LOS ANGELES (Talon News) — After months of speculation, Arnold Schwarzenegger officially announced on Wednesday that he will run as a Republican in the California recall election.

Schwarzenegger, an Austrian weight-lifter turned actor, made his surprise announcement yesterday on NBC’s “The Tonight Show.”

“The politicians are fiddling, fumbling, and failing. The man that is failing the people more than anyone is Gray Davis. He is failing terribly, and this is why he needs to be recalled, and this is why I am going to run for Governor,” Schwarzenegger said.

“I will go to Sacramento, and I will clean house,” Schwarzenegger added.

Schwarzenegger’s decision was made in close consultation with his wife, Maria Shriver, a Kennedy-clan Democrat. However, Shriver has said she will support her husband and even cast her first Republican vote for him.

During the interview with Jay Leno, Schwarzenegger stressed his detachment from special interests, saying, “We just see things declining and declining and declining, and the biggest problem we have is that California is being run now by special interests.”

“I don’t need to take money from anybody, I have plenty for myself,” Schwarzenegger continued in a press conference after the show.

Schwarzenegger’s long-awaited decision came only hours after California’s most prominent and popular Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, announced that she would not run in the recall election.

Feinstein issued a statement on Wednesday, calling the coming recall a “terrible mistake” and saying that it looked “more and more like a carnival every day.”

“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,” the Senator said.

California Gov. Gray Davis said he was “pleased” with Feinstein’s decision, although her decision not to run greatly decreases the Democrat Party’s chances of keeping the office in their hands.

California’s Secretary of State has reported that 356 people have officially filed for candidacy, with another 155 who have expressed interest. The deadline for filing is this Saturday.

High-profile candidates include Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, political commentator Arianna Huffington, child star Gary Coleman, and Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, who is selling himself as “a smut peddler who cares.”

Candidates will have only about two months to actively campaign, as the recall election is set for October 7.

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