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CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS / GOVERNOR : Momentum on Her Side, Brown Says : Speaking to Latino supporters in Pico Rivera, Democrat attacks Wilson for backing Prop. 187. He defends the measure in Elk Grove appearance.


Democrat Kathleen Brown, claiming momentum is with her, campaigned aggressively against Republican Gov. Pete Wilson in traditional Democratic constituencies Sunday, attempting to energize the sort of party turnout she needs to defeat Wilson on Nov. 8.

Brown and Wilson exchanged escalating charges on fiscal issues and Proposition 187 during the day, with Wilson speaking to GOP volunteers in Elk Grove, near Sacramento, and Contra Costa County.

"Oh boy. We are on the move," Brown told several hundred Latinos, including most of the Los Angeles area's Latino political leaders, at a get-out-the-vote rally in Pico Rivera Sunday afternoon. Earlier, Brown followed party tradition by making a circuit of black churches in South Los Angeles for brief talks.

Brown accused Wilson of trying to divide Californians along racial and class lines in his support of Proposition 187, the initiative ballot measure that proposes to deny most state-financed social services and education to illegal immigrants and their children.

In urging supporters in Elk Grove to vote for Proposition 187, Wilson said it is a matter of "simple fairness."

"What we are demanding is simple fairness, fairness for our taxpayers and fairness for people in California who are needy legal residents who cannot receive services because instead we are providing it under federal mandate to illegal immigrants," Wilson said.

"That's wrong," he added. "It is unfair. We are not going to put up with it."

Brown, speaking at a union hall in Pico Rivera, said Wilson's promise to cut taxes in a second term is a sign of desperation.

"He knows his Proposition 187 is going down and he knows that he is going to go down with it," she said. "It is the act of a desperate man trying to hold onto power."

Brown said Wilson "lied" four years ago when he said he was the only candidate who could balance the state budget without raising taxes. Taxes were raised by $7 billion the following year, she noted, and Wilson failed to follow through on a proposal to cut middle-class taxes in this last budget year.

"Pete's got a new idea, nine days before the election," Brown said. "He tells people he's going to give them a tax cut. Do you believe him? It's trick-or-treat Pete."

Recent polls have shown sharp declines in public support for Proposition 187. But the measure still holds a relatively substantial lead. Brown appeared to be narrowing the gap with Wilson as well, but her numbers were not moving as markedly as those on Proposition 187.

Wilson, speaking to party volunteers at a steak-and-oyster feed with several other candidates, sarcastically praised Brown for having "the good judgment" to stay out of the fight over issues such as workers' compensation, welfare reform and criminal sentencing, but attacked the Democratic candidate for her position on illegal immigration.

Looking out over several hundred Republican Party volunteers, Wilson said he saw people from all over the world. He introduced several people present--including the chairman of the California Republican Party--who are legal immigrants.

"This is a nation of immigrants and proud of it," he said. "We built this nation with the sweat and the courage of legal immigrants."

But illegal immigration, the governor said, is wrong and a drain on the taxpayers.

Wilson said Brown's criticism of him for carrying over an "accumulated deficit" in the budget every year ignores the costs imposed on the state by the federal government's failure to stop illegal immigration and its refusal to pay for the consequences.

"There's not an accumulated deficit, but an illegal immigrant deficit," Wilson said.

Wilson attacked Brown for proposing to float a five-year bond issue to erase the budget deficit, saying it would add "insult to injury" by adding $370 million in interest costs while relieving the federal government of its responsibility to the state.

Under Wilson, however, the state has been borrowing every year and paying even higher interest because it costs more to borrow money at short-term rates.

Both candidates plan to stump most of California during the final full week of the campaign. Both President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore are expected to campaign in California for Brown and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

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