Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown stepping up campaign against measure on Delta water tunnels

Gov. Jerry Brown, keeping a somewhat low profile throughout the fall campaign, stars in a new TV ad debuting Thursday in which he urges Californians to oppose Proposition 53, arguing it will constrict local control, increase the cost of critical infrastructure and is brainchild of a single wealthy farmer.

“53 is paid for by one millionaire,” Brown says in the 30-second spot, which was shot in the governor’s mansion in Sacramento. “But it’s opposed by almost everybody else: firefighters, nurses, newspapers and hundreds of organizations. We say ‘No on 53,’ because it’s bad for California.”

The measure, funded by Stockton-area farmer Dean Cortopassi, would require a public vote on revenue bonds of more than $2 billion dollars, and stands to threaten Brown’s high-speed rail and Delta water tunnel projects.

While there has been no public polling on the Nov. 8 initiative, the TV ad is a sign of Brown’s increased involvement in the opposition campaign. On Wednesday night, the fourth-term governor launched robocalls targeting the measure, after sending an email to voters calling it “a dangerous deception” and contending it would raise the cost of roads, bridges and hospitals.

Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for the “no” side, said the campaign placed a “substantial” buy and that the ad is running in major markets of the state.

Brown’s other major ballot priority is Proposition 57, which would make felons the state considers nonviolent eligible for early parole. The governor has made radio ads for that measure. He has contributed about $4.1 million to promote Proposition 57 and roughly the same amount to help thwart Proposition 53.

Cortopassi released a prepared statement responding to Brown’s ad.

“Proposition 53 would only do two things – reveal the full costs of state mega-projects and give voters a say before they have to pay for them,” he said.

“It’s disappointing that the governor, who campaigned on giving voters a voice in big state decisions, is doing everything he can to silence voters and oppose Proposition 53.”

Given his consistently high approval ratings, Brown has proven to be among the state’s most effective messengers.

Before coasting to reelection two years ago over little-known Republican Neel Kashkari, Brown appeared in TV ads for Propositions 1 and 2, the $7.5-billion water bond and the state rainy-day fund that ultimately were approved by voters.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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