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Absolutely No Bustamante-Connerly Ties -- Anymore

August 15, 2003|From Times Staff Reports

Proposition 54, Ward Connerly's initiative to restrict the government use and classification of racial or ethnic information, will share the Oct. 7 ballot with the recall, and you could imagine that the close proximity might make certain candidates edgy.

A guy like Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, for example, probably wouldn't want his supporters pondering a connection between him and Connerly, whose anti-affirmative action Proposition 209 infuriated Democrats -- Bustamante's base.

So now it may seem particularly astute that Bustamante took steps last year to uncouple himself from Connerly, three years after accepting a $2,000 campaign contribution from him.

In an interview, Connerly said he donated the money in May 1999, at the request of a Sacramento developer and fund-raiser, to help retire Bustamante's 1998 campaign debt.

But last year, as he was running for reelection, Bustamante returned the check, sans interest, Connerly said.

"I thought it was a little silly to return the check," he said, adding that Bustamante was "in campaign mode, no doubt about it."

Elena Stern, spokeswoman for the No on 54 campaign, said the lieutenant governor is "a passionate opponent" of Connerly's latest initiative.

But she was taken aback when asked about Bustamante's initial decision to accept Connerly's money, calling it "curious."

Green Party Solidly Backs Camejo

Green Party representatives from counties around the state threw their support Thursday behind Peter Camejo, the Green candidate with the best name recognition and arguably the best shot at capturing voters' attention in the coming months.

By late afternoon, about 85% of the county representatives had responded by phone or e-mail with their endorsements, and of those, 89% had endorsed Camejo, said state Green Party spokesman Ross Mirkarimi.

Camejo -- who won 5% of the statewide vote in his bid for governor last fall -- won the nod over three other Green Party candidates who will also be listed on the ballot.

"It's no big surprise but it's official," Mirkarimi said.

"Now we can start moving forward as one big unit."

In other Green news, Mirkarimi confirmed that the pastry flung at consumer advocate Ralph Nader on Tuesday as he sat by Camejo's side was a cake -- not a pie, as earlier reported.

The cake appeared store-bought, he said, more evidence that it was not likely the handiwork of a frustrated Green competitor.

"Greens have better taste," Mirkarimi said. "It would have been a homemade cake."

Camejo blamed Democrats for the caper, but Democrats suggested the crime was Green-on-Green.

Ballot Order Will Be Shuffled by District

State Sen. Tom McClintock will be listed first on the Oct. 7 recall ballot in the Santa Barbara-area district he represents.

Angelyne, the billboard pinup, will come second on the ballot in Hollywood, where she stumped for mayor last year.

And Arnold Schwarzenegger is slated to top the ballot in Republican-friendly San Clemente.

Thanks to the vagaries of California's ballot rotation system, 80 different candidates -- one in each state Assembly district -- will rise to the top of the ballot somewhere in the state.

The random order was established by a bingo-style alphabet drawing on Monday in Sacramento.

According to Santa Monica election attorney Fred Woocher, the rotation was designed to counteract the so-called "primacy effect," which gives an electoral boost to the person whose name comes first on the ballot.

"Normally, everyone would have a few chances to come to the top of the ballot," Woocher said.

"This time, some will never get there."

Interest in Celebrities' Political Views Rises

It's all in how you ask the question, maybe.

The latest CBS News poll found that 54% of adults think "Hollywood celebrities can offer a new perspective on political issues and should get involved in politics if they choose."

But as the Hotline political newsletter points out, six months ago just 24% of those surveyed in a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll said they were "interested in hearing what Hollywood celebrities think about political issues."

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