Prop. 32 will so change the landscape of California politics, that it is garnering national media attention. From yesterday’s Journal:
WSJ: Political Diary: California’s Sunshine Democrats
By ALLYSIA FINLEY
California’s paycheck protection ballot initiative has just gotten its biggest endorsement yet—from former state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero.
Unions are expected to pour tens of millions of dollars into killing the proposition, which would prohibit unions from using members’ dues for political purposes—effectively destroying their stranglehold on Sacramento. That’s exactly why Ms. Romero, who now heads Democrats for Education Reform’s California chapter, is throwing her weight behind it.
“We’ve got to address the flow of money,” she tells me. “We need to address how the beast is fed.” And by beast, she means government. “Rome is burning. California is at the brink of bankruptcy, and we’re fiddling at the edges until we address” the special interests.
Ms. Romero, who served in the legislature for 12 years, recounts how prison and police unions squeezed legislators to kill transparency reforms. The initiative, she thinks, will provide “more opportunities for people to do the right thing.” It may also provide more opportunities for reformers to get elected.
When she ran for state superintendent two years ago, unions spent nearly $4 million to defeat her. Why? Because she had endorsed President Obama’s Race to the Top and supported basing teacher evaluations in part on student outcomes. Likewise, the teachers unions spent $500,000 in the June open primary to stop Democratic state Assembly candidate Brian Johnson, who had run Los Angeles’s Teach for America chapter and founded his own charter school. He lost by about 30 votes.
No other prominent Democrats have endorsed the initiative, but Ms. Romero says she’s spoken with several who are supportive. She thinks that some former Democratic officials may be willing to go public, “but time will tell.” Here’s hoping that her endorsement encourages more Democratic reformers to come out of the closet, or as she says, to “let the sunshine in.”