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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Porn, Sumo in Governor Race

SACRAMENTO, California -- Scores of Californians took the once-in-a-lifetime shot to run for governor in the state's unprecedented recall election as Democrats successfully whittled their own field to one major backup candidate in case Governor Gray Davis is ousted.

The field of more than 130 candidates includes former "Diff'rent Strokes" sitcom star Gary Coleman, watermelon-smashing comedian Gallagher, porn publisher Larry Flynt, porn star Mary Carey, a 100-year-old woman, a bounty hunter, a sitcom writer, a sumo wrestler, pinup Angelyne and radio personality Jim "Poorman" Trenton, who called his campaign "a good way to meet women."

If voters turn Davis out of office, Democratic candidate Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante will also be competing against last year's gubernatorial runner-up, Bill Simon, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth -- all Republicans -- and columnist Arianna Huffington, an independent.

Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi dropped out two hours before the filing deadline, leaving Bustamante as the only prominent Democrat on the ballot. That raised hopes of keeping the governor's office in party hands if the unpopular governor is voted out Oct. 7.

Despite the onslaught of wannabes aiming to run the nation's most populous state, Davis remained confident.

"Many people are trying to become the governor. I am the governor," Davis said to laughter after a bill signing at a Santa Monica health clinic.

A new Time-CNN poll released Saturday, however, showed voters leaning toward recalling Davis.

Fifty-four percent said they would vote Davis out, while 35 percent were opposed. Of the better-known candidates, 25 percent chose Schwarzenegger, 15 percent chose Bustamante, while others were in single digits. The poll of 508 voters was conducted Friday and has an error margin of plus or minus four percentage points.

Davis, who has seen his approval ratings plummet in recent months, is the first California governor to face a recall. Voter anger has been building since the state's 2000-01 energy crisis. Since then, Californians have witnessed the decline of the state's technology sector and a record $38 billion budget deficit, which triggered a tripling of the vehicle tax, forced college fees to rise as much as 30 percent and has threatened state employees with layoffs and pay cuts.

The final casting call for the nation's political blockbuster unfolded Saturday, as about a quarter of the nearly 500 people who took out applications to run turned in their necessary papers to get on the burgeoning ballot.

By day's end, more than 130 people had filed to run. The official number of candidates who will appear on the ballot will not be released until the secretary of state certifies the paperwork Wednesday.

Millions of voters in the California gubernatorial recall election will be voting on punch cards, those of pimpled, dimpled chad fame so discredited by Florida in 2000, The New York Times reported.

The punch card was outlawed in California, as of March 2004, because of the Florida chaos. But many counties have not had time to make the transition to new machinery. Rather than risk a headlong rush toward unfamiliar electronic equipment -- a hallmark of Florida's later voting disaster in 2002 -- nearly half of California's 58 counties are sticking with punch cards for the recall.