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SAN DIEGO -- California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton agrees with Gov. Jerry Brown that Molly Munger's November tax initiative could hurt the governor's bid to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.

Too many tax measures on one ballot, the thinking goes, and wide-eyed voters might look at all of them and say, "No."

But the powers of a party chairman are not without limits.

"What are you going to do, you know, go get a hit squad to tell Molly Munger, 'We'll burn down your house if you don't do it?' " Burton told reporters this afternoon in San Diego, where state Democrats arrived for their annual convention.

Munger, the daughter of a business partner of Warren Buffett, has contributed nearly $1 million to her campaign, an initiative to raise income taxes on all but the poorest Californians.

Burton said he hasn't talked to her and wouldn't know her if he saw her. But if he called her about her initiative, he said, he thought the conversation might go something like this:

"You really want to do this?"

"Yeah."

"Why?"

"'Cause I wanna."

"OK."

Burton should know. He has proposed an initiative of his own, a tax on oil production, though even he said today that he is "of the opinion that more people would look favorably on the governor's proposals than the others."

A reporter asked Burton if he thought Munger's initiative, should it qualify, would doom Brown's.

"That's a good question," he said. "How in the hell would I know?"



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