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Huffington enters California gubernatorial race

Columnist running as an independent

 Arianna Huffington says she won't conduct polls or run attack ads in her campaign.
Arianna Huffington says she won't conduct polls or run attack ads in her campaign.

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start quoteThis recall is led by an embittered cult of right-wing zealots who have overdosed on tax-cuts Kool-Aid.end quote
-- Arianna Huffington
Who would you vote for as governor of California?
The "Terminator"
A "Smut-peddler who cares"
A melon-smashing comedian
A socialite-turned-columnist
A "Diff'rent Strokes" actor
None of the above

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Columnist Arianna Huffington will run for governor of California in the October 7 recall election, she announced Wednesday.

In a speech to supporters, the Republican turned left-of-center independent slammed California's Republican leadership, President Bush, and Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, while promising a unique campaign.

"I'm not, to say the least, a conventional candidate," said the Greek-born 53-year-old before joking about her accent. "But these are not conventional times. And if we keep electing the same kinds of politicians who got us into the same kinds of mess funded by the same special interests, we'll never get out of this mess."

Huffington has never held public office, but is well known as a nationally syndicated columnist and television and radio commentator.

Speaking outside a youth center that she supports, Huffington criticized the recall process that has given her the chance to run for governor.

"Nothing is more laughable than hearing the Republicans running blame everything about the state on Gray Davis' fiscal irresponsibility, while ignoring the orgy of fiscal irresponsibility going on in Washington presided over by George W. Bush and the Congress.

"Let's get real. As ineffectual as Davis may be, there can be no doubt that it is the Bush administration -- with its tax cuts for the wealthy, its perverse political priorities, and its way-too-cozy relationship with Enron and the other energy companies -- that have gotten California where it is."

She added, "My Democratic friends are right -- this recall is led by an embittered cult of right-wing zealots who have overdosed on tax-cuts Kool-Aid."

But Huffington also criticized Democrats for refusing to present other Democratic candidates for governor in the recall election.

"It is not just politically imperative, it is morally imperative that we do not allow this state to be hijacked by the Republicans. And that's why the Democratic strategy of circling the wagons around Gray Davis makes absolutely no sense for the people of California.

Asked about her lack of experience in public office, she said that Davis "has held every office in the land and you have a $38 billion deficit and legislators who don't talk to each other. How much worse could it be?"

Huffington said that in her campaign she will conduct no polls and will run no attack ads.

She touched on some key issues facing the state, promising that as governor she will commit badly needed funds to improving education, fairly assess property tax on commercial holdings, and improve the environment -- partly by seeing to it that "anybody who works for the state will be driving hybrid cars."

In 1994, Huffington supported her then-husband, Michael Huffington, in his failed bid for U.S. senator from California.

Michael Huffington, who revealed he is gay after their 1997 divorce, released a statement Thursday, saying he would not enter the race. He endorsed Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, calling him "a charismatic leader."

Huffington also appeared to take a swipe at his former wife in his statement, saying he had decided not to run out of consideration for their children.

"This week my children told me that they did not want their parents to run in this election -- either one of us," he said.

Arianna Huffington had said she would not run if he did, noting the pressure it would put on their two daughters, ages 14 and 12.

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