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No Govern-ator

Arnold opts out of Calif. recall run

Hollywood can forget about the prospect of Gov. Schwarzenegger.

The thesp has thrown in the towel on a run in the upcoming Oct. 7 recall election, Republican Party spokesman Rob Stutzman said Wednesday.

The Schwarzenegger camp attempted Wednesday to portray such comments as premature. But campaign consultant Sean Walsh admitted that the thesp is “leaning against a candidacy at this time.”

Schwarzenegger is expected to formally announce his decision not to run at a news conference either today or Friday in Los Angeles. The thesp may also endorse former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a friend and fellow GOP moderate who is now expected to become a front-runner among the challengers listed on the ballot as replacements for Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.

Reardon said this week he would run only if Schwarzenegger backed down.

The governor managed to prevent Riordan from winning the Republican primary last year, leading to an election victory over more conservative GOP businessman Bill Simon.

The is-he-or-isn’t-he drama played out over the past month and stretched nerves to the breaking point on the political front amid calculations of how much heft the action star would carry at the ballot box. But word began seeping out this week that Schwarzenegger had gotten cold feet.

Political advisers believe the thesp came down on the side of staying in Hollywood due to the wishes of wife Maria Shriver and his desire to avoid subjecting his four children to a campaign that would have undoubtedly been replete with personal attacks from Davis.

The Austrian-born actor, who turned 56 on Wednesday, would have entered the unprecedented recall race as a political novice. His key attributes would have been instant name recognition, his best box office performance in nine years thanks to the recently released “Terminator 3” and the ability to generate voter turnout among the notoriously unpredictable California electorate, which gave a narrow victory to Davis last fall.

Davis gets a break

But Davis scored some success Tuesday after the state Legislaturebroke a monthlong stalemate and agreed on a compromise budget to close a $38 billion budget deficit.

Voters in the recall election will vote on whether to recall Davis, and who should replace him. If a majority of voters support the recall, Davis would be replaced by the top vote-getter among those running to succeed him.

The unanswered question remains whether Schwarzenegger still has a taste for elective office and will rev up a campaign for governor in 2006, which had been his original plan until the recall petition drive succeeded.

California voters should still have plenty of choices on the ballot: by Wednesday night more than 120 candidates has filed to run. The filing deadline is Aug. 9.

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