In what became the theme of the 2012 elections, $110 million was spent with the end result being that nothing changed.
California’s Prop 32, the thinly veiled initiative to disenfranchise unions while simultaneously granting more power to special interests, was defeated by a margin of 56.2% to 43.8%.
The proposal would have banned both corporations and unions from collecting funds through payroll deductions to be used in political activities. As corporations rarely deduct money for such reasons, however, it was understood to be an anti-union proposition.
The proposal would have further changed the political landscape by disallowing unions and corporations from directly contributing to individual candidates. However, it would have done nothing to stop unlimited donations from going to independent expenditure committees and Super PAC’s. Lou Paulson, chairman of the “No on Prop 32″ campaign, said in a statement.
“By soundly rejecting Proposition 32, the voters of our state said no to a deceptive initiative written by wealthy special interests, for wealthy special interests.”
Financial support for Prop 32 came largely form über-wealthy GOP activist Charles Munger, Jr. Labor raised $60 million to educate the public on the incorrectly named “Stop Special Interest Money Now” proposal and ensure its defeat. In what became the theme of the 2012 elections, $110 million was spent with the end result being that nothing changed.
Via the San Jose Mercury News:
Proponents hoped to win over Californian voters Tuesday by appealing to their hostility to special-interest groups in Sacramento. And they had $50 million — largely from wealthy Palo Alto GOP activist Charles Munger Jr, but also an $11 million donation from a shadowy Arizona group that became entangled with the state’s Supreme Court over where it got its money.
Ultimately, that money was traced back to two outside groups with ties to the billionaire oil tycoon brothers, David and Charles Koch, as well as to Karl Rove, the former top strategist to former President George W. Bush, whose web of super PACS and non-profit groups spread hundreds of millions of dollars in campaigns across the nation.
Art Pulaski, secretary-treasurer of the California Federation of Labor, addressed the issue after the proposal’s defeat:
“We have a message for the Koch brothers: we have your number. We will follow you everywhere. We will no longer let you attack people of labor.”
Californians rejected similar ballot proposals in 1998 and 2005.
Elsewhere in the state, Measure V, which would have designated Costa Mesa as a charter city, was rejected by voters. While proponents of charter city status argue that it allows cities to be “free from Sacramento,” unions note that its main goal is to dodge the prevailing wage under the guise of a “business-friendly environment.”
In Escondido, voters rejected a similar proposal. On their ballots Prop P would have turned the town into a charter city. The vote was relatively close with 47.12% voting in favor and 52.88% voting against.
In Santa Rosa, Measure Q, also a referendum on charter city status, was defeated by a 60-40 margin.
Combined with the reelection of President Obama, labor won big in California on Tuesday. In many ways this election represents a national referendum on the Tea Party and its ideology of which low-road extremism with regard to workers is part and parcel.