Archive for 2010



Clinton Rallies Dems; Krusty Bashes eMeg on Taxes

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Jerry Brown took some of his toughest shots of the campaign at Republican Meg Whitman at a rollicking rally Sunday night in San Jose, where former president Bill Clinton warmly embraced his one-time Democratic rival, lavishly praising him as a leader who “has always been on the side of positive change.”

The old-fashioned political rally drew about 3,000 people to the Event Center at San Jose State University, the second large, raucous event Clinton headlined in the state, as he energetically turned his popularity in California to motivating Democrats, especially younger ones, to cast ballots in an election year where most of the enthusiasm is on the Republican side.

Brown’s theme – apparently his closing meme – was “know-how, values and vision” – each of which he used to contrast himself to Whitman, the former CEO of eBay who has no prior direct political experience.

Clinton, on stage with Brown and Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Gavin Newsom, urged the audience to use all their social networking tools to contact their friends and if they’re not planning to vote, to ask them “What planet do you live on?”

Said the former president: “Your future’s on the line – but you’ve got to show up.”

Just two weeks before the Nov. 2 election, state Democratic leaders hope Clinton’s visit to the state can ignite the party’s base. It is a measure of the Democrat’s perilous political position in 2010 that the former president is spending time in California, normally a reliable blue state, during a midterm election where boosting turnout will be crucial to the party in holding down GOP gains in Washington and across the country.

The Whitman campaign sought to dismiss Clinton’s participation as a minor annoyance. “If it weren’t for his party affiliation, Bill Clinton wouldn’t have anything to do with Jerry Brown,” said  Whitman spokeshuman Andrea Jones Rivera.

Recent polls have shown Brown narrowly leading Whitman, while incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer remains locked in a tight race with GOP challenger Carly Fiorina in the other top statewide race.

Brown and Clinton have a long history of political conflict, but there was no evidence of it on Sunday, as the two warmly hugged and exchanged compliments.

Brown introduced Clinton as a great guy and a great president who persevered “in the face of the most outrageous Republican opposition,” and credited him with leaving the nation with a surplus and with creating 22 million jobs during his two terms.

“Now I know this president’s amazing,” he said “He took a lot of crap from a lot of people, okay? Yeah, I gave him a little myself “

Striking a populist tone, Brown also praised Clinton for giving “the people at the bottom” a chance at the American Dream. “It’s how society takes care of the least powerful,” that truly matters, he said, paraphrasing Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

It was a theme that he elaborated upon in his own comments, as he assailed Whitman as a tool of the rich, and he doubled down on his recent attacks on the GOP nominee for her proposal to eliminate the capital gains tax in the state.

“Here’s the Whitman economic plan,” Brown said. “The most important part of her plan is to take the 1% of the people in California who pay 80% of the capital gains tax and give them a complete pass . . . So here’s the plan, take the money from you and give it to her and her friends and her contributors . . . She wants to give them a complete pass.”

Warming to his theme and tapping his inner William Jennings Bryan, Brown mocked Whitman’s statement that she doesn’t know how much her proposal would save her personally.

“Let me give Ms Whitman a little bit of advice. Go look at your tax return. There’s a little line on her tax return – which she won’t release by the way, to the public – and on that line it says how much your taxable gain is. So you know what it is…she knows the number!

“I know my number by the way. I paid $1400 in capital gains tax this year. Doesn’t she know? I don’t know. Maybe somebody stole her tax return, like they stole her mail or something,” Brown said to laughter, referring to Whitman’s allegation that her housekeeper stole her mail containing information about her mismatched Social Security number.

One of Brown’s biggest applause lines came when he referenced Whitman’s argument that most of the state’s fiscal problems can be traced to the power and greed of public employees unions, and her promise to lay off 40,000 state workers if she is elected.

