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THE STATE | RECALL NOTEBOOK

Davis Makes Appeal to Latino Group

August 24, 2003|From Times Staff Reports

Gov. Gray Davis, who has been busy courting the Latino vote as he tries to hang onto his job in the Oct. 7 recall election, addressed the state board of the League of United Latin American Citizens in Newport Beach on Saturday. But by the time Davis arrived to make his pitch, the LULAC board had already voted 12-2 to take no position on the recall.

Davis aides downplayed the significance of the board's decision, and Mickie Solorio Luna, LULAC's state director, said the board was unwilling to act without knowing more about its members' views on the recall.

But Luna did not rule out the board's taking a position later, saying it "will conduct community forums" on the issue.

The governor was introduced by state Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), author of a bill to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. Davis has promised to sign the legislation, which he had vetoed previously.

Cedillo had declined to endorse Davis' reelection bid last year but is now strongly supporting the governor.

Davis "arguably has done more for the Latino community than any other governor," Cedillo said.

Davis reminded the audience of about 60 that he has appointed a number of Latinos and Latinas to top positions in his administration, including Maria Contreras- Sweet, secretary of business, transportation and housing.

"I am proud of the number of Latinos I have brought into public service," Davis said.

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Bustamante Criticizes the Davis Budget

Cruz Bustamante made the most of his visit to the San Fernando Valley on Saturday. In town for a campaign fund-raiser and to attend the public inauguration of his close friend and former Sacramento roommate, Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas, the lieutenant governor got in a couple of digs at the embattled governor.

Although he did not name Davis, Bustamante was heavily critical of the state budget that the governor recently signed, and he was especially critical of the component that steeply raised vehicle registration fees and the increase in state college and university fees.

"The tripling of the car tax is an unfair burden on working families in California," Bustamante said. "When people were saying, 'We're not going to raise taxes,' you didn't use the T word, but somehow, the car license fees have tripled ... but somehow, if you have a child in college your tuition has gone up $100 per month."

Although Davis recently has had some nice things to say about Bustamante, with whom he has had a chilly relationship, the lieutenant governor said Saturday that the two men had not spoken "in a couple of weeks."

Asked three times whether he and Davis should run a unified campaign -- advocating no on the recall with Bustamante as the "backup" in case the recall prevails -- Bustamante dodged.

"I think it's going to be very important that I run a campaign against those folks who are the successor candidates," he said.

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Campaign Manager Steps Down

The disclosure that Dean Barkley, Arianna Huffington's campaign manager, had worked as a lobbyist representing tobacco, gambling and other corporate interests in Minnesota, put Huffington in an awkward position. Huffington often is critical of special interests she says have a stranglehold on state government.

"After I found out last week about Dean's work as a lobbyist in Minnesota, he and I had many conversations about the conflict this presented for my campaign," Huffington recounted in a statement posted Friday on her campaign Web site.

Barkley settled that by resigning Friday. Huffington said that Bill Zimmerman, her campaign strategist, will assume more day-to-day management duties.

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