Flush with cash, the campaign to defeat Proposition 23, the ballot initiative that would suspend the state’s landmark climate change law, broadcast its first two television commercials Tuesday. The ad blitz came as the No campaign collected new contributions Tuesday from old and new economy firms, including $25,000 from electric carmaker Tesla Motors, $50,000 from Florida-based energy giant NextEra Energy Resources, and $25,000 from health insurer Blue Shield of California. Also on Tuesday, the California Teachers Association contributed $200,000 to the No on 23 effort.
The Yes on 23 campaign also hit the airwaves Tuesday in what will probably be a protracted — and expensive — battle for the 21 percent of California voters who’ve told pollsters they’re undecided about the ballot measure. A Field poll released on Sunday found that voters surveyed oppose Prop 23 45 to 34 percent.
The ads broadcast Tuesday — hours before California gubernatorial candidates Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman were to face off in their first debate — highlight the different tacks the campaigns are taking.
The No forces’ 15-second spot is grainy and ominous:
“Prop 23 is one deceptive ballot measure from two Texas oil companies that would have three disastrous consequences,” intones the announcer over gray-tinged images of belching smokestacks, oil refineries, and jammed freeways. “Twenty-three would pollute our air, kill clean energy jobs, and keep us addicted to costly oil. Vote No on 23.”
The second ad from the alliance of environmentalists, Silicon Valley venture capitalists, and green tech companies also aired statewide in California — and on YouTube, of course — and takes a somewhat sunnier tone:
“California is outlining a clean energy future, a growing workforce of bright Californians who harness wind and solar power to move our state forward,” goes the 30-second script over scenes of wind farms and workers installing rooftop solar panels.
“But two Texas oil companies have a deceptive scheme to take us backwards. They are spending millions pushing Prop 23, which would kill clean energy standards, keep us addicted to costly polluting oil, and threaten hundreds of thousands of California jobs. Stop the job-killing dirty energy proposition. Vote No on 23.”
But the 30-second ad from the Yes on 23 campaign — largely backed by two Texas oil companies and the billionaire Koch brothers, owners of a petrochemical conglomerate who have bankrolled efforts to derail climate change legislation — shows what the environmentalists and their allies are up against.
“I have enough bills but now the politicians are putting a new energy tax on us to pay for California’s global warming plan,” says a youngish middle-aged woman dressed in a pink sweater and white slacks as she walks from her mailbox to her sunny suburban house on a tree-lined street. “Yes on 23 stops the energy tax, preventing a 60 percent increase in electricity rates, and higher gas prices. And saves more than a million jobs.”
“I want to do my part on global warming,” she adds, flipping through a ballot guide. “All Yes on 23 says is let’s wait until people are back to work and we can afford it. Yes on 23 — it’s common sense.” Watch the ad:
The ads’ claims immediately triggered howls from the No campaign.
“The Yes on 23 campaign is up with a new television advertisement chock-full of the deceptive claims the oil companies behind the ballot measures have been making for months,” wrote No spokesman Steve Maviglio in an email blasted to reporters Tuesday and in which he cited various academic studies disputing the Yes claims.
Misleading, but potentially effective on voters who are not versed in the arcane economics of cap-and-trade.
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