Schwarzenegger Opponents Plan Campaigns To Put Initiatives on Special Election Ballot
The Los Angeles Times on Thursday examined how some opponents of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) proposed policy reforms are "preparing to underwrite a hugely expensive campaign in which they will try not only to defeat Schwarzenegger's measures but also enact their competing ballot items," including measures to address prescription drug costs.
According to the Times, Schwarzenegger "has picked on some powerful adversaries" in his use of ballot initiatives to enact reforms, and his opponents are "using the same tool" this year.
There currently are 53 initiatives in circulation and 18 awaiting review by the attorney general's office, but Schwarzenegger has not formally called a special election. Schwarzenegger and some Democratic lawmakers have said they prefer not to hold a special election, which could cost taxpayers as much as $70 million. In addition, "the short time frame required to hold an election this year makes it unclear" how many initiatives would garner the necessary signatures to be placed on the ballot, according to the Times.
The Alliance for a Better California has begun collecting signatures for a ballot measure that would require pharmaceutical companies to provide lower-cost drugs for about 10 million state residents. The proposal comes after Schwarzenegger last year vetoed legislation addressing prescription drug prices.
The drug industry has reserved about $10 million to place on the ballot a measure to enact a "more lenient" prescription drug plan proposed by Schwarzenegger, the Times reports. Drug manufacturers also are preparing ballot initiatives that would make it more difficult for unions to underwrite political campaigns, moves the Times calls "blunt efforts to dissuade" consumer groups from financing a prescription drug initiative.
Jim Farrell, a Democratic political consultant for the alliance, said, "Almost everything we're supporting he vetoed. Him calling a special election gives us an opportunity to make those vetoed measures the law."
Joel Fox, co-chair of the business coalition Citizens to Save California, said, "When the governor has said he expects to be outspent, I believe him. A lot of this is chess game strategy: What to use to threaten the donors that support our initiatives" (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 3/24).