Gary Coleman, R. I. P.
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Gary Coleman, the 4' 8" former child star of Diff'rent Strokes, died at the early age of 42 on Friday. Coleman ran as an Independent in the 2003 California Gubernatorial Recall Gray Davis race and fared considerably better than I did running as a Democrat.

Coleman finished seventh just behind porn potentate Larry Flynt and just ahead of porn starlet Mary Carey.

I'm quite sure Gary got the majority of the height-challenged as well as the African-American and pop culture fans who represent a major voting bloc in California.

All those three elements plus his name recognition (Love Boat, Diff'rent Strokes) rolled into one no doubt had a wider appeal among voters than my "End Immigration Now!" platform, still wildly controversial seven years ago.

A few weeks before the election, Jay Leno invited us all to a lunch at the NBC commissary and to be guests on his show. Gary drew a large crowd (but not as large as the XXX-rated Carey) and signed a lot of autographs. A few of the other candidates had scrapbooks, something I wish I had thought of, and got as many people as possible to sign.

One funny footnote: Leno, while the show was taping, made some illegal alien jokes. The best one: "The people sitting in the back row are the gubernatorial candidates. All the rest of the audience is illegal aliens stopping by on their way to DMV to get their driver's licenses!"

Just a week or two earlier, Gray Davis had announced that if re-elected he would give drivers licenses to illegal aliens.

Davis was behind at the time he made his comment but as of that moment, he was dead. If you track his polling before and after, it's clear that his license promise signaled the end of whatever chance Davis may have had.

Looking back at it all now, it was a major blast to run and to actually be on the ballot.

And from time to time (and in the proper company), I still may just blurt out, "As I said many times when I was running for California governor....)"

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