As the mid-June deadline approaches for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to call a special election, voters are failing to support key issues in his program and his anti-immigrant remarks are further alienating many.

An initiative mandating across-the-board spending cuts if outlay exceeds revenue — a pillar of this “anti-tax” governor’s proposals — was backed by only 43 percent of likely voters in a recent Public Policy Institute poll, with 37 percent opposed. Turning legislative redistricting over to a panel of retired judges was leading by just 41 percent to 40 percent.

Only 40 percent of adults approve of how Schwarzenegger is doing his job, and 57 percent think the state is headed in the wrong direction. And two-thirds of voters would rather vote on the ballot measures in the June 2006 primary election instead of spending up to $80 million on a November special election.

The governor’s call to close the U.S.-Mexico border and his praise for the Minuteman anti-immigrant armed vigilantes have drawn widespread criticism. (See related story, page 8.)

In a statement signed by over 150 Catholic, Protestant, Islamic and Jewish religious leaders, the California Council of Churches and Progressive Christians United last month demanded that Schwarzenegger “condemn and repudiate vigilante activity of all kinds in clear and unambiguous terms.” They urged the governor to express his concerns for the state’s security “by funding schools and health care services adequately and also by asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share of the cost of moving California forward.”

Schwarzenegger’s statements “reflect his dismal standing in the polls,” Nativo Lopez, president of the Mexican American Political Association, said in a telephone interview. “He is going after immigrants where earlier he went after teachers, firefighters and nurses. His latest comments about immigrants generally, and the border in particular, are causing what support he had in the Latino community to dry up.”

Lopez pointed out that attacking public workers’ unions and tampering with voter-

approved spending on education are sure to alienate Latinos, who highly value education and are well represented among public workers.

Brian Cheu, executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, said, “I had hoped Schwarzenegger would be more sympathetic to a community he’s part of. But a distinction is obviously being made between immigrants of European background and those from Asia, Latin America and other regions.”

Hundreds of immigrants and their supporters rallied in Sacramento May 23 to demand Schwarzenegger’s ouster because of his support for the armed vigilantes. Several Democratic state legislators, including members of the Legislature’s Latino, Asian Pacific Islander and Black caucuses, joined demonstrators in rejecting the governor’s anti-

immigrant stance and urging full funding for health care, education and other human needs.

In a related development, the Minutemen’s plans for actions in Texas next fall are meeting with opposition from state legislators there. Texas Democratic state Sen. Juan Hinojosa has submitted a resolution co-signed by 11 senators calling on Gov. Rick Perry to oppose the plans.

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