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Barking Past the Munger Games

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    NEWSLETTERS

    These are the Dog Days of this election campaign.

    Ask Governor Jerry Brown. Two recently released polls show voter support for what would be Brown’s singular first (or third)-term accomplishment is trending downward.

    Proposition 30 on the November ballot would temporarily increase income and sales taxes to help bring the state budget into balance. If Prop. 30 goes down, the “trigger” of 6 billion dollars in immediate budget cuts will be pulled—mainly impacting California’s education system.

    A new PPIC survey shows support for Prop. 30 at 48% of likely voters, declining 4 points from 52% in September. The recent USC Dornsife/LAT poll has support among registered voters down 9 points, from 55% in September to 46% in mid-October.

    What to do? Well…send in the dogs. In this case, it’s California’s First Dog, Sutter Brown, to the rescue.

    A press release from the California Democratic Party (likely the first release ever issued touting the schedule of a campaigning dog) announced Sutter’s “30 for 30” statewide tour of 30 CDP field offices to “Bark Out” the vote for Prop. 30.

    Gushed Tenoch Flores, the CDP’s Communications Director, “…we’re unleashing our cutest and cuddliest secret weapon out into the field.”

    Granted, California’s First Dog has an impressive following on social media (check out his Facebook page to read his plea to “Two-legged friends” to vote by mail and vote for “Yes on 30” . He even has his own line of merchandise (http://www.cafepress.com/sutterbrown), the proceeds from which go to the state’s General Fund to help close the budget deficit.

    But is Sutter’s acknowledged star-power enough to push Prop. 30 to victory on Tuesday? No.

    But enlisting the personable Corgi to help sell Brown’s premier policy goal underscores the Governor’s need to pull voters’ attention away—by any means available—from the big-bucks media campaign being waged by attorney Molly Munger to bolster her competing initiative, Prop. 38.

    (Munger’s alternative to the Governor’s plan would temporarily increase the income tax and would funnel most of the increased revenue directly to California schools.) As of last week, she had personally contributed $32.4 million to the drive to pass Proposition 38.

    The Governor is also being dogged by ubiquitous reformer Charles Munger, Molly’s brother. Charles has poured some $35 million into a hard-hitting campaign to defeat Proposition 30 and to pass the anti-union Proposition 32. In fact, Brown’s initiative has been suffering from the fact that his natural ally, labor, has had to focus its political money and organization on defeating Prop. 32 rather than on passing Prop. 30.

    “The Munger Games” focused earlier and blared their messages louder than the Governor. He and Sutter both started selling Prop. 30 just about two weeks before the election, Prop. 38 ads have been running for what seems to be years. Still, Prop. 38 is doing far more poorly in the polls.

    If the Governor hasn’t made the case for Prop.30 in these waning days of the campaign, it could well be because he’s been drowned out by Yes on 38 and No on 30. Remember, when confused, voters tend to say “No.”

    Has Sutter’s bark broken through the cacophony?

    California’s First Dog is no St. Bernard, but he sure has embarked on a crucial rescue mission.
     

    Sherry Bebitch Jeffe is a Senior Fellow at the USC Price School of Public Policy and the political analyst for NBC4.

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