California: A Tale of Two Millionaires

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Money can't buy you an election in California -- but it can get you the vote you want on a controversial ballot proposition. The most expensive primaries in the state's history, with spending on the wrong side of $100 million, rewarded career politicians and punished one freewheeling millionaire. Lieutenant Governor Gray Davis trounced former airline executive Al Checchi to become the Democratic candidate for governor. "It's truly an experience money can't buy," said Davis, recalling his campaign slogan.

The voters agreed. One experience a millionaire could help buy, however, was Proposition 227, which will scrap bilingual education for Spanish-speaking California kids. Software tycoon Ron Unz campaigned extensively -- and expensively -- for the measure he drafted. Prop. 227 passed with more than 60 percent of the vote, including some strong support from the Latino community.

Another victory for soft money: Proposition 226, which would have stymied the clout of Big Labor, was voted down. The unions spent $17 million opposing it; supporters raised only $4.5 million. Big money, it seems, is alive and well and living in the Golden State.