Dems set up Arnold in fall

first_imgDowd noted that Schwarzenegger’s approval ratings are higher than those of the last two governors who were re-elected. “I’m not surprised that we’ve improved,” Dowd said. “I am sort of surprised that there’s such a huge number of undecided voters in the Democratic primary. They’re not only undecided, but unenthusiastic.” The two Democratic candidates and their allies are expected to spend at least $70 million combined in the primary, with most of Westly’s spending coming out of his own pocket. Schwarzenegger’s campaign will start the general election with about $10 million banked. The Field Poll released Friday found Angelides and Westly in a statistical dead heat. But the poll also found that one of four likely voters is undecided, a record high in the survey’s 60-year history. Secretary of State Bruce McPherson has predicted that turnout Tuesday will be 38 percent, compared with 42.4 percent who voted in 1998, the last competitive Democratic race. “I think there’s voter malaise,” said Barbara O’Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and the Media at California State University. With more similarities than differences between the candidates, the primary has come down to them trading attacks on tax increases, the environment and gas prices. And those negative messages, O’Connor said, make voters question the credibility of the candidates. “They may think all of them are unbelievable,” O’Connor said. “The only thing I conclude is that campaign consultants make too much money to start with.” Officials with both campaigns acknowledged that voters may have been turned off by the negative tone, but each has blamed the other for starting the attacks. Earlier in the race, Westly had pledged to run a clean campaign and urged his rival to do the same, a challenge Angelides declined. Angelides, trailing in polls, went into attack mode in the spring, comparing the controller to Schwarzenegger and other Republicans. Westly responded with a series of ads criticizing Angelides’ environmental record as a developer before he became treasurer. “Some folks may be turned off by negative ads, but the fact is Steve Westly made clear from day one he would not be swift-boated,” said Westly campaign spokesman Nick Velasquez, referring to the 2004 presidential campaign attacks against Sen. John Kerry. “He would respond if attacked.” Velasquez said Angelides “spent the last month bashing Steve Westly up and down the state, likening him to Tom DeLay and Rush Limbaugh. If that’s not negative campaigning in a Democratic primary, I don’t know what is.” The Westly campaign, he added, is simply drawing legitimate “contrasts” between the two candidates, particularly on their environmental records. Angelides has responded to the attacks by rolling out the environmental organizations that have endorsed him, such as the League of Conservation Voters, in a series of ads and campaign appearances. The Angelides campaign hopes the environmental issues will help swing some of the Democratic voters who are still undecided. “I think it’s going to be part of what makes the difference on election day,” said Angelides campaign spokesman Dan Newman. “Voters in these final days are going to be able to cut through the mud that Westly has put on TV by looking to these leaders who they respect as (supporting) the candidate we can count on for better schools and a clean environment.” Other high-profile races Tuesday include the campaign for attorney general, with Oakland Mayor and former Gov. Jerry Brown facing off against Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo; and the GOP primary for state controller between former Assemblyman Tony Strickland and Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria. In the San Fernando Valley, voters are facing several competitive state legislative races, with the most competitive being the Senate battle between Assemblywoman Cindy Monta ez, D-San Fernando, and Los Angeles City Councilman Alex Padilla. They are vying for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-Van Nuys, who is termed out and is uncontested in his campaign for Monta ez’s Assembly seat. Monta ez and Padilla combined have raised more than $2 million, making it one of the most expensive legislative races in the state. Just like the two gubernatorial candidates, Monta ez and Padilla have more similarities than differences, in terms of age, ethnic background and political experience, so the campaign has focused on negative attacks on campaign fundraising and political ethics. The state has almost 15.7 million registered voters. Election officials had issued more than 3.8 million absentee ballots and as of Thursday had received almost 935,000. [email protected] (916) 446-6723160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SACRAMENTO – While the hard-fought Democratic race for governor heads to a squeaky-tight finish, the winner of Tuesday’s election may have an even bumpier road ahead after passing that hurdle. The expensive and bruising campaign – with a flurry of attack ads unleashed by both candidates in the last few weeks – may put the winner of the primary at a disadvantage in trying to take down Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the fall. And the two candidates – state Treasurer Phil Angelides and Controller Steve Westly – have essentially performed most of the opposition research on each other that Schwarzenegger’s campaign team will need in the fall – information that’s already being seen by voters in ads attacking campaign fundraising and environmental records. “Westly and Angelides have been effective in one thing: raising doubts about each other,” said Jack Pitney, government professor at Claremont McKenna College. “And those doubts will linger. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2“Moreover, the Schwarzenegger campaign has probably been taking notes throughout the primary season, and we’ll see some of those attacks re-emerge in the fall.” Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger has been able to sit back and burnish his image with several recent accomplishments, including a deal on an infrastructure bond and a proposed budget that increases education spending and pays down debt. The governor’s campaign has not stated a preference for facing either candidate in the Nov. 7 general election. Schwarzenegger strategist Matthew Dowd boasted that the governor’s campaign is looking stronger now that his approval rating is rebounding from the hits he took during last year’s special election. A Field Poll released Friday found the governor would have a slight lead, 44-42, over Westly in a November matchup, and a 46-39 edge over Angelides. last_img


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