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20110414_AOC_BethGaines_081w.JPGA labor-backed independent expenditure committee has launched a last-minute attack against Republican Beth Gaines in the 4th Assembly District.

Opportunity PAC reported this week spending more than $9,000 on mail pieces opposing Gaines, a candidate in next week's special election to fill the seat vacated when her husband, Ted Gaines, was elected to the state Senate in January.

The Roseville Republican is favored to win Tuesday's runoff for the suburban Sacramento seat, which includes Alpine County and parts of Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento counties. Republicans hold a double-digit voter registration advantage over Democrats there. Her sole opponent, Democrat Dennis Campanale, has spent less than $5,000 on his campaign so far.

The expenditures were fueled by contributions from California Professional Firefighters, which recently endorsed Campanale, a retired firefighter.

California School Employees Association Executive Director Dave Low, whose union is one of the key funders of the committee, said the point of the mail pieces was to point out hypocrisy of Gaines and her husband supporting a cuts-dominated budget while taking a government paycheck and perks.

He declined to comment further on the strategy, but Democratic strategist Steven Maviglio wrote on California Majority Report today that the committee backers, which include SEIU and teachers unions, were encouraged to step in by polling showing voters aren't keen on Gaines' support for an all-cuts approach on the state budget.

It's unclear, however, how big of an impact the spending could have this late in the game. The contest is expected to see low turnout and the majority of ballots cast by mail, meaning it's highly possible many of the voters who will participate in the election have already made up their minds -- and their votes.

"Anything can happen," Low said.

PHOTO CREDIT: Beth Gaines speaks to a group of her closest supporters during a campaign event at Bass Lake Golf Course in Rescue on April 14, 2011. Autumn Cruz, Sacramento Bee.


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