By Kevin Yamamura
Published: Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Gov. Jerry Brown hoped a mix of politicking and good fortune would deter negative ads against his tax initiative in the campaign’s final weeks.
His luck expired in the last few days.
Not one, but two, campaigns took aim at the governor’s Proposition 30 on airwaves across the state, funded separately by two children of billionaire investor Charles Munger.
The Democratic governor now faces a serious threat to the linchpin of his longer-term budget plan. Brown has been particularly frustrated by attorney Molly Munger’s ad, which calls his campaign “misleading” and uses an animated sequence to depict politicians taking money from a schoolhouse.
Her rival measure, Proposition 38, would hike taxes on all but the poorest income earners to help schools and initially the state budget. Though hers has lagged Brown’s initiative in polls throughout the year, Munger still believes she will win come Election Day.
“This is an absolutely unprecedented situation in California politics,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. “The approach that Molly Munger is taking is very similar to what a candidate would do who’s down in the polls weeks before an election.”
As counties issued mail ballots this week, the Munger ads sent chills through education circles. School districts have placed big bets that Brown’s initiative would pass in November, planning to eliminate school days and cut programs if voters reject Proposition 30.
Emails and conversations within the education community suggested the possibility of “murder-suicide,” a scenario in which Munger’s ads lead both multibillion-dollar tax initiatives to defeat.
Many school advocates are frustrated because they feel Munger’s measure has no chance of winning because it would raise income taxes on many more Californians, while Brown’s could survive absent the attack ads now on the air.
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