't been approached to step aside.

"No, in fact I've been getting a tremendous amount of calls in support saying, 'Thank you for putting your name in,'" Bustamante said.

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