Schwarzenegger, Teachers Wage Ad Battle

LOS ANGELES Citing a new poll, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office today credited a recent ad campaign for reversing voters’ disposition to his reform agenda.

The poll results were revealed as the rival California Teachers Association launched two more ads attacking the governor.

The ad campaign of the governor’s California Recovery Team includes two 30-second spots, one of which features Schwarzenegger decrying “a system rigged to benefit big government labor unions who would do anything to preserve the status quo.”

Another Sipple Strategic Communications spot, which launched Sept. 21, shows a woman looking up from her computer, a man working in a dry cleaners, a male driver and a woman in her living room, all touting the benefits of the four initiatives backed by the governor.

Those initiatives include a plan to lengthen to five years the period before new public school teachers can be awarded tenure; a spending-limit and deficit-reduction plan; and a proposal to rectify gerrymandering by permitting redistricting by a panel of judges. The Survey USA poll of 529 likely voters shows all four initiatives leading by healthy margins.

One initiative would require public-employee unions to get the written permission of its members before backing a political cause or candidate. The CTA has disclosed that its more than 300,000 members were assessed $60 apiece for three years in order to fund the ad campaign. Representatives for the CTA and CRT did not return phone calls.

The CTA’s two new ads, produced by McNally Temple Associates through the Alliance for a Better California, follow a months-long campaign in which the governor is directly addressed. In one, a teacher identified by a title talks to the camera: “Governor, you’ve already broken your promises on education. Now you’re sponsoring . . . a ballot measure that allows one principal to fire a teacher without giving a reason, or even a hearing.” A parent then implores the governor to “stop playing politics with our schools.”

Another new spot uses title graphics and a voiceover to accuse the governor of “borrowing two billion” from schools and breaking his promise to pay it back. The tagline: “Another bad Schwarzenegger idea that hurts our schools.”

“Public employee unions, by our best estimate, have spent as much as $80 million this year alone attacking Governor Schwarzenegger and the reform initiatives,” said Karen Hanretty, a representative for the California Republican Party. “I would not be surprised to see their spending exceed $100 million by November 8.”