Bustamante Offers Surprise Backing For Huffington's Idea

By Associated Press

SACRAMENTO - Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante provided one of the few surprises during a no-headliner forum Sunday night for candidates in the Oct. 7 recall election.

At the candidates' forum in Sacramento, sponsored by the Asian Pacific Islander American Political Association, Bustamante unexpectedly took the microphone and endorsed a public financing plan offered by independent candidate Arianna Huffington

Huffington didn't seem to mind the interruption. She called Bustamante's endorsement of the initiative she filed Thursday "wonderful news."

"As you know, I believe in conversions, and I believe in redemption," said Huffington, a former conservative who transformed herself into a liberal populist after her divorce from her husband, former Republican Senate candidate Michael Huffington.

Bustamante has been widely criticized on the campaign trail and in court for his use of nearly $4 million he recieved from Indian tribes and labor unions. The donations have paid for the bulk of his television ads despite a court order to return the money.

"I've been talking about publicly financed campaigns for some time," Bustamante said later. He said the current system gives the wealthy an unfair advantage.

Dr. Ivy Lee, president of the Sacramento-based Chinese-American Political Action Committee, called the forum unique for Asian-Americans in California, and a "significant symbol that we're no longer going to be ignored."

Neither Gov. Gray Davis nor the leading contender to replace him, Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, was on hand for the event.

The Democratic lieutenant governor found himself far behind Schwarzenegger on Sunday in a poll of likely voters. Schwarzenegger was the choice of 40 percent, while Bustamante had just 25 percent.

Sunday's forum also included presentations on Proposition 54, the measure that would bar the state from collecting race data.

The speeches largely avoided issues specific to Asian-Americans, who make up 12 percent of the state's population and about 5 percent of its registesred voters.

Organizers of the event complained that a "glass ceiling" still keeps many Asians from rising to top positions in corporations and government. But Democratic Party spokesman Bob Mulholland noted that Davis has appointed 280 Asian-Americans to government posts, including the state's first Vietnamese-American judge.

State Sen. Tom McClintock was the only candidate to side with University of California regent Ward Connerly on Sunday in supporting Proposition 54. The Republican recall candidate said opponents of the measure are part of an "element in the radical left to divide us by race."

"There is no good that comes from the government classifying its citizens on the basis of their race, the slant of their eyes, the color of their skin or where their ancestors came from," Connerly told the crowd.

In other developments Sunday:

The recall election has hit a pop culture milestone: Doonesbury is weighing in.

On Sunday the controversial cartoon strip drawn by Garry Trudeau mocked the idea of Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor. The strip, which is often politically charged, derides the Republican actor as "an inexperienced ego-monkey," and urges a move to recall "Governor-Apparent Schwarzenegger."

It ends with a miniature petition form urging Schwarzenegger's recall "should he be elected governor."

Trying to parse all the twists, turns and possible outcomes of the recall race drove the San Jose Mercury News to extraordinary measures Sunday.

The paper mixed it all into a cartoon-poem that required several open apologies to Dr. Seuss. "Recall? Insane. Oh, an end to this pain!" the headline reads. But as the poem suggests, we're not done with this yet.

And who's that popping out of a stuffed ballot box? Our old friend, "Chad I Am."

See the article on Vallejo Times-Herald website

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