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Posts Tagged ‘AB 32’



Meg Hit on Radio; Gay Marriage No Big in Gov Race

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

You gotta give Meg Whitman credit for sitting down in the studio Wednesday with Calbuzz’s favorite Neanderthal radio yakkers – John Kobylt  and Ken Chiampou of KFI-AM in LA – and trying to explain all the contradictions in her positions on immigration and climate change. She couldn’t of course, and J&K – whose web site screamed “Nutmeg in Studio”– were down her throat, in her face and on her case for 30 sizzling minutes.

What they did that few have been able to do is push Meg into answering some simple questions like: Are you for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants?

Why is this much of a question? Well, first you have to go back to October 28, 2009, when Meg was filmed at the Mexican border – a visit she often brags about – saying “Can we get a fair program where people stand at the back of the line, they pay a fine?” (According to the San Diego Union Tribune Whitman’s sentence concluded “. . .  they pay a fine, they do some things that would ultimately allow a path to legalization?”)

But on the radio Wednesday, her answer was: “I am not for a path to citizenship.”  When J&K argued (wrongly we believe) that millions of jobs held by illegal aliens should go to Americans, Meg’s response: “I agree with that.”  And she flatly agreed with the notion that no one should get citizenship unless they leave the country and apply through the process.

If there was ANY question about her position in her Spanish-language advertising or op-eds, it should now be clear. Meg Whitman is flatly opposed to allowing immigrants here without proper documentation to become U.S. citizens.

She said she’d use the eVerify system to hold employers accountable for hiring illegal immigrants, but only after eVerify is working better than its current 90% accuracy rate. Which caused J&K to go batshit!

Over and over again, Meg would start a sentence: So, here’s what I would do . . . So, this is what I think, So what I have said . . . So, So, So, So . . . AARRGGHHHHHH! Of course J&K cut her off about 90% of the time, confronting her from the right – getting her to agree, for example, that she would “make sure” Americans get those jobs that illegal immigrants are taking away from our out-of-work citizens. (As if those unemployed citizens would EVER take those vital service jobs that undocumented workers do for our society. See “A Day Without a Mexican.” )

J&K also jammed Meg for saying she’s opposed to the Arizona stop-for-papers immigration law but that she’d let it stand for Arizona. Why shouldn’t California have a law just like Arizona’s?, they wanted to know. What’s wrong with it? (Something about different geography was all they could get.)

How could she be saying she wants Latino children to have the opportunity to become doctors and lawyers when she doesn’t want them all – i.e. including illegals – to be able to go to state schools?

And then they came to Prop. 23 – the measure that would suspend California’s pioneering climate chance change law. As Calbuzz predicted, Whitman suggested that she will likely vote ‘No” on Prop. 23, even though she has called the measure it would suspend a “job killer.”

Whitman is trying to say she would suspend the law for a year, but when pressed by J&K about the one-year suspension, she was quick to note that it could be suspended for three years. And in an interview earlier this year with the Ventura County Star, Whitman suggested she would jettison the law altogether. The Brown campaign was on this like stink on a skunk.

We suppose eMeg’s people sent her onto J&K to try to do some damage control with their right-wing audience, but judging from the listeners we heard right after her appearance, we’re not sure it worked. She was called a “two-faced lying weasel,” “wishy-washy . . . bought her way into the election,” and an “absolute two-faced liar.”

So, what we have to say about that is . . .The reason these issues matter is because: 1) Whitman is desperate to win a third or more of Latino voters but her stand today seriously endangers that effort IF Latino voters hear what she said today — which will depend on whether Jerry Brown and/or his allies drive that message home and 2) Whitman is trying to wiggle her way away from her strategic blunder in the GOP primary where she ripped AB 32 when she didn’t have to and on this issue Brown seems intent on making sure that moderate and independent voters know that Whitman is not on their side on the environment.

