A 7,000-member union that represents state investigators, law enforcement personnel, 911 dispatchers and others on Tuesday endorsed Republican Meg Whitman for governor, calling Democratic contender Jerry Brown “erratic” on key issues.
Alan Barcelona, president of the California State Law Enforcement Association, wrote in a letter to the group’s members that he was unsure how Brown, a former two-term governor, would govern if he was elected a third time. Barcelona said Brown had changed position on some issues and taken positions on others – opposition to the death penalty and extolling inmate rights, for example – that many in law enforcement opposed.
Brown has received support from public employee unions, but Barcelona said other considerations were involved.
“It’s a much larger issue than just being a public employee union. The state has gotten to such a perilous point that we have to get someone with the experience to fix it. And she (Whitman) understands the importance of public safety. Our board just doesn’t think Jerry has the ability, but that Whitman does.”
Brown campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford said Whitman manipulated the endorsement.
“Whitman began her campaign calling for the privatization of prisons and an end to the pension system as it now exists, but conviently went back on those pledges when asked about them by CSLEA,” Clifford said.”So the question now is, does Whitman believe she was wrong to propose privatizing prisons? Why the change of heart? How can voters trust that she won’t change her mind again?”
“That response sounds a lot like sour grapes from the Brown campaign for their inability to garner a public safety union’s endorsement,” said Whitman spokesman Darrel Ng.
Thus far, CSLEA is the only state employee union to formally support Whitman. CSLEA is in Bargaining Unit 7, one of 21 units with which the state negotiates collective bargaining agreements. About half of CSLEA’s members are sworn peace officers.
“CSLEA’s endorsement of Meg Whitman for governor came down to just one final item: We don’t know which Jerry Brown we’d have for the next four years, and we can’t afford to take that risk,” Barcelona wrote. The full letter can be seen here. In endorsing Whitman, Barcelona cited recent comments from Brown that the former governor said he “would do things labor doesn’t like,” and that “I had twice vetoed raises for state employees not once, but twice. I was overriden by 23 Republican votes.”
Barcelona noted that Brown had appointed three state Supreme Court justices who were recalled by voters – including Chief Justice Rose Bird – and that he had called for a two-tier pension system, which labor generally opposes.
CSLEA also has endorsed Gavin Newsom for lieutenant governor, incumbent Debra Bowen for Secretary of State, Dave Jones for Insurance Commissioner, incumbent John Chiang for controller, incumbent Bill Lockyer for treasurer, Tom Torlakson for superintendent of public instruction and Steve Cooley for state attorney general. Cooley is a Republican, the rest are Democrats.