The California Republican Party will today launch a major TV advertising blitz criticizing Treasurer Phil Angelides, the Democratic challenger to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, for his advocacy of tax increases. The move comes as Angelides works to unify his own party around his bid.
The two ads, which are produced by media consultants also working for Schwarzenegger, will reportedly prominently feature criticisms of Angelides made in the Democratic primary by his narrowly defeated rival, Controller Steve Westly. The advertising campaign by the Republican Party, which clearly benefits the re-election of the former action superstar, is allowed under law as “issue advocacy.” The ads will not advocate a vote for Schwarzenegger. But their purpose is crystal clear.
As we have seen with the primary campaign, California’s political laws, or at least their implementation, are highly flexible. Angelides’ primary victory was enabled through the utilization of a near $10 million independent expenditure campaign on his behalf, which was 90 percent funded by the Sacramento development empire of his longtime patron and business partner and campaign finance co-chairman, Angelo Tsakopoulos, who hosted a fundraiser for Angelides at his home earlier this week.
The move comes with a private poll being discussed in well-informed circles of the Capitol’s “Third House.” Conducted in mid-June by a highly regarded Democratic polling firm, the survey of over a thousand likely voters gives Schwarzenegger a four-point lead over the former state Democratic chairman.
The hard numbers are Schwarzenegger 42%, Angelides 38%. When given a slight push, i.e., with “leaners” included, the result is Schwarzenegger 46%, Angelides 42%. The Democratic candidate has not received the post-primary bounce in support that many had expected.
For his part, Angelides — who has completed a week of TV advertising that his campaign said amounted to a million dollar buy but Schwarzenegger sources say was about $300,000 less than that — is making moves to consolidate the support of his party behind him.
The announcement of a compromise deal in the Legislature on the governance of the sprawling and long-troubled Los Angeles Unified School District will make it easier for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee to gain the backing of popular LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Angelides, who is backed by the California Teachers Association — which also participated in his independent expenditure campaign during the primary — had conspicuously not supported Villaraigosa’s LA school reform bid.
The seeming resolution of the issue will, according to informed sources, make it much easier for the Democrat Villaraigosa, a friend of Schwarzenegger, to deliver a formal endorsement of Angelides.
In addition, Angelides will meet next week with Steve Westly for the first time since their hurried party unity event the morning after the June 6th primary. The two primary rivals will discuss Westly’s role in the general election campaign.