Gay blades not out on Prop. 8 ruling: Even though Brown and  Whitman are on opposite sides of the gay marriage debate, don’t look for the issue to gain much traction in the campaign for governor.

As a legal matter, Judge Vaughn Walker’s opinion declaring the Proposition 8 ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional re-ignites the controversy in California, and across the nation. At first glance, with the decision headed for a likely long appeals process, there is no immediate political venue for the controversy to play out in a major way in the 2010 state campaigns.

If there is any advantage to be gained, it would be modest, and likely accrue to Brown’s benefit. As Attorney General, he refused to defend Prop. 8, both before the state Supreme Court and before U.S. District Judge Walker, and might get a small boost from the Democratic base among liberals and gay rights advocates in an election in which turnout will be crucial.

Whitman has consistently said she is opposed to gay marriage, and has quietly expressed support for Prop. 8, but is unlikely to gin up much excitement among evangelicals and other Republican social conservatives for her understated views, particularly given her pro-choice position on abortion, and her effort to run hard to the center in the general election.

It was clear from the bland statements issued by both candidates after Wednesday’s ruling that neither side sees vast political opportunity, at least for now.

Brown’s campaign flack referred questions about his reaction to the attorney general’s office, which released this brief comment from the AG:

In striking down Proposition 8, Judge Walker came to the same conclusion I did when I declined to defend it: Proposition 8 violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by taking away the right of same-sex couples to marry, without a sufficient governmental interest.

Candidate Krusty was somewhat livelier on Twitter:

It’s official! Great News for California! California gay marriage ban overturned!

Then wife Anne tweeted:

I’m proud my husband worked so hard to protect marriage for others, even though it took him 15 years to pop the question to me 🙂

eMeg’s comment, made by Darrel Ng, Team Whitman’s Third Mate Under Assistant Vice President Deputy Flack for Issues the Volcanic Sarah Pompei Doesn’t Want to Deal With:

Meg supported Proposition 8 and believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Meg also strongly supports California’s civil union laws. Today’s ruling is the first step in a process that will continue.

“The first step in a process that will continue?”

Sort of like ordering breakfast, or brushing your teeth, or driving on the freeway or . . . everything… How cosmic of you, Darrel!

P.S. Over in the Senate race, where the issue might prove more salient, Babs and Hurricane Carly are also split.

PPIC: Voters Oppose Offshore Oil & AB 32 Rollback

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

By large margins, California’s likely voters oppose expanded offshore oil drilling and believe that enforcement of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions law will create more jobs – not kill them – a new Public Policy Institute of California poll shows.

Public attitudes are polarized between Democrats and Republicans on the two high-profile environmental issues but, significantly, the crucial swing blocs of independent and moderate voters both oppose the GOP position by 2-to-1.

With tight races both for governor – where PPIC shows Jerry Brown ahead of Meg Whitman 37-to-34% with 23 % undecided –  and for U.S. Senator – where Barbara Boxer leads Carly Fiorina 39-to-34%, with 22% undecided – the poll points to key political opportunities for the front-running Democrats to differentiate themselves from their Republican rivals.

Given the registration advantage of Democrats in statewide elections, PPIC President and CEO Mark Baldassare told Calbuzz, the poll’s findings on the views of independents, particularly on the jobs vs. greenhouse gas regulation debate, are “hugely significant.”

“The ‘more jobs versus fewer jobs’ debate will be a center of discussion this fall with the effort to suspend AB 32,” Baldassare said. “It poses a real challenge for Republicans to explain why they believe differently” than most voters.

Climate change and jobs: As a political matter, the findings on AB 32 — California’s landmark legislation to regulate emissions — offer the clearest look yet at the state political landscape surrounding the issue of climate change, at a time when debate on the matter is growing more vocal.

