Saturday, June 2, 2007
California Primary Ballot May Include By JENNIFER STEINHAUER Published: June 2, 2007 LOS ANGELES, June 1 — California is poised to become the first state to ask voters whether they favor an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Iraq Question The Democratic-led State Legislature is expected to approve a bill that would place the question on the presidential primary ballot next February. The Rules Committee in the Senate approved the bill on Wednesday, and it is expected to go before both houses in the coming weeks. A spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the governor would not weigh in until a bill hit his desk. Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has expressed support in the past for setting a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq, and he has been an enthusiastic backer of democracy by ballot measure. California has a long history of ballot measures, but this would be the first time in 25 years that an advisory question on foreign policy was placed before the voters. Win or lose, the measure would be toothless, but pollsters and political scientists said it could change the dynamics of the primary race here, in part by making it difficult for presidential candidates to avoid the subject while campaigning in the state. “Voters tend to look at these as symbolic acts,” said Mark DiCamillo, the director of the Field Poll, who cited Proposition 187, a ballot measure in 1994 that sought to deny public services to illegal immigrants. That initiative was passed by 59 percent of voters and, though later overturned in the courts, helped propel Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican and supporter of the measure, to re-election. “When we polled on that,” Mr. DiCamillo said, “voters said, ‘It is probably unconstitutional and will be thrown out by the courts,’ but they wanted to send a message to the Legislature and the federal government.” Republicans in the Legislature have expressed displeasure at the proposed war measure. “It seems to me to be very, very unwise to have state legislatures conducting votes in the manner in which foreign policy ought to be conducted,” said Senator Roy Ashburn, the Republican vice-chairman of the Rules Committee. Scores of municipalities around the country have passed measures opposing the war, and state governments have passed resolutions denouncing the increase in American troops in Iraq. But California would be first to take a question of troop withdrawal directly to state voters, said Heather Morton, senior policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. The last time such an advisory question was on the California ballot was in 1982, when voters were asked if they favored nuclear disarmament between the United States and the former Soviet Union. That measure, which passed 52 percent to 48 percent, was presented through a signature-gathering initiative and not through the Legislature. The author of the current proposal is Senator Don Perata, a Democrat who is president pro tempore of the Senate and who gathered his staff members over spring break to write the bill, said Alicia Trost, a spokeswoman for Mr. Perata. “He grew up during the Vietnam War and saw all those young people take to the streets,” Ms. Trost said. “He said, ‘Now they can go to the ballot box.’ ” In a recent Field Poll, 72 percent of 1,093 California voters said they disapproved of the way President Bush had handled the war. Among a subsample of roughly half that group, 59 percent said they supported a timetable for troop withdrawal. Political analysts, pollsters and many Republicans see a second agenda at work in the placement of the measure on the primary ballot. In February, voters will also weigh in through a ballot initiative on the state’s term-limit laws. If that initiative passed, it would reduce term limits slightly over all, but allow Speaker Fabian Núñez and Mr. Perata, both Democrats, to seek re-election and thereby extend their own terms, which are set to end soon. The Iraq initiative “drives Democratic turnout,” said Jim Brulte, a former state senator and a force in the state’s Republican Party. “That helps pass term-limit extension.” Although opponents of changes to the term-limit laws and the war measure might also be drawn to the polls, Mr. Brulte said: “I don’t think it changes Republican turnout at all. Conservatives are not as much in favor of the war as liberals are opposed to it.” Mr. Ashburn added: “It seems to me the nation just had a referendum on the war in the Congressional elections. Voters sent a signal, and now the public sees their vote may not have made a difference because Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats that promised a change in war policy are retreating.”From http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/jennifer_steinhauer/index.html?inline=nyt-per This as sent to me by a friend in Virginia. Arnie, it seems, has a lot of political courage. With this action he can force the primary candidates to say where they stand on the Iraq fiasco. Democrats and Republicans. Keep in mind that Arnie is a Republican. Too bad he can never run for president, but he can and should be a force in elections. And please remember, this is from a guy who thought (and still thinks) that Ronnie Reagan was a "B" movie actor and a "B" president. The Governator has earned respect from me.