The sad story of how the Democratic political establishment unhorsed liberal activist Molly Munger and her ballot measure is really proof once again, if we needed it, that amateurs don’t belong in California politics.
You may recall that when the Secretary of State listed the ballot measures for the November ballot, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax increase measure mysteriously appeared higher on the ballot than Molly Munger’s tax measure for education. Munger cried foul, and sued. She was right, of course, she was screwed by the Secretary of State and the local registers of voters who saw to it that Jerry’s measure was counted first even though it was filed later and needed more signatures.
But on Monday, a judge threw out her suit on the not unreasonable ground that he could not micromanage how election clerks do their business. But what is surprising is that her attorneys apparently never raised the much stronger argument that the legislature schemed to put Brown initiative on the top of the ballot (something the clerks could not have done) by a phony budget trailer bill.
Since the budget trailer bill was never litigated, (although a lawsuit was filed late yesterday), Brown’s measure will be first on the ballot; and whether it passes or not, Munger’s measure is dead. Brown’s measure will now be Proposition 30, top of the ballot, Munger’s will be Proposition 38, third from the bottom. What possibility is there that Proposition 38 is going to get more “yes.” votes than Proposition 30? That’s right, pretty slim.
But there is a silver lining for the business community in all this. Thanks to the effort of the clerks, Secretary of State and legislature to put Brown first, they also left the corporate tax increase sponsored by another naïve amateur, venture capitalist Tom Steyer, near the bottom as Proposition 39, and it polls very poorly now. The Democrats in the legislature say they want the additional funds in this corporate tax increase, but they pretty much assured its defeat by their re-ranking of the ballot measures.
But the real goal here was to defeat Munger, and make her initiative irrelevant, which they did. Much as the legislature wants Brown’s to pass, being first does not assure the voters will vote “yes” on a controversial initiative. In 2010, marijuana legalization was first on the ballot and it failed. Brown may do marginally better in this position, but passage of his tax increase is anything but assured no matter where it appears on the ballot.
But the Big Bad Wolf did succeed in one way; it gobbled down Little Red Molly Hood.