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CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS

Poochigian Launches TV Ad Attack on Brown

The Fresno state senator, trailing in the race for attorney general, is portraying the Oakland mayor and ex-governor as soft on crime.

September 19, 2006|Eric Bailey | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Republican state Sen. Chuck Poochigian hit the airwaves Monday for the first time in the attorney general's race, with a frontal attack on Democratic foe Jerry Brown's crime-fighting record as mayor of Oakland and former California governor.

Poochigian's 30-second advertisement, which the campaign said is running on broadcast and cable TV stations in Southern California, the Central Valley and the Bay Area, drubs Brown for pardoning seven first-degree murderers as governor and describes Oakland as "one big murder scene."

"This is our opening salvo," said Kevin Spillane, a spokesman for the Fresno lawmaker. "It reminds those who remember Jerry Brown about his horrible record on public safety. For those who don't know him, it defines Jerry Brown for his lifetime failure on criminal-justice issues."

A second ad is scheduled to begin airing around the state today. Spillane would describe the overall buy only as "significant."

Poochigian's initial commercial features three actors, shot only from the neck down, portraying office workers trading water-cooler chatter about Brown, then extolling Poochigian as "tough."

"That TV ad is as phony as the actors Chuck Poochigian has got in it," said Ace Smith, Brown's campaign strategist. "The truth of the matter is Jerry Brown has real rank-and-file cops supporting him. The best Poochigian can do is a handful of paid actors."

The second Poochigian ad also features actors shot at torso level around a sizzling barbecue, ridiculing Brown's support of a prisoners' bill of rights passed by the Legislature in 1975.

The ad echoes a radio spot the California GOP began airing last week in support of Poochigian.

The two TV ads mark an early and risky move onto the airwaves by Poochigian, with election day seven weeks away.

Poochigian's $3.6 million in campaign cash trails Brown's by more than $1.5 million, and the most recent polls have him trailing the Oakland mayor by more than 20 percentage points.

Spillane said the ads are part of a strategic effort to frame the campaign for attorney general as a fight over public safety and protecting the families of California. Poochigian's reputation as a law-and-order conservative contrasts sharply with Brown's past, Spillane said.

Besides criticizing Brown for his tenure in Oakland, the ad that began Monday rips his longtime opposition to the death penalty. As governor, Brown vetoed a death penalty bill in 1977, only to see the Legislature vote to override him.

In calling Oakland "one big murder scene," Poochigian's campaign team cites the 106 homicides in the city so far this year, compared with 109 in all of 2003 and 60 in 1999, Brown's first year in office.

The Brown campaign has consistently pointed to the mayor's overall eight-year tenure, during which they say major crimes tumbled by more than 30% compared with his mayoral predecessors.

On Monday the campaign held news conferences in Sacramento and Oakland at which environmental leaders attacked Poochigian for a consistent record of favoring big business over nature.

Brown also has attacked Poochigian in his TV advertising campaign for rejecting a ban on .50-caliber assault rifles and opposing abortion rights.

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eric.bailey@latimes.com

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