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SAN FRANCISCO - With public support for his tax measure falling below 50 percent for the first time two weeks before Election Day, Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that the numbers are "a little puzzling" but that the campaign can still be won.

"I think we have a very good chance," Brown said at a press conference with business leaders here. "I'm not going to let anything slow me down between now and Election Day."

The Democratic governor's remarks follow the release last night of a Public Policy Institute of California poll showing support among likely voters for Proposition 30 fading to 48 percent, down from 52 percent last month. Forty-four percent of likely voters oppose the proposal to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.

Brown, who frequently highlights the measure's reliance on California's wealthiest residents in public speeches and rallies, was asked why he does not emphasize that relatively popular aspect of his campaign in his paid advertising.

"It's always dicey when you start looking at different aspects of our stratified society, and it's hard to find the right phrases, the right words," Brown said.

He said "the God's honest truth" about Proposition 30 is, "It's hurt the schools or take a little money from people who can well afford it.

"It's so obvious that it is a little puzzling that the polls aren't a little higher," Brown said. "But they're in the ballpark. We're ahead, and I think from all the internal numbers that I've looked at, this can be won."

The campaign against Proposition 30 released a statement highlighting the measure's falling poll numbers, saying "voters are seeing through the governor's deceptive campaign."

Brown kept up his attack on opponents of his measure, calling the donation of $11 million from a secretive, Arizona-based nonprofit group "probably the worst abuse in the history of California election law since the (campaign finance) reform was put in."

Brown, whose 1974 ballot measure created the state Fair Political Practices Commission, said of the body's suing the group today, "Finally."

Americans for Responsible Leadership donated $11 million this month to a business committee opposing Brown's measure and supporting a controversial campaign finance measure, Proposition 32.

Brown previously accused the committee that accepted the donation of illegal money laundering, a claim the committee said was a baseless political attack.

Editor's note: Post updated at 4 p.m. to include response from campaign against Proposition 30.


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