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In the wake of a pension deal Democratic leaders struck with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's prison guards' union has dropped $215,000 to oppose Assemblywoman Anna Caballero's quest for the state Senate.

Caballero, D-Salinas, is facing Ceres Mayor Anthony Cannella, a Republican, for the 12th Senate District, probably the most contested seat in a Legislature dominated by uncompetitive seats. The race is the top concern for both Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and his GOP counterpart, Senate Republican leader Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga. If Caballero wins, Democrats would likely have 26 seats in the upper house, one short of the two-thirds majority now needed to pass a budget or raise taxes.

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association has backed Democrat Jerry Brown for governor, but is still stinging from the end-of-session deal between Democratic legislators and Schwarzenegger that essentially authorized the governor to continue furloughs for members of the guards' union until they agree to a new labor contract. At the CCPOA's urging, Dutton and most Republicans opposed the deal, forcing a middle-of-the-night maneuver to pass it with a majority vote. Caballero voted against the deal.

The CCPOA's independent expenditure for a "media buy" to oppose Caballero was reported today. The race has attracted nearly $1.75 million in independent expenditures, including nearly $1 million from business-backed groups on behalf of Cannella and about $400,000 from organized labor for Caballero.


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