Losers in recall still gained millions of dollars in publicity

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    By Jacqueline Lee

    From porn-stars to prizefighters, California patronized the 135 candidates that ran in the recall. Although some candidates ran just “for a good time,” others ran to advocate issues important to them.

    Mark Kulkis, who owns the pornographic movie company, supported one of his porn stars, Mary Cook, in the recall election.

    “We were out to get some issues to the public,” he said.

    The most important issue to Kulkis and Cook was combating the federal government from taking away the porn industry. The industry provides an $11 million tax base in California, Kulkis said.

    However, there were other candidates who sought solely for publicity instead of changing the political agenda.

    “It [the publicity for the company] has been unbelievable,” Kulkis said.

    Two candidates, Kelly Kimball and Scott Mednick, ran for the ButtMonkey Beer Party, carrying the slogan, “For the love of God don”t vote for us.”

    They were not seeking votes, but for “shameless marketing” for their beer company, Kimball said.

    Kimball and Mednick decided to run when they thought the recall election would be in March 2004. The timing would have been great because they would get publicity for their beer during college”s spring breaks. Although the election was moved up, Kimball and Mednick still consider their “political campaign” was successful with their publicity goals.

    “We got about $3 million worth of free advertising, all for only $3500,” Kimball said.

    Combined, Kimball and Mednick received about 1200 votes.

    “The fact that people voted for us is just frightening,” Kimball said.

    Candidate Todd Lewis, who produces independent films, said he regretted that people would throw away their votes.

    “Why waste your vote? Vote for a front-runner where it can make a difference,” Lewis said.

    Lewis”s policy landed him dead last with a total of 177 votes.

    Lewis said he ran because he did not like the way the state was being run. He said he wanted to bring more exposure to the recall.

    Lewis is best known for his independent films, especially his most recent release, “The Bum Hunter.”

    His films appeal to males ages 18 to 24, which are not a high voting populous, Lewis said.

    Running in character as “The Bum Hunter,” he raised awareness within his target group and was pleased with the results. The recall had the highest voter turnout for a gubernatorial election in California”s history.

    The publicity didn”t hurt his business, either.

    “I had no idea what kind of press a person could get for coming in last place,” he said.

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