After doing some reporting, that’s my conservative estimate of what the Yes side of the six ballot measures will have to spend before the May 19 special election.
Ordinarily $20 million is enough to run a good campaign. But this is not an ordinary campaign. The first five of the six measures have less than 50 percent support in public polls, and there’s no simple, direct way to sell any of those measures.
Propositions 1A and 1C present particularly formidable challenges, because supporters are contending with considerable public misinformation about both measures. (A significant part of the public thinks that the lottery provides a big chunk of education spending; in point of fact, only 2 percent of funds for schools come from the lottery). Given the high likelihood of defeat, it’s remarkable that the yes side has put together $20 million. It may end up being money wasted.
The names of some donors – the California Teachers Assn., gaming technology company GTECH, former Univision chief Jerry Perenchio — have been reported. Others have pledged but have yet to give. Those yet to be reported donors will come from industries – oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, insurance – that could have been (and it says here, should have been) targets for higher taxes at part of the budget deal. But instead of targeted taxes on things like gas, the legislature – under considerable lobbying pressure from these industries – chose the path of temporary broad-based tax hikes on sales and income.
Money has been slower to develop on the “no” side of these measures. Ted Costa, one of the co-chairs of the no effort, recently said on a conference call that the measures are so weak that little money is needed. They can be beaten with robo-calls, he claimed. He may be right. But just in case, look for the two super-rich Republican gubernatorial candidates to make enough of a financial contribution so that the “no” side gets its message out.