PolitiCal

On politics in the Golden State

Category: Proposition 29

Campaigns on California ballot measures raise $150 million

 Lance Armstrong interacting with Mayor Villaraigosa at a rally by supporters of Proposition 29, the tobacco tax in May.

A whopping $150 million has been raised by campaigns for and against statewide ballot measures in California so far this year, according to the state campaign finance watchdog agency.

To help voters track who is paying for the various campaigns, the state Fair Political Practices Commission has set up a website  that lists all contributions of $10,000 or more to ballot measure campaigns.

“Although there are limitations on the amount a state candidate may receive from a single contributor, there are no such limits for committees that are formed to support or oppose a ballot measure,” said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the FPPC. “It is crucial that we provide the voters with tools to see where the money is coming from so they can make informed choices.''

The website shows that tobacco companies played a major role in raising $48 million for the campaign that defeated a $1-per-pack tobacco tax on the June ballot. In all, more than $66 million was raised by committees formed to support or oppose Proposition 29, the site shows. Tobacco giants Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and their affiliates put more than $43 million into fighting the measure.

On the other side, the American Cancer Society was the biggest donor in favor of Proposition 29, contributing $7.7 million.

The tobacco tax is among 13 ballot measures being considered this year, including 11 on the November ballot. They include a tax measure proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown and an initiative that would prohibit unions and businesses from donating directly to candidates, Proposition 32. The California Teachers Assn. wrote a $7.5-million check to the campaign against the latter measure.

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Photo: Lance Armstrong and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attend a rally in May in support of Proposition 29, the tobacco tax that voters ultimately rejected. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Backers of Prop. 29 tobacco tax concede defeat

Proponents of the tobacco tax initiative on the June 5 ballot conceded defeat Friday after weeks of holding out hope that the measure would eke out a victory as elections officials across California tallied an estimated 1 million uncounted ballots.

“The defeat of this life-saving initiative is a genuine tragedy," said Doug Ulman, president and chief executive of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which backed the measure known as Proposition 29. "Big Tobacco lied to voters to protect its profits and spent $50 million to ensure it can continue peddling its deadly products to California kids.

“We will not let this setback defeat us," he continued. "In a time when one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in our nation, we must continue fighting for new investments in cancer research and smoking cessation.”

The measure on Friday was losing by more than 27,000 votes with only 111,000 uncounted ballots remaining -- realistically too few to close the gap.

Proposition 29 would have added a $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes, and an equivalent amount on other tobacco products, to raise an estimated $860 million a year for research on tobacco-related diseases and prevention programs. The American Cancer Society and cycling champ Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor, were among the measure’s biggest proponents, raising more than $11 million to support the ballot initiative.

Tobacco companies poured nearly $47 million into their campaign to defeat Proposition 29 and were joined by anti-tax and business groups.

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Opponents gain as Proposition 29 tobacco tax vote count continues

The tight vote count for the June 5 tobacco tax ballot initiative swung sharply toward the opposition as elections officials across California continue to tally the last remaining uncounted ballots.

The measure, known as Proposition 29, was losing by 27,326 votes Friday morning -– two days after the gap was just over 13,000 votes. The gap has narrowed from 63,000 on election night.

More than 5 million ballots already have been counted across the state. The California secretary of State’s office estimates that, as of Friday morning, just over 148,000 ballots remained uncounted. Shortly after the primary, there were more than a million uncounted ballots statewide.

The uncounted ballots consist of many cast by mail, as well as provisional and damaged ones.

Proposition 29 would add a $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes to raise an estimated $860 million a year for research on tobacco-related diseases and prevention programs. The American Cancer Society and cycling champ Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor, were among the measure’s biggest proponents, raising more than $11 million to support the ballot initiative.

Tobacco companies poured nearly $47 million into their campaign to defeat Proposition 29 and were joined by anti-tax and business groups.

County elections officials have until July 6 to process ballots and report their official results to the secretary of state.

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Vote on tobacco tax ballot measure narrows again

The vote count for the tobacco tax on the June 5 primary ballot narrowed even more Thursday morning as elections officials across California continue to tally the last remaining uncounted ballots.

