The state that spawned the first actor-turned-U.S. president may earn the distinction of having a pornographer-governor, as Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt adds his name to the list of hundreds seeking to replace California Gov. Gray Davis.
A registered Democrat but self-described “staunch civil libertarian,” Flynt filed papers and paid the required $3,500 fee to run in the historic recall election slated for Oct. 7.
“California is the most progressive state in the union,” Flynt told the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t think anyone here will have a problem with a smut peddler as governor.”
Asked why he was jumping in the race, Flynt told the San Francisco Chronicle he felt he could do “a better job balancing the budget than those bureaucrats in Sacramento.”
He also claims he can balance the budget without raising taxes.
“I would expand the gaming and the private casinos, the slot machines,” Flynt told the Chronicle, which pointed out is connected with the Hustler Casino in Gardena, Calif. “This would provide enough revenue to where the state could get out of debt – the entire deficit. Nobody’s taxes get raised, and no programs get cut.”
California Gov. Gray Davis
Davis, who is less than a year into his second term, is grappling with a staggering deficit projected at more than $38 billion. He has been accused of spending recklessly during the 1990s and mishandling the state’s electricity crisis two years ago.
Despite suffering a dive in his approval ratings, Davis derides the drive to oust him as “a hostile takeover by the right,” and allies have said they expect to spend $15 million to $20 million to keep him in office.
Recall supporters say they are planning a “very aggressive campaign” with a $15 million budget.
With the Aug. 9 filing deadline looming, the Times reports more than 200 people – from activists and filmmakers to a comedian and billboard queen – have filed to have their names added to the ballot. Roughly 50 have coughed up the filing fee.
As of yesterday, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, who bankrolled the recall signature-gathering effort with $1.7 million of his own money – is the only declared Republican in the race. Failed gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon and state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks are expected to run. Others contemplating a run are state Sen. Bruce McPherson, R-Santa Cruz, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and controversial, nationally syndicated radio talk-show host Michael Savage.
Gov. Michael Savage?
Savage was fired as a television host by MSNBC earlier this month for referring to an unidentified caller to his cable show as a “sodomite” and saying he should “get AIDS and die.” Savage later apologized for the remarks, which, he said, he believed were made off the air.
Schwarzenegger will announce his decision moments before an appearance on NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” Wednesday, which was originally scheduled to promote his new movie “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”
Should he opt out, friend and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has said he would consider running. In fact, Riordan’s advisors told the Times he is “close to taking over Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political team to run a possible campaign for governor.”
Riordan has previously said he would not run if Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein enters the race. Some congressional Democrats have called for her name to be added to the ballot as a backup candidate to Davis.
Meanwhile, Flynt thinks name recognition and a “built-in constituency” gives him a good shot.
“People know me. They know I’ve devoted most of my adult life fighting to expand the parameters of free speech,” he told the Chronicle. “I took a bullet for the First Amendment. I’m concerned about our basic freedoms, the erosion that has taken place in the last few years. I would like to motivate people and get them more concerned.”
A 1978 assassination attempt left the outspoken skin mogul partially paralyzed. His story was portrayed by Woody Harrelson in the movie “The People vs. Larry Flynt.”
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