Post Mortem: Stem Cells Pass, Oil Tax Loses

Two different initiatives, very different results. The Michael J. Fox-backed stem cell initiative passed narrowly in Missouri, and Claire McCaskill won her Senate race in that state. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes McCaskill as saying that Fox’s support helped her attract more campaign donations, and others who said that they voted for her because in the closing weeks the stem cell initiative and the Senate campaign became intertwined. Democratic political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell said on MSNBC last night that Fox’s support may have been a tipping point, although the race was so close (the measure passed with 51 percent of the vote), that it is hard to draw conclusions.

California’s Proposition 87, an oil tax initiative for alternative energy research, apparently fell victim to voters’ fears of any new taxes on the ballot. All other propositions that imposed taxes, including a tax on cigarettes to pay for health causes, were defeated. Proposition 87 also was defeated despite a $57 million campaign financed and promoted heavily by the entertainment industry, and some wonder why the campaign’s ads were so low tech in an age of My Space. They were outgunned by opponents’ $85 million, largely from oil companies. The Los Angeles Times’ Carla Hall reports the Yes on 87’s largest benefactor, producer Steve Bing, was absent from a Tuesday night election party, and has stayed out of the limelight as if he were a “latter day Howard Hughes.” He’s made no statement about the campaign, or the money he put into it, but it may have helped put a tiny dent in oil industry coffers. “The money spent is obnoxious. It is bad,” a spokesman for No on 87 said.

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