The measure, known as Proposition 29, was losing by 15,558 votes -– or four-tenths of 1% -- a gap that has steadily tightened from 63,000 on election night.

More than 4.9 million ballots already have been counted across the state. The California secretary of state’s office estimates that, as of Wednesday evening, just over 290,000 ballots remained uncounted. Shortly after the primary, there were more than a million uncounted ballots statewide.

The uncounted ballots consist of many cast by mail, as well as provisional and damaged ones.

Proposition 29 would add a $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes to raise an estimated $860 million a year for research on tobacco-related diseases and prevention programs. The American Cancer Society and cycling champ Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor, were among the measure’s biggest proponents, raising more than $11 million to support the ballot initiative.

Tobacco companies poured nearly $47 million into their campaign to defeat Proposition 29 and were joined by anti-tax and business groups.

-- Phil Willon

Tobacco tax vote count continues, gap almost cut in half

The vote count for the tobacco tax on last week’s primary ballot narrowed again Tuesday as elections officials across California tallied hundreds of thousands of uncounted ballots.

The measure, known as Proposition 29, was losing by just over 33,200, a gap that narrowed from 63,000 on election night, state election figures show.

More than 4.5 million ballots already have been counted across the state. The Secretary of State’s office estimates that, as of Monday evening, 777,000 ballots remain uncounted. Shortly after the primary, there were more than a million uncounted ballots statewide.

The uncounted ballots consist of many cast by mail, as well as provisional and damaged ones.

Proposition 29 would add a $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes to raise an estimated $860 million a year for research on tobacco-related diseases and prevention programs. The American Cancer Society and cycling champ Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor, were among the measure’s biggest proponents, helping to raise more than $11 million to support the ballot initiative.

Tobacco companies poured nearly $47 million into their campaign to defeat Proposition 29 and were joined by anti-tax and business groups.

--Phil Willon

Margin on tobacco tax measure continues to narrow

The margin of loss for the tobacco tax on Tuesday’s primary ballot continued to narrow Friday as elections officials across California tallied hundreds of thousands of uncounted ballots.

Proposition 29 was losing by just over 45,000 votes Friday afternoon, compared with 53,000 votes Thursday and 63,000 on election night. On Friday morning, the margin was down to 40,000, but it bounced upward by 5,000 later in the day.

“Ballots continue to trend in our direction. We still have an awfully long way to go, but we hope that [the trend] continues to hold," said Chris Lehman, campaign manager for Yes on 29.

More than 4 million ballots have already been counted across the state. The secretary of state’s office released a partial estimate of the number of uncounted ballots Friday morning -- 972,000 -- but that did not include outstanding ballots in 12 of California’s 58 counties.

The uncounted ballots consist of many cast by mail, as well as provisional and damaged ones.

-- Phil Willon

 

In case you missed it: George Skelton's take on Proposition 29

Click for George Skelton's take on Proposition 29

Proposition 29 is still losing by tens of thousands of votes. But with as many as a million ballots still uncounted, the contest remains close and proponents haven't given up. 

INTERACTIVE MAP: Explore the complete Prop. 29 results

Regardless of the outcome, says Times columnist George Skelton, Sacramento should raise cigarette taxes. After all, he says, tobacco levies were not really the point of the No campaign.

Here's his take on the issue, in case you missed it.

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Photo: Should the cigarette tax be raised regardless of the Proposition 29 results? Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Yes on 29 campaign refuses to concede on tobacco tax initiative

Proponents of the tobacco tax initiative on Tuesday’s state ballot refused to concede Thursday, saying they still hope to overcome the current 1.4% margin of defeat as elections officials across California tally an estimated 1 million uncounted ballots.

The measure, on the ballot as Proposition 29, on Thursday was losing by just over 55,000 votes as updated ballot counts continued to trickle in from county elections offices.

The Secretary of State’s office of released a partial estimate of the number of uncounted ballots as of Thursday afternoon -- 702,000 -– but that did not include estimates in more than half of California’s 58 counties.

