Special Election Could Include Several Health-Related Ballot Measures
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) possible call for a special election in the fall has led some groups to prepare for "bitter ideological fights" over issues such as abortion, prescription drugs and other issues, the Los Angeles Times reports. The governor is expected to call for a special election allowing state residents to vote on his government reform proposals.
A special election would come "only months after voters swallowed a near-record number of initiatives" and would be the fifth statewide election in three years, the Los Angeles Times reports (Salladay, Los Angeles Times, 1/8). According to the Contra Costa Times, such an election could become a defining moment in the governor's political career and act as "a referendum on Schwarzenegger's vision for California."
Political consultants "are girding themselves for what could prove to be one of the most contentious campaign seasons in California history," the Contra Costa Times reports (Nissenbaum, Contra Costa Times, 1/8). Political analysts say abortion and other issues could put the state in "the same culture debates that swept through much of the nation during last year's presidential election," the Los Angeles Times reports.
Although Schwarzenegger's reform proposals could be approved by the Legislature or included on the June 2006 ballot, the governor is expected in the spring or early summer to call for an election that would be held Nov. 8. If that date is set, groups would have until April 19 to collect the necessary signatures to place initiatives on the ballot.
Social conservatives said they have collected more than one-third of the signatures they need to place an initiative on the ballot that would require doctors to notify parents before providing abortions to minors. There are two such petitions being circulated, including one financed by Howard Ahmanson, who has previously supported Republican causes (Los Angeles Times, 1/8).
Another initiative supported by some Republicans would repeal Proposition 63, a 1% increase in the state income tax on annual incomes that exceed $1 million to fund mental health programs. Voters in November approved the measure. Anti-tax activist Lewis Uhler is leading the effort to overturn the measure (Contra Costa Times, 1/8).
Democrats say they are preparing legislation that would require U.S. drug makers to negotiate discounts for all prescription drugs sold in the state. The measure would "highlight" Schwarzenegger's veto last year on a series of bills that would have encouraged the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada, as well as call attention to criticism of the governor's recently unveiled plan, which would encourage drug firms to voluntarily cut prices for low-income residents, the Los Angeles Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 1/8).
Democratic political consultant Gale Kaufman said, "If in fact there is going to be an election in November so that lots of the governor's corporate friends can put on the ballot things that he wants them to put on the ballot, then I imagine there will be plenty of time for other issues to make it on the ballot as well" (Contra Costa Times, 1/8).
Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights said, "The question is whether issues like prescription drug reform drowns out these more archaic measures like redistricting, which is not immediately obvious as to its effect on the state."
Controller Steve Westly (D) said Democrats are concerned that the special election would include initiatives "that by any standard are far-right attacks on civil rights," adding, "The question is how do Democrats get together and work with a more consistent voice and in a more coordinated way?" (Los Angeles Times, 1/8).