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CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS

Brown Airing Attack Spots

The Democrat's ads paint GOP attorney general rival Poochigian as an extremist.

September 15, 2006|Eric Bailey | Times Staff Writer

In an early move, Democrat Jerry Brown launched a television advertising campaign Thursday in the race for California attorney general, using a trio of commercials to attack Republican foe Chuck Poochigian as too extreme for the state.

The ads, part of a weeklong $300,000 buy on cable TV systems throughout the state, according to Brown's campaign, comes as the California GOP airs a feisty radio ad that ridicules Brown as "flaky" and too liberal to serve as the state's top law officer.

Brown, mayor of Oakland and a former California governor, hits Poochigian, a state senator from Fresno, in his 30-second spots for Poochigian's opposition to a ban on 50-caliber sniper rifles, abortion rights, stem cell research and tougher environmental rules. A fourth commercial extols Brown's support from California police chiefs and other law enforcement groups.

With early polls showing Brown enjoying a big lead over Poochigian, the start of a fight on the airwaves nearly two months before election day may signal a quick escalation of the "down-ballot" race, which has attracted national attention because of the presence of the former governor.

Poochigian, who has about $3.6 million on hand compared to Brown's $5.2 million, has yet to begin advertising.

Ace Smith, Brown's campaign strategist, called the mayor's commercials "warning labels for voters" about the threat posed by a conservative like Poochigian.

"These tell voters they're going to get severe side effects if they swallow his kind of extremism," Smith said. "We feel we have an obligation to open their eyes to a candidate trying to pass himself off as a moderate when he's in fact an extremist."

Poochigian, in Los Angeles for a speech to a law enforcement conference on DNA, called the commercials an attempt by Brown "to deflect attention from his own abysmal record and atrocious leadership as mayor of Oakland, which has the highest murder rate in California."

Poochigian said he proved during his 12-year career in the Legislature that he can work with, and enjoy plaudits from, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

"For him to label me extremist," Poochigian said, "is offensive, pathetic and deceptive."

One of Brown's commercials features Oakland Police Capt. David Kozicki describing how a 50-caliber round from an assault rifle can pass through two police cars "and come out the other side and still kill you." He adds, "career legislator Charles Poochigian voted to keep these 50-caliber killing machines legal."

Another ad features Kathy Kneer, president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, saying Poochigian wants to outlaw abortion and overturn Roe vs. Wade. A third has a photo of Poochigian with President Bush and suggests the Republican cannot be trusted to protect abortion rights, defend stem cell research, safeguard the public from dangerous weapons and guard the environment.

The Republican Party radio ad paints Brown as an extremist who is soft on crime and opposes the death penalty. Featuring conversational banter among four unidentified actors, the spot notes that Brown, as governor, signed a prisoners' bill of rights, "which allowed molesters to have sex magazines in prison."

After that, the ad states, Brown opposed a victims' bill of rights. "Typical Jerry," the ads says. "Gets it all backwards."

The spot also says that Brown consistently has opposed the death penalty and that murders have risen 70% in Oakland during his tenure as mayor and car theft 84%. It labels Brown as "flaky and too liberal" and "a bad memory from the past."

Although crime had spiked in Oakland early this year, Brown has argued that serious crimes have fallen more than 30% when comparing his eight-year tenure against that of his predecessors as mayor.

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eric.bailey@latimes.com

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