Conservative Republicans, joined by several large coal and oil companies, have qualified Proposition 23 for the November ballot. The initiative would suspend enforcement of AB 32 unless and until unemployment fell to 5.5 percent in the state; AB 32 requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

With the state unemployment rate now at 12.5 percent, supporters of the measure argue that the greenhouse gas law is an environmental “job killer” that California cannot economically afford. But the recession has had little effect on changing the public’s favorable opinion about AB 32, according to the poll, which shows likely voters:

1-Favor AB 32 overall by 61-to-28 percent; while Democrats support it 80-10 and Republicans oppose it 49-39, independents support the law 73-16%.

2-Think California should make its own policies, separate from the federal government, by 56-38%, with Democrats backing that position 63-to-30% and independents by 60-to-30%, as Republicans say California should not have its own climate change policy, 50-43%.

3-Believe that global warming is a very or somewhat serious threat to the economy and quality of life in the state by 63-to-35%; Democrats perceive it as a serious problem, 86-12% while Republicans do not find it so, 55-41% and independents express serious concern 77-to-22%.

For the 2010 campaigns, however, the most important numbers on the climate change issue show that likely voters, for now at least, are rejecting the central argument of the conservatives and industry groups spearheading the Prop. 23 effort, namely that tough greenhouse gas emissions regulation is a “job killer” making the recession worse.

In fact, a large plurality of likely voters believe that state global warming legislation will increase employment. While PPIC did not poll the ballot language of AB Prop. 23, because the final version was not available when they were in the field, researchers did ask about the jobs argument:

Do you think that California doing things to reduce global warming in the future would cause there to be more jobs for people around the state, would cause there to be fewer jobs, or wouldn’t affect the number of jobs for people around the state?

The result: By 43-28, likely voters said it would mean more jobs, not fewer; Democrats took that stance 57-14%, while Republicans said it would mean fewer jobs, 43-to-24%.

Swing voters agreed with the Democrats: Independents said global warming measures would mean more jobs rather than fewer, 50-to-25%, while moderates agreed, 49-to-20%.

Offshore oil drilling: In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon calamity in the Gulf of Mexico, the poll showed a dramatic swing in attitudes about offshore oil drilling in California.

After many years in which state voters strongly opposed expanded drilling off the coast, sentiment began to swing in favor two years ago, when gas prices spiked.

In 2009,  when asked their view about more drilling off the coast “to address the country’s energy needs and reduce dependence on foreign oil,” likely voters favored drilling 55-to-41%. But in the new survey, likely voters oppose drilling 59-to-37%, a huge swing of 36 points.

“After consistently opposing more offshore oil drilling, residents began to waver as gas prices increased,” Baldassare said. “But events in the Gulf appear to have renewed opposition to more drilling here.”

What it all means: As a practical matter, the PPIC poll represents especially bad news for GOP Senate candidate Fiorina.

She has positioned herself on the far right on a host of issues, including her call for expanded drilling off the coast of California, and her support for Proposition 23, coupled with her mocking of Boxer’s oft-expressed concern about climate change (Fiorina calls it a fixation on the weather) and her questioning of the science of global warming.

With 41% of likely voters saying the candidates’ views on the environment are very important, compared to 21% who say they are not too important, Boxer leads Fiorina overall, 39-to-34%. Each candidate has very strong backing from her own party but Boxer leads among independents 35-29%.

In the governor’s race, Whitman has switched her position on offshore drilling several times and, most recently, opposes it, while Brown consistently has been against.

In courting right-wing voters in the GOP primary, Whitman said she would suspend AB 32 for at least one year, while Brown has been adamantly against relaxing it.

It’s significant that Whitman has not yet taken a position on Prop. 23 and, given her flip flops and flexibility on other issues, it would not surprising to see her come out against it yet. Our guess: she’ll say she’s got a better plan and Prop. 23 goes too far. This, of course, would raise new questions about her opportunism and commitment on the issue by both sides of the debate.

The PPIC findings are based on telephone (landline and cell) surveys of 2,502 Californians, conducted July 6-20, in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Korean. The margin of error for the sub-sample of 1,321 likely voters is plus or minus 2.7 percent.

