Republicans Eye the California Electoral Cookie Jar
Posted on Aug 13, 2007
Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter warns of a Republican plot to deliver some of California’s electoral votes to the GOP nominee—even if he loses the state. The scheme, which depends on California’s much-abused and confusing proposition system, would award the Golden State’s electoral votes by congressional district.
Instead of laboring in vain to turn California Red, a clever lawyer for the state Republican Party thought of a gimmicky shortcut. Thomas Hiltachk, who specializes in ballot referenda that try to fool people in the titles and fine print, is sponsoring a ballot initiative for the June 3, 2008, California primary (which now falls four months after the state’s presidential primary). The Presidential Election Reform Act would award the state’s electoral votes based on who wins each congressional district. Had this idea been in effect in 2004, Bush would have won 22 electoral votes from California, about the same number awarded the winners of states like Illinois or Pennsylvania. In practical terms, adopting the initiative would mean that the Democratic candidate would likely have to win both Ohio and Florida in 2008 (instead of one or the other) to be elected.
Hiltachk, who is lying low for now, is a former campaign lawyer for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor’s office says Schwarzenegger has no position on the initiative and “had absolutely nothing to do with its development.” But whichever way Schwarzenegger goes, several GOP presidential candidates and their financial backers have already offered to help boost the plan. Just interested in good government? They’ve shown a curious lack of interest in backing the same idea in Red States.