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Peter V. Ueberroth

The former sports czar says more time to run won't lure him back into the race. Now he's deciding whom to endorse.

September 17, 2003|Scott Martelle | Times staff writer

Although a federal appeals court ruling threatens to add five months to California's recall race, former sports czar Peter V. Ueberroth said Tuesday he would not resurrect the campaign he ended a week ago.

Ueberroth dropped out of the race, his staff said, largely because they did not have enough time before the Oct. 7 election to mount a winning effort.

Ueberroth was more direct Tuesday: He lost, he said, and he's staying out.

"I was not successful in the race, and I would not reenter the race," Ueberroth said during a news conference to discuss whom he might endorse in the recall election. "I'm going to stay in the private sector."

Ueberroth, architect of the successful 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and former commissioner of Major League Baseball, had campaigned exclusively on a platform of improving the state's precarious economic health.

He said he intended to endorse whichever candidate would best embrace his job-creation agenda.

He met with fellow Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger at an undisclosed Santa Monica location Tuesday, and then with state Sen. Tom McClintock at a Santa Monica hotel.

Ueberroth said he also planned to meet with the only major Democratic candidate, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, but no date had been set.

Ueberroth said he had spoken by telephone with Green Party candidate Peter Camejo, but had not talked with independent Arianna Huffington; it was unclear whether he would.

Ueberroth and McClintock met with reporters after their talk, but Schwarzenegger declined a similar session.

Ueberroth said he was taken with the "passion" Schwarzenegger and McClintock displayed toward the issue of job creation.

"I found two terrific individuals," Ueberroth said. "I still have further meetings and I have to be fair."

McClintock said an endorsement from Ueberroth "would be a tremendous boost" to his campaign.

However, McClintock was chillier about how he'd respond should Ueberroth endorse Schwarzenegger and urge McClintock to drop out, unifying behind a single Republican candidate.

"I'm in this race to the finish line," McClintock said.

"I would listen to his advice very carefully, but I would make my own judgment."

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