You can access the complete poll here.

How Climate Change Attitudes Affect the Gov Race

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Barely noticed in the stories that ran last week based on a Reuters /Ipsos poll (that showed Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer with “narrow” leads in their races for governor and U.S. Senate) was this nugget in the piece by Steve Holland of Reuters:

“The survey also found a wide disparity between the parties about the state’s climate change and environmental regulations. It said 68 percent of Democrats believe green policies will drive investment in green technology and jobs, while 62 percent of Republicans think they will create higher energy costs.”

Barely noticed*, perhaps, because the Reuters mainbar passed over the really important news , buried in the survey data that Ipsos graciously shared with Calbuzz:

That half the registered voters agree that “California regulations regarding climate change and the environment drive investment in green technology and create green jobs.” That’s compared to just 38% who say those regulations “will create higher energy costs and lead to cuts in traditional jobs.”

That’s essentially a split of 50-38% in favor of AB32, the state’s pioneering climate change law that some oil companies and others are trying to repeal with Proposition 23. And even more important than the mirror stands by party the Reuters story noted (Democrats 68-21% for green jobs; Republicans 62-27 for higher costs and job losses) was this number: Among independents 56% said climate change regulations would create green jobs while just 30% said they would drive up costs and unemployment.

Loyal Calbuzz readers will recall that we have argued for some time that 1) the environment is a threshold issue for independent voters, much like choice: if a candidate is seen as “wrong” on the issue, voters don’t care what their stance is on the really important issues like economy and jobs and 2) Meg Whitman, in trying not to get outflanked on the right by Steve Poizner in the GOP primary, made a strategic blunder by declaring herself an implacable foe of AB32.

Although Whitman has not yet taken a position on Prop. 23, it’s hard to see how she could justify NOT supporting it, since she herself has called for suspending the measure because she’s afraid it’s a job killer.

It’s amusing when big foot Washington reporters realize that something happening in California has national significance, like Ron Brownstein’s story in National Journal looking at the movement to repeal AB32.  But really, they miss the practical political point, too, when they argue: “In this grueling economy, California’s climate-change law still faces a tough struggle in November.”

With Gov. Schwarzenegger, former Secretary of State George Shultz, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and a host of other business interests, including clean-tech firms, lining up to defend AB32 (and with “Yes” twice as hard to win on the ballot than “No”), what makes the battle over the measure most interesting is the effect it will have on the governor’s and U.S. Senate races (Republican Carly Fiorina is also unrelentingly against AB32).

We’ll know more when new survey data is available from the Field Poll, but in the most recent surveys PPIC had AB32’s approval at 66% and Field had it at 58%. In addition, Attorney General Jerry Brown gave it a rather crippling official title and summary: “Suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”

The Ipsos Public Affairs survey has some drawbacks: it’s a random digit dialed (RDD) survey in which voters are simply asked if they’re registered to vote and in what party they’re registered. That brings people with unlisted phone numbers into the sample (which you don’t get using the voter list), but it relies on respondents to tell pollsters if they’re actually registered to vote (a somewhat iffy proposition). PPIC still uses RDD; the Field Poll has gone to using the voter list.

BTW, those “narrow” leads reported by Reuters or “small” leads written up by Clifford Young of Ipsos might well have been understated. The Ipsos data shows that Brown leads Whitman 45-39% on the initial question, but when leaners are thrown in, it’s Brown over Whitman 48-41%. Likewise, Boxer leads Fiorina 45-41% in the initial vote but 48-42% when the leaners are added in. The top line report notes “Ipsos does not allocate leaners at this stage of the electoral cycle.”

Calbuzz, however, is happy to include the leaners for both candidates. In the governor’s race, Brown leads 79-14% among Democrats; Whitman leads 82-11% among Republicans and — critically — Brown leads 47-15% among independents.

