Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 10, 2012
State schools chief calls on Molly Munger to stand down

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson tried to intervene Wednesday in the ongoing tax initiative fray by calling on wealthy Proposition 38 proponent Molly Munger to remove her ads attacking Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30.

Torlakson, one of the few state leaders backing both measures, said he has personally expressed "deep concerns and disappointment" to Munger about her Tuesday launch of ads criticizing Brown's campaign for allowing politicians to take money from schools.

"I have urged Molly Munger, in the strongest possible way, not to air any such advertisement," Torlakson said in a statement released by the Brown campaign this afternoon. "I consider this to be the kind of negative campaigning that will confuse voters and turn them away from favorable consideration of either measure. I am concerned that this anti-Proposition 30 advertisement will create additional confusion about the two measures and lead to the defeat of both. This would be a tragic outcome our schools and our students cannot afford."

Torlakson said that his own polling shows that any negative ads have "a high probability of turning voters against both," though his office declined to release data backing up that claim.

Munger's campaign established a separate account to run ads attacking the governor's initiative, and she contributed $3 million Monday for that purpose. Her spokesman, Nathan Ballard, said Munger felt compelled to run the ad because Brown's initial Yes on 30 spot claimed to bypass Sacramento, a mantle she felt her initiative owned.

October 10, 2012
Independent spending on CA legislative races nears $5 million

Independent groups are dropping big bucks to influence dozens of state legislative races, spending more than $4.8 million on television ads, mail pieces and other campaign activities since the beginning of August.

Not surprisingly, more than half that spending has targeted three competitive Senate races that could determine whether Democrats hold a two-thirds majority in the upper house.

October 10, 2012
Molly Munger opens separate committee to attack Prop. 30

Wealthy attorney Molly Munger, who wants voters to raise income taxes for education and state budget relief in Proposition 38, has formed a new committee for the express purpose of critiquing rival tax initiative Proposition 30.

Munger contributed $3 million Monday to the new Committee to Defend Prop. 38 to fund a new round of statewide ads critical of Gov. Jerry Brown's initiative.

October 10, 2012
AM Alert: Voters say they know best

With 11 statewide measures on the November ballot, voters will soon get plenty of opportunity to speak their mind. Which is just how they prefer it, voters said in a new Public Policy Institute of California study released last night.

PPIC found that more than eight in 10 Democrats, Republicans and independents said they believe voters should have a say in state spending and taxes rather than leaving it up to the Legislature and governor.

The superior wisdom of the voters is one of the only things the divided electorate could agree upon. Elsewhere in its report, PPIC said that Democrats and Republicans have grown more polarized than in 2000. More Democrats consider themselves "liberals" now than before (52 percent versus 46 percent in 2000), while more Republicans consider themselves "conservatives" (70 percent versus 58 percent in 2000).

On a related note, PPIC will hold a morning-long event today at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento to discuss recent changes in California governance, such as reducing the budget vote threshold from two-thirds to simple majority in the Legislature. Registration starts at 9 a.m.

Elsewhere in Sacramento, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. to emphasize disaster preparedness with the American Red Cross. He will discuss a new "Capital Region Ready" program that helps locals prepare for natural disasters "including catastrophic floods, wildfires and earthquakes."

The event will take place at Garcia Bend Park, which abuts a levee along the Sacramento River.

And the campaign to repeal the death penalty will hold a 2:30 p.m. press conference featuring Brian Banks, a linebacker with the United Football League's Las Vegas Locomotives who was wrongly convicted of rape in 2002. The Locomotives are in town to play the Sacramento Mountain Lions.

Banks was exonerated earlier this year and had served five years in prison. Though Banks didn't face a death sentence, the Proposition 34 campaign wants to make the case that others could wrongly be on death row.

Finally, happy 45th birthday to Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom. We just, ugh, God, hope he can avoid the indignity of celebrating in Sacramento.

Editor's note: The Proposition 34 press conference has been moved to 2:30 p.m.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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