In a press conference just concluded in Sacramento minutes ago, GOP California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is pledging to fund and lead a campaign against Proposition 93, a term limits measure headed for the February ballot.
Poizner’s statewide pulpit and his money guarantees that voters will see a well-funded opposition campaign, something that proponents of the measure had hoped would not materialize. California voters generally love term limits, despite some of its unintended consequences, and political experts have been saying for months that Prop. 93’s survival at the polls would depend on both an apathetic opposition and a strong advocacy campaign.
Prop. 93 would allow lawmakers to serve up to 12 years in either the state Assembly or the Senate. Current law limits members to 14 years of total service, specifically six years in the Assembly and eight years in the Senate.
It’s most controversial provision, however, is a transition period which allows incumbents who would otherwise term out in 2008 to seek re-election. That includes Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and President Pro Tem Don Perata.
“This is very deceptive initiative,” Poizner told reporters. “For the vast majority of the people in the Legislature, it will double the length of their terms in the Assembly and increase their time in the Senate by 50 percent … If this wasn’t enough, they put in a sweetheart transition period.”
Poizner said he has already written a $1.5 million to his new, No On Prop. 93 campaign committee, called Alliance for California Renewal, and will raise more funds. But he admits that finding donors will be difficult because many of the state’s biggest contributors, both individuals and businesses, won’t risk angering legislative leaders who wrote and support Prop. 93.
Proponents argue that term limits have promoted constant turnover in the Legislature and reduced members’ effectiveness.
UPDATE: Here’s what the Yes On Prop. 93 spokesman Richard Stapler has to say about Poizner’s entry into the campaign:
“Anonymous, out-of-state campaign contributions are just plain wrong. US Term Limits is clearly trying to deceive voters. In their last publicly disclosed tax return, US Term Limits was about $300,000 in debt. Now, they’re making a $1.5 million political contribution. This raises serious questions about disclosure.
It looks like US Term Limits is acting as a pass-through for anonymous out-of-state donors. This black bag, dirty tricks-style politics doesn’t fly in California. We saw a couple of weeks ago with the sham electoral college initiative.
State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is aligning himself with a bunch of extremist nut-jobs who want Blackwater-like private police forces, toll roads for every road and can’t disclose their campaign donors. That’s a stink even $1.5 BILLION won’t wash off.
Poizner should remember that if you lie down with dogs, you’ll get fleas. Poizner is jumping into a campaign camp whose national leader just got indicted for campaign fraud.
Proposition 93 is about reforming term limits to make the State Legislature more efficient and effective. We are going to run a strong campaign to help educate California voters about the need for reform.”
For a web site dedicated to passage of Prop. 93, click here.
For a web site dedicated to defeating Prop. 93, click here.
Photo of Steve Poizner obtained from Free Republic’s web site.