As if the rest of the country doesn't already think California is way to the left when it comes to politics, now there's word of a serious candidate with a controversial platform tossing his glitzy hat into the ring.
What the world already knows of Prince Frederic von Anhalt reads like a tabloid writer's dream: eighth husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor, lover (never confirmed) of Anna Nicole Smith, self-proclaimed member of European royalty.
The flamboyant socialite says he'll add a new title on Wednesday: California gubernatorial candidate.
Von Anhalt and his attorney said they will file his candidate papers in late morning at the secretary of state's office in Sacramento. If he follows through, von Anhalt would be the only independent in a field that includes Republicans Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner and the presumed Democratic candidate, Attorney General Jerry Brown.
He already has a platform (titled "Return the Good Life to California") that is sure to win favor with a certain segment of California's electorate. He wants to lift the import ban on Cuban cigars, then tax them, and reduce vehicle-registration fees, making up the difference in part by taxing "bad drivers."
He also is offering what he says are realistic proposals that will have an immediate effect on California's $20 billion budget deficit.
One proposal is a "sin tax" on alcoholic beverages and cigarettes, as well as marijuana and prostitution, which, under his platform, would be legalized.
"Marijuana is a big industry already," von Anhalt said in a telephone interview from his home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel Air, where he cares for his 93-year-old wife. "Let's legalize it, tax it, make some money and put less people in jail."
A statewide initiative to legalize and tax marijuana is likely to appear on the November ballot.
He also favors repealing the ban on gay marriage, which voters wrote into the state constitution in 2008.
"I believe in marriage between men and women, but I am also a defender of the constitution, which says equal rights for all," he said in his platform. "Let them be as miserable as the rest of us."
His 1986 marriage to Gabor is his seventh.
Von Anhalt was born Hans Robert Lichtenberg and claims to have grown up poor in Germany, son of a policeman.
In the years before he met Gabor, he worked as a bank clerk, screenwriter and sauna manager, acquiring the royal title along the way. After his parents died, he said he was adopted by a German princess, who gave him the title of Prince Frederic von Anhalt of Munich, the Duke of Saxony. Some British news reports say he merely paid for it.
However he came to have the title, von Anhalt said all that matters now is turning around the nation's most populous state, which he said has been on a decade-long decline.
His decision to run was motivated in large part by "watching the mistakes" of the current governor.
"I've watched him very carefully over the years. And he promised so much, but he didn't do very much," von Anhalt said. "He let the people who voted for him down."