Former DIFF'RENT STROKES star Gary Coleman's political ambitions are for real - he really does want to challenge Arnold Schwarzenegger for the role of California Governor.

The pint-sized actor accepts his chances of winning are slim, but he's in the race for the long haul, and he hopes people will take him seriously.

He says, "I'm an independent, which means I have an independent mind, independent thoughts, and I rely on no party and no group of people to tell me what to do."

Coleman became a candidate when independent newspaper the EASTBAY EXPRESS collected the 65 signatures he needed and then paid the $3,500 (GBP2,187) to put him on the ballot.

He adds, "I intend to stay in until October 7 (03). I am performing a civic duty and I'm having a ball participating in the electoral process. This is a big hoot."

Coleman might not get too much support in his bid to become Governor, but he's got one important Hollywood family backing him all the way.

He explains, "The WAYANS are vehement about the honour of being my most ardent supporters."

13/08/2003 09:10