Also, while Whitman has been making a big push for Latinos (after her muscular anti-illegal-immigration rhetoric in the GOP primary), Ipsos had it 59-34% for Brown among Latinos. And while the Ipsos sample of 600 is too small to look at party by gender or gender by party, we can tell you this: Brown was leading Whitman 46-41% among men but 49-41% among women. To date, as we have argued before, gender pales as an influence on the vote compared to party.

* One political mover and shaker who DID catch the significance of the survey data was our friend Steve Maviglio over at California Majority Report.

The Poizner Effect: Is Jerry Brown Blowing It?

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Four months before the November election, the  Jerry Brown-Meg Whitman race looks like a small band of desperadoes toting six shooters facing off  against a fully staffed division equipped with tanks, stinger missiles and .50 caliber machine guns.

Even so, we have to wonder if Brown doesn’t seem ruinously hellbent on employing the not-so-vaunted Poizner Strategy: keep your powder dry while constantly whining about how nasty and profligate the other side is, then fire everything you’ve got all at once, in a short burst at the end of the campaign.

Worked like a charm for The Commish, eh?

We at Calbuzz don’t pretend to be brilliant campaign strategists, and we freely stipulate that there are certain dynamics in the governor’s race that work strongly in Krusty’s favor. For starters, we hear that eMeg’s favorability is about 4-3 negative and – importantly – voters (especially Democrats and independents who might have been confused) understand after her bruising primary battle against Poizner that she is a Republican politician and a Wall Street insider, not some post-partisan Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

So, instead of being 10 points behind immediately coming out of the primary, which was the worst case for Brown, he came out of it 2-6 points ahead, depending on whose survey you believe. In a state that leans 8-10 points Democratic, Krusty’s not in a terrible position.

But, while he and his plucky little squad insist that eMeg’s multi-faceted, multi-million-dollar attack on him as a “failure” is a sign of weakness (because she first tried and failed to gain ground by running a positive ad), we would hereby like to state  the obvious: She’s on the air and he’s not!

Ergo: What she’s saying is being heard; what he’s saying (and believe us, there’s not much) is not being heard. By anyone.

And what’s Brown doing about this state of affairs? Pissing and moaning; Lord, ain’t life unfair:

The other side, kind of the apostles of darkness and ignorance, are well heeled. They have great political consultants. And they intend to bombard the airwaves. It’s almost like a hostile takeover of the public airwaves and of democracy itself. We gotta’ fight back and you’ve gotta fight back and I need your help.

Hey Krusty, it’s 2010. Your opponent’s a billionaire. Man up. A governor’s race is a no-whine zone.

Another problem: Remember that quaint old idea of a “news cycle,” from, oh, say 1974, when you could get something in the “morning papers” or on what they used to call “the evening news?” Brown seems to think those rules of media engagement still apply.

Memo to Team Krusty: when eMeg puts out an ad attacking you like she did last week, you’re not going to get into the story by putting out your point-by-point response in time for the next “news cycle.”

Because there is no more “news cycle.” It’s all happening now, in real time, on the internets. And you can’t comfort yourself by trying to argue that “nothing appeared in the papers, it was only on the web.” Memo II: Online news is no less penetrating than home-delivered and newsstand newspapers. In fact, the MSMs figure out what to say, in part, by reading the blogs, so your alleged “rapid response” was actually what you might call geezer response. BTW, we’re not the only ones to note this.

As Calbuzz has noted before, Brown’s main argument is that while he’s authentic, Whitman is artificial. As we’ve said, it goes like this:  “He’s the real deal; she’s a brand name. He’s meat and potatoes; she’s Mrs. Potato Head.”

“She’s a marketing creation,” said Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer. “The issues she purports to care so much about today, she never lifted a finger to do anything about in the past.”

True enough, but maybe irrelevant, if Whitman can bury her distant and even her recent past under a mountain of paid propaganda.

One important issue to watch: How she handles AB32. In order not to look too much like a Sierra Club symp in her primary battle against Poizner, Whitman called for suspending the state’s pioneering measure to roll back greenhouse gas emissions.

