Awkward Allies In Calif. Race

California Gov. Gray Davis and California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante AP

Both came to this tidy suburb to address the same holiday picnic crowd, but the uneasy peace between Gov. Gray Davis and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante was evident: The two Democrats scrupulously avoided each other, and neither mentioned the other by name.

Davis, rallying to keep his job, and Bustamante, billing himself as insurance should Davis be recalled next month, did not stand together at the Labor Day campaign stop at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, some 30 miles east of San Francisco.

In separate speeches, both focused on issues important to labor unions, but neither mentioned the other — and cautious choreography ensured they were separated by about 10 minutes and a mariachi band.

Earlier in the day, Davis joined a chorus of critics targeting Arnold Schwarzenegger, telling a rally in downtown Los Angeles that the actor is a stand-in for former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, who Davis says ran an anti-labor administration.

"One of my opponents has taken on the entire Wilson operation, from Gov. Wilson as the co-chairman to Gov. Wilson's chief of staff, his campaign manager, his press secretary and so on down the line," Davis said. "You remember those eight years were not good years for working people."

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, boos greeted the mere mention of Wilson's name. He earned labor's ire with several policies during his time in office, none less than his abolishment of the eight-hour rule, which required overtime for work in excess of eight hours a day.

Schwarzenegger spokesman — and former Wilson spokesman — Sean Walsh said Davis was resorting to the criticism because he lacked vision.

"It's sad, comments from individuals who don't have positive ideas and don't have a vision to restore our state's economy," Walsh said. "Arnold has an upbeat message. He has started a grass-roots movement to get the special interests out of the people's business in Sacramento."

Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger met with enthusiastic Labor Day supporters at the California State Fair in Sacramento.

Though he sidestepped most questions, Schwarzenegger told reporters it was important to honor the state's working men and women, calling this particular Labor Day a sad one because of a weak job market.

"Many workers have witnessed firsthand the American dream slipping away," he said.

Schwarzenegger remained a target throughout the three-day weekend.

State Sen. Tom McClintock, a fellow Republican, chastised the actor for not making a no-new-taxes pledge. Bustamante accused him of being anti-immigrant. And former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth, also a Republican, criticized him for only agreeing to take part in one of the four scheduled campaign debates.

Davis has called Bustamante the best alternative should a majority of voters recall him in the Oct. 7 special election, but the governor has not endorsed him as a potential successor and the two have not campaigned together.

Last week, the California State Labor Federation AFL-CIO endorsed a "No on recall, yes on Bustamante" recall strategy that Democrats hope will keep them in control of the governorship. Aside from Bustamante, who is the only major Democratic candidate, 134 others are vying to succeed Davis.

Before Davis bounded onto the stage Monday at the Alameda County Fairgrounds to the tune of "We Are Family," Sen. Barbara Boxer echoed that strategy.

"We must defeat the recall, and as an insurance policy, vote 'yes' on Cruz Bustamante," Boxer implored about 500 supporters.

Soon after Davis left the stage, event organizers announced the arrival of the rally's "special guest" — the lieutenant governor. In his five-minute speech, Bustamante said that as a son of a laborer, he would fight for working families.

"And it's about time that we had a governor of the state of California who's going to remember his roots and always make sure and work on behalf of the working-class people," Bustamante told a thinned-out crowd of about 300 supporters.

Asked why he did not appear with Davis, Bustamante said, "I had my own schedule."

The two had a friendly working relationship until April 1999, when Bustamante told a news conference he disagreed with Davis' strategy to resolve a legal dispute over Proposition 187, which denies services to illegal immigrants. Bustamante accused the governor of backtracking on a promise to heal racial divides.

Bustamante later asked a federal appeals court to reject the governor's request to use mediation. After that, several of Bustamante's aides lost their Capitol parking spaces; Davis' office blamed construction.
  • Dan Collins

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