The battle for Latino voters is heating up on California's airwaves.
A coalition of unions called Working Californians has debuted a Spanish-language TV ad accusing Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman of misrepresenting her positions on immigration and other matters in her own TV ad targeting Spanish-speaking voters.
This morning, the Whitman campaign countered with a Spanish-language radio ad that touts her experience leading the online auction firm eBay.
The billionaire candidate has already run several Spanish-language TV ads highlighting her opposition to the 1994 anti-immigrant voter initiative Proposition 187 and a recent Arizona law targeting illegal immigrants. Whitman, however, said this week that she believes the courts reviewing the Arizona law should let it stand.
The union coalition, which was formed in 2006, is composed of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Service Employees International Union and the California Teachers Association.
The TV ad is set to run in Southern California and the Central Valley for three weeks and will possibly hit other markets later, said SEIU Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina.
Already, another union-funded group, the similarly-titled California Working Families, has run five English-language TV ads against Whitman since last month. The California Teachers Association is also supporting California Working Families.
The new TV ad by Working Californians, however, is the only Spanish-language spot so far attacking Whitman.
The ad points out that former Gov. Pete Wilson, who is unpopular among many of the state's Latinos for his advocacy of Proposition 187, is the chairman of Whitman's campaign. It also highlights Whitman's proposal barring illegal immigrants from attending state-funded universities and colleges.
"Meg Whitman says she is a different kind of Republican," an announcer says in Spanish in the ad. "But there are certain things she doesn't want you to see in her ads."
Medina said: "It's very clear that here we have a candidate who's talking out of both sides of her mouth and somehow believes that we don't speak English and we don't know what she says to the public at large."
Whitman spokesman Hector Barajas responded in a written statement: "Not only are these ads false, (Democratic gubernatorial candidate) Jerry Brown is literally outsourcing his campaign's dirty work to the entrenched special interest groups that prop up his candidacy. Now how is that not the actual definition of 'two faced'?"
Whitman's radio ad echoes some of her English-language spots highlighting her leadership at eBay. An announcer says in Spanish, "When Meg Whitman arrived at eBay, they had 30 people and an idea. Meg turned that idea into reality. With her leadership and courage, she created an eBay with the ability to weather storms and seize opportunities."
It's unclear what Latino voters think about all this.
A new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds that 42 percent of Latino likely voters would vote for Brown compared to18 percent for Whitman, far below the one-third vote experts say she needs to win.
However, a Field Poll released July 7 shows Whitman winning the support of 39 percent of Latino likely voters to Brown's 50 percent.