Governor hitting campaign trail;

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San Jose Mercury News (California)

SACRAMENTO — With just four weeks remaining until the high-stakes November election, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has turned his attention from the hundreds of bills that were before him to the campaign trail.

His first stops this week are in Orange County and San Jose, where he kicks off a series of town hall-style appearances meant to rally opposition to Propositions 68 and 70. Defeat of these gambling measures will protect the governor’s deals with Indian tribes that operate casinos.

Schwarzenegger will tell guests at his ”Ask Arnold” events that the initiatives are ”a jackpot for the special interests,” said Todd Harris, one of the governor’s political strategists.

As the Republican governor makes the transition to the trail, there seems to be no letup in his high-paced fundraising. A key Schwarzenegger campaign committee raised $878,000 during the month he reviewed 844 bills sent to him by the Legislature. On the day he finished, Sept. 30, and the following day, the governor raised an additional $354,500 primarily from business interests.

Schwarzenegger pledged as a recall candidate a year ago to rid the Capitol of the special-interest influence that contributed to former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis‘ downfall. The new governor has tried to deflect criticism of his own fundraising by crafting a still-evolving set of guidelines for his donors.

All last month, Schwarzenegger’s fundraisers turned down donations to his 2006 re-election committee. But they continued to accept contributions to a separate campaign committee Schwarzenegger controls, the California Recovery Team. The money came from real estate and entertainment interests, the publisher of a muscle magazine and an out-of-state corn and tortilla chip company.

Schwarzenegger’s chief fundraiser, Marty Wilson, said the governor was not personally involved in any of the fundraising during the bill-signing period.

”We’ve said all along that we wouldn’t be soliciting money for his re-election campaign, but we would continue to raise for the Recovery Team,” Wilson said. ”We’re faced with exceedingly well-funded opponents, and we couldn’t be unnecessarily disadvantaged.”

To Jamie Court, president of the Santa Monica-based Taxpayer and Consumer Rights Foundation and an outspoken critic of the governor, the policy is a distinction without a difference.

”The timing is less significant than the fact that the governor who said he didn’t need special-interest money is raking it in more quickly than the governor he replaced by calling him a special-interest cash machine,” Court said. ”If Davis was the cash machine, then Schwarzenegger is mega slots.”

The Recovery Team recently transferred $250,000 to the committee to defeat the Indian gambling initiatives, Wilson said. All told, Schwarzenegger has raised $20.5 million since he took office in November.

Recent contributions

On Oct. 1, the day after bill signing concluded, Schwarzenegger received a $250,000 check from Jerry Perenchio, board chairman of the Spanish-language television station Univision and a real estate investor. Perenchio and his wife, Margaret, now top the list of Schwarzenegger’s donors having contributed a total of $792,400, according to the Taxpayer and Consumer Rights Foundation.

The same day, the governor’s committee cashed a $10,000 check from Medallion Foods of Newport, Ark., which makes corn-based snacks.

He received another $10,000 check from Gerald Katell, the president of Katell Properties in Long Beach.

In September, Schwarzenegger received $200,000 from William Robinson — the founder of Document Handling Limited, the cargo services known as DHL — who splits his time between Idaho and California.

A $2,000 donation came from John Balik, the publisher of Iron Man Magazine.

At an Orange County hotel Wednesday and at Parkside Hall in San Jose on Thursday, Schwarzenegger returns to a campaign format he used successfully in last year’s recall and in March when he sold voters on two ballot initiatives that allowed the state to borrow up to $15 billion to balance the budget.

Schwarzenegger will address a crowd of about 200 invited guests, who can ask questions from the audience.

His message: If Propositions 68 and 70 pass, ”California will turn into the gambling capital of the world,” Harris said. ”And just as bad, we will cede control of our gaming industry to the very special interests that stand to profit from it.”

Schwarzenegger has the support of the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group, which will co-host the event Thursday, because the governor has said new revenue from his tribal agreements will help fund transportation projects.
Mercury News Database Editor Griff Palmer contributed to this report.
Contact Ann E. Marimow at [email protected] com or (916) 325-4315.

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