Reiner Won't Challenge Schwarzenegger

Director Rob Reiner says he will not be a candidate for governor in 2006.

That should put to rest rumors of a potential "Meathead vs. Terminator" showdown with Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"I've made a definite decision that it's not something I'm going to do," Reiner told The Associated Press.

Reiner, the director of hit films that include "When Harry Met Sally" and "A Few Good Men," said concerns about his family and a desire to focus his political energies on passing a ballot initiative establishing universal preschool for California children had persuaded him to stay out of the governor's race.

"My kids are young, and we've all decided this isn't a good time for me to do this," Reiner said. "My focus is the kids of California, and my own kids."

Reiner and his wife, Michelle, have three children -- Jake, 14, Nick, 12, and Romy, 7.

The 58-year old Reiner is a longtime Democratic Party activist, and has been rumored for years to be considering a campaign for public office. But his energies primarily have been focused on statewide ballot initiative campaigns.

His latest is for an initiative that would assess a 1.7 percent tax on individuals making more than $400,000 a year to pay for preschool programs for all California children. It is expected to appear on the June ballot.

In 1998, he sponsored Proposition 10, a ballot initiative that expanded children's health programs by hiking cigarette taxes by 50 cents a pack.

Recently, Reiner campaigned actively against Proposition 75, a ballot initiative backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that would have required government unions to get permission from members before using their dues for political purposes. Voters rejected the initiative during the Nov. 8 special election.

Voters defeated all four of Schwarzenegger's special election initiatives, including ones to cap state spending, change teacher tenure rules and change the way legislative districts are drawn.

Reiner said he considers the politically weakened Schwarzenegger a longtime friend, and wouldn't comment on whether he was vulnerable to a Democratic challenge next year.

"I'm the worst person to ask -- I really have no idea," he said.

Two Democrats, state Treasurer Phil Angelides and Controller Steve Westly, are campaigning for their party's nomination to challenge Schwarzenegger next year.

Angelides spokesman Brian Brokaw said the treasurer looks forward to working with Reiner on the preschool ballot measure and praised his other contributions to the state.

Westly will remain focused on his own campaign regardless of who enters the race, spokesman Nick Velasquez said.

Reiner began his career playing "Meathead" Mike Stivic on the long-running hit series "All in the Family." His latest film, "Rumor Has It," starring Jennifer Aniston, opens later this month.