Backers promise millions of dollars to aid Jerry Brown, other candidates

A coalition including labor groups and their allies is creating a new independent expenditure committee to boost Jerry Brown and other Democratic candidates across the state.

The new committee, which will be called California Working Families 2010, is expected to have a budget of more than $20 million, sources close to the committee say. The news comes one day after paperwork for a separate committee, Level the Playing Field 2010, was filed with the secretary of state.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier and Ross reported that the Playing Field committee, which will focus on attacking Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, is also claiming to have a budget of more than $20 million, though no contributions have yet been reported.

The Working Families coalition is expected to include labor unions that include the California Conference of Carpenters, which has been close to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger,  and other labor groups. It will be run by several political operatives with close ties to the Obama administration; among them is Larry Grisolano, a partner in the Chicago-based political firm AKPD, where Obama political guru David Axelrod is a partner. Grisolano has also worked closely with the Service Employees International Union, one of the state’s largest political contributors.

Others involved in the group include Frank Quintero, who works for billionaire Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Company; Jason Kruger, who served as Obama’s senior advisor for labor during the 2008 campaign; and Roger Salazar, former spokesman for Gov. Gray Davis and a partner in the Sacramento-based firm Acosta/Salazar.

The creation of the two committees underscores Democratic concern about the deep pockets of Whitman and her GOP primary challenger, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. Democrats feel state campaign contribution limits would impair Brown’s ability to keep pace with either candidate’s resources.

So they have turned to independent expenditure committees, which are not technically allowed to coordinate with the candidate’s campaign, but are not restricted by limits on political contributions. Paperwork for California Working Families 2010 is expected to be filed with the California secretary of state on Thursday. The committee is expected to hit the airwaves with television ads within the month, sources said.

Earlier this month, Whitman began her own television campaign with a multimillion-dollar ad buy on television stations around the state.

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