“I’m not ashamed that people join unions and bargain collectively, because you know what? If you’re a janitor or you’re a farm worker or you’re a housekeeper, God help you if you don’t have somebody looking out for you that’s more powerful than you are. And that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

He also bashed Whitman as someone who wants to enter political life at the top of the ladder and is in it for her own personal ambitions.

“This is somebody who never voted, never got involved in her local school board, never did anything . . . and she wants to start at the top.” He compared her to a job applicant who goes to an interview and says, “Here’s my resume – it’s blank.”

Referring to Whitman’s injection of $140 million of her own funds into the race, he said: “We’ve found out a billion is not enough if that’s all you got.”

PS — Here’s our favorite Clinton riff (which we think we have verbatim):

I was raised in a home where nobody I knew had a college degree. I had people one generation older than me, who I knew had higher IQs than I did, who never had the opportunities I did. We were raised to believe if you were fortunate, you were supposed to give back to your community, give to the future of your community and that was the right thing. All I think about these days both here and when I work in Haiti and Africa and Latin America and East Asia and all these places … I just think about the fact that intelligence and ability and dreams are evenly distributed across this state, across this nation and across this world but the resources, they’re not evenly distributed. And whenever you let them get out of whack, you pay a terrible price. So what I think about all the time is, I want all of you to have the chance I did. That’s why Jerry Brown sounded so angry when he was talking.

We were raised in a totally different tradition. We were raised in the first generation of Americans that took a middle class lifestyle for granted. All we had to do was show up, be good students, obey the law, do what we were supposed to do and we had a chance to live our dreams. I have watched for 30 years the assault on the American Dream and I am sick and tired of it and I want you to stop that from being your future. (cue WILD APPLAUSE AND CHEERING)

Thanks to DWT for photos, limo service and transcription.

What Tsunami? Only 3 House Districts in Play

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

By Mackenzie Weinger
Special to Calbuzz

Beltway prognosticators sound ever more certain about Republicans seizing control of the House in a national electoral tsunami, but in California, only three of 53 congressional districts feature competitive races.

While today’s conventional wisdom suggests a GOP pick up of perhaps 50 seats nationally, which would end the reign of Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, California Democrats are not expected to lose more than a seat or two, if that, from their current 34-to-19 majority in the state’s House delegation.

National attention remains focused on the close race between incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, of course, but the House partisan breakdown is unlikely to change much, because of a combination of California’s Democrat-trending demographics and the incumbent-friendly reapportionment that followed the 2000 census.

“We’re a Dem-leaning state and President Obama’s approval ratings are a bit higher here than they are elsewhere, and in some ways that insulates us from that backlash,” said UC San Diego political science professor Thad Kousser. “And secondly, the post-2000 redistricting means there are a lot less competitive seats.”

The races in play: Perhaps the most surprising race, given the national political atmosphere is the Third Congressional District in Northern California. It’s here that the Democrats may be able to snatch a seat from a Republican incumbent.

As one of the few races going against the Republican trend this year, the contest  between Rep. Dan Lungren (R) and physician Ami Bera (D) is one of the Democrats’ few pickup opportunities of this cycle.

Bera — who has consistently outraised Lungren, raked in $550,000 in the third quarter, giving him $2.1 million this cycle, while Lungren brought in $480,000, for a total of $1.7 million. Pres. Obama eked out a win here in 2008, giving Democrats hope for a potential midterm success.

Even as it goes against this year’s pro-Republican tide, this campaign shares the same overall narrative of many GOP-leaning races around the country: a political newbie taking on an entrenched career politician.

“Lungren has been around politics his whole life,” Bera said. “He’s certainly not from this district. It’s a clear contrast. Lungren is representing corporate America… And our narrative has always been on rebuilding the middle class.”

Bera traced his campaign’s ability to buck the anti-Democratic trend to his ground-up organization and his background as a physician.

“There’s a couple reasons why this race is moving against the current,” Bera said. “We built this campaign from the very beginning from the grassroots, holding house parties where neighbors opened up their living rooms. We’ve literally done hundreds of these conversations. We’ve had a lot of individual donors and built on word of mouth. That insulated us a little bit. It’s certainly a perfect year to be a doctor running for Congress.”

