Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bodybuilder turned Terminator is preparing for his most challenging role ever, as Governor of California. He terminated weeks of speculation on Wednesday by formally announcing that, yes, he will run for governor.

Schwarzenegger, 56, made his announcementsurprise announcement–a surprise given that his spin doctors were spinning that he wasn’t going to declare–during a taping of NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno, to air Wednesday night.

California voters are scheduled to go to the polls October 7 to decide whether Governor Gray Davis should finish out his second term, or be evicted from his digs in Sacramento, the state capital.

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

Schwarzenegger, the Austrian-born bodybuilder turned Hollywood-based Republican booster, is not the only Hollywood type to opt into the race. In the days since the recall was declared a go, more than 500 Californians have pulled the paperwork needed to declare their candidacies. Among the notables: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, ex-Politically Incorrect commentator Arianna Huffington and billboard star Angelyne.

Flynt’s running as a Democrat; Huffington and Angelyne as independents. The GOP’s wish list arguably started, and stopped, with Schwarzenegger, whom many in the party pictured as a prime challenger to Davis in the November 2002 general election.

But the cigar aficionado stamped out talk of his candidacy that time around. In April 2001, Schwarzenegger announced he had too many movie obligations to fulfill to play politics. Among those obligations: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which was released in July to middling business.

At the time, Schwarzenegger allowed he might make a run when his four children with NBC News’ Maria Shriver, she of the die-hard Democratic Kennedy clan, grew older.

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