Let The Campaign Begin

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Election Day across California is only 83 days away. Can you feel the excitement?

Tuesday, May 19 is what might as well be called 'Big Budget Ballotapalooza.' Six ballot measures, all part of the newly minted budget deficit deal, will be in the hands of California's 17 million voters... or at least as many of them who show up.

The campaign effort has just begun in earnest, with Governor Schwarzenegger's allies launching the Budget Reform Now political committee to get voter approval on Propositions 1A through 1F.

Schwarzenegger has quickly seeded the campaign with $80,000 in startup cash, and his own political campaign committee apparently raked in new donations last week while the guv was back east. That being said, the committee is officially being headed up by Jim Earp of the California Alliance for Jobs; other official supporters include the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Business Roundtable.

The rest of the political landscape regarding supporters and opponents of the 'Budget 6' remain somewhat unclear at this point. A lot of powerful interest groups may still be deciding how they feel about the proposals, and what role they might play in making those feelings clear to the voters.

That being said, all eyes will be on how much political cash the governor can muster to the cause, being the person who ostensibly has the most to gain -- and lose -- when it comes to his legacy on the budget issue. Schwarzenegger's main campaign account had just about $500,000 cash on hand at the end of 2008. And in the last few days, the California Republican Party has handed over $650,000 to that account.

Yes, that's the same state GOP whose weekend convention featured some less-than-glowing reviews of the very budget deal Schwarzenegger is gearing up to defend at the ballot. Of course, the governor is likely the most prolific fundraiser for the party... and it's likely that he helped raise some of the same dollars that have now been put into his political operation.

We'll see more of the pros and cons of the budget measures in the next day or so... as ballot arguments -- pro and con -- are submitted for the official voter guide.

(By the way, it's worth noting that there are actually seven measures on the ballot -- the final one being a holdover on seismic retrofit projects and property taxes. It's been designated Proposition 13. Doubt there will be any confusion with its famous ancestor, though ironically it does deal with a related issue.)

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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