Bera, who noted his campaign has over 3,000 volunteers, insisted Democrats could still use the final weeks before the election to make a successful push to hold the House: “The House of Representatives isn’t lost,” Bera said.

Also in Northern California, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D), faces a threat from attorney David Harmer (R) one of the National Republican Campaign Committee’s “Young Guns” in the 11th Congressional District. CQ-Roll Call, RealClearPolitics and Cook Political Report all have this race as a toss-up.

Somewhat less competitive is Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s (D) seat in the 47th Congressional District in Orange County, where a a win by Assemblyman Van Tran, California’s other Republican “Young Gun”, would spell a huge victory for the GOP.

Sanchez’s recent gaffe on Univision’s Sunday show, “Al Punto” — where she accused “the Vietnamese” and Republicans of trying to take her seat in Congress — has added fire to Tran’s campaign in the final month.

“It speaks for itself,” Tran’s campaign manager George Andrews said. “For her to come unglued on that TV show just shows how nervous she is. She knows times are changing in her district, and being a DC insider, she’s lost touch with the reality of the voters in Orange County.”

Andrews said this year’s GOP wave has definitely hit the 47th district: “Absolutely it’s a factor,” he said. “We’re going door-to-door in Loretta’s backyard and people are sick and tired of poor representation. She’s only passed one bill after the past 14 years — and it was to name a post office.”

In the Senate race, polls show Boxer still ahead of ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Fiorina, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Chamber of Commerce and other national GOP groups continue pouring in money, which has kept the challenger financially competitive.

CQ-Roll Call and Rothenberg Political Report rate the race as leaning Dem, but RealClearPolitics, Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball are calling the race a toss-up.

UCSD political scientist Kousser said the Senate race is a “microcosm of the national scene – a liberal Democrat very much tied to President Obama” coupled with a case of the “Republicans nominating someone on the right end of the political spectrum.”

“If it had been Tom Campbell who won the primary, he would have had a chance in this environment,” Kousser said. “But we haven’t seen a pro-lifer win a top of the ticket race here in California for two decades. Carly Fiorina still has a shot, but if she wins this race, that’s going to be the signal that the House and Senate are really turning over.

Washington-based political reporter Mackenzie Weinger is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Nexus at UC Santa Barbara.

Meyer ‘Toon, Top Goo Goos, Meg’s Money, Polls

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Since Meg Whitman wouldn’t change her pearls without a market research study, it’s safe to say that her grudging and belated acceptance of Jerry Brown’s apology in the campaign’s whore war came about only after polling showed she was doing herself as much harm as good by continuing to whine about it. As Tom Meyer reminds us today, most normal people, not to mention the Sisters of Perpetual Disappointment, almost certainly couldn’t figure out what she and her amateur hour communications crew was on about in the first place. (As for us, we, per usual, blame The Media).

Sifting through the entrails of this scandal-that-wasn’t, Calbuzz wants to acknowledge a few heroes in the saga, starting with the students, staff and administration of Dominican University, who did a heckuva’ job in staging an event of presidential debate caliber, even if the quality of the political entertainment sometimes fell a little short of the standards of excellence and civility they set with their careful preparations and warm hospitality.

H/T too, to Tom Brokaw for a first-rate job of ringmastering the eMeg-Krusty show. We made no secret of our concern that Tom the Tourist might not be the right man for the job. But after trying a little too hard at the start to ingratiate himself by bragging on his California bona fides, Brokaw hurled sharply crafted queries at each of the rivals – seeing no need, to his great credit, to pose the same questions to both – and also allowed the debate to go where it wanted to go, letting the rivals bark at each other, with none of the typical moderator’s control freak need to micromanage the clock or hog the camera. For our lack of faith, we criticize ourselves severely .

