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Candidates Court Labor, Native Americans

Last week, Arnold Swarzenegger began speaking specifically about issues. Gov. Gray Davis and other candidates sought the backing of Native American gambling interests. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante won some labor backing.

August 31, 2003


* 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.



* 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."

* 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.



* 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.

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