Because of an editing error, an article Aug. 13 on California's "Big Green" environmental ballot proposition incorrectly described the base of campaign manager Bob Mulholland. He works out of Chico, Calif. (Published 8/25/90)

BURLINGAME, CALIF. -- The campaign to defeat the strongest environmental initiative ever to appear on a ballot in the United States -- a measure thick with complex scientific and economic issues -- has begun with this radio commercial:

Mary: "What's so interesting in the paper, Phil?"

Tom: "He's reading about Proposition 128, Big Green."

Mary: "Hey, call it what it really is: The Hayden Initiative. You know, Tom Hayden."

Thomas Emmett Hayden -- co-founder of Students for a Democratic Society, defendant in the famous Chicago Seven trial, former husband of actress Jane Fonda and four-term member (D-Santa Monica) of the California state Assembly from the 44th District -- knows something about life as a political lightning rod.

Now, as chairman of the campaign to pass Proposition 128, a top priority of the U.S. environmental movement, he has once again become not just the intense, tousled advocate for the latest hot issue, but, if his enemies have their way, the issue itself.

Bill Bradley, the Sacramento newsletter publisher and former Gary Hart campaign official who first dubbed Prop 128 "Big Green," called Hayden "the last of the famous radicals of the 1960s involved in serious politics" and praised his "surprisingly moderate" record in the legislature.

But Hayden's name can still stir negative vibrations in many households. For Proposition 128 opponents, Bradley said, "waving the Hayden flag is a good way to solidify their support base, confuse undecided voters and, perhaps most importantly, wave off support for Big Green in the boardrooms of the major daily newspapers and TV stations."

Farmers, foresters, pesticide manufacturers, power company executives, oil executives and Republicans who are most upset about Proposition 128's momentum -- one Big Green campaign poll showed it leading 63 to 23 percent -- have decided to try to turn the public's attention toward Hayden. If memories of Hayden's radical period -- and of Fonda's well-publicized flirtations with North Vietnam -- turn off some voters, no one at the headquarters of the "No on 128, the Hayden Initiative" is likely to object.

"Tom Hayden is certainly one of {Proposition 128's} primary authors," said Don Schrack, working for political consultants Woodward & McDowell as spokesman for the opposition. "He chairs the campaign. His chief political operative is managing the campaign, and he refuses to deny publicly that he wants the job of environmental advocate, a position the initiative will create if it is passed."

But Schrack denied his campaign is using Hayden's name to equate the initiative with unpleasant memories. It is just a useful shorthand to distinguish it from California's many other initiatives, he said.

Hayden disagreed. "It just shows how valueless and opportunistic they are," he said of the initiative opponents. "Their intention is to shave every percentage point they can off the winning margin." This could be important if Proposition 135, an initiative backed by agriculture and chemical interests with much looser restrictions on pesticides, also wins. When parts of two winning propositions conflict, the one with the most votes takes precedence.

Proposition 128 would ban any pesticide with even a trace of carcinogens; require a 20 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2000 and a 40 percent cut by 2010 to combat global warming; prohibit offshore oil drilling less than three miles out, except in national emergencies; end use of all chemicals that destroy the atmosphere's protective ozone layer by 1997; end private forest clearcutting; and create the nation's first elected state environmental advocate, with power to enforce all its provisions.

State Attorney General John Van de Kamp was the initiative's most prominent backer at the beginning, but when he lost the Democratic primary for governor, attention shifted to Hayden.

Hayden's devotion to the campaign is hard to ignore. He was the only elected official to sit through two lengthy briefings for reporters on the initiative this month.

His optimism also has impact. When "Yes on 128 -- Big Green" campaign manager Bob Mulholland, a tall, lean Chicago-based organizer who has worked with Hayden for years, worried about the threat of a $16 million opposition campaign, Hayden shrugged it off. "We'll find the money that we need," he said.

Hayden, 50, refers to the proposed environmental advocate's position as "a great job," but he says "life is too complicated" to say if he would run for the advocate's post.

With speculation about another statewide campaign -- Hayden ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1976 -- comes attention to his personal style. Bradley calls him "brilliant, difficult, occasionally charming, usually insightful, sometimes dead wrong, and always fascinating." At a midnight session of the Santa Monica City Council on July 31, Hayden's harangue against a hotel development was so loud and rambling that one council member told a local reporter the next day Hayden was "drunk as a skunk." Hayden later denied he was impaired in any way.

Hayden's life has had enough confrontations and contests and crusades to fill two or three ordinary political careers. That may help the "No on 128" forces make another argument that even Big Green polls show has force. The trio in the "No on 128" radio ad put it this way:

Phil: "What do you think, Mark? You like this bill?"

Mark: "I really wanted to, but . . . look . . . it just tries to do too much: global warming, the ozone layer, air quality, water quality, water supply, offshore drilling, toxic waste, food production, logging. . . . "

Mary: "Not to mention creating a new bureaucracy to enforce it all."

Schrack speaks of the Big Green leader in the same way: Hayden is not a monster, just a guy who does not appreciate the limited human capacity and desire for change.

"It's pretty hard to question Tom's integrity in his concern for the environment," Schrack said. "I think he just got too far ahead of it."