Now that a ballot measure has qualified to do just that, will Whitman have the stones to back the ballot measure that is backed by a whole host of nasty oil companies?

We asked eMeg’s spokeshuman, the volcanic Sarah Pompei, for the candidate’s position on the November ballot measure to undo AB 32 and got this response:

“Meg is carefully looking at the initiative now that it has qualified for the ballot.  In the meantime, she has proposed her own detailed plan to institute the one-year moratorium allowed by AB 32 to study the statute and ensure it will not lead to further job losses.”

Memo III: Instead of complaining about the inequities of campaign spending, this is  exactly the kind of issue Brown should be hitting on if he has any hope to getting sustained media coverage to counter-balance eMeg’s unrelenting (she was off the air for a total of two days!) advertising.

Why? A March Field Poll found California voters supporting AB32 58-38% and by a 69-29% margin, agreeing that “California can reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and expand jobs and economic prosperity at the same time.”

That’s exactly what eMeg says California cannot do. But if the Brown “campaign” had a big event pressing Meg on this issue, we must have missed it. (Which, of course, is possible, given that we’re just a couple of hacks plagued by early onset senility).

And while eMeg is spending $600,000 a week or so on Spanish-language advertising to try to convince Latinos that she’s not Pete Wilson (even if he is her campaign chairman), Brown’s campaign still has no one on staff in charge of outreach to the Hispanic community, leaving open the question of whether Brown does (as some Latinos believe) take the Latino vote for granted.

What Jerry has going for him is that the Republican brand gets only about 20% favorable among Latinos and the Spanish-language news media – at least what we’ve seen – don’t seem to eager to forgive Whitman’s polarizing talk about illegal immigration during the primary.

Here’s Brown’s dilemma: every day he and his merry band up in Oakland have to decide 1) when to engage, 2) what to say and 3) how much to put behind it. They can absorb a certain amount of negativity that will drive Brown’s favorability downward. But how far down can they afford to go before they change their strategic game plan?

It’s just a fact that Whitman is going to keep coming at Brown every day, in new ways, in different markets. True, the messenger has been somewhat discredited herself, but as the widely quoted Joseph Goebbels (and Morton’s Salt, Crest and Nike) proved, if you say something over and over, even if it’s not true, you can convince a lot of people of just about anything.

The pro-Brown independent expenditure committees are having this effect to some extent: they’re aimed at keeping Whitman from being able to build her favorability, which she desperately needs in order to get past 40-42% level of support in a head-to-head with Brown, who’s in the 46-48% range.

Brown argues that he’s got an outsider’s attitude and the experience to get California working again. Whitman argues that he’s a failure and that she’s got the experience to get California working again.

Bottom line: she’s making her case to millions of people every day and he’s not. It seems clear that it’s time for Brown to start talking concretely about how he would govern and how he would use the government to tweak California’s economy.

Or maybe nobody’s paying attention yet. We seem to recall Steve Poizner saying something to that effect.

Big Oil’s Hazardous Landscape on AB 32 Repeal

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

By Warner Chabot
Special to Calbuzz

When Texas oil refiners Valero and Tesoro were contemplating whether to buy their way onto the California ballot last winter, they envisioned a ripe environment for their proposition to repeal the state’s clean energy and air standards: skyrocketing unemployment rates, a Tea Party-inspired anti-regulation backlash, and increased skepticism about the science of global warming fueled by the rants of right-wing talking heads Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

Sure, the state’s landmark climate law (AB 32) was popular – with 66 percent approval in a PPIC poll and 58 percent in the Field Poll. Yes, Attorney General Jerry Brown had saddled the initiative with a deadly accurate but inconvenient title and summary (“Suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions”). And, of course, the then-cheerleaders for the ballot initiative weren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer: gadfly Ted Costa (who has since announced his opposition to the measure after being pushed aside) and first-term Republican Assemblyman Dan Logue.

