Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Big Money Mattered In One Initiative Race

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The conventional wisdom has set in: while big money was triumphant in candidate campaigns this week (see Whitman, Meg), big money lost in the ballot measure races.

    That's not exactly true. Yes, Prop 16 lost, despite the fact that its backer, the parent company of Northern California utility PG&E, spent $46 million (vs. less than $100,000 for opponents). And Yes, Prop 17 lost despite the fact that its backer, Mercury Insurance, vastly outspent opponents.

    But big money was on the winning side of another race: the victory for Prop 14, the top-two primary measure.

    This hasn't received much attention because the sort of good government folks railing against money in politics supported Prop 14--and thus benefited from the financial advantage the yes side had.

    But that advantage was considerable. According to the Calfiornia Secretary of State web site, as of late May more than $4.6 million had spent this year in favor of Prop 14, with less than $1 million spent against it. That reflects personal support from Gov. Schwarzenegger and business groups.