Among those not included were Orange, Fresno, Kern, Santa Clara and San Bernardino counties. There were 176,000 ballots left to be counted in Los Angeles County, which was included in the state estimate.

Steve Smith, a political consultant for Yes on 29, said the campaign believes there are more than 1 million ballots left to be counted. Just under 4 million ballots cast in the primary election already have been tallied, state election records show.

“We’re talking about 20% of the overall vote essentially not being counted yet," Smith said. “The election almost certainly is going to get narrower."

Beth Miller, spokeswoman for No on 29, said their campaign was happy to emerge with a 63,000 vote advantage on election night.

"Nothing that we’ve seen right now would indicate there would be a big vote swing one way or another. But obviously we are watching it closely,'' she said.

The pool of uncounted ballots consists of many vote-by-mail ballots, including some that were turned in on Election Day, as well as provisional and damaged ballots. Signatures on the vote-by-mail and provisional ballots must be verified by elections workers before being counted.

So-called “provisional ballots” are given to voters when polling places do not have a record of their registration, often because a voter has moved since registering. Provisional ballots must also be checked to make sure that votes were not cast in local elections outside the jurisdiction in which the voter lived. About 80% to 85% of provisional ballots are usually deemed valid.

County elections officials have until July 6 to process those ballots and report their final results to the Secretary of State.

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Interactive map: California primary results

-- Phil Willon

Voters split on Proposition 29 tobacco tax

Click for map of Proposition 29 results

Even with more than half the state's precincts reporting, Proposition 29 was too close to call well after midnight Wednesday. Californians were split on whether to raise cigarette taxes by $1 a pack to fund cancer research.

State voters have not approved a tobacco tax at the ballot box in 14 years. The Legislature hasn't raised tobacco taxes since 1994.

MAP: Prop 29 cigarette tax results

Proposition 29 would raise an estimated $860 million a year, according to an estimate by the nonpartisan state legislative analyst's office.

The money would be for research on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and potential cures for tobacco-related diseases, including cancer, heart disease and emphysema; for building or leasing facilities; and for law-enforcement programs to reduce illegal sales to minors and smuggling.

INTERACTIVE MAP: California primary results

Proponents said the measure would save lives. Opponents called it a bureaucratic boondoggle.

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Photo: A woman smokes a menthol cigarette in 2010. Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Obama, not issues, is the draw for some L.A. voters

Click for live coverage of the California primary

When Patricia Jordan, 57, was asked what brought her to the polls on Tuesday to vote in the California primary, her answer was swift and decisive.

"Obama! Who else?" said the Baldwin Village resident. "He's my No.1 concern."

President Obama has secured the Democratic Party's nomination as the incumbent, but here in Baldwin Village and throughout the city of Los Angeles, he is still the big draw. Some voters knew very little about issues on the ballot, such the cigarette tax and the candidates running for Los Angeles County district attorney. Instead, they showed up to throw their support behind the president.

LIVE RESULTS: California primary

"I don't know much about Propositions 28 and 29," said Diane Racine, 68, referring to the term limit initiative and the controversial cigarette increase. "I came out to make sure I supported President Obama."

Racine, an adult education teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District, admitted it was harder this primary to vote for him. The Westwood resident will be laid off in two weeks because of budget cuts that will end adult education in the state. Still, Racine believes Obama has a better strategy to fix the economy than his opponent, Mitt Rommey. All Obama needs, she said, is another term.

Anthony Kent agreed. The 58-year-old Baldwin Village resident blames Congress' inability to compromise as the reason the economy has stalled and not made a full recovery.

"He's doing the best he can with the opposition he has against him," Kent said. "He can't change everything overnight. He might need a few more terms to fix it all."

Though Kent disagrees with Obama on gay marriage, he still made the trek from his job over to the Jim Gilliam Recreational Center in Baldwin Village to cast his vote for Obama.

"I'm behind him every day," he said.

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Photo: President Obama speaks at a campaign rally at Ohio State University. Credit: Mark Duncan / Associated Press

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