- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) — They were treated as clowns in the political circus, and in accepting defeat many fringe candidates in the recall election stuck to the just-for-fun tone that drove their campaigns.

A porn actress held a barbecue, a former BMW salesman treated friends to an open bar, and a pornographer in a gold-plated wheelchair — Larry Flynt — spent Tuesday night talking to reporters.

Other long shots among the 135 contenders included former “Diff’rent Strokes” child actor Gary Coleman, a sumo wrestler, a guy whose gimmick was a bright-blue cowboy hat, and melon-smashing comedian Gallagher.

The front-runner among the also-rans was Mr. Flynt. With 98.8 percent of precincts reporting, he was in seventh place with 15,053 votes, or 0.3 percent, just ahead of Mr. Coleman’s 12,488 votes or 0.2 percent.

Adult-film actress Mary Carey was 10th with 9,756 votes, and Gallagher was 16th with 4,762 votes.

Most had long ago resigned themselves to defeat.

“I expected to have fun,” said Miss Carey, who had a barbecue party Tuesday night at the Game Show Network studio in Culver City. “I love cameras and am getting in front of them without getting naked and having sex.”

Now it’s back to business as usual. “Next, I’m promoting feature dancing at strip clubs,” she said. But someday, she said, “I’m definitely going to run for president.”

While she and a few others seemed to be in the race only for giggles, other dark-horse candidates jumped in for self-promotion or to advocate deeply held principles.

All found themselves in the shadow of “Terminator” Arnold Schwarzenegger, who bested the entire field including Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to win the job of ousted Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.

The two X-rated candidates, Miss Carey, star of “New Wave Hookers 7,” and Hustler magazine publisher Flynt, were opposed to the recall even though their names were on the ballot.

“As much as I dislike Gray Davis, I think he’s been an efficient governor,” Mr. Flynt said. “To vote yes on the recall, you’re really changing democracy. That’s what the normal election is for.”

Then why run?

“I didn’t think I was going to get elected,” Mr. Flynt said.

Among the long shots with serious intentions were Jim Vandeventer, a Republican former car salesman who supported increased fiscal responsibility, environmental protection and legal unions for homosexuals. He hosted an open bar at the La Meridien Hotel in Beverly Hills, where supporters and a few other recall candidates gathered to watch election results on television.

He spent about $20,000 on his campaign. The defeat party cost about $2,000, he said, provided no one damaged the hotel facilities.

Independent Arianna Huffington, who dropped out of the race last week, received 42,317 votes. Republican Peter Ueberroth, the former baseball commissioner, pulled in 21,739 votes despite giving up his candidacy nearly a month ago.

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