The horses have reached the starting gate...
From the outset, this blog was intended to be an election-year blog -- a place to report campaign news and tidbits that would be of interest to political activists but probably not of broad enough interest to justify using up newsprint in the mainstream media. In other words, what we used to call the newspaper.
Well, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday decided that, despite what it says on the calendar, 2005 in California will be an election year. The blog is back.
You know it's an election year when...
On the morning after the Election Declaration, the administration was forcefully pushing its talking point of the day: The special election won't cost nearly as much as Schwarzenegger's critics have claimed. That was the word being spread on the Republican talk-show circuit on Tuesday, and the administration broadly distributed to reporters a letter to Finance Director Tom Campbell from Secretary of State Bruce McPherson. In the letter, McPherson said his survey of county elections officials showed that the added cost, of the statewide election would be $45 million. Because there will be dozens of local elections that day, the letter noted, the counties were already committed to spending several million dollars to conduct those elections.
At a press briefing on Tuesday, Campbell again made the point to the Capitol press corps. I asked him why, in using the $45 million figure, he had ignored the cost that the state will bear. It will be the state's responsibility to publish the millions of voter information pamphlets that will be distributed to voters. These are the publications, printed on newsprint, that contain the legislative analyst's summary of each ballot proposition, the official arguments for and against, the rebuttal arguments and the text of each initiative. The cost of printing these pamphlets will likely be in the neighborhood of $10 million.
Campbell allowed that the state costs should be considered. But he said he hadn't included the cost because the precise amount had yet to be calculated, because it is not yet known precisely how many measures will be on the ballot. Given that five ballot measures have already been certified, wouldn't it be fair to say the cost of the special election will be somewhere north of $50 million, even using the administration's estimates?
That's the question I asked Campbell. There was no response.
It's campaign season. Once a daily message is developed, nobody deviates from it, not even when confronted by facts that prove the message wrong.
Here we go....