Gov. Jerry Brown tells supporters in Los Angeles the latest poll numbers for Proposition 30 "look good, but we're not there yet."

Gov. Brown calls on Prop. 30 forces to redouble efforts, counter

Published: Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 - 11:00 pm | Page 3A
Last Modified: Friday, Mar. 29, 2013 - 4:37 pm

LOS ANGELES – Gov. Jerry Brown, rallying union workers and volunteers here Saturday for his campaign to raise taxes, continued to hammer his opponents for accepting an $11 million donation from an opaque, out-of-state group, while urging supporters to intensify their efforts in the final days before the election.

"You are so powerful and so important, and we are up against secret money coming across the border from Arizona, from where we don't know," Brown told about 100 members of a Service Employees International Union local at a school in South Central Los Angeles.

He told union members – a major part of the Democratic governor's own donor base – that they are "a combination, a collection, a coming- together of individual people, school workers, to counteract the millions and millions of dollars from billionaires and others who evidently don't care as much as you do about the schools of California."

Brown chanted "Yes on 30," pumped his fist and said, "I feel the power."

Proposition 30, Brown's proposal to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners, appears headed to a close finish Tuesday. Likely voters favor the initiative 48 percent to 38 percent, with 14 percent undecided, according to the most recent Field Poll, released last week. "The surveys look good," Brown said, "but we're not there yet."

Brown's appearance at the school – and at an event later at a phone bank in East Los Angeles – highlighted his organizational advantage over the opponents of Proposition 30, potentially significant in turning out voters on Election Day. Union allies and other supporters of Brown are canvassing neighborhoods and calling voters throughout the state for Proposition 30 and against Proposition 32, a controversial campaign finance measure.

The No on 30 campaign acknowledges its own effort to turn out voters is nowhere near as comprehensive.

Brown is continuing his prodigious fundraising as well, collecting more than $1.2 million for the initiative Thursday alone, according to a report filed Friday. The donations include $600,000 from Service Employee International Union locals in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Oakland. Brown and his supporters have raised more than $55 million for the effort since the beginning of the year.

A committee formed to oppose Proposition 30 and support Proposition 32 has raised about $50 million, including major contributions from GOP donor Charles Munger Jr. and the Arizona-based nonprofit Americans for Responsible Leadership. That committee has provided the majority of the nearly $13 million raised by a separate committee specifically opposing Proposition 30.

Brown has used the $11 million donation from the Arizona group as a rallying cry for two weeks, and he showed no sign of letting up Saturday. One day after California's 3rd District Court of Appeal denied the state's emergency request to force Americans for Responsible Leadership to disclose its donors' identities, Brown said he is optimistic on a favorable review by the state Supreme Court.

Asked about his fundraising advantage, Brown said, "We're going to do everything we can to fix our schools and get California back on track, but we disclose our donors, and we have a much broader base."

The committee that accepted the $11 million donation has said it was legal and that Brown's criticism is politically motivated.

Aaron McLear, a spokesman for the campaign against Proposition 30, criticized the source of Brown's own campaign money, which he described as public employee unions "who want to prop up the status quo because they're benefiting from it."

McLear said, "We don't have armies of union workers who are encouraged to take days off of work to campaign for Prop. 30."

At the school event, union members in purple shirts lamented the effect on Brown's measure of a rival tax initiative, Proposition 38, which is lagging in public opinion polls but threatens to siphon votes from Proposition 30.

Courtni Pugh, executive director of SEIU Local 99, called Proposition 38 – backed by wealthy civil rights lawyer Molly Munger – a "spoiler." Manuel Helguera, a custodian and union member who was canvassing neighborhoods Saturday, said Proposition 38 comes up when he visits voters at their doors.

"People are hearing a lot of things that are confusing," he said. "Some … ask, 'What about 38?' "

In East Los Angeles, Brown visited a nonprofit where California Calls, a group attempting to reach minorities and infrequent voters for Brown's initiative, has set up one of 16 call centers around the state.

"It's really important that each of you contact people," Brown said. "There are a lot of TV commercials. They only go so far."

Brown will visit four predominantly African American churches in Los Angeles this morning. Following a relatively quiet summer, he has held public events at a pace of about one per day in recent weeks.

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