Calbuzz Goo Goo Offering: More and more sites on the interwebs are offering ways of helping people participate in the great, glorious process we call “democracy,” and Calbuzz, ever-helpful and dedicated to civic participation, is aware of a few worth mentioning.

First mention, of course, is one that BUYS ADVERTISING on our site. And that would be California Choices, which has a neat application to help you understand the propositions and, even better, to see what stands have been taken on the props by myriad interest groups, unions, newspapers and political parties you may like or dislike.

You can even fill out an online ballot form and email your personal recommendations to whomever you want. It’s put together by Next 10, the Bill Lane Center at Stanford, Berkeley’s IGS and Sacramento State.

Our old friend Greg Larson has also pulled together a massive number of organizations into a giant spreadsheet on each of the propositions. You can find it here. These kinds of sites are helpful because maybe you don’t know what to think about some props, but you know that you’d likely to agree (or disagree) with the Sierra Club or the Chamber of Commerce, or whoever.

Yahoo! and eVoter have teamed up to create a cool app with which you can enter your address and find your polling place – in case you’re not a permanent absentee voter and would actually like to show up and vote on election day.

There’s also an easy-to-use nonpartisan online voter guide called Imagine Election. You type in your zip code and get information about federal, state and some local candidates and invites reviews of candidates. Some of their information (for example how much money each candidate is spending) is rather out of date, but there’s some decent basic info there.

Coals to Newcastle: Not long before eMeg tossed another $20 million of pin money into the pot  - bringing her self-funding total for the campaign to more than $140M – our spies inside Camp eMeg forwarded an intriguing fundraising appeal aimed at a very select group of Top Bracket FOMs.

With a heavyweight sponsorship lineup including Sun Microsystems czar Scott McNealy, veteran GOP cash cow Howard Leach and Bush fundraiser/cell phone fortune spouse Susan McCaw, the A-list pitch bemoaned the evil forces that conspired to force eMeg into the position of, um, well, being responsible for her own actions regarding Nicky Diaz.

The recent attacks against our friend Meg were orchestrated to disrupt her campaign at the most pivotal moment.  The facts are that Meg did everything right.

Well almost everything.

In a stirring call for ruling class solidarity personal loyalty, the October 6 letter says, without a hint of irony, that Team Moneybags must raise $1 million in 10 days to spare eMeg the outrageous opprobrium of being accused of trying to buy the election.

We all know that Meg and Griff have invested significant resources and have been attacked for trying to level the playing field against the status quo…

Meg will be vilified for any additional contributions she makes to the campaign. We need to show her critics that she has enormous support from individuals within California and around the country…

Meg has worked tirelessly and done everything we could have expected her to do to win this race. We cannot sit by and let these attacks go unanswered. As her friends, we have to stand with her in the final days and ensure she knows we are behind her.

Given that our friend Meg just had to cough up another $20 million, it appears they were standing far behind her.

Don’t Call Us: When a Rasmussen Poll says Jerry Brown is leading Meg Whitman 50-44%, including 53-41% among women (after the “whore” story fallout) and 76-23% among non-whites and non-blacks (mostly Latinos with a few Asians), you know the ground is shifting in Brown’s direction.

Part of the explanation is that Rasmussen is fiddling with his turnout model – moving from a 2-point spread of Democrats over Republicans to a 6-point spread (could be he wants his survey to look more “scientific” and less partisan). But because the Rasmussen survey is automated, and it’s illegal to automatically dial cell phones, his surveys are fatally flawed – against Democrats.

A new study by the Pew Research Center underscores the distaste Calbuzz has regularly expressed for automatic, robotic calling, web-based polling and other shoddy political surveys. Pew found that surveys that do not include cell phones, “including virtually all of the automated polls” (like Rasmussen and SurveyUSA) yield a bias for Republicans and against Democrats on the order of 4 to 6 percentage points.

California pollsters (like the Field Poll, USC/LA Times and most private pollsters) who use the Secretary of State’s official list of voters as a base for their surveys automatically avert this source of potential error because they call respondents at whatever phone number they used when registering to vote. Other credible pollsters (like PPIC) use random digit dialing but  include a representative sample of cell phones.

