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Sponsors of California's Proposition 40 drop their campaign

Republicans put Proposition 40 on the ballot to toss out California's newly drawn state Senate districts. But state Supreme Court ruling rendered the issue moot.

October 06, 2012|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO — California voters may feel overwhelmed by the loud battles being waged over measures on next month's state ballot, but the discussion about Proposition 40 is quietly one-sided.

After spending $2 million to put the proposition on the ballot in hopes of tossing out newly drawn state Senate districts, Republican lawmakers and activists have dropped their campaign for it.

The Republicans, who are at risk of losing seats in the new voting districts, had alleged the boundaries were drafted improperly when an independent remapping commission took over the process last year.

INTERACTIVE: 2012 California Propositions

But the state Supreme Court ruled in January that the districts were drawn properly and would be used in this year's elections.

Proposition 40 is a referendum, with voters being asked if they want to keep an existing law in place. A "no" vote would repeal the new maps.

The backers of the referendum wrote in the official state ballot pamphlet that they are no longer soliciting voter support.

"Due to the State Supreme Court's ruling … we have suspended our campaign and no longer seek a NO vote,'' wrote Julie Vandermost, chairwoman of Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting (FAIR), which had pushed the referendum.

The California Republican Party, which helped pay to put the referendum on the ballot, is also telling voters to disregard the organization's early position and vote to keep the new maps.

"We're telling people to vote yes," said party chairman Tom Del Beccaro. "Circumstances have changed."

Wealthy GOP activist Charles Munger Jr., who helped finance ballot measures that created the citizen redistricting panel, apparently agrees — he has even put up $370,000 for a campaign to urge voters to say yes on 40.

Democratic strategist Jason Kinney called the referendum "one of the great tragicomedies of the election season,'' criticizing Republican Party leaders for spending money "they didn't have on a ballot measure they couldn't win — and have since orphaned.''

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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