Shane Goldmacher is a former reporter for Capitol Weekly. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where he served as editor of the Berkeley Political Review.

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  • Schwarzenegger targets the 'ElimiDate Voter'
  • Legislators tap Sacramento interests for campaign cash
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  • 1A: 76.9-23.1
    1B: 61.3-38.7
    1C: 57.4-42.6
    1D: 56.6-43.4
    1E: 64-36
    83: 70.6-29.4
    84: 53.7-46.3
    85: 45.9-54.1
    86: 48-52
    87: 45.2-54.8
    88: 23-77
    89: 25.5-74.5
    90: 47.6-52.4

    U.S. Sen.
    Feinstein 59.7
    Mountjoy 34.9
    Schwarzenegger 55.8
    Angelides 39.2
    Lt. Gov
    Garamendi 49.5
    McClintock 44.9
    Atty. Gen.
    Brown 56.7
    Poochigian 37.9
    Sec. of state
    Bowen 48.5
    McPherson 44.7
    Lockyer 54.8
    Parrish 37
    Chiang 50.9
    Strickland 40.1
    Insur. Comm.
    Poizner 50.7
    Bustamante 38.9

    For complete election results click here.

    Angelides 48.2
    Westly 43.1
    Lt. Gov
    Garamendi 42.9
    Speier 39.3
    Figueroa 17.8
    Atty. Gen.
    Brown 63.2
    Delgadillo 36.8
    Sec. of state
    Bowen 61.1
    Ortiz 38.9
    Parrish 56.4
    Richman 43.6
    Democratic primary
    Chiang 53.4
    Dunn 46.6
    Republican primary
    Strickland 40.9
    Maldonado 36.9
    Insur. Comm.
    Bustamante 70.5
    Kraft 29.5
    Supt. of Schools
    O'Connell 52.5, avoids run-off

    For complete election results click here.

    73: 47.4-52.6
    74: 45-55
    75: 46.6-53.4
    76: 38-62
    77: 40.5-59.5
    78: 41.5-58.5
    79: 38.9-61.1
    80: 34.3-65.7

    For complete election results click here.

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    Thursday, October 06, 2005

    Drug Money

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    Drug companies pony up for November ballot

    The big drug makers behind Proposition 78 are waging the best campaign money can buy, hyping their statewide drug-discount program, and disparaging a competing measure sponsored by consumer and labor groups.

    The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America have amassed a war chest of $80 million--more than $2 for every California resident--and are using it to blanket the airwaves across the state, from Eureka to Palm Desert, in what is shaping up as the most expensive, lopsided initiative campaign in state history. In terms of hard cash, the pharmaceutical companies have out-raised the Yes on 79 campaign by nearly 800,000-to-1.

    "This is David and Goliath," said Anthony Wright, the executive director of Health Access California who is running the rival Proposition 79 campaign. But despite the inordinate sums spent by the drug industry, a recent survey shows that David may just have a fighting chance.

    A Field Poll conducted in late August showed that while the consumer sponsored drug-discount plan trailed the industry-backed alternative, only 13 percent of likely voters were aware that "major pharmaceutical companies" were supporting Proposition 78.

    More ominous for the drug makers is that 44 percent of those surveyed said that knowing the pharmaceutical industry was behind Proposition 78 made them less likely to support it.

    The two initiatives mainly differ in terms of the enforcement mechanism and the scope of those eligible. Proposition 78 creates a prescription program for the uninsured, so long as they make no more than $29,000 a year, with the income cutoff rising to $58,000 for a family of four.

    The income caps under Proposition 79 rise to $38,000 a year, and $77,000 for families of four, with coverage also extended to people whose families spend at least 5 percent of their income on medical bills.

    The industry-backed Proposition 78 is a voluntary program, while the consumer- supported Proposition 79 allows the state to deny Medi-Cal contracts to companies that do not comply, potentially costing drug makers millions of dollars in lost market share. If both measures pass, the one with more votes is enacted.

    In their quest for the most votes, the drug companies have spent more than $4.8 million, as of the latest filings, at three of the leading Los Angeles TV networks, KABC, KNBC and KCBS--almost a month and a half before the polls even open. But the on-air campaign has hardly been limited to major media markets, with ads blanketing the airwaves in smaller cities like Bakersfield, and the drug companies spending nearly $50,000 in ads at a single station, KIEM, in Eureka, that reaches a mere 67,000 TV households.

    "PhRMA is absolutely carpet bombing," said Darry Sragow, a Democratic political consultant who is unaffiliated with the campaign.

    According to the Yes on 78/No on 79 spokeswoman Denise Davis, the ad campaign is part of an "extensive education effort."

    "It is a big state, a crowded ballot and it takes a lot of education for the voters," adds Davis, who says that Proposition 79 "won't help poor people" and that Proposition 78 is the "only workable drug discount plan."

    The early spending by the drug industry has resulted in a nine-point lead over the labor-backed initiative, according the most recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, though both initiatives fall short of the 50 percent needed for passage.

    Beyond television, the drug companies have spent hundreds of thousands on consultants, including inking former San Francisco mayor and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown to a $350,000 contract.

    Brown's consulting deal alone represents more than double the total amount raised by the promoters of Proposition 79, whose campaign, as of the latest filing deadline, was $50,000 in debt.

    In contrast, the pharmaceutical industry has spent $49 million and has $31 million left in the bank.

    "We know we will be outspent and we will be outspent exponentially," said Wright. "But we do think that if voters get the simple fact that one is a voluntary measure sponsored by drug companies and one would be a mandatory program sponsored by consumer groups, that will be enough."

    To gain public attention on a shoestring budget, the Yes on 79 team recently launched an online ad contest and has leafleted movie-goers of The Constant Gardener, a film, they say, is about the evils of big drug makers. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation recently produced an ad on behalf of the campaign, and bought television time, albeit very little.

    But as the pharmaceutical companies prepare unload millions more into television advertisements, Republican strategist Dan Schnur warns that, "you do reach a point of diminishing returns."

    "At a certain point, you reach the political equivalent of making the rubble bounce," says Schnur.

    But even if the pharmaceutical companies are now getting less bang for their buck, labor will have to make a serious investment to tell its side of the story. Current estimates are that a weeklong statewide television ad buy will cost more than $4 million in the weeks leading up to the special election.

    "No decision has been made as far as monetary contributions from the Alliance to the 79 campaign," Sarah Leonard, spokeswoman for the Alliance for a Better California, the union-coalition aligned against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    So far, the Yes on 79 campaign has received nearly all non-monetary contributions from the Alliance and other union groups. The lone monetary contribution the campaign received, as of the latest reporting period, was from a Bay Area psychiatrist Robert F. Harris, who donated $100.

    "We believe we will have the resources to get our message out," says Wright, pausing as if wishing would make it true. "At the end of the day, voters won't believe self-interested advertisements by the drug companies."

    Comments on "Drug Money"


    Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:25 PM) : 

    Of course, there's also the prop 78 cartoon ad that's circulating. When a campaign's got no money, it has to find interesting ways to get it's message out.


    post a comment