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2d-term run seen certain in California

CLOVIS, Calif. -- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger all but declared yesterday that he would run for a second term next year. ''I am not in this for the short run," he said; he promised an announcement for tomorrow in San Diego.

Speaking at a campaign event in this town near Fresno, Schwarzenegger was asked whether Californians would get ''a chance to vote for you again." It was the last question during a ''town hall" meeting at a window factory.

The governor paused, smiled briefly, and then disclosed what he had been hinting at for weeks: ''I'm going to make an official announcement on Friday, this Friday. I believe very strongly in follow-through. Follow-through is the most important thing."

Less than two years after the 2003 recall election that brought Schwarzenegger to Sacramento, the announcement this week could boost his Nov. 8 special election platform, which includes three initiatives the governor is backing, and could signal to financial donors that he intends to be around for another term.

So far, two Democrats have said they also plan to run for governor: the controller, Steve Westly, and the state treasurer, Phil Angelides, who said he would relish a race against Schwarzenegger because it gives voters ''the clearest choice in a generation."

''At every turn he has favored the corporate special interests over the interests of working families," Angelides said yesterday. ''I will offer a very different version for our future."

Westly said Schwarzenegger had alienated voters through a confrontational and partisan style. He said he believed Schwarzenegger is beatable: ''People are looking for someone to fix problems. He's out there attacking nurses, firefighters, and teachers. That's not what people want to see."

Schwarzenegger has seen his popularity among Californians decline in recent months, after unveiling a large agenda before the Legislature. Some of his proposals fell flat -- like a plan to overhaul the state pension system.

He has been left with three initiatives that would make it easier to fire low-performing teachers, modify the budget system, and allow an independent panel of judges to draw legislative districts. All three initiatives are lacking support in initial polls.

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