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Larry Flynt announces run for California governor

He suggests slogan: 'Vote for a Smut-Peddler Who Cares'

Larry Flynt declared his candidacy from his office in Beverly Hills, California, on Monday.
Larry Flynt declared his candidacy from his office in Beverly Hills, California, on Monday.

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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt announced Monday that he plans to run for governor of California, saying he believes he can do a better job balancing the state's budget and improving education than "those pinhead bureaucrats in Sacramento."

Flynt said he wants to put his name on the ballot for the vote October 7 on whether to recall incumbent Gov. Gray Davis and whom to put in his place.

Suggesting as his slogan "Vote for a Smut-Peddler Who Cares," Flynt, 60, said he would expand gaming regulations to allow private casinos to have slot machines, which could be taxed by the state at 30 percent.

The casino tax could raise about $3 billion a year for the state, he said.

Educational improvements are another priority, he said, as is illegal immigration. Flynt suggested giving amnesty to all illegal immigrants, then having California secure its borders because, he said, the federal government has failed to do it properly.

Flynt has made millions publishing pornographic magazines, including Hustler and Barely Legal.

Asked whether his entry contributes to a "circus-like atmosphere" in a wide-open race, Flynt acknowledged that easy ballot access allows many to run. But in the end, he said, "you're only going to have serious contenders."

"Just because I publish pornography does not mean that I am not concerned about the social ills that all of us are," he said.

Flynt, who said he'd run as a Democrat, spoke to reporters in his plush, classically decorated office at the headquarters of Flynt Publications in Beverly Hills.

Flynt has run a political campaign before. He launched a brief campaign for president against Ronald Reagan in 1983. He is also well-known in the courts, having served time in federal prison time in 1984 for not revealing the source of FBI undercover tapes he released that showed footage from the drug sting against former automaker John DeLorean.

He was on trial in Gwinnett County, Georgia, on obscenity charges in 1978 when he was shot outside the courthouse, a wound that left him paralyzed.

"I even took a bullet for the First Amendment," Flynt said, calling himself a civil libertarian.

His firm belief in the Constitution, and especially the First Amendment, also means he can't be bought, he said.

"I don't have one penny in special interest money behind me," he said. "I don't owe anybody anything, and in the end I would not owe anybody anything, and I think that I would be Gray Davis' and the California Republican Party's worst nightmare come true if I got elected."

He called the war on drugs a failure and said it must be dealt with, but Flynt did not propose any particular measures. He said he favors legalizing prostitution.

"I could see all kinds of benefits coming from that, including additional tax revenue, being able to control venereal disease and a possible decrease in sexual assaults," Flynt said.

Flynt said he might commission a study on legalizing prostitution, though he said he doesn't think he would get much support.

Flynt lamented California's low ranking in education, and said the problems with the system include low SAT scores, teacher pay and class size.

"But you know, our children are our future," Flynt said. "Whatever the education problems are in California, we have to fix 'em, because if California can be a beacon for the rest of the country on the rest of the social issues, why can't it be a beacon for education?"

He said he wants to "cringe" every time Davis and others say they're working on education "when they're not doing a damn thing, and everybody's buying into it."

Flynt shoved off comparisons to former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, the former professional wrestler who ran as an independent and won in 1998. Flynt said Ventura's was an independent movement, whereas the current situation in California is about the "two-party process shaking itself out."

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican, would be the only other candidate Flynt said he would back, because the two are friends.

The recall drive has been led by Rep. Darrell Issa, who is also running. Bill Simon -- who narrowly lost to Davis in 2002 -- and state Sen. Tom McClintock also are likely GOP candidates.

Political commentator Arianna Huffington has said she is considering running as an independent.

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