Here’s what Pew reported:

The latest estimates of telephone coverage by the National Center for Health Statistics found that a quarter of U.S. households have only a cell phone and cannot be reached by a landline telephone. Cell-only adults are demographically and politically different from those who live in landline households; as a result, election polls that rely only on landline samples may be biased. Although some survey organizations now include cell phones in their samples, many — including virtually all of the automated polls — do not include interviews with people on their cell phones. (For more on the impact of the growing cell-only population on survey research, see “Assessing the Cell Phone Challenge,” May 20, 2010).

In the Pew Research Center’s latest poll, conducted Aug. 25 to Sept. 6 among 2,816 registered voters, including 786 reached by cell phone, 44% said that if the election were held today that they would vote for the Republican candidate for Congress in their district or leaned Republican, while 47% would vote for the Democratic candidate or leaned Democratic. Among the landline respondents, 46% preferred the GOP candidate and 45% the Democratic candidate, a four-point shift in the margin.

Rasmussen also had Democrat Barbara Boxer with a narrow 49-46% lead over Republican Carly Fiorina in the U.S. Senate race but again, take it with a huge grain of salt: no matter how hard Rasmussen tries, as long as they exclude cell phones, their surveys will tilt to the right

Memo to Rose K: Now that Babs has melted down in front of both Fred Barnes and Wolfie, we can only conclude it’s waaay past grandma’s nap time.

What Brown Should Have Said About Whoregate

Friday, October 15th, 2010

The spectacle of serial, circles-within-circles statements emitting from various leaders of the National Organization for Women about the use of the word “whore” within Jerry Brown’s inner sanctum illustrates the ability of Krusty’s campaign to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Against all odds, Brown has somehow managed to keep a one-day story up and running for eight days (and counting!), effectively rescuing Republican rival Meg Whitman from the travail of her own self-inflicted error.

In his most selfless act, Jerry helpfully supplanted press interest in eMeg’s problems with her undocumented housekeeper by stumbling through a defensive answer to a Tom Brokaw question in Tuesday night’s big debate about the, uh, salty language used behind closed doors at Camp Krusty.

His politically awful response completed the transformation of Whoregate from small-bore kerfuffle into Topic A about the biggest event of the campaign, as almost every MSM lede included a mention of whoredom, and  a surly Brown faced further questions about it at a post-debate press conference which spokeshuman Sterling Clifford wisely and quickly truncated once he noted the no-good-can-come-of-this direction in which it was heading.

With a major assist from an aggressive Team eMeg, which kept blowing and blowing on the smoldering little story until it finally got lit, and aided by the lackadaisical nonchalance of his own handlers, Brown lost his firm grip on the narrative and momentum of the campaign in the 10 days between the Oct. 2 Fresno debate – when he dominated eMeg with a righteous scolding of her dealings with Nicky Diaz – and the Brokaw event.

In the end, the bizarre whore story may still not matter much to the outcome of the race. However, it is is inarguable that Brown’s mishandling of it not only allowed Whitman to instantly change the subject, but also enabled on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-minded members of the press corps to begin drawing a false equivalence between a person in his orbit blurting a rude word in a closed door campaign klatsch, and the more serious matter of Whitman’s employment of an undocumented worker for years.

It didn’t have to be that way.

No Can Say: "Jane, you ignorant slut."

Going into the last debate, Brown obviously should have been well prepared for a hostile question to be raised about the flap; quite obviously, he was not. Half an hour before the event started, in fact, one of his strategists was still expressing certainty that the word “whore” would not pass Brokaw’s lips.

When it did, Brown instantly started sputtering on all cylinders, beginning with his rejection of the premise of Brokaw’s question – that “whore” is equivalent to the “N word.”

