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Registration Boosts Ranks of Voters to 2002 Levels

September 26, 2003|From Times Staff Reports

New voter registration cards continued to land in registrars' offices around the state Thursday. Officials in the secretary of state's office estimate that at least 250,000 new voters have registered since early August, bringing the statewide total to about 15.25 million registered voters so far. Final numbers are expected next week.

The current tally is on par with total registration for the 2002 gubernatorial election, which had 15.3 million registered voters. About 15.7 million voters were registered for the 2000 presidential election.

An Apology for Waldheim Toast

Arnold Schwarzenegger apologized Thursday for the 1986 wedding toast he made in honor of Kurt Waldheim, the controversial former Austrian president accused of covering up his involvement in Nazi atrocities during World War II, a Jewish newspaper reported.

"It was a mistake," the gubernatorial candidate told the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. "You can't go [back]. It's always easier to be smart in hindsight."

Schwarzenegger made the toast a month after Waldheim was publicly accused of lying about his war record.

This is not the first time Schwarzenegger -- or his campaign -- has expressed regret for the toast.

In August, Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Rob Stutzman told The Times: "Arnold has said that if he knew then what he knows now [about Waldheim's past], he would not have offered the toast.... Arnold has said it was a stupid thing to say."

Huffington Urges 'Clean Money' Law

Gubernatorial candidate Arianna Huffington launched another campaign Thursday, this time seeking to put a "clean money" ballot initiative before California voters that would enact public financing of political campaigns.

The measure would aim to reduce "the influence of large contributions on the decisions made by state government," according to papers Huffington filed with the state attorney general's office.

If approved by voters, it would create an optional system for candidates running for governor, attorney general, state Legislature and other state offices, who could obtain public money for their campaigns if they agree not to raise private contributions.

State law gives Huffington 150 days to gather enough voter signatures -- 373,816, in this case -- to get the measure onto a statewide ballot.

There is a public financing component in presidential elections.

But on her own tax returns for the last two years, Huffington did not check the box to direct $3 toward the public financing.

Debate Canceled After Candidates Bow Out

A planned Sept. 30 gubernatorial debate to be hosted by the Los Angeles Times and CNN was canceled Thursday when Gov. Gray Davis and Republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to attend, according to a Times spokesperson.

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and state Sen. Tom McClintock accepted the invitation.

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