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Candidates Court Labor, Native Americans

Sunday

* Gov. Gray Davis stopped short of endorsing Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante in the recall election, even though a growing number of Democrats are supporting a “No on Recall, Yes on Bustamante” strategy. The governor signaled his support for Bustamante, with whom he has maintained chilly relations, but said he would not reveal until about 10 days before the Oct. 7 election how he would vote on the question of who should replace him if he is recalled. In withholding his endorsement until the final days of the campaign, Davis said, he was merely following his normal practice. “Cruz is my friend; he is a very capable person,” Davis said on the CNN show “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.” “His entry in the race, I think, will actually help me by bringing out more people to vote no on the recall. And clearly he’s the most qualified person.”

* Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) said that the departure of conservative GOP rival Bill Simon Jr. from the race on Aug. 23 added momentum to his own campaign, as did the Los Angeles Times Poll that showed him gaining ground on Republican front-runner Arnold Schwarzenegger. “If you look at the polls, it seems that Arnold is not moving,” McClintock said, even with “this all-Arnold, all-the-time all this month.” “We’ve gone from fifth place to third place,” he said. “The movement is on our side.”

* Schwarzenegger added a seasoned GOP media person to his campaign team: Mike Murphy, a veteran GOP advertising official whose clients have included Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2000 presidential election, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas. Campaign insiders said the hiring had been planned for some time, though several aides acknowledged having been overwhelmed by the tidal wave of attention that Schwarzenegger’s candidacy attracted.

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Monday

* Schwarzenegger appeared on two conservative talk radio shows. He repeated many of the same anti-tax themes that he employed the previous week during a meeting with his economic advisors. He also struck the most partisan tone of his campaign so far, invoking former President Reagan and pledging to campaign for President George W. Bush’s reelection. And Schwarzenegger, who has pledged to run a positive campaign, took several swipes at Bustamante for trying to “punish the people” by raising taxes to cover the state government’s budget deficit. The movie star also sought to link Davis and Bustamante.

“When you think about Gray Davis, you have to think at the same time Bustamante, because it’s one team,” Schwarzenegger told former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock on San Diego’s KOGO-AM. “I think one newspaper pointed out that Bustamante is Gray Davis with a receding hairline and a mustache.”

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* Gubernatorial candidate Peter V. Ueberroth said that on his first day as governor he would convene a special legislative session to balance the current state budget and enact an unspecified jobs bill. In a 25-minute news conference in Sacramento, Ueberroth offered several details on his plans for resolving the budget crisis, including a cap on state spending tied to inflation and population growth, and asking the Legislature to put a “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” constitutional amendment on the March primary ballot. Under that proposal, Ueberroth said, spending caps would keep the budget in balance during fallow economic cycles. Surpluses achieved during boom times would be salted away in a reserve fund -- he did not specify how big the fund should be -- and the excess would be split between K-12 education programs and reducing the state debt.

* Labor leaders discussed whether to back Bustamante. The talks came on the eve of a conference in which 500 voting delegates would meet in Manhattan Beach to make formal recommendations for the Oct. 7 ballot. The delegates represented about 1,300 unions, many of which remained divided over how to defeat the recall effort without risking the election of a new governor whose policies would be hostile to labor’s interests.

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Tuesday

* California’s powerful labor federation voted unanimously to oppose the recall effort and, at the same time, recommend that union members vote for the backup candidacy of Bustamante. The move marked a significant shift in labor’s strategy toward the recall campaign. The official vote at the federation’s convention was taken with no debate. But it was not without controversy, coming only after a day of intense closed-door debate Monday in the group’s executive council. In those discussions, about a quarter of the council’s members voted against backing Bustamante, arguing that labor should focus solely on defeating the recall effort. In the end, the dissenters agreed to present a united front.

* Schwarzenegger was criticized for running what some said is a hypocritical campaign. The gubernatorial candidate, who vowed to “clean house” in Sacramento after what he suggested would be a campaign financed with his own millions, has hired professional fund-raisers who have solicited money from developers and other donors with stakes in state business. His campaign is led by Sacramento insiders who ran the state for most of the 1990s. And Schwarzenegger, who has pledged to run a positive campaign, has not only pounded Democratic rival Bustamante for Bustamante’s politics, but has also made fun of the Democrat’s appearance. “He is another politician,” said Larry Berg, retired director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. “What he’s found out is he’s unable to keep up the facade: He wanted us all to believe that he wasn’t.” Schwarzenegger aides dismissed the criticism. “He’s drawing on the expertise of a very well-experienced, bright and creative campaign team,” aide Rob Stutzman said.

* Davis continued his efforts to refurbish his image with a vigorous defense of his record in the second of a planned series of town hall-style meetings around California. Davis faced sometimes tough and pointed questioning about his job performance from several members of the audience at the KPIX-TV studios in San Francisco. He acknowledged some failings and expressed some regrets over his decisions of the past four years, but insisted his mistakes didn’t warrant recalling him. “I have plenty of regrets,” Davis said. “But you know, leadership is being positive and optimistic and always seeing the glass half full. Even if you have doubts, you can’t convey those doubts because you can’t lead.”

* Jaime Escalante, the legendary calculus teacher who turned East Los Angeles teenagers into top math students, said he had agreed to advise Schwarzenegger on education issues. “I’m going to come up and help him out,” Escalante said. “Once I get there, we’ll have help from different sources, especially in the Latino community. We’re going to do something.” In tapping Escalante, the Schwarzenegger campaign continued a pattern of using high-profile “wise men” to speak for the candidate on various issues. The previous week, Schwarzenegger held a meeting of a new “economic recovery council,” headed by former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett.

