The long and often contentious battle for governor ended Monday with Democrat Kathleen Brown urging Californians to cast aside the negativity and divisiveness she said was symbolized by Gov. Pete Wilson, and the Republican incumbent asking voters to give him four more years to lead a sprawling and troubled state.
Wilson, while maintaining a cautious public visage, was confident enough to spend the day before the election campaigning for other Republicans, stopping off in several key legislative districts to help buttress get-out-the-vote efforts and taking along with him members of the state GOP ticket.
The personal campaigning followed a $525,000 donation from Wilson’s campaign treasury to a united Republican effort that bought television commercials on behalf of several party candidates--a gesture which also underscored Wilson’s belief that his own victory is assured.
So confident was the governor at a Bellflower rally that he did not even mention Brown’s name, instead firing at President Clinton as though he were Wilson’s opponent.
The governor specifically slammed Clinton for opposing controversial Proposition 187, which would deny public education and non-emergency state services to illegal immigrants. Clinton campaigned against the measure--and for state Democratic candidates--Friday in Los Angeles and Saturday in Oakland.
Wilson’s attack was laced with the kind of rhetoric that Democrats often have used this year against the governor himself.
“I think he has given us a new reason for California to distrust him: Anyone who will stoop so low as to deliberately be a demagogue and inject race into a proposition that is instead about fairness--that we do not need,” the governor said in Bellflower at the second of four rallies that culminated in his traditional election eve party in San Diego.
Brown, the state treasurer, spent most of her day pressing voters to turn back Proposition 187 and its most prominent supporter, Wilson. As she has in recent weeks, Brown exuded a new-found assurance and drew the cheers of hundreds of supporters at each of her stops.
“We have the most marvelous opportunity . . . to send a message that says we understand that in diversity is our strength and in unity we will find power,” Brown declared at an open-air rally held under cloudy skies at Cal State Northridge.
“These politicians who have the gall to repeat our history,” she said, referring to past incidents of discrimination against ethnic groups in California, “will feel our wrath because we will say no to them and we will say no to Proposition 187.”
Later in the day, Brown capped her campaign on a surreal note, being pelted with catcalls as she appeared live on the “Geraldo” television show to lobby against the anti-illegal immigration proposition. She later described the interlude as “wild.”
“It’s what Proposition 187 unleashes,” she said. “It unleashes anger and passion. It unleashes them in a way that I think is risky for California.”
For both candidates, Monday was the final exhausting day of years-long efforts to capture the governor’s office, grueling enough to make victory especially sweet to whoever manages to win today.
Together, they had collected more than $47.5 million in donations by Oct. 22--before additional millions were spent on television ads--and they have spent virtually all of it. In Brown’s case, she apparently has spent herself into debt, and a lack of money forced her to take commercials off the air over the weekend. She had only a small presence on the airwaves on Monday, campaign officials said.
For Wilson, a victory today would cap a remarkable come-back that began more than a year ago when he was more than 20 points down in the polls, blamed by voters for the state’s foundering economy and a sense of foreboding about California’s once-limitless future. Victory would place him on the short list for Republican presidential candidates for 1996--a race he said he will not enter, even if he did sound surprisingly like a Clinton opponent on Monday.
A Brown success would make her the third star in a family triumvirate unprecedented in American politics, joining her father, Edmund G. (Pat) Brown Sr., and her brother, Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr., as occupants of the governor’s office.
It would vault her into national political orbit as well, and mean that she achieved the prize under the most difficult of circumstances, with a come-from-behind win over a crafty and well-financed incumbent.
Wilson closed out his campaign with appearances in key legislative districts in San Jose, Bellflower, Orange County and San Diego. In Bellflower, where he sought to hike the chances of Republican Assembly candidate Phil Hawkins, he was greeted with chants of “Pete, Pete!” and “Four more years!”
The governor’s address there was crafted, in his words, to “run up the score” against Democrats. He went so far as to suggest that “enlightened Democrats” change parties.
“I’ve got a particular message for those who are Democrats,” he said. “You are welcome. You are welcome not just in this headquarters, you are welcome in this party because in fact there are a lot of right-thinking Democrats who reject the kind of liberal nonsense which for two decades has cost California dearly.
“It has meant that instead of being a safe and civilized society, we’ve had people not safe in their own homes and their own places of work. That is dangerous nonsense and we are going to end it. And we are going to continue the change that we have begun.”
Wilson joked later that Clinton “seems obsessed about California.”
“Well, I predict that he will lose it in 1996,” he said.
Brown traveled to two college rallies, and closed out her final day of more than two years of campaigning with a visit to a Reseda Jewish home for the aging and the appearance on “Geraldo.” In between the events, she chatted with talk show hosts in seven California cities.
To one, she expressed optimism about today’s vote.
“The battle goes well,” she said. “I feel very positive. It is too close to call.”
The “Geraldo” show, among other things, tested Brown’s calm under fire as the treasurer was insulted right and left during the program. It got so bad at one point that host Geraldo Rivera cautioned, “This is a debate. This is not a rumble.”
One white man rose and told Brown his son-in-law was denied a job as a police officer because he does not speak Spanish.
“Talk about discrimination, Kathleen! What are you going to do about it?” he screamed.
When Brown told the audience that she believes illegal immigrants come to California for jobs--and thus sanctions against their employers would be helpful--some screamed, “Welfare, welfare.”
Said Brown: “Proposition 187 simply unleashes these emotions that are very hard to put back into the bottle.”
Earlier in the day, at calmer venues, Brown continued her effort to persuade voters that Wilson represents a negative approach to governing, and that his endorsement of Proposition 187 has emotionally split the state that both of them wish to lead.
“I’m so tired of politicians who play on hate, who play on fear, who play on frustration,” she said. “We will prevail tomorrow and we will take back California.”
More Election News
* The TimesLink on-line service includes a large selection of other recent articles about the race for the Statehouse in its Elections ’94 section. Jump: Elections. For a fax copy of articles on the governor’s race, call Times on Demand and order No. 5506 or No. 5504. $3.50 each.
Details on Times electronic services, B4.
* To hear frequently updated results tonight in races for California governor, U.S. Senate and Propositions 183, 186, 187 and 188, call TimesLine at 808-8463 and press * VOTE (8683).
Details on Times electronic services, B4