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Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington, the political commentator running for governor as an independent, began airing her first statewide television commercial Wednesday, a 60-second spot called "Think Outside the Box." Huffington also released a 30-second version of the ad, a more affordable option for a grass-roots campaign with little cash on hand. The campaign spent more than $100,000 to buy air time and plans to shoot a second commercial next week.

August 29, 2003|Sue Fox | Times Staff Writer

Producer: Scott Burns and North Woods Advertising

The script: Huffington: "What if you saw a way to change the future? A way for everyone to be heard? What if the 13 million of us who didn't vote last time came back? There is a California we can live in where teachers are paid more than prison guards. A state that leads the way to renewable energy instead of following the road to environmental ruin. A California where the power stays on, while the power of political money is turned off. It's not a question of right or left. It's a question of right or wrong. Now is the time to think outside the box, before we put our votes inside it." Announcer: "Arianna Huffington for governor, California's independent voice for change." Pictures: A large white box emblazoned with the word "vote" hovers in the air above what looks like a college quad. Dozens of people of all ages and races -- including children carrying bright backpacks, a woman with a bag of groceries and a businessman with a briefcase -- drop what they're doing and cross the street to gather around the ballot box. As high-pitched, ethereal music swells, the camera cuts to smiling images of Huffington at a campaign rally.

Accuracy: About 13.7 million Californians who are eligible to vote did not do so in the November 2002 election, according to the California secretary of state. But more than 6 million of them are not even registered to vote. Huffington's vision for California, meanwhile, has in part already been realized. The average salary of a public high school teacher, $54,007 per year, is fairly close to the $53,112 average pay for correctional officers, according to a December 2002 report by the California Department of Personnel Administration. The correctional officers have since won a 6.8% raise (which state officials hope to negotiate downward). Teachers' raises are difficult to estimate because they are negotiated by individual school districts. As for energy, California recently enacted renewable energy laws, requiring utilities to increase the share of electricity they sell from renewable sources such as wind to 20% by 2017.

Analysis: Like Huffington's nonpartisan campaign, the ad seeks to transcend the usual boundaries of party politics. The New Age music and the mesmerizing floating box seem designed to appeal to a higher calling -- the urge to participate by voting -- rather than to humdrum allegiance to a single candidate. But with her campaign drawing only 3% of likely voters in recent polls, Huffington must count on mobilizing voters who don't usually bother to cast ballots. By envisioning a California where education and the environment are valued above special interests such as prison guards, Huffington aims to attract not only disillusioned voters, but independents and Democrats who share her progressive views.

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Reported byTimes Staff Writer Sue Fox

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Los Angeles Times

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