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Ueberroth quits California recall race

Endorsement of another candidate to come later

Peter Ueberroth
Peter Ueberroth

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Republican Peter Ueberroth announced that he is bowing out of the California gubernatorial race. CNN's Kelly Wallace reports (September 10)
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Peter Ueberroth
California Recall

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- With the latest statewide poll showing his support in the single digits, Republican gubernatorial candidate Peter Ueberroth Tuesday pulled out of the October 7 recall race.

"I will continue to work hard, I'm going to work very hard to keep jobs in this state and to create jobs in this state but not as a candidate for governor," said Ueberroth.

During his announcement, Ueberroth did not endorse any of the other 135 candidates. He said he needs to go "eyeball-to-eyeball" with them over the next few days to hear their ideas for creating new jobs. (The Morning Grind: Surveying press on the recall)

"I'm going to ask them my single-note question: 'How will you keep jobs in this state?'" he said. "Then I'll endorse a candidate."

Those meetings won't be limited to just other Republican candidates, but even though Ueberroth is willing to talk with Democrats, he drew the line at talking to Gov. Gray Davis.

"I'm going to meet with candidates -- he's not a candidate right now. We'll see what happens," said Ueberroth.

He withdrew after trailing in the most recent polls in fourth place with just 5-percent voter support, despite reaching out for the support of Independent voters. (Poll: Support for recalling governor slipping)

"Frankly, we cannot see how the numbers work for this candidacy to get across the goal line," he said. "We're not going to be able to climb the mountain fast enough."

The decision by Ueberroth, the former commissioner of Major League Baseball and head of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, is likely to help the two other major Republican candidates in the race, film star Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Sen. Tom McClintock of Ventura County.

After Ueberroth's announcement, Schwarzenegger issued a statement calling him a "force for good" and saying he was looking forward to a meeting to "seek his input and involvement" in the campaign.

McClintock issued a statement, saying, he was saddened by Ueberroth's decision but added, "His withdrawal intensifies my resolve to stay the course." He also said he would welcome Ueberroth supporters to join his campaign.

Ueberroth, 66, a wealthy businessman, was a late entry to the recall field who never caught fire in the polls, despite an impressive resume that included running the 1984 Olympics, Major League Baseball and Rebuild Los Angeles, the community group that spearheaded reconstruction after the city's 1992 riots. He was named Time Magazine's 1984 Man of the Year.

The Schwarzenegger campaign and some Republican leaders had been pushing McClintock and Ueberroth to leave the race to unify the GOP vote against Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the only major Democrat in the 135-candidate field.

The latest Field Poll, released Tuesday, showed Bustamante supported by 30 percent of respondents, Schwarzenegger by 25 percent, McClintock by 13 percent and Ueberroth by 5 percent. Independent Arianna Huffington was at 3 percent and Green Party candidate Peter Camejo at 2 percent.

McClintock, a conservative whose support has increased about 4 percentage points over the past month, has said repeatedly that he will not withdraw.

Ueberroth's departure from the race makes "no difference" as to whether McClintock would stay or go, according to his campaign aide, who said the Field Poll showed "solid momentum" for McClintock.

While Bustamante's lead over Schwarzenegger grew slightly in the past month in the Field Poll, from 3 percent to 5 percent, the three Republican candidates together had the support of 43 percent of the voters in the poll -- a 13-point advantage over Bustamante.

The poll, which had a sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, also showed that the effort to recall Davis is still likely to succeed, although support has slipped slightly over the past month.

Fifty-five percent of likely voters said they would support recalling Davis, while 40 percent would vote against it. In the last Field Poll in August, 58 percent were in favor and 37 percent opposed.

Peter Ragone, a spokesman for the anti-recall effort, said "it looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign is strong-arming other Republicans. And we think if Republicans coalesce behind Arnold and McClintock, Democrats and Independents are going to rally against this recall."

On October 7, voters will first be asked whether Davis should be recalled. Then, they will select a replacement who will take over as California's chief executive if the recall succeeds.

The candidate on the second ballot who wins the most votes would be the new governor. No majority is required.

From CNN Political Editor John Mercurio and CNN National Correspondent Bob Franken

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