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* McClintock’s underfunded gubernatorial campaign was seeking contributions from California’s gambling-rich Indian tribes, which opponents said was contrary to the candidate’s pledge to curb the influence of special interests in state government. McClintock said he was going after every dollar he could get from the tribes. But his support for them, he said, dates to the 1980s. “I stood with them long before they were powerful or a special interest,” he said after unveiling a television ad that promises to “challenge the spending lobby that controls” Sacramento politics. “I was an advocate of tribal sovereignty long before gaming became a revenue.”

Rob Stutzman, a strategist for Schwarzenegger, said McClintock “is obviously going to play the special-interest career politician game that plagues Sacramento.”

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Wednesday

* Schwarzenegger, for the first time in his gubernatorial race, began detailing his views on issues facing the state. Speaking on the Sean Hannity talk radio program, Schwarzenegger stuck to generally liberal positions on social issues but sought to stress the areas in which his views and those of conservatives coincide. On abortion, for example, he repeated his support for abortion rights but noted that he opposed the procedures that abortion opponents call partial birth abortion and that he supported requiring teenagers to notify parents before undergoing an abortion. He also said that, though he backed giving gay couples the right to form domestic partnerships, he opposed allowing them to marry because “marriage should be between a man and a woman.” On Larry Elder’s program , Schwarzenegger said he supported several gun control measures, including background checks, trigger locks, a ban on assault rifles and efforts to restrict the sale of guns at gun shows. He said he believed in the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees individuals the right to bear arms.

* Ueberroth appeared on two nationally televised news programs to paint himself as California’s best hope for fiscal salvation in an election that he called “history in the making.” Ueberroth restated his aversion to taxes as a solution to the state’s budget woes and denied that he was being pressured by Republicans to drop out of the recall election and unite behind Schwarzenegger. “Nobody’s asking me to get out of this race. The voters are going to make the decision,” he told CNN.

* Arianna Huffington, the political pundit running a nonpartisan campaign for governor, called for an overhaul of Proposition 13, the popular 1978 initiative that capped increases in California’s property taxes. Saying that the state relies too heavily on income and sales taxes, which are vulnerable to boom-and-bust cycles, Huffington said there is a need for a more predictable source of income. Huffington said the law should be modified to increase property taxes on corporations and wealthy homeowners, while still protecting senior citizens and middle-class homeowners.

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Thursday

* Davis offered Indian tribes a key role in picking members of the state commission that regulates tribal gambling as he sought the support from Native Americans in the recall election. Bustamante and McClintock also sought backing during a monthly meeting of the California Nations Indian Gaming Assn. Davis told the tribal leaders that he had done more for Native Americans than any governor in California history, according to people at the meeting. And he conceded that he had erred in January by submitting a budget that called for collecting $1.5 billion in taxes from tribes without first consulting them. The governor said later that he would like to encourage some tribes to “share some of their resources with the state.” McClintock and Bustamante endorsed the idea of lifting a cap on the number of slot machines tribes can operate -- a restriction contained in 1999 Indian gambling agreements negotiated by Davis and approved overwhelmingly by the Legislature and California voters.

* Schwarzenegger made his first campaign foray outside of the Los Angeles area, appearing at a series of Central Valley events. The actor and his aides spent part of the day responding to questions about a sexually graphic interview he gave to a men’s magazine in 1977. In the interview, he talked of using marijuana and hashish and described an incident in which he and several other bodybuilders had group sex with a woman at a gym in Venice. When asked about the Oui magazine interview, Schwarzenegger said: “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m here to push my economic agenda.” Central Valley residents crashed his appearance at a Fresno charter school and mobbed a rally in front of a movie theater. The actor picked up an endorsement from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.

* Bustamante focused his day on an announcement about controlling gasoline prices. He proposed amending the California Constitution to define gasoline as a public utility and subjecting gas prices to approval by the state Public Utilities Commission. But he also faced questions about his past. As a student activist at Fresno State University in the 1970s, Bustamante was a member of MEChA, the Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan, which, among other things, had called for the formation of a Chicano nation. As a fill-in host on a San Diego radio station, McClintock called on Bustamante to renounce his membership in the group. “MEChA is a radical and racist organization,” McClintock said, adding that membership is like saying “you’re a member of the Klan.” Addressing reporters in Sacramento, Bustamante said the group had been in the mainstream at Fresno State when he participated and that he had joined a coalition slate in a failed run for student body president.

* Davis and Schwarzenegger emerged as the most prolific fund-raisers in the recall campaign. The governor had amassed nearly $4 million to fend off the effort to oust him, according to campaign reports filed with the state. Schwarzenegger had raised $3.1 million since announcing last month his decision to run for governor. Schwarzenegger also has spent heavily, with $1.45 million going to purchase TV time. He had $1.6 million in the bank. The actor, who pumped up his campaign coffers with $2 million of his own money, also had $822,000 in campaign debt.

* Green Party candidate Peter Camejo unveiled his plan for a “fair tax” that he said would solve the budget crisis by raising taxes on the state’s richest while offering tax relief to low- to moderate-income Californians. With the “substantial surplus” that Camejo said would result from the redistribution of the tax burden, California could invest in solar power and make the struggling renewable-energy industry large enough to be competitive, he said.


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