An effort to change the way California awards its electoral votes — and perhaps change the outcome of next year’s presidential race — is alive again.
And this time, state Democratic activists are linking the effort to the Giuliani campaign.
They’ve filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice, charging violation of election laws that prohibit coordination between an election campaign and a state initiative.
The inititive would change California’s “winner-take-all” method of awarding electoral votes to one in which candidates would collect electoral votes based on the winner in each congressional district. Democrats accuse the GOP operatives of waging what they call a “power grab,” in that the initiative could help tilt a presidential election toward the Republican candidate. In the past few presidential election cycles, California has represented a reliable cache of electoral votes for the Democrats.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a key backer of the electoral initiative, Tony Andrade, sent a e-mail last week urging Giuliani backers (“Hello Fellow Rudy Supporters!”) to place it on the ballot. There are other connections: Anne Dunsmore, who resigned last month as one of Giuliani’s chief fund-raisers, now is handling fund-raising for the ballot measure. And Paul Singer, one of Giuliani’s big contributors, is bankrolling the initiative effort.
Giuliani’s campaign has denied that they have anything to do with the initiative effort. Perhaps more than any other GOP contender, he stands to gain the most from such a change. Should he win the nomination and move back to the middle in his campaign, he could appeal to the state’s moderates.
After several of the initiative’s key proponents resigned last month, it was thought that the whole effort was dead — until new supporters emerged to lead the effort.
Democrats are fighting the initiative via a group called Californians for Fair Election Reform, with backers including private equity mogul Thomas Steyer, producer Steve Bing and producer Norman Lear. Actor Bradley Whitford has produced ads for the Courage Campaign opposing the effort.
The backers of the change have until Nov. 13 to gather the 434,000 valid signatures to get it on next June’s ballot, according to the Times.