CBSN

Arianna May Quit Recall Race

Candidate Arianna Huffington gestures during a televised debate between the five top candidates vying to replace Gov. Gray Davis at California State University in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2003.
AP
With a week to go before the California gubernatorial recall election, one of the candidates is weighing whether she should stay in the running.

The Los Angeles Times reports independent Arianna Huffington is meeting with her supporters Tuesday to decide if she should drop out and throw her support to embattled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.

Huffington says she plans to talk with her supporters to re-evaluate her candidacy. Asked if she might drop out, she said simply that she wants to stop the Republicans from winning the governor's office.

Recent polls don't show much support for Huffington, who says she'll make a decision later this week.

Meanwhile, a new hot-button issue has emerged in the campaign: the spiraling cost of workers' compensation.

Davis was prepared to sign sweeping changes in state workers' compensation rules on Tuesday, part of his strategy of doing the state's business while campaigning to save his job.

Annual workers' compensation costs for businesses across the state have risen to $29 billion after a $20 billion increase over the past eight years. The overhaul, passed by the Legislature earlier this month, aims to cut $5 billion to $6 billion from the system.

Analysts say the changes will also give insurers room to lower their premiums for employers.

Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the leading Republican candidate to replace Davis, has criticized the bill, saying it is inadequate to keep businesses from moving out of the state. He said if elected governor, he would call a special legislative session to pass stiffer reforms.

Davis and Schwarzenegger have escalated their attacks on each other in recent days as the brief campaign becomes more focused on the Democratic governor and the leading Republican who wants his job.

On Monday, Davis renewed his challenge for the former bodybuilder to debate him, a proposition the Austrian-born actor rejected.

"I don't know what Mr. Schwarzenegger is afraid of," Davis said. "I mean, I never participated in a Mr. Universe contest. I weigh maybe 165 pounds on a good day. I'm ready to go to him toe-to-toe, but he seems to be the one on the run."

Davis also criticized Schwarzenegger's stance on immigration and fund raising. After first saying he didn't need to take money from anyone, Schwarzenegger began accepting funds from businesses and individuals but doesn't accept money from tribes and unions, which he calls "special interests."

"Anybody who has an interest in legislation that passes in Sacramento can be described as a special interest and certainly businesses have an interest," Davis said. "Those of us who are not wealthy ... have to rely on raising money."

At a 30-minute town hall meeting late Monday in the Fresno suburb of Clovis, Schwarzenegger didn't mention Davis' debate challenge, or the governor's attacks.

Instead he told a group of 250 invitees he would protect agriculture, restore local control to education and get more federal dollars for California. For the first time in several days he mentioned his leading rivals to replace Davis, criticizing Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock and Democrat Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante for taking tribal money.

Schwarzenegger also picked up a key endorsement Monday from the state GOP's board of directors, which voted 17-0 to back his candidacy during a special meeting at the party's Burbank headquarters.

California Republican Chairman Duf Sundheim said the announcement was the equivalent of the party recognizing Schwarzenegger as its nominee.

But the endorsement did not deter McClintock, the other main Republican in the race.

McClintock, trailing Schwarzenegger in polls but unwilling to heed GOP calls to quit, briefly intruded on the feud developing between Davis and Schwarzenegger, intercepting the debate challenge thrown by Davis.

"I accept Gray Davis' challenge to discuss the future of this state," said McClintock. "Schwarzenegger had a more pressing engagement, apparently."

The governor's campaign said it wasn't interested in debating McClintock.