This is huge and it could swing the 2008 election.
Two weeks ago, one of the most important Republican lawyers in Sacramento quietly filed a ballot initiative that would end the practice of granting all fifty-five of Californiaâ€™s electoral votes to the statewide winner. Instead, it would award two of them to the statewide winner and the rest, one by one, to the winner in each congressional district. Nineteen of the fifty-three districts are represented by Republicans, but Bush carried twenty-two districts in 2004. The bottom line is that the initiative, if passed, would spot the Republican ticket something in the neighborhood of twenty electoral votesâ€”votes that it wouldnâ€™t get under the rules prevailing in every other sizable state in the Union.
Now obviously it hasn’t passed yet, but just think about it. If Republicans could get 20 extra votes from Cali, they wouldn’t even need Florida. Personally, I think this is much fairer system, but it has to be across the board. Of course that won’t happen because this is a state to state issue, so why now?
Well, here’s one answer…
The Tuesday after the first Monday in June is Californiaâ€™s traditional Primary Day. But itâ€™s not the one that everybody will be paying attention to. Five months ago, the legislature hastily moved the Presidential part up to February 5th, joining a stampede of states hoping to claim a piece of the early-state action previously reserved for Iowa and New Hampshire. June 3rd will be an altogether sleepier, low-turnout affair. There may be a few scattered contests for legislative nominations, but the only statewide items on the ballot will be initiatives. More than two dozen have been filed so far, ranging from a proposal to start a state-run Internet poker site to pay for filling potholes to a redundant slew of anti-gay-marriage measures. Few will make it to the ballot. Many are not even intended to; theyâ€™re a feint in some byzantine negotiation, or just a cheap attempt to get a little attentionâ€”for a two-hundred-dollar fee, anyone can file one. (Actually getting one on the ballot requires more than four hundred thousand signatures, and the outfits that collect them usually charge a dollar or two per signature.) Initiative No. 07-0032â€”the Presidential Election Reform Actâ€”is different. Itâ€™s serious. Its backers have access to serious money. And it could pass.
Ahh, they’re trying to sneak one past the goalie. I can only imagine that Dems are going to jump on this and make sure it doesn’t pass, but that means they’ll have to get their voters out to the polls twice. And that can be hard with the famously disjointed Democratic voting block.
And yes, this is simply a ploy by the Republican party…but what a ploy!
Nominally, the sponsor of No. 07-0032 is Californians for Equal Representation. But thatâ€™s just a letterheadâ€”thereâ€™s no such organization. Its address is the office suite of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, the law firm for the California Republican Party, and its covering letter is signed by Thomas W. Hiltachk, the firmâ€™s managing partner and Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggerâ€™s personal lawyer for election matters. Hiltachk and his firm have been involved in many well-financed ballot initiatives before, including the recall that put Arnold in Sacramento. They specialize in initiatives that are the opposite of what they sound likeâ€”the Fair Pay Workplace Flexibility Act of 2006, for example. It would have raised the state minimum wage slightlyâ€”by a lesser amount than it has since been raisedâ€”and, in the fine print, would have made it impossible ever to raise it again except by a two-thirds vote in both houses of the legislature, while, for good measure, eliminating overtime for millions of workers.
If they can pass it, more power to them. That’s how this game works and if Democrats aren’t on the ball, well, then they deserve to lose nearly half the electoral votes in California.
More as it becomes available…