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Feinstein won't run in California recall

Senator: State should focus on fiscal crisis, other problems

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein says the recall election will set a bad precedent.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein says the recall election will set a bad precedent.

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Scores of candidates, including some Democrats, are considering running for California Gov. Gray Davis' job. CNN's Miguel Marquez reports. (August 4)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Calling the California recall election a "terrible mistake," U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday said she will not be putting her name on the ballot.

The Democratic senator, who had previously indicated she was not interested in running, said that "attention should be focused on working in a bipartisan manner" to solve the state's fiscal crisis and other problems.

The recall election for beleaguered Democratic Gov. Gray Davis is scheduled for October 7.

In a written statement, Feinstein said she is flattered that many officials and citizens urged her to put her name on the ballot.

But "after thinking a great deal about this recall, its implications for the future and its misguided nature, I have decided that I will not place my name on the ballot," she said.

Feinstein said the recall will hurt the state's economy and undermine decision-making authority.

"This recall demonstrates that virtually anyone with $1.5 million can hire professional petition gatherers certain to produce enough signatures to force a recall of any state elected officials. This sets a terrible precedent, which ought to cause us all to think very carefully."

Feinstein was apparently referring to U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who has dipped into his personal fortune to bankroll the recall effort. He is one of dozens of candidates who say they want to replace Davis.

Feinstein said there may be many candidates who aren't familiar with the issues that the state faces, such as the budget, education and law enforcement.

"And yet, if the recall is successful, the next governor could well have but 15 percent of the vote -- certainly not a mandate for tough decision-making," she said.

In a bid to thwart the recall, the powerful California AFL-CIO labor organization has asked Democratic officeholders not to jump into the race to succeed Davis.

"We are united against the recall of Gov. Davis and urge all potential Democratic candidates to stay off the recall ballot," wrote Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, in a letter to Democratic-elected officials that was released Tuesday.

Some prominent California Democrats -- including U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez -- have publicly suggested that a Democrat needs to run so that a Republican will not take over as governor if Davis is recalled.

The Davis camp has been trying to prevent any Democrat from running, on the theory that the governor will have a better chance of uniting Democratic voters against the recall if it will result in a GOP governor.

The recall election will have two parts. First, voters will be asked whether to recall Davis. Then, they will get to choose from a list of possible successors. If the first vote goes against Davis, the candidate who wins the most votes in the second question will be California's new governor.

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