The Federation already is a key opponent of the recall aimed at Gov. Gray Davis. It favors the idea of keeping Democrats off part two of the recall ballot to solidify support for Davis.
But other unions, including the powerful teachers' union, have endorsed Bustamante's strategy of a "No on Recall, Yes on Bustamante" campaign. The Federation may decide having an alternate to Davis is a good idea.
Meanwhile, a new poll showing Arnold Schwarzenegger behind in the race to succeed Gov. Gray Davis if he is recalled has prompted top Republicans to warn that the party must unite behind the actor or risk keeping the state's top office in Democratic hands.
The Los Angeles Times poll showed Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante with 35 percent support among likely voters, compared to 22 percent for Schwarzenegger. Collectively, three other Republican candidates — including one who dropped out of the race Saturday — had 25 percent support.
"Those are not good numbers," said Republican political consultant and pollster Arnold Steinberg. "Those are the kinds of numbers you usually get at the end of a race that's been hard-fought, with a heavy slashing negative campaign."
What the early polls do agree on is that turnout will be extraordinary, reports CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen. Applications to vote are way up, and no less than 77 percent of registered voters have said they'll participate.
Schwarzenegger attacked Democratic front-runner Bustamante while taking his campaign to conservative talk radio programs Monday in search of support from Republicans whose votes may be splintered among three major GOP candidates.
"It's like one newspaper pointed out, Bustamante is Gray Davis with a receding hairline and a mustache. It's the same person. Same philosophy," Schwarzenegger said Monday on "The Roger Hedgecock Show" in San Diego.
Bustamante consultant Richie Ross said Schwarzenegger was "not being fair or completely honest."
"He chose Pete Wilson to chair his campaign. Does that mean that he agrees with all of the former governor's policy positions, including signing the largest tax increases in the history of California?" Ross said.
The California Labor Federation AFL-CIO, an association of more than 1,300 local unions representing some 2.1 million workers in manufacturing, construction and other industries, has been especially close to Davis, even co-sponsoring his inaugural festivities last year.
The group has thus far flatly opposed the recall and played a leading role in trying, unsuccessfully, to keep Democrats off the ballot.
On Tuesday afternoon, the politically powerful group was to decide at a convention in Manhattan Beach whether to endorse Bustamante's theme — already favored by the state's powerful teachers' union and others — or stick to its "No recall" guns.
With businessman Bill Simon's exit from the race, state Sen. Tom McClintock can claim to be the conservative choice. Schwarzenegger's appearances on the talk shows popular among GOP activists appeared partly designed to keep McClintock from collecting votes that would have gone to Simon.
McClintock finished third in the poll with 12 percent while Simon had 6 percent. Analysts also said that although Schwarzenegger's campaign so far has sought to appeal to a cross-section of Democrats, Republicans and independents, he can't win without the backing of conservatives.
"The arithmetic is such that he understands he can't do it simply by being the moderate guy," said University of Southern California political scientist Sherry Bebitch Jeffe. "He's not going to be able to bring in, I think, as many Latinos, as many Democrats, as they thought they might be able to, so he's got to move his party's base, and he's got to prevent Tom McClintock from looking like a serious opponent."