California’s prison guards union has endorsed Democratic gubernatorial challenger Phil Angelides. The San Francisco Chronicle says that gives the underdog Angelides a politically savvy ally with deep pockets and a history of helping would-be governors win elections. The blessing of the union, which has about $10 million to spend this fall, could be a boon to a candidate that is down in the polls and in need of rich friends. The union has run television commercials attacking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for mishandling the state’s dysfunctional prison system and has reserved advertising time leading up to the Nov. 7 election. Angelides is trailing the governor in most public polls by at least 10 points with just two months to go.
The union, which represents about 30,000 prison guards and parole agents, has substantial clout in Sacramento because of its large advertising budget, willingness to air negative ads against foes, and history of supporting both Democrats and Republicans. A union official said anti-Schwarzenegger sentiment was high among prison guards and that Angelides would end the state’s prison crisis. “We have a clear choice between a B actor who is dabbling in government versus a public servant who is Harvard-educated and providing real solutions for everyday Californians,” said Lance Corcoran, executive vice president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.