News

Bond campaign sets off feeding frenzy among political consultants

The presence of $37.3 billion worth of bonds on the November ballot has set
off a scrum in the Capitol among political consultants, all jockeying for a
piece of the fall campaign.

Because of the bond’s bipartisan support, both Democratic and Republican
consultants are angling for a piece of the action. The wide ideological base
of support for the bonds means that consultants and interest groups, who
went to war during the special election just last year, now find themselves
on the same side of the issue. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re
willing to campaign together.

Some labor leaders have said they are unwilling to give money to any
campaign committee that is controlled by Gov. Schwarzenegger or any
Republican consultants. Meanwhile, Republican attorney and Schwarzenegger
insider Steve Merksamer reportedly has hatched a master plan for the fall
campaign and is attempting to coordinate various pieces of the campaign by calling stakeholders in for meetings.

Although many argue that the best strategy for the fall campaign would be to
sell each of the four bonds as one mega-package, voters will get to decide
on the bonds individually. And with different political agendas at work, the
campaign is likely to be multi-dimensional, with various interest groups
opting to support specific bonds and different campaign consultants working
different pieces of the campaign.
And then there’s the issue of the governor’s re-election bid. Schwarzenegger
is counting on using the bond package as a major campaign issue, and it’s
clear that his campaign wants to associate the governor with the bonds as
much as possible.

“As the governor has made clear, he looks forward to campaigning for this
historic plan to build more schools, more roads, shore up our levies and
keep California’s economy strong,” says Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Julie
Soderlund. “The governor laid the foundation for this historic agreement in
his strategic-growth plan because he believes strongly that this investment
in our infrastructure is what California needs to move the state forward.”

In addition to the disparate political agendas surrounding the fall
campaign, there are other tactical hurdles to overcome. Because of quirks in
state election law, there may be different rules for the different campaign
committees that are expected to be established for the campaign. One such
committee, controlled by Sen. Don Perata, has been open since last year and
is going to stay up and running, says Paul Hefner, who serves as a
consultant to Perata’s Rebuilding California Committee.

Hefner says a clue about how the fall campaign may work can be found in
whose name was on which bond. Perata authored the housing and transportation
bonds, while Speaker Fabian N


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