— Arnold Schwarzenegger made it official today, filing his candidacy papers in California's gubernatorial recall election and vowing to terminate everything that's ailing the Golden State.
The former Mr. Universe and perpetual action hero kept Californians, Gov. Gray Davis, the Republican Party and national political reporters in suspense all day Wednesday before finally revealing during a taping of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno that he will run for governor in the California recall election.
Today, as hundreds of his fans and potential voters looked on, he arrived at the Los Angeles County Registrar's Office and filed candidacy papers.
"Today is the first step toward bring[ing] the government back to the people," Schwarzenegger said, amid cheers from the crowd. The Austrian-born actor stressed that it was time to put the public's interests ahead of self interests and "bring businesses back to California."
"The first and most important thing that we have to do is we have to overhaul our economic engine in California," he said. "We have to bring back businesses to California and to make sure that everyone in California has a great job.
Schwarzenegger cited the state's $38 billion deficit and an education system that he described as "the last in the country" as some of the reasons motivating him to run. He also spoke out against special interest groups.
"We have to always have public interest first and self-interests as an end," Schwarzenegger continued. "What we have right now in Sacramento is self-interest first — self-interest of the politicians, self-interest of special interest groups — and we have to reverse all that."
Painting himself as both an immigrant and a Hollywood success story, Schwarzenegger asserted that he could not be bought by special interest groups, because he's simply too rich.
"There were times people say it could never be done, that an Austrian farmboy can come over to America and get into the movie business and be successful in the movie business. They said, 'We cannot pronounce your name, you cannot speak English well, and your body's overdeveloped.' And you know what happened? I became the highest-paid entertainer in the world, OK?"
A Strange Slate of Candidates
And Schwarzenegger is not the only celebrity throwing his hat into the ring.
Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, comedian Gallagher and actor Gary Coleman, the pint-sized star of the 1980s' sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, have all said they plan to run.
Political commentator Arianna Huffington jumped into the race on Wednesday, and former baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, a Republican, joined the list of potential candidates today.
Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock has filed papers to run, and 2002 GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Simon is mulling a run.
Another Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa, surprised his supporters today by announcing he would not run. Issa largely financed the initial recall signature-gathering with his own money.
He had been expected to announce his candidacy and file papers in San Diego today, but standing outside the Registrar of Voters' office in San Diego, Issa broke into tears as he announced he would continue to support the recall and retain his congressional seat in so he can work toward peace in the Middle East.