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Republican Governors Assn.

The Republican Governors Assn. began airing a 30-second television advertisement in the California recall election Friday and will introduce a second, very similar, commercial today. The association produced the commercials independently and was legally barred from coordinating its efforts with any candidate's campaign. It's unclear how much the group plans to spend on this ad, but it intends to spend $1 million on television commercials related to the recall race.

September 30, 2003

Title: "Bustamante/Davis, What's the Difference?"

Producer: Mentzer Media

Script: The ad opens with the faces of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Gov. Gray Davis next to each other. Then, the faces morph together. "Cruz Bustamante has been Gray Davis' lieutenant governor for five years. It is hard to tell them apart on issues. Like Davis, Bustamante blames others on energy, but Bustamante co-sponsored the plan which sent electric bills skyrocketing. Like Davis, Bustamante would raise income taxes to balance the budget. Bustamante even proposes dismantling Proposition 13 and imposing huge property tax increases on small businesses. Davis-Bustamante, Bustamante-Davis -- what's the difference?"

Accuracy: Although Bustamante is Davis' lieutenant governor, the premise that the two are political partners is somewhat misleading. In California, the lieutenant governor is not appointed by the governor but elected by voters. And the men are known to have a cool relationship. The 1996 bill that deregulated the state's private energy utilities was written primarily by Steve Peace, a Democratic state senator at the time, and Assemblyman Jim Brulte (R-Rancho Cucamonga). Bustamante was one of many co-sponsors. The bill passed unanimously in both the Senate and Assembly and was signed by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson. In the first debate of the recall campaign, Bustamante said he views deregulation as a mistake. "I think that the energy crisis, I was there at the time, I voted for it. It was a mistake," he said. Bustamante's "Tough Love for California" economic plan does include a significant increase in income taxes for the state's top 4% of earners. The ad is partly misleading, however, by indicating that the entire $8 billion of revenue from tax increases would come from income tax increases. Davis too has proposed income tax increases for the wealthiest Californians. Bustamante's economic plan calls for $2.9 billion in additional revenue from tax increases on commercial properties. The increase would require a constitutional amendment to Proposition 13.

Analysis: The ad attempts to make the case that a vote for Bustamante is a vote for the status quo in Sacramento. It also tries to link Bustamante to the unpopular governor and the handling of the energy crisis. Bustamante opposes the recall effort but is one of the candidates running to replace Davis if the voters throw him out of office. Even though the ad is produced by Republicans, it doesn't mention the two top GOP contenders, Tom McClintock and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Compiled by Times staff writer Joel Rubin

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