But initiative strategist Mark Carpenter, a former tobacco lobbyist who fought California’s indoor smoking laws, apparently convinced the companies that those obstacles could be overcome by the deep pockets of Big Oil. After all, the $50 million or so it would take to win the campaign was chump change for an oil company that had just upped its CEO’s salary to $10.9 million, a 64 percent increase from the prior year.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the ballot.

In late April, some 1.7 million gallons of oil began gushing from a British Petroleum well in the Gulf of Mexico each day. Horrified Californians continue to be exposed daily to images of brown pelicans soaked in black oil, tar balls washing up on beaches, and devastated local economies.

That’s not exactly good PR for a ballot measure being bankrolled with $2 million from oil companies, including California offshore driller Venoco Inc. Cases in point: the immediate sharp decline in support for offshore oil drilling in California, according to a Los Angeles Times/USC poll and the defeat of a local measure to allow Venoco to begin slant drilling into the Santa Barbara channel.

Or look to the state Senate District 15 special election, as environmental champion and drilling opponent John Laird points out Assemblyman (and former Exxon employee) Sam Blakeslee’s support of the controversial Tranquillon Ridge oil drilling project.

Being associated with oil companies is political death this year.

On top of that, voters are beginning to focus on the economic downside of America’s addiction to oil. That is driving a renewed push in the nation’s capital for federal action to support a clean energy economy.

So it was no surprise then that President Obama bee-lined to California, the nation’s leader in renewable energy development, when he wanted to connect the dots between investment in clean energy and the oil spill. He put a bright national spotlight on AB 32’s renewable energy requirements, the driving force behind more than 500,000 clean tech jobs and $9 billion in solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects being built in California.

If the oil spill wasn’t bad enough for Valero’s fortunes, last week’s primary election results might be even more problematic. Two special interest propositions were dismissed by voters despite record-shattering spending by their corporate sponsors.

That will throw a wrench in Carpenter’s calculus for winning, which includes spending up to $50 million branding the oil company measure as a “jobs initiative.”

Voters and the media already are seeing through that fog, noting that it is a deceptive measure that has little to do with employment and everything to do with allowing the company to bypass pollution laws.

And no one is buying that the ballot measure is just a “temporary” suspension of the law either – particularly when the once-in-a-blue-moon economic conditions it specifies (banning implementation of the law unless the statewide unemployment rate exceeds 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters) have occurred just three times in the past 30 years.

It’s just that kind of deception that doomed Props 16 and 17.

The Valero initiative could well be strike three for special interest ballot measures, particularly because its high-profile CEO makes Enron’s Ken Lay and BP’s Tony Haywood look like church mice.

Valero chief exec Bill Kleese – recently named to MSNBC’s “Mad Money” Hall of Shame – dismisses climate change legislation as “alarmist.” He’s taken a lead role as chief attack dog in battling clean energy policy at the national scale as Chairman of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. He also is the brains behind the AstroTurf “Voices for Energy” effort supporting Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s effort to strip EPA of its right to regulate greenhouse gases. (That measure failed in the U.S. Senate last week.).

Meanwhile, Republican and Democratic candidates alike are distancing themselves from the Big Oil initiative.

Meg Whitman, not wanting to give Jerry Brown further ammunition in the gubernatorial campaign, has refused to endorse it (as has Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado). Whitman’s distancing herself from the ballot measure comes despite her call for a one-year moratorium on AB 32. She’s declined to embrace an oil company-backed proposal unpopular among her Silicon Valley supporters, as well as suburban decline-to-state voters she views as key to victory in November.

Candidate Brown has come out strongly against the measure. Running against Big Oil, corporate special interest measures, and fat cat CEOs are all key components in the Brown playbook, and opposing the Dirty Energy Initiative fits nicely into that narrative.

It looks as if Big Oil picked the wrong time and the wrong place for this fight.

Warner Chabot is CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters