California legislators raised $27 million in campaign money during 1987--a year in which there was no general-election campaign. Why all that money with no election? That is how incumbents buy themselves perpetuity in office. Bankrolled by big-money interests, they amass so much cash in advance of a campaign that they scare off any serious election opposition.
This fact alone should persuade California voters that the only way to stop pervasive special interest influence on the Legislature, and nonstop fund-raising by the legislators, is to adopt a comprehensive campaign-reform law.
They will have that opportunity at the June 7 primary election by voting for Proposition 68,the reform initiative supported by a coalition that includes Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp. One provision would ban off-year fund-raising, thus freeing the lawmakers to do some of the public's critical business at least every other year.
Before the voters get to the ballot box, however, they will be assaulted by a strident campaign by opponents led by Gov. George Deukmejian and the legislative leaders of both political parties. The key point of the attack will be Proposition 68's modest public-financing provision, similar to the presidential campaign law, and the distortion that it will help both wealthy candidates and incumbents rather than control the power of their money.