California Democrats hope to counter Whitman's millions with union support

The Sacramento BeeApril 22, 2010 

With Republican Meg Whitman poised to spend a record $150 million on her gubernatorial bid this election year, Democrats will be counting more than ever on a reliable and powerful ally to pull them through what promises to be a bruising campaign.

The state's unions promise to jump into the election with extra gusto this year, as tens of thousands of members get set to knock on voters' doors, work phone banks and otherwise attempt to neutralize the flood of TV and radio ads Whitman will unleash if she wins the Republican nomination.

In other words, "It's people vs. money," as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown put it at the state Democratic Party convention this past weekend.

That's certainly the plan of union leaders, who say they will use their strength in numbers to counteract Whitman's financial edge.

On Monday, the California Labor Federation will unveil its plan to deploy 25,000 volunteers to campaign against Whitman, with the effort first hitting businesses around the state, said federation spokesman Steve Smith.

The federation will be coordinating with the teachers and correctional officers unions, which represent three-quarters of the state's roughly 4 million union members.

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