Some of Prop. 30's TV ads state the baloney that the new money "can't be touched by Sacramento politicians." The legislative analyst debunks that claim in the official voters' guide: "Future actions of the Legislature and the governor would determine the use of these funds."
"You can take a little poetic license in politics, but when you completely mischaracterize something, that's a problem," says Democratic consultant Garry South, who was former Gov. Gray Davis' chief strategist.
"And you can't keep changing the message on something like this every other week."
GOP consultant Rob Stutzman, a key advisor for Republican Meg Whitman when she ran against Brown for governor in 2010, says the Prop. 30 effort "needed to rely on Brown's leadership and credibility as an honest broker. But they destroyed that right out of the gate....
"Brown needed to pick up where the governor's race left off."
That means Brown should have recast himself as the wise old pol "with insider's knowledge, but an outsider's mind" — someone with "the knowledge and the know-how to get California working again." That's what he offered in announcing his candidacy.
Stutzman and many pros suggest that Brown, in pitching Prop. 30, should have looked straight into the camera and said something like this:
"You elected me to fix Sacramento. Here's my progress report. We've cut spending by $12 billion, over 11%. We've trimmed payroll and we've reformed pensions. We've cut to the bone. Now I'm asking for your help.
"I told you there'd be no tax increase without a vote of the people. So here's your choice: Higher taxes on the most wealthy or even more severe cuts that would critically wound public education. Please. We need to put this behind us once and for all."
But Brown's message has been mushy and muddled.
If Prop. 30 does pass, credit the voters' parental instincts and ability to see through the clutter.
Regardless, I plan to be eating turkey on Thanksgiving.