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Union ad to highlight Whitman’s undocumented former employee

September 30, 2010 | 10:40 am

California's largest labor union is using the controversy over Meg Whitman's undocumented housekeeper to drive a wedge between the Republican gubernatorial nominee and Latino voters.

A political committee funded by the Service Employees International Union is set to launch a Spanish-language TV ad Saturday in Fresno and Los Angeles that accuses Whitman of being a hypocrite on immigration. "Whitman attacks undocumented workers to win votes, but an undocumented woman worked in her home for nine years," the announcer says in the 30-second spot.

The ad is part of a $5-million effort to help Democratic nominee Jerry Brown. The SEIU is dubbing its effort Cambiando California. Those involved say it will feature radio and online ads, mailers and an extensive field operation, complete with 150 full-time workers.

"We are launching the largest Latino independent expenditure campaign in history because the Latino community's voice must be heard," said Eliseo Medina, SEIU international secretary-treasurer, in a statement. "We won't leave it to Meg Whitman to define our issues with lies and scapegoating."

Whitman has been courting Latino support for months. As part of a multimillion-dollar effort, she opened offices in East Los Angeles and Santa Ana over the summer. Her campaign is advertising her opposition to Arizona's controversial immigration law on billboards in Latino communities and has run at least 14 separate Spanish-language TV and radio ads, including spots during the World Cup that cost as much as $500,000 apiece.

Recent polls suggest the extensive outreach is working. A Field Poll last week found Brown and Whitman nearly splitting likely Latinos voters, a traditionally Democratic constituency, 43% to 40%. This week, another survey by the Public Policy Institute of California showed Brown with a seven-point edge but noted he led among likely Latinos voters by 24 points in July. A Los Angeles Times/USC poll gave Brown the largest margin among registered Latinos, 19 points.

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

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