Ballot campaigns set state record as most expensive

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Never has an election cycle seen so much money funneled into California’s ballot measure campaigns — and there are still two weeks to go until the November election.

Already, the campaigns for and against the 12 propositions on the November ballot have raised a staggering $670 million, according to a CalMatters analysis. When added to the funds raised for a proposition voters struck down in California’s March primary, that number tops $684 million — dwarfing the $473 million raised during the 2016 election cycle, California’s previous record.

  • Darry Sragow, publisher of the California Target Book, which tracks campaign finance data: “There has been a steady increase in the total amount of money raised for ballot measure campaigns since 2014. But the astronomical spending this year is something we just haven’t seen before.”

In addition, the campaigns battling over four of the 12 propositions have raised nine-figure sums. Prop. 22, the most expensive ballot campaign in California history, clocks in at $206 million, followed by Prop. 21 and Prop. 15 at about $117 million each and Prop. 23 at $112 million.

But spending is rarely split evenly between the supporting and opposing campaigns, as this graphic from CalMatters’ Ben Christopher shows:

  • Prop. 22: Most money spent by a supporting campaign. Uber, Lyft and Doordash have plowed $190 million into a campaign to exempt themselves from a new state labor law. The unions in opposition have raised $16 million.
  • Prop. 23: Most money spent by an opposing campaign. DaVita and other private dialysis clinics have raised $105 million opposing stricter clinic regulations, while unions supporting the measure have raised $7 million.
  • Prop. 15: A pretty equal split. Unions and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative have raised $57 million supporting a tax hike on some commercial properties, while business groups have raised $60 million opposing it.
  • Prop. 21: A single-handed effort. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation contributed almost all of the $40 million in support of stronger rent control, compared to $77 million raised by a diverse coalition of opposition groups.

1. California sets median home price record — again

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The median price of a California home skyrocketed to $712,430 in September — shattering the state record for the fourth month in a row — as sales hit their highest level in more than a decade, according to a Monday report from the California Association of Realtors. It took 11 days on average to sell a single-family home in September — the shortest period ever recorded.

  • Leslie Appleton-Young, CAR chief economist: “With the shortest time on market in recent memory, an alarmingly low supply of homes for sale and the fastest price growth in six-and-a-half years, the market’s short-term gain can also be its weakness in the longer term as the imbalance of supply and demand could lead to more housing shortages and deeper affordability issues.”

2. More PG&E shutoffs likely

A street lamp is dark as a utility poles are seen in the background during a power outage in Sunol, on Oct. 10, 2019. Photo by Anda Chu, Bay Area News Group
A street lamp is dark during a power outage in Sunol on Oct. 10, 2019. Photo by Anda Chu, Bay Area News Group

PG&E warned Monday it may cut off power to around 50,000 customers in 19 counties starting Wednesday evening to mitigate fire risk amid dry, gusty winds and high temperatures expected to sweep across Northern California. This would mark the fourth time the utility has shut off power amid a record-breaking fire season that has already seen more than 4.1 million acres burn. Last week, during yet another cycle of dry and hot weather, PG&E initiated a three-day power shutoff affecting around 53,000 customers. The utility will provide investigators with more information next week regarding the role its equipment may have played in sparking the deadly Zogg Fire.


3. California to review any FDA-approved vaccine

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California will not distribute coronavirus vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration until a state panel of health experts independently reviews them to ensure they meet safety requirements, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday. The governor’s announcement — which followed a similar one by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — underscores the politicization of the pandemic at a time when the public is increasingly leery about the safety of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, CalMatters’ Ana Ibarra reports.

  • Newsom: “We don’t take anyone’s word for it. … This vaccine plan will move at the speed of trust. You have to have confidence in the efficacy of the vaccine, confidence that we’re not rushing to judgment in terms of its distribution and its accessibility.”

California on Friday sent a draft of its vaccination plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The plan prioritizes vaccinations for health workers, first responders and people at high risk of becoming severely ill if infected — meaning most Californians likely won’t be able to get a vaccine until 2021.

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