I don’t agree with that comparison…This is a five-week old private conversation picked up on a cell phone with a garbled transmission, very hard to detect who it is. I don’t want to get into the term and how it’s used. But I’ll say the campaign promptly apologized and I reaffirm that apology tonight.

Even after eMeg cuffed his ears a little, Brown amazingly kept the issue going even longer, seizing on a widely-referenced (but seldom-credited by the MSM) Calbuzz report about Whitman campaign chair Pete Wilson’s enthusiastic use of “whores” in the past.

While we appreciated the notice, it just seemed a little…excessive…on Krusty’s part.  What Brown should have said, and what he should have been well prepared to say, was something like this:

Sometimes in the heat of a campaign, partisans get excited and say things they shouldn’t, which is what occurred in this case.

I’ve already apologized for the use of that word but (turning to eMeg) Ms. Whitman, I want to personally apologize to you tonight.

[PIVOT] I do think, however, that the voters are more interested in what each of our policy ideas mean to the real lives of real women than in this matter, so in that regard, I’m proud to have the support of the National Organization for Women, which has endorsed me because of my record of substantive accomplishment on issues of importance to women.

Laundry list of world changing political feats to follow.

Instead of slamming the door on the story when he had the chance, however, Brown just kept making it bigger, opening up at least three new avenues of press inquiry: 1) the perilous political question of the equivalence of racial and gender slurs* (the ground on which NOW’s internal conflict is playing out in public); 2) the comparative importance of the Brown camp’s use of the word measured against that of other politicians (to be sure, it was entertaining to see conservative types, who would have been caterwauling about “political correctness”  if the offender was a Republican, going all smelling salts and fainting couch about Brown);  3) the legal question of whether the cop union that handed the L.A. Times a copy of Brown’s moronic call represented a case of illegal taping (an issue he would be much better off avoiding altogether).

*(As we argued earlier, we don’t think the “N word” and “whore” are really equivalent, if only because Brokaw felt free to say the latter but obligated to obliquely reference the former. In terms of gender, we think the  “C  word” is much closer to the “N word” as a form of hate speech than is “whore”).

When the cat’s away: In any case, Brown seemed utterly untroubled by the “W” flap when he let his hair down kicked back at a post-debate get together with aides and a half dozen reporters at Trevor’s Pub in San Rafael (speaking of equivalences, it’s really hard to imagine eMeg dropping the mask and rubbing elbows with a bunch of  wretched ink stained types under similar, or any, circumstances).

Always so tight he squeaks frugal, Brown stole a few sips from the glass of Chardonnay wife Anne Gust had ordered, in lieu of getting an actual drink of his own, while recounting domestic tension between the two of them over the proper strategy for dealing with a cheeky and intrepid mouse which has taken up residence in their home in the Oakland Hills.

Seems she wants to do away with the creature with traditional rodent eradication measures, while he’d prefer to catch the little creature alive and set it free…somewhere else. We can see the eMeg ad now, as a basso profundo  announcer intones: “Jerry Brown: he’s even against the death penalty for vermin.”

Calbuzz, always at one with the natural universe, recommended getting a cat.

Excloo: Inside Labor’s Bid to Boost Latino Turnout

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

A coalition of Southern California and Central Valley labor groups plans to spend $2.5 million over the next three weeks on a coordinated, Spanish language multi-media campaign to boost turnout among occasional Latino voters for the Nov. 2 election.

Led by Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, and former Speaker Fabian Nunez, the group has invited Spanish language news organizations to a press conference today to unveil details of the program, which includes TV advertising, a direct mail effort and a get-out-the-vote operation.

Based on the slogan “Martes (Tuesday), si, Arizona, no” the campaign uses the specter of Arizona’s controversial law targeting illegal immigrants as a pitch for Latinos to vote because “Los republicanos quieren traer la ley de Arizona a California” – Republicans want to bring Arizona’s law to California.

Although the group is operating independently of Jerry Brown’s campaign,  their effort strongly attacks his GOP rival Meg Whitman. One mail piece places her photo alongside shots of Sarah Palin and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer;  above a headline on another piece reads, “Meg Whitman ayudo a Sarah Palin y Sarah Palin* apoyo la ley de Arizona” – Whitman helped Palin, who supports Arizona’s law.

Another piece is a letter signed by labor leader Durazo that calls Brown “un verdadero amigo a nuestra communidad” – a true friend to our community – and says that Whitman has two faces – “tiene dos caras” and describes her as attacking immigrants in English while saying on Spanish television that she is a friend – “En la television Ingles ataca a los immigrantes. En la television espanol Whitman dice que ella es neustra amiga.”

The letter is to be folded around one of several holy cards – one of them features a photo of a young Brown walking with Cesar Chavez and another has an image of him speaking to Mother Teresa; each includes an inscription saying that “El democrata Jerry Brown ayudo” Chavez and Mother Teresa  – the Democrat helped the two Latino community icons.

The voter turnout campaign is being managed by consultant Richie Ross, who said it is based on focus group and polling research of “occasional Latino voters,” defined as those who did not vote in the 2006 election for governor, but did vote in the February 2008 Democratic primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

“That was the sweet spot,” Ross said. “We tried to pick a universe where we had a high chance of success and the numbers could make a difference.”

The campaign is being financed jointly by the L.A. labor group, the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council and political committees controlled by Nunez and by Democratic state Senator Dean Florez, who represents a large swath of the Central Valley. It targets 500,000 households, with a goal of bringing an additional 200,000 Latino voters to the polls.

Among the elements:

–A 30-second spot that cuts between images of protests against the Arizona law and campaign leaders Durazo and Nunez saying directly into the camera that Republicans are attacking schools and families, and that Latinos should vote to prevent Arizona-style legislation in California.

–A series of mail pieces, to include two posters, two postcards and Durazo’s letter with the holy cards inserted. One of the postcards shows a photo of a triumphant Whitman laughing with fists clenched and arms raised: “Nunca!” reads a large headline – Never! One of posters pictures Whitman, Palin and Brewer over a headline that reads, “Estas Republicanas estan unidas en contra de nosotros” – These Republican women are united against us.

–A labor-backed ground operation that includes phone banking and door-to-door organizing in L.A., San Diego, Imperial and Central Valley counties.

Latinos represent about one-third of California’s adult population, but only about 18 percent of likely voters, according to a study released last month by the Public Policy Institute of California. PPIC reported that about 65 percent are registered Democrats, 18 percent Republicans and 14 percent decline-to-state independents, and that about 75 percent live in Southern California or the Central Valley.

The labor group’s goal of bringing an additional 200,000 Latino voters to the polls, if successful, could represent as much as 3-4 percent of the November electorate, depending on overall turnout, a number that could be determinative in the tight Whitman-Brown race.

The 500,000 households were targeted after focus groups, conducted in June, that included second and third generation Latinos as well as more recently arrived citizens and that focused on discussions of the Arizona law. A poll, including 600 Latino respondents defined as occasional voters, followed in July.

As described by Ross, the findings showed that 93 percent of those surveyed had heard of the Arizona law, 86 percent opposed it and 73 percent believe a similar law can occur in California.

The research for the campaign was done months before the story broke about Nicky Diaz, Whitman’s undocumented housekeeper, and none of the campaign materials refer to that controversy.

“Nicky may convince some people to vote for Jerry Brown,” Ross said. “We’re just trying to convince them to get up and go vote that day.”

P.S. Harold Meyerson has a good take on the importance of Latino turnout here.

*Department of Corrections: In an early version of this post, we mistakenly omitted the second use of Palin’s name in the Spanish text of the mailer, which confused the meaning of the sentence. The mailer reads: “Meg Whitman ayudo a Sarah Palin, y Sarah Palin apoyo la ley de Arizona.”  Translation: Meg Whitman helped Sarah Palin, who supports Arizona